Surfing wetsuits have been around since 1952. From then on, High Bradner’s invention has evolved. From the relatively flimsy foamed neoprene to the sandwiched with thin sheets of nylon and spandex, improvements were designed to help the suit maintain its impermeability.
This garment that is typically worn by surfers, divers, and other water sports enthusiasts primarily provides thermal insulation. With its improvement over the years, it also helps with buoyancy and protection from scratches and scrapes, UV exposure, and possible injuries from marine organisms.
There are various types of wetsuits, and they are based on different uses and temperatures. These range from a thin, 2mm “shortie” that covers just the torso to a full 8mm to a semi-dry that is usually put together with boots, gloves, and hood.
Swimmers can succumb to hypothermia even in relatively warm water on a warm day. This is the reason that insulation has, over time, been the main focus in improving wetsuits. The insulation properties count on bubbles of gas walled within the material, which lessen its ability to charge heat. These same bubbles also provide the wetsuit a low density, which helps with buoyancy in water.
Table of Contents
Best Surfing Wetsuits
With the wide range of surfing wetsuits in the market, it helps to know the factors to consider before picking one. But, the most helpful is when someone narrows down your choices for you. And, that’s what we are here for.
The following surfing wetsuits were carefully selected based on the factors listed above, combined with our thoughts regarding the brand, user reviews, and price tag.
- O’Neill Men’s 3/2mm Full Surfing Wetsuit
- Seavenger Navigator 3mm Neoprene Wetsuit
- XCEL Drylock X 5/4mm Hooded Wetsuit
- Quiksilver Men’s 3/2mm Full Flatlock Wetsuit
- O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3mm Comp Zipless Full Wetsuit
- Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Back Zip 3/2 Wetsuit
#1. O’Neill Men’s 3/2mm Full Surfing Wetsuit – Best Entry Level Wetsuit
O’Neill has become not just a brand but a reputable institution when it comes to wetsuits. With their history founded in innovation, functionality, and value, it is no surprise that their brand achieved success.
Their achievement was not an easy recipe. It stemmed from their pure and real surfing heritage combined with their team of top-rank riders who are in a constant look-out for product innovation. Their line of wetsuits ranges from UV-resistant suits for toddlers to the most advanced full-body suit designed for the harshest water temperatures.
The O’Neill Men’s Reactor 3/2mm Full Surfing Wetsuit is the market’s leading entry-level surfing wetsuit that traverses through all water sports. It was last updated on 2018 and has been one of the best-selling surfing wetsuits.
With comfort and style considered in the construction of O’Neill Men’s Reactor 3/2mm Full Surfing Wetsuit, one of the features include the neck closure being fully adjustable. The seal you get is what you need, and you won’t have to settle for what has been decided by the manufacturer. This surfing wetsuit also boasts knee pads to heighten the toughness of the suit in a critical area where wear and tear usually start after so much use.
This surfing wetsuit is constructed with polyester, spandex, and nylon. Merged with neoprene lining, it provides a comfortable experience to keep you warm on cold days and chill on warm ones. Its 3/2mm thickness is particularly best for colder waters.
One of the selling points of this surfing wetsuit is its price tag. It is relatively cheaper than most brands whose quality of materials and construction are just the same.
- 3/2mm FluidFlex™ Neoprene Full Suit
- Rear YKK® Zipper Entry with Pull Tab Leash
- Non-Chafing, Flat-Locked Stitched, Overlapping Seams
|Comes with knee pads and internal key pouch||Zipper unzips while duck diving larger waves
|Stretchy fabric and flawless stitching||Can be smelly if stored with moisture|
|Padded front protects against bumps|
|Strategic paddle zones
#2. Seavenger 3mm Neoprene Shorty Wetsuit – Best Short Wetsuit
Seavenger has established its name as a reputable brand since it started in the early 2000s. They are popular for putting a lot of consideration into the safety and dependability of their items. Recently, they launched their Project AWARE in hopes of reducing pollution through regular cleanups. You can donate at least a dollar at their website to help their cause.
