On the hunt for the perfect jet ski wetsuit or drysuit? In today’s guide, we explain the pros and cons of both of these for jet skiing and recommend some of our favorites. There’s also a handy fitting guide too.
For most people, jet skiing is a seasonal hobby. However, a good PWC wetsuit or drysuit can allow your season to start sooner, and end later.
Most watercraft enthusiasts would agree that the more days you can spend out on the water, the better!
Finding the best wetsuit for jet skiing (or 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 to figure out is how wetsuits and drysuits work and what they are best suited to. 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 allow us to stay warm, but that just 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.
A wetsuit is basically designed for two purposes:
- Keep you warm
- Protecting your body
Jet Ski Drysuits
A jet ski dry suit tends to logically make more sense to people. They help keep the body dry, and in turn, that helps with warmth.
Drysuits form a watertight seal that keeps your body dry and traps a small layer of air inside the suit. This pocket of air acts as insulation, keeping you warmer than a wetsuit.
The material that drysuits are made from can vary, but oftentimes 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 ski drysuits have a reputation to keep people warmer. 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.
In summary, a drysuit performs the same functions as a wetsuit but keeps you warmer and drier in the process. However, it lacks the same flexibility.
So, which do I need?
Both options can be appealing for several reasons.
PWC 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.
Ultimately, your decision depends on 3 things:
- The climate you will use it in. If the weather (and water) is generally warm then you need a jetski wetsuit.
- Any other activities you intend to do besides jetskiing. For example, will you be spearfishing or doing watersports too? If so, a drysuit that restricts movement more than a wetsuit is probably a not a good choice.
Finding your fit
How a PWC 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.
Fitting a Wetsuit
Getting the perfect fit is extremely important as this will directly affect the wetsuit’s ability to keep you warm and also your mobility.
A wet suit is supposed to fit snug, but not tight to the point where you’re losing feeling in your appendages!
- A well-fitted wetsuit won’t easily slide on when it’s dry. It should be a bit of a challenge!
- Get the suit on and make sure any zips are done up (and work properly). There should be no extra room or bagginess at the knees, elbows, torso/crotch area, or at the shoulders.
- Have a good stretch with the suit on. You should be able to move your hands above your head and squat with just a little resistance. If these movements are a real struggle then you need a bigger wetsuit. The thicker the wetsuit the harder you’ll find it to move freely.
Top Tip: Struggling to get your feet in your wetsuit? Keep your socks on!
The warmth a wet suit provides 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 as they are more restrictive of movement.
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 properly fitted 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 fits 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.
Fitting a Drysuit
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 of jet ski drysuits is some type of hood with a surrounding collar. Depending on a person’s 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.
- If you plan on wearing clothes underneath your drysuit then wear the bulkiest clothes you plan on wearing when you try on the suit.
- Go through a full range of movements including squatting. While squatting, tilt your head forward. If the seal around your neck is not tight then you need a bigger torso size. You should feel a little resistance but your movement should not be restricted.
Recommended Next: Don’t miss our ultimate guide to jet ski stands next!
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 use 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 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.
Best Jetski Wetsuits
When it comes to actual wetsuits for jet skiing, 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 one of these, there are some great alternatives that do the job just as well.
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 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 they offer 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.
This suit from O’Neill features extra stretchy neoprene and an adjustable collar for comfort.
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 rougher.
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 paddleboarding, and even wakeboarding.
This drysuit from O’Neill is perfect for watersports, which makes it a great fit for jetskiing too.
It’s not as thick and heavy-duty as a lot of drysuits out there (just 3mm) so it’s much more flexible, but obviously won’t keep you as warm as they do.
It features a loose upper fit which is perfect for jet ski riding and is 100% waterproof. Unless you need a seriously warm dry suit then we seriously recommend taking a look at this one. It gets rave reviews from paddleboarders and jet skiers for its flexibility of movement.
It’s also extremely well priced for a drysuit.
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.
If you live in a particularly warm place then you can even get by with just these.
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 guide to 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 the same.
What are your “go-to” jet ski clothes? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section!