Choosing a wetsuit for outdoor swimming
We've been swimming outdoors since before we can remember. Delighting in a dip when hiking in the Welsh hills; being drawn to nearby rivers and streams; sneaking in local reservoirs or Alpine lakes and swimming in the oceans year-round.
Triathlon wetsuits just weren't right: they're made for buoyancy rather than swim position; with neck, collars and cuffs for quick transition; and a fit that aided compression rather than comfort.
We've been making our own outdoor swimming specific wetsuits since 2015 with help from industry design legend Dean Jackson and the Outdoor Swimming Society.
The key features of an outdoor swimming specific wetsuit are
- temperature retention for extending swim time
- comfort as a good fit promotes freedom of movement
- buoyancy to promote a natural swimming style
Alpkit swimming wetsuits are designed for year-round outdoor swimming in typical British conditions.
All of our wetsuits use the finest premium technical fabrics (like streamlined GlideSkin neoprene) and, responding to customer feedback, added more sizes to accommodate swimmers of all builds.
The three-product range covers thinner suits that promote a more natural swimming style, to fleece-lined warmer suits for spending longer in cold water. But which suit suits the type of swimming you do? If you're new to Wild Swimming/ Open Water Swimming, you might want to check out this article first.
Here's a run through our range:
The Terrapin is our most neutral swimming wetsuit. 2-3mm thick for lower buoyancy, it features a GlideSkin front for performance and the cut provides unrestricted arm and shoulder movement for comfort and maximum swimming efficiency.
Unlike other similar wetsuits on the market, the Terrapin is designed specifically for outdoor swimming. The less buoyant nature allows a more natural swimming style and is ideal for those who want the thermal protection of a wetsuit, but not the buoyancy. The Terrapin is perfect for swims around 2 miles in length (or 30min-1hr in the water) in typical UK swimming conditions.
Best for: quick sea dippers, mountain tarn splashers and experienced skin swimmers looking for a neutral-form swimming wetsuit.
The Lotic was our very first outdoor swimming wetsuit and has been a very popular addition to our range. A classic all-rounder, it uses neoprene panels of varying thicknesses (from 1.5mm to 4mm) to perfectly balance buoyancy, freedom of movement and swimming comfort for swimmers of all abilities.
By targeting the back, leg and bum area (3.5mm, 3.5mm and 4mm respectively) these panels give you a bit of extra lift in the lower body and promote a more efficient swimming position. Multiple panels of GlideSkin neoprene increase swimming hydrodynamics and improve stroke efficiency. GlideSkin also provides better water repellency and reduces heat conduction, making it warmer than bog-standard neoprene.
Best for: all types of swim activity, splash and stroke; all swimmers, all year round - that's all. Perfect for a Great North Swim attempt
We spent over 12 months developing the innovative fleece-lined Silvertip, sending several samples and prototypes to be tested by our swimming-focused Alpkiteers and our good friends at the Outdoor Swimming Society.
SilverTip is a fleece-lined swimming wetsuit with much higher thermal properties than our other wetsuits. We've designed it to be suitable for longer swims, colder water and hardy winter swimmers.
Using 3mm-5mm panels of GlideSkin neoprene, we’ve paid very careful attention to balancing the buoyancy with the fleece lining, providing a comfortable and supportive swimming action. The Silvertip is a serious suit for serious swimmers - swimmers who want to swim year-round, in cold water, or spend longer in the water, pushing your distance.
Best for: longer swims such as the Coniston 10km; longer periods and colder water; or just a swimmer that wants higher levels of thermal protection.
All of our wetsuits have flashes of colour at the neck, wrists and ankles for improved visibility, and deep back zippers with a lanyard so you can get in and out of them yourself. We've put together another handy article to tell you more about how to get your wetsuit fitting right.