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8 best kids’ wetsuits that will keep them warm in the water for longer

They’ll be riding the waves like Lilo and Stitch in no time

Rebecca Moore
Tuesday 20 July 2021 17:10
<p>We tested for comfort, thickness, flexibility and freedom of movement so your youngsters are shore to enjoy sea swimming</p>

We tested for comfort, thickness, flexibility and freedom of movement so your youngsters are shore to enjoy sea swimming

Have you an aquatic adventure in the pipeline this summer? If you’re a parent it’s more than likely that you’ve considered your child’s wetsuit before your own.

Wetsuits are designed to be a second skin, so it’s key that you check out the size guides on the websites and measure your child correctly. After care is also paramount when it comes to the longevity of your wetsuit. After use wash your wetsuit in fresh water and hang to dry out of direct sunlight.

Made using neoprene, the thickness is measured in millimetres. Thicknesses differ to suit the water temperatures of each season – the thicker the neoprene, the more effective the wetsuit will be at keeping the cold at bay. As we were testing summer-specific wetsuits the majority of the wetsuits are 3/2mm which gives 3mm thickness at the torso, and 2 millimetres around the arms and legs.

But other than thickness, what do you need to look for? We, along with our five-year-old and 12-year-old mini reviewers, tested for comfort, flexibility and freedom of movement which ultimately kept kids in the water for longer.

We also paid close attention to how easy the wetsuits are to put on and take off, both crucial when time at the beach is of the essence. As with anything that children wear, patterns and colours go a long way so those with a child-friendly print garnered an extra point too.

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It’s also great to see many wetsuits now carrying some green credentials, from solvent-free glue to recycled materials, those with eco-friendly production gain additional kudos.

The best kids’ wetsuits for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Decathlon 3/2 junior wetsuit front zip 900: £114.99, Decathlon.co.uk
  • Best for older girls – Roxy 1.5mm marine bloom - front zip springsuit for girls: £85, Roxy-uk.co.uk
  • Best for fun design – Saltskin leopard 3/2 mm full wetsuit flat lock: £49.95, Saltskinwetsuits.com
  • Best for stretch – Sola kids storm 3/2mm fullsuit: £52.50, Twfshop.co.uk
  • Best for beginners – Alder 3/2mm junior full wetsuit: £59.99, Aswatersports.co.uk
  • Best for robustness – The Wetsuit Factory xt3 kids 3mm shortie: £26.99, Twfshop.co.uk
  • Best for sustainability – Roxy 1mm POP surf - long sleeve front zip springsuit for girls 8-16: £80, Roxy-uk.co.uk
  • Best for toddlers – JoJo Maman Bebe kids’ colour block wetsuit: £26, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

Decathlon 3/2 junior wetsuit front zip 900

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

Our 12-year-old tester put this wetsuit on independently and headed for the sea with her bodyboard. Of course we kept a close eye, but it was clear from the get go how comfortable and confident she felt in this junior wetsuit from Decathlon.

With a front chest zip we did question how easy this would be to put on, but thanks to the super stretchy neoprene this was surprisingly easy and meant she could tackle it herself. This stretchiness also lends itself to water play, as there’s no restriction of movement.

What struck us, was how everything has been considered with this wetsuit. From the blind stitching, for ultimate watertightness, to the absence of threads on the inside and additional comfort patches to avoid chafing and irritation. There are also reinforced knee pads, and silicone stoppers at the ankles and wrists to help stop water getting in. But what surprised us the most is the eco-friendly credentials of this wetsuit. Made from a limestone-based neoprene, the black colour is achieved by recycling used tyres. Even the glue that they use in combination with stitching, is water-based and solvent free.

While it is the most expensive of all the wetsuits we tested, for a wetsuit of this quality the price is very reasonable. At a 3/2mm thickness this wetsuit will be a fantastic sea friend from spring to autumn. Our tester didn’t want to take this wetsuit off and we don’t blame her, the comfort and flexibility is superlative.

Roxy 1.5mm marine bloom - front zip springsuit for girls

Best: For older girls

Rating: 8/10

Surf brand Roxy has launched a sustainable collection, which sees 24 per cent less CO2 emissions used per wetsuit. And the eco credentials don’t stop there, the limestone-derivate neoprene is made from scrap rubber tires, which has been bluesign certified. With 104l of water conserved and 25 plastic bottles recycled per wetsuit, it’s safe to say we’re impressed by its green efforts. This wetsuit even uses a water-based lamination glue called aqua-a, so there are no nasty solvents.

But how does it fare in the water? Firstly, our 12-year-old tester was more than happy to give this wetsuit a go. She was instantly drawn to the bright and bold floral print, and the vertical front zip made it easy for her to put on and take off again. Perfect for warmer days, when kids just need a bit of extra coverage, the 1.5mm thickness kept our energetic tester in and out of the sea all day long. There were no complaints of rubbing, as the coil bound inner seam lays flat for comfort but also creates increased flexibility so there’s no restrictions when playing in the water. It’s a nice light suit because of its “StretchFlight 2” neoprene – designed for increased warmth and comfort without sacrificing the flex. And we found it didn’t feel bulky once wet, keeping our tweenager’s water fatigue at bay.

