neoprene tops

Do neoprene tops by Bomber Gear ( ) help against hypothermia?

Not much protection
The 1 mm top is only going to keep you warm in water down into the low 60s. I know a guy from south africa who surfs in a 1 mm top in 50 F water …. he is freaking nuts. If you want something to work a little better look at Oneil’s 2 mm top. I use that and 2 mm shorts until the water is below 60F.

Yes, they will help. Better than nothing. But not great for cold weather.

The wetsuits most kayakers use are 3 mm neoprene. The thicker, the warmer. Cold water board surfers are using 5-6 mm.

As above plus…
The regular tops are fine in warmer weather but even wet aren’t enough for many in water in the low 60’s, with a much steeper cut if you are talking water in the 50’s or lower.

And virtually all of the regular paddlewear tops are a fast trip to hypothermia if you take a swim and are up in chilly air and a wind, unless you have a wind blocking outer layer over them and paddle hard enough to generate heat. The paddle garments assume the wearer will have such a layer with them.

Some of the fancier wet wear like the lines developed with surfers in mind have decent wind blocking built in. As above, they are thicker than basic hydroskin. Also more expensive, though there are online retailers where you can score a good deal.

not really
if hypothermia is a concern then this isn’t going to do a lot. This is the kind of thing I wear under my drysuit when it’s warm out. Or when I’m in the pool. Falling in frigid winter waters, it’s not to going to help much.

depends on how it’s used
I use a thin, flexible neoprene top and a 3 mm john under my drywear in the cold. Some might consider this overkill. But in the cold, it’s probably more likely to keep me in the good than some of the other safety stuff I carry. The Rip Curl 1mm E-Bomb Pro, or the O’Neill Hyperfreak Technobutter. These are super flexible stuff, and the extra flexibility makes a very noticeable difference in the top while paddling. There’s nothing subtle about the difference in feel of movement between those, and say, even a thinner NRS .5 mm hydroskin jacket. So those two offer more protection than the NRS top, and much improved flexibility over most everything else out there right now. I checked all the surf shops this fall again, and those two were a tall step up in flexibility from everything else. A definite difference maker all day long on the water.

I was swimming in 52 degree water last weekend perfectly comfortable with the farmer john and 1 mm E-Bomb Pro as my only base layer under a dry top and dry pants. So yes, neoprene is an exceptionally good insulator. It does not breath. It is not dry wear whether you go for a swim or not. But just preventing any new water from ever flushing between the neoprene and your skin makes even the thin stuff a pretty substantial insulating layer, and you won’t even notice a few drops of water sneaking through your drywear for whatever reason.

But as above, on its own, 1mm is pretty limited in terms of preventing hypothermia in extended swims. But hugely better than nothing.

The difference in tops are kind of like the NRS mystery hood vs the E-Bomb 2mm hood. I have a well-used NRS mystery hood - hugely better than nothing, used for years, but not very good at all compared to the E-bomb 2mm - again, more flexible, comfortable, way better protection from the cold water even due to the design around the face. It’s not fair to compare the two because they’re not even close. I haven’t seen the Bomber Gear neoprene top (I’m using Bomber Gear dry top and pants), but it would come as a great surprise if it compared to technobutter or e-bomb pro tops. I couldn’t say for sure in this case though, but my money would bet against it.

The big mistake I witness kayakers making with neoprene? Even a wee bit of extra room between the skin and the neoprene takes away a huge portion of effectiveness. It needs to be a second skin to be effective. People who haven’t swam in it tend to base the fit decision on how it feels and looks in the store, on land, or sitting in the kayak. People who swim in it understand what getting flushed with cold water is all about, and why it happens.

chek out NRS 1.5mm
That bomber gear top looks like the NRS 0.5mm hydroskin top in that it has lycra under the armpits. That might as well be bare skin when you get wet. The NRS 1.5mm hydroskin top is neoprene under arms and is much warmer. I find a good combo to be the nrs hydroskin top and a shorty or long sleeve semidry top. and 3mm neoprene pants. Keeps my core warm but lets my arms radiate some heat if I’m working hard.