This company believes that high-quality wetsuits do not have to be expensive. This trusted company specializes in manufacturing underwater essentials. Their line of products includes wetsuits, snorkels, and surf booties.
Seavenger Navigator 3mm Neoprene Shorty Wetsuit is easy to get on and off. Its extra-long leash and zipper help whether you are on dry land or just got out of the water. This short surfing wetsuit is perfect not just for surfing but for scuba diving, full-face snorkeling, and other water sports.
One thing that you need to check when getting a surfing wetsuit is if it chafes or not. Seavenger Navigator 3mm Neoprene Shorty Wetsuit does not. It is a life-saver when you are in the water for long periods.
As funny as it may sound, the armpit area is a critical part of a surfing wetsuit. Your arms move a lot therefore that part of your armpit stretches a lot, too. The fabric this surfing wetsuit is made of is flexible enough to be the perfect suit for mobility, particularly surfing.
- High-flex 3mm neoprene
- Anti-abrasion shoulders
- Tough sharkskin chest for surfing
|Makes colder waters tolerable for swimming||Gives off a chemical smell
|Turtleneck tapers down and doesn’t choke||Confusing size chart|
|Easy to put on and get off
#3. XCEL Drylock X 5/4mm Hooded Wetsuit – Best Cold-Water Wetsuit
Growing accustomed to the chilly Atlantic coasts of New Jersey, Ed D’Ascoli, the founder of Xcel, didn’t take long to develop wetsuits that will provide maximum performance for both cold and warm bodies of waters. His enthusiasm and experience were the driving forces of his company to become an international brand. His examples instantly laid the foundations of how surfing wetsuits are revolutionized.
XCEL Drylock is just one of XCEL’s wetsuits that are great for colder climates. Whether it is the water that is cold or the wind blowing, this surfing wetsuit will keep you comfortable and warm. Aside from being warm and light, its flexibility helps you achieve superior maneuverability when you are surfing.
XCEL uses Thermo Dry technology that creates one of the warmest linings in surfing wetsuits. This advancement gives you enough freedom to move, ride, and conquer the waves no matter what the temperature of the waters are. The high-quality seals retain and recycle your body heat and lock it in for a longer time.
For a thin surfing wetsuit, it offers superior warmth and comfort. It has a textured chest panel that keeps out the cold winds. The overlapping neck panels and the X2 entry system creates easy access for the suit to be worn and taken off.
- DryLock X – Water-tight construction
- New Entry System
- Japanese limestone neoprene construction
|Premium comfort and performance||Comes with a hefty price tag
|Full suit with hood
|Ease of entry
#4. Quiksilver Men’s 3/2mm Flatlock Wetsuit – Best Men’s Surfing Wetsuit
Aside from gaining popularity with sports apparel they market, Quiksilver has also been known as an active participant in charitable events worldwide. They recognize that their brand comes with a social responsibility to give back to the people. Thirty-five years after Quiksilver was founded in 1969, they formed Boardriders Foundation whose aim is to bring all of their charitable giving under one umbrella.
Quiksilver does not need publicity from the charitable works they do to promote their product, although it is a huge help. Since they began in this industry, they became one of the standards in boardshorts and clothing for mountain and ocean lovers globally. The ever-growing needs of riders as well as the advancement of technology have widened their line of merchandises.
One of their renowned apparel is their Syncro BZ Full Flatlock Wetsuit. Created with 3mm thick neoprene, it provides a couple of primary benefits – flexibility and breathability. This surfing wetsuit lets you move with no constrictions while surfing in colder waters. Need to ride on a hot summer day, its materials let the airflow to keep you cool.
Aside from making you look like the newest addition to the Marvel Superhero lineup, Quiksilver Syncro BZ Full Flatlock Wetsuit drives your worries away as you ride into waters with temperatures starting from 50°. It will be up to your body’s sensitivity to determine how low with the temperature you can go with this surfing wetsuit.