Saltskin leopard 3/2 mm full wetsuit flat lock

Best: For fun design

Rating: 8/10

We love the ethos around Saltskin – to get kids outside, having fun in the ocean, more often and for longer – and you can see how this has been executed in this wetsuit. First things first, we just can’t get enough of the leopard print (there’s plenty of other animal designs to choose from too), and it took no convincing for our five-year-old tester to don this wetsuit.

At first we wondered if this was more about style than substance, but that’s certainly not the case. This wetsuit is well made, it feels pretty stretchy so movement isn’t compromised in the water, and also helps when putting on a wriggly child. Made using flatlock stitching, there’s plenty of durability and it lays flat on the skin for comfort. It’ll also ensure your wetsuit lasts longer too, if properly cared for.

On the knees there’s a double diamond knit for extra durability, which is an area that’ll get a lot of use when learning to surf. Something we didn’t anticipate is how helpful the print is when the sea is awash with little water babies. At 3/2mm thickness, there is two weighted neoprene used, 3mm around the torso and 2mm around the arms and legs – so this wetsuit is suitable from spring all the way through to autumn. A fun yet fully functional wetsuit.

Sola kids storm 3/2mm fullsuit

Best: For stretch

Rating: 8/10

We felt confident to try this wetsuit on a rather overcast day in July (and again in a scorcher), and it certainly kept our 12-year-old tester in the water for much longer. Even before zipping it up we were positive this wetsuit would perform well, given its quality feel and flatlock stitching. This type of durable stitching not only enhances the lifespan of the wetsuit but, as it lays flat on the skin, it’s comfortable too.

Our tester commented on how easy it was to get this wetsuit on, which is thanks to the highly flexible neoprene which stretches four ways and improves movement once it’s on. For a full-size wetsuit at this thickness, it didn’t feel at all bulky as the neoprene used is super light, but this didn’t affect the insulation.

We like that the chest and back panels feel more robust to combat wind chill, and with 3mm thickness around the torso and 2mm around the arms and legs, kids will, once again, feel comfortable in this from spring through to autumn. Young surfers will also benefit from the double diamond knit in the knee area.

Alder 3/2mm junior full wetsuit

Best: For beginners

Rating: 8/10

Now a popular surf brand, Alder was created in the Sixties from the founders’ farm in the heart of Devon. Starting with board shorts, jackets and T-shirts, specifically tailored for surfers they now have a huge range of surfing clobber.

The Alder 3/2mm junior full wetsuit is a strong contender for those looking for a kids’ wetsuit. It has flatlock stitching, a rubberised panel at the chest and back to take off the chill from the wind, and “duratech” knee pads for added durability. With back zip entry, our only small gripe is that we’d prefer if the zip tag was a brighter coloured or had an identified logo, because as it’s plain black we faffed about a few times trying to find it. That said, our five-year-old tester seemed very at home in this wetsuit, proving its comfort and flexibility in the water.

The Wetsuit Factory xt3 kids 3mm shortie

Best: For robustness

Rating: 7/10

For an all rounder, and under £30, we can’t knock TWF’s Xt3 kids 3mm shortie. And it’s safe to say that as a brand TWF has had plenty of practice, supplying wetsuits and beach accessories from Cornwall since 1969.

This wetsuit feels robust, and our five-year-old tester certainly put it through its paces, running in and out of the sea all day. At 3mm thick, she didn’t want to leave the beach, as this shortie kept her in the water for longer. There’s an adjustable collar for comfort, and the chest and back panels are lined with polyester and nylon. The long zip at the back meant our tester couldn’t put it on herself, but that didn’t seem to be an issue, and the stretchy shoulders made it a fairly straightforward task. This a flexible but strong wetsuit with an enhanced lifespan.

Roxy 1mm POP surf - long sleeve front zip springsuit for girls 8-16

Best: For sustainability

Rating: 7/10

Another suit from Roxy’s POP surf sustainable collection and boasting the same green credentials as the brand’s aforementioned marine bloom springsuit (£85, Roxy-uk.co.uk), is this long sleeve springsuit which is perfect for a sunny day at the beach.

At only 1mm thick it’s great for fair-weather swimmers or bodyboarders. Our 12-year-old tester found it super easy to take on and off, not just because there’s far less fabric to contend with than a shortie or full suit, but as the zip is at the front, she achieved it at great speed. Handy when you’ve a young girl who doesn’t want to be spotted undressing at the beach.

It’s made using StretchFlight 3 technology, meaning the neoprene used is warm as it minimises water absorption, but is still ultra-light and flexible, because it’s made using air cell-rich limestone rather than the traditional petroleum-based neoprene.

JoJo Maman Bébé kids’ colour block wetsuit

Best: For toddlers

Rating: 6/10

With a zip along the front, this neoprene wetsuit from JoJo Maman Bébé is ideally suited to particularly young sea splashers. Easy to put on, and to take off, it comes in sizes 1-2 years up to 5-6 years. Choose from bright pink and blue colourways, which stand out amongst the crowds. This shortie will certainly make young ones water experience a joyful one, ensuring they look the part, and will keep them in the water for longer.

The verdict: Kids’ wetsuits

We can’t fault Decathlon’s 3/2 junior wetsuit front zip 900; a unisex design that’s built to last, has supreme comfort, and some impressive eco credentials. This wetsuit combines some great features while keeping the price affordable. If you’re looking for younger kids, we simply adore Saltskin’s fun animal prints.

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