Staying warm with a 5mm wetsuit enables divers to stay in the water for longer improving the chance of a catch. It also stops the shivering which is quite nice.
Due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream the waters of West Scotland and the Hebrides are incredibly mild for their latitude. You only have to compare average Hebridean water temperatures (Greenock 11ºC) to those in Scandinavia at comparable latitudes (Vejbystrand 8ºC) to see the incredible difference.
Nevertheless, I still like to wear a 5mm wetsuit for three months of the year – staying warm keeps you in the water for longer improving your chance of a catch and, staying warm relaxes the body improving breath holds.
The integrated wetsuit hood reduces overall profile and drag and crucially, being a free-dive suit, the top half has no zip reducing the chances of cold water entering the suit. It’s a squeeze to put on but nothing a little hair conditioner doesn’t solve.
One resulting issue to be aware of is that adding thickness to a wetsuit adds buoyancy to your dive and this is most apparent during shallow dives. Increasing your dive weights to achieve neutral buoyancy is the solution. Never overweight your dive – it may make descent easier but ascent is the one we naturally concern ourselves with
I always wear wetsuit bottoms in the kayak cockpit as it makes getting in and out of the boat easier in shallow water. A wetsuit top can cause chafing whilst paddling and is not advisable. Some kayakers use farmer John‘s wetsuits without arms so as to counter the problem.