This superhero-looking surfing wetsuit is made of 30% hyper0stretch II neoprene and 70% Freemax super stretch. It is built with a thermal panel for wind and panel protection. The thermal lining helps trap body heat to help you stay warmer while surfing for longer periods.
The seam technologies they used in Syncro BZ Full Flatlock Wetsuit are GBS (Glued and Blind Stitched) and LFS (Liquid Flex Seal). This means that they are triple-glued and blind-stitched for added impenetrability while still making it comfortable for the surfer to wear. These two-seam technologies combined results in a highly-effective seal.
- 100% Hyperstretch 3.0 neoprene
- YKK standard length back zip
- Ecto flex knee pads
|Stretchy and comfortable||Leaky areas around the zipper|
|Lightweight and flexible||Flushing during duck dives
|Great fit options available
|Warm with airholes
#5. O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3mm Comp Zipless Full Wetsuit – Best Women’s Surfing Wetsuit
It tells so much about a brand when a second product under their name is included in a “best of” list. Their reputation becomes unquestionable. What they have to offer becomes instantly acceptable.
And who would? Their O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3mm Comp Zipless Full Wetsuit is one of the surfing wetsuits in the market that lets you perform at your highest level. It promises an experience that makes you feel as if you are surfing naked.
O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3mm Comp Zipless Full Wetsuit is designed to help you withstand the cold waters in ranges of 10° to 14° C. On this series; they used their TechnoButter 3 Technology. This technology creates a lightweight surfing wetsuit with high warming power and no water absorption system.
The surfing wetsuit is coated with air panels on the chest and the back to keep the body from getting cold during windy and gusty rides. It is also the same air panels that let you keep your cool on a hot summer day.
Fit and size are not hard to understand on O’neill surfing wetsuits. The challenge in unisex surfing wetsuits is that they are built with assumptions for a male’s body size. Therefore, making it hard for women to get one for them. O’Neill has a wider range of sizes that covers almost any physique. Women and kids won’t have a hard time fitting themselves in.
With a design well thought of, O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3mm Comp Zipless Full Wetsuit adjusts to wearer perfectly and doesn’t put pressure on any area of the body. This might make you worry about water getting in. Don’t worry. This wetsuit offers curved seams in all the right spots. This ensures a snug fit that lets you move freely while locking the water out.
This 4/3mm surfing wetsuit may be a little thick for warmer waters and sunnier days, but that’s because it is designed to last over a longer time, making it a wise investment for surfers on tighter budgets.
- Fully Taped Seams
- Aqua Alpha Solvent Free Neoprene lamination
- Zipless 360° Barrier with Drain Holes
|Elastic, comfortable, and waterproof||Poor stitching at the armpit area
|Water hardly enters
#6. Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Back Zip 3/2 Wetsuit – Best Looking Surfing Wetsuit
Rip Curl has been in the surfing wetsuit industry since the 1980s. And, for a company lasting more than three decades, they have every bragging right to claim they are the ultimate surfing company. What makes Rip Curl one of the market leaders is their passion with watersports that feeds them with finding out the best equipment riders will need to keep them warm, comfortable, and stylish.
Their catalog not only has surfing wetsuits. Over time, they have widened their line of products from their famous water apparel to the ones you can wear outside of the water. They have sweaters, jackets, pants, hats and caps, bags and luggage, and surfboard covers. The latest addition to their list is their Surf & Tide watch that lets you know what the tide is doing while allowing you to track every surf and ride you make.
The Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Back Zip 3/2 Wetsuit is one of what they have on the wetsuits list that has recently been updated. Dawn Patrol has been one of their high-performance wetsuits that gained its popularity by balancing superior features and durability. Now, they have made it stronger than ever as it started to utilize materials like E5 neoprene lined with E5 Flash and taped with 75% E5.
