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GEAR,  Product Reviews

Wild swimming wetsuits

What do you need in a wild swimming wetsuit? For us, it was more a question of what you don’t need. As speed and PBs are not an issue for wild swimming, there is no need for any of the latest developments in racing technology. So no go-faster catch panels or extra bouyancy for shaving a few seconds off your PB.

We have chosen four wetsuits that we think are great options for wild swimming. They are light and flexible swimming suits and robust all-round adventure wetsuits. So choose one that you think most meets your needs for wild swimming.

The Orca and Sailfish suits are light and flexible. They both offer great feel for the water and a natural swimming position. Both suits are light and easy to stuff into a rucksack. The Orca has the innovation of being a two-piece.
The Head is for more varied outdoor adventures. This suit is of a more robust construction, and is designed for wild swimming and general outdoorsy water-based adventuring.

The Alpkit sits somewhere in between – it is a light swimming suit but more robust than the Orca and Sailfish.

All four suits were suitable for swimming breaststroke in, as the reduced buoyancy means that your legs don’t pop out of the water!


Men’s Orca Open Water RS1 top and bottoms (pictured, top)
Top: £145 Bottom: £145

They say: “The perfect option for the openwater swimmer,” the innovative two-piece design is designed specifically for swimmers – this would be no use in a triathlon. A velcro seal system joins top and bottom, and 3mm neoprene gives greater buoyancy in the chest panel. No zip.

Style: Fun and funky
Fit: Minimal feel with great flexibility
Performance: A natural swimming experience
Faff Factor: Low

We say: Gimmick or revolution? To be honest, we weren’t sure. But actually this is a great idea. With no fighting with zips and no need to have someone else to help you on with the suit, the two-piece suit is a great option for outdoor swimmers who appreciate the benefits of neoprene. Buoyancy is limited to the chest panel so your swimming feels natural and the neoprene is light and flexible, which means you swim normally rather than being lifted and propelled by strategically placed buoyancy panels. All in all it feels a very natural experience. Plus, the suit is so light that it can easily be stowed and carried around in its own bag (included).


Wild Swimming Wetsuits Sailfish

Edge Longsleeve Wetsuit

They say: “The Edge family is especially suited for the ambitious swimmer with good water feeling. The Edge Longsleeve is perfect for long swimming in cool open water. It will also delight beginners and breaststroke swimmers. The super light hybrid is your partner for secure protection against the cold.”

Style: Cool and bright
Fit: Super light and great freedom of movement
Performance: A natural swimming experience
Faff Factor: Low

We say: We really liked swimming in the Edge. The thin neoprene (0.5mm to 2mm) offers protection from the cold so you can swim longer in cool water, but is so flexible that it doesn’t interfere with your stroke. It feels like a natural swimming experience, albeit with a bit of extra glide from the minimal buoyancy of the suit.


Wild Swimming Wetsuits Alpkit

Terrapin Natural Swimming Wetsuit

They say: “Swimming suit designed to give a natural position in the water with maximum flexibility for a greater range of movement and uninhibited swimming action.”

Style: Royal blue and black make this a stylish suit.
Fit: Snug. The medium tall came up quite small on Jonathan.
Performance: Easy to put on.
Faff Factor: Low

We say: A great compromise between a natural swimming position and a more robust suit that will take being roughed around a bit. The buoyancy of the suit (only 1.5mm to 3mm neoprene thickness) is more than the Orca and Sailfish but still less than triathlon wetsuits. The nylon covering of the legs and sleeves make it a robust choice.


Wild Swimming Wetsuits Head

Women’s Explorer 3.2.2
Men’s Explorer 3.2.2

They say: Created from very light elastic material, well suited to all types of swimming, with “no stitching in the critical areas”.

Style: Fluorescent and highly visible, we’ll be honest, when we took it out of its packaging we thought it looked more like a surfing wetsuit – which it can definitely be used for, alongside other water-based adventures. It is certainly great for visibility and actually quite fun.
Fit: Doesn’t have the snug fit of the other wild swimming wetsuits we tried, but comfortable and allows a full range of movement.
Performance: Very easy to put on.
Faff Factor: Low

We say: We liked the bum loop below the zip to help with hoisting the wetsuit on. It is a versatile suit, which is great for a splash and exploring summer water spots.



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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.