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Gear Guy

Do I need separate wetsuits for snorkeling and kayaking?

Gear Guru, over the last two years I've taken up two new sports: snorkeling and kayaking. Several times while snorkeling I have rented "shorties," or partial wetsuits. I have also been told that I should buy a similar wetsuit for spring kayaking. Can you use the se suit for both sports? If so, can you make some recommendations? Steve Delmar, New York

A: Of course you can use the same wetsuit. Water is water, cold is cold, neoprene is neoprene. The only conceivable reason I can see for buying two is if you decide one shortie wetsuit is warmer than another, and therefore more suitable for, say, kayaking.

Farmer John Short-Leg

You could, for instance, get a Warmers 2mm AquaLite Short-Leg Wetsuit ($69; available at, a good base layer adequate for more temperate aquatic sports. When things get chillier, add a Mysterioso Nyloprene Top ($59;, which combines neoprene with stretchy nylon panels in a light, warm shirt-type top.

In any event, there are lots of options. Some people prefer the extra warmth of a long-legged sleeveless suit, such as the Warmers 3mm Titanium Farmer John (REI has these for $119), then add a short- or long-sleeve neoprene top/shirt. Or, get the shortie suit and have in your arsenal a long-sleeve neoprene top, such as one made by Zap ($60; available at Point is, you can spend maybe $200 and have three pieces that will suffice for a variety of conditions.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, REI