For most people, jet skiing is a seasonal hobby. However, a good jet ski wetsuit or jet ski drysuit can allow your season to start sooner, and end later.
Most watercraft enthusiast would agree that the more days you can spend out on the water, the better. Finding the best jet ski wetsuit and drysuit can be tricky, especially if you’re a heavy set person or on a budget. This guide has options for people of all shapes, sizes, and budgets.
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Jet Ski Wetsuits Vs Jet Ski Drysuits
One of the first things you should know is how a wetsuit and drysuit actually works. It may seem like common sense, but the science behind them takes a lot of people by surprise.
Jet Ski Wetsuits
The functionality of wetsuits goes against most people’s concept of how clothes provide warmth.
Wetsuits are a close-fitting neoprene suit designed to retain body heat by trapping a thin layer of water against the body. Many people assume wetsuits keep water out and therefore allows us to stay warm, but that isn’t the case.
As our bodies emit heat, the thin layer of water trapped in the suit absorbs it. Neoprene, the primary material of wetsuits, is an elastic, spongy polymer that keeps the warm water surrounding our body inside of the suit. If the water is able to escape, it takes any excess body heat with it.
Jet Ski Drysuits
A jet ski drysuit tends to make more sense to people logically. They help keep the body dry, and in turn, that helps with warmth.
The material that drysuits are made from can vary, but often times it includes neoprene mixed with other stretchy materials. Drysuits can be form fitting, but for the most part are pretty loose. Often times they’re worn in combination with other cold weather clothing to increase their warmth.
For the most part jet sky drysuits have a reputation to keep people more warm. However, they’re much more likely to decrease mobility. This is a trade off that’s kind of hard to get around, so it comes down to individual preference.
Finding your fit
How a wetsuit fits isn’t going to be the same as how a drysuit fits. It’s important to understand the fitting beforehand, because it can take some people by surprise when they finally try it out.
Sizing in both wetsuits and drysuits varies depending on the brand. Always check measurements rather than just sizing.
A wet suit is supposed to fit snug, but not tight to the point where you’re losing feeling in your appendages.
How hot a wet suit is depends directly on its thickness. This is one of the major differentiating factors between a jet ski wetsuit and a jet ski drysuit. Generally speaking, wetsuits are much more sporty than drysuits. They tend to have more mobility and flexibility than their dry counterparts.
Wetsuits usually have two different measurements, one of the thickness of the torso, and one of the arms and legs. Typically suits are thinner around joints or limbs to allow mobility. A 3/2 suit ( 3mm thick material in chest and body, 2mm in legs and arms) is a good standard jet ski wetsuit. Although there are much thicker wetsuits out there, they don’t work well for pwc riders.
Most suits won’t be very comfortable when they are put on dry, and that makes sense because they’re intended to be wet. Don’t get discouraged if you try on a new wetsuit, only to find out it’s a little tight. It’s completely normal for wetsuits to be close fitting, especially around the openings.
A proper fitting wetsuit should be tight enough so the thin layer of water doesn’t escape from the suit, but loose enough to allow flexibility and proper circulation.
For bigger guys, finding a good wetsuit can be a tough task. It may take a few trips to your local PWC, Surf, or Dive shop before finding one that fit you. Online shops have pretty accurate size charts and a better selection of XL sized wetsuits for those who don’t have a store readily available.
For a long time, drysuits were predominantly very loose fitting. However, some companies have recently started making more form fitting styles as well.
One thing to keep in mind with drysuits is that they usually work best in combination with other cold weather clothes. This means having a little extra space inside the suit can be beneficial.
A common feature on jet ski drysuits is some type of hood with a surrounding collar. Depending on a persons build, some people find it uncomfortable to have something surrounding their neck. The collar and hood can greatly increase warmth, but for some people it’s a difficult feeling to get over. Although this isn’t a huge problem for a lot of people, it should definitely be noted.
How much does a jet ski wetsuit / drysuit cost?
The general price range of both jet ski wetsuits and drysuits varies according to brand, size, and thickness. Usually a good suit designed for pwc costs $200-$700.
This may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that a wetsuit is supposed to last for years. Although there are some great budget options, often times they don’t last as long.
Rather than buy a cheap suit, it’s better to just use jet ski clothing alternatives. Rash guards and tour coats are relatively cheap, and will last longer than a poorly made suit. That along with a pair of good shoes can sometimes be enough to make it through a moderate winter.
Jet Ski Wetsuit Vs Jet Ski Drysuit?
Both options can be appealing for several reasons.
Jet ski wetsuits are made with padding and grips around the knees, as well as flexible back and arm areas to accommodate the posture of riders. A dry suit is a little less likely to have the same features. Other than being more sporty, wetsuits can also be much cheaper. This ultimately depends on specific brands, but for the most part they tend to be a little more affordable.
On the other hand, a drysuit allows people to stay completely dry. They’re typically much warmer, and in recent years have become much more mobile than they used to be. In addition to that, they can also have some added benefits like padded knees and seats as well.
Best Jetski Wetsuits
When it comes to actual jet ski wetsuits, there’s really only one company that caters to the pwc community. Jettribe wetsuits are the only suits dedicated to jet ski riders. They’re really popular in the pwc community, but they’re a little on the pricey side.
If it’s within your budget, a Jettribe wetsuit is highly recommended. However, if you can’t afford a Jettribe suit, there are some great alternatives.
Not everyone can afford a top of the line jet ski wetsuit, but there are still other options worth considering.
A shorty wetsuit is perhaps the best alternative to a traditional wetsuit for those living in warmer climates. Unlike a normal wetsuit, a shorty suit doesn’t have full sleeves or legs. They’re the perfect option for spring and fall seasons.
Because shorty suits use less material, they’re often times much more affordable. Keep in mind that since they don’t cover as much surface area, they aren’t the best for winter riding.
Functionality wise, a shorty suit works exactly the same as the longer alternative. The only real difference is the length of the arms and legs. Some people prefer them not just for the price, but for the mobility as well. The shorter sleeves and legs allow more movement in the knees and elbows, which can be a big difference for a lot of people.
If a full suit isn’t in your budget, and your local climate permits it, then a shorty suit is definitely the way to go.
Surfing wetsuits are a great substitute for traditional jet ski wetsuits. They tend to be much more flexible than dive suits, making them the better option for jet ski riders.
The only real downside of surfing wetsuits is that there isn’t quite as much padding and grip on the knees, so bumpy rides might be a little more rough.
There are a few good surfing wetsuit brands to choose from, but O’Neill seems to be the preferred choice for most people who ride pwc. They make high quality wetsuits while still managing to charge an affordable price. Despite not being designed specifically for jet ski riders, they work pretty well overall.
If for some reason you can’t get a wetsuit for jet skis, then a surfing wetsuit is the best alternative.
Best Jet Ski Drysuits
Since drysuits aren’t as focused on being very sporty, it doesn’t matter as much that there’s no dedicated jet ski drysuit brand.
Despite that, there are still a few great options to choose from. These options are common for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and even wakeboarding.
The Crewsaver drysuit is one of the more high-end options available. Although it has a hefty price, it can be well worth it to a lot of people.
This drysuit can keep people warm in temperatures as low as 40 degrees. In combination with other cold weather jet ski gear, this suit may even be a little too hot in certain areas.
Although all the seams on this suit are taped, they should still be rinsed after using it in saltwater to prevent them from deteriorating. The suit itself is made from a breathable fabric, and has cool features like reinforced knees and an abrasion resistant seat. It also comes with an underfleece and drybag as well.
Hollis NeoTek Semi-Drysuit
Despite being considered a “semi-drysuit”, this is actually one of the warmest options out there. It’s popular among divers, with some claiming to use it in temperatures as low as the mid 30’s, and still feeling warm.
There are a ton of well thought out features that make this a great suit, but one of the best is the front zipper. Having a front zipper is such a major key in making it easy to take on and off, which can often times be a big hassle.
On each side of the suit are easy to access pockets. They’re rather large, which to some people may be very beneficially. As for the seams, all of them are double glues, ensuring lasting durability.
By no means is this the most affordable options available, but it’s arguably one of the best.
Other Cold Weather Jet Ski Gear
These are some jet ski clothing options that can fit into just about anyones budget. Wetsuits and drysuits can be expensive, but that’s no reason not to stay warm. Although normal cold weather jet ski gear doesn’t work as well, it can still do a great job.
These are some of the more useful jet ski clothing items worth considering.
One of the best and most popular alternatives to a jet ski wetsuit is a rash guard. A rash guard is a form-fitting top worn under wetsuits, over swimwear, or by itself.
Rash guards are very similar to compression shorts. Usually riders wear them to protect themselves from rashes, (hence the name) but also to avoid sunburn. They’re typically much cheaper than complete wetsuits and have more flexible sizes.
Many people who can’t find a good fitting wetsuit find a rash guard to be a great option. They’re versatile, affordable, and much easier to wash than a full suit. Most rash guards are pretty similar, but Quicksilver is one of the better options available.
Tour coats are basically a loose-fitting neoprene jacket meant to go over your PFD. Often times they’re used with a jet ski wetsuit or drysuit, but they can also be worn alone. Tour coats can also be a great option for children who don’t like the tight fit of traditional wet suits.
Many people prefer wearing board shorts and a tour coat as opposed to a tight fitting suit. This combo is essentially the sweatpants and a hoodie version of a wetsuit.
Jet Ski Shoes
It’s worth mentioning that many riders also use jet ski shoes.
Without going into too much detail, the main benefit of jet ski shoes is protection. Not only will your feet stay warm, but they’ll be protected against any sharp objects in the water too. Wearing jet ski shoes will give you more grip, and prevent you from slipping and jamming your toes.
A full review of jet ski shoes can be found in a separate post here.
To take things a step further, some people choose to wear neoprene socks as well. Neoprene socks tend to work much better than traditional socks, and can help keep feet warm even in some of the coldest water.
It may take some trial and error before finding the best jet ski wetsuit or the best jet ski drysuit for your needs. It’s good to have several options when it comes to clothing that will keep you warm on the water.
Many people find john and jacket combo suits work best for them. John and jacket suits are simply a combination of a wetsuit and a tour jacket. When worn together, they keep riders warm on the really cold days. The john (the actual suit) can also be worn by itself if it isn’t cold enough for the jacket as well.
On mornings when it’s only a little chilly on the water, the jacket can be worn with some board shorts to keep riders warm and comfortable. As it warms up, riders can then shed off the jacket. A lot of riders prefer the last option because of how comfortable the jacket and board short combo is.
Another popular choice is a simple rash guard underneath a PFD with a tour coat on top. The tour coat is comfortable and can be removed easily. A lot of riders find this duo keeps them warm on the water and doesn’t constrict them.
Trying out different combos will help you figure out what works best for you. Having several items to mix and match usually works best. It’s good to have choices, because not every day on the water is going to be same.