The E5 neoprene reinforcing tape with its elastic nature allows the Rip Curl Dawn Patrol to stretch and contract in such a way that it doesn’t restrict the suit, but significantly improves the seam’s strength. The seams are both GBS and taped. GBS alone is arguably the best in the market, but putting it together with taped seams, increases its durability and seal.
Aside from the superior materials, there are other things to admire about this surfing wetsuit. Its recent makeover got the right mix of appealing looks combined with high-functionality. The update included features like thermal lining, flash-lining mesh chest panel, and the internal E5 tape.
- E5 Ultralite Neoprene (E in E5 is Elastomax rubber)
- 3/2mm thickness
- Glued and Blind Stitched, E5 Flash Lining + Tape, Mesh Skin Panels
|Lightweight and comfortable||Comes in only one color
Our Top Pick
As more people get into sports involving the waters, wetsuits became popular that its market has grown rapidly. Accordingly, the types of wetsuits have broadened, making it a challenge to pick, which is it that you need. With so many to choose from, how will you know it is the right one for you?
Our team did wide research about the wetsuits we featured. While most of the surfing wetsuits listed are of the same thickness and body coverage, each has its characteristic that lacks from the other. One surfing wetsuit stood out and made it to our top of the list.
O’Neill Men’s Reactor 3/2mm Full Surfing Wetsuit bested the five other surfing wetsuits on the list for the simple reason that it guarantees warmth in a big range of water temperatures. The seals and seams assure incredibly low water leak. Not to mention the materials that feel soft to the skin while still maintaining a smooth seal on every critical area for leaking.
Warmth and comfortable snug fit that allows you superior maneuverability won it for O’Neill Men’s Reactor 3/2mm Full Surfing Wetsuit.
Why You Should Wear A Wetsuit
An argument within yourself happens when you see a product that you think should be in your basket (or online cart). Wetsuits are one of them. The case of whether want vs. need happens and for the most part, the decision leans towards not getting it, thinking, it will in the long run just lose its alluring qualities.
Not if you love the waters and you want to spend more time in it, then wetsuits should be in your cart. For surfers who have experienced waves, weather, and frigid temps, wetsuits are more of a necessity than a luxury. Wetsuits are not just for athletes. They are built with plenty of advantages that even a beginner or a hobbyist can enjoy.
Here’s a detailed list of reasons you should wear a wetsuit.
Wetsuits facilitate a safer swim, especially for those who are intimidated by swimming. It offers important advantages that all add to safety, including warmth and buoyancy.
The ocean can be the happiest and most dangerous playground at the same time. These garments keep you protected, not just from the coldest temperatures. It keeps your skin covered from direct UV rays and sheltered against sharp objects and pointed organisms in and out of the waters.
Open waters are harsher than pools. Pools temperature can be adjusted accordingly while the ocean can either be friendly or shocking. Warmth is not commonly considered when swimming in the pool, but if you are at the beach, even the seemingly fair temperature of 65° can shock your body if you are unprepared for it.
Wetsuits provide warmth to the surfer in the cold water. Its construction made of neoprene, a rubber-like material is intended to keep you comfortable. Even at the ocean’s frigid state, you can still ride the waves given that you have the wetsuit with the right amount of neoprene thickness.
Remember, a warm and comfortable body swims better.
Buoyancy plays into many dynamics of your stay in the ocean. The more buoyant you are, the better your body stays floating in the water. Floating better leaves you less effort in paddling or stroking.
Wearing wetsuits help you swim higher in the waters. The neoprene material has air bubbles that are built-in to help with the insulation in keeping you warm. One side-effect of these bubbles is buoyancy. This good kind of side-issue allows you to swim higher in the water and to swim higher means, you are swimming faster. This makes you perform better in open waters.
Hydrodynamics and “Free Speed”
The suit’s buoyancy lets the wearer swim faster than without the suit. That is your body’s hydrodynamics working with the wetsuit. Wetsuits are coated with distinct finishes that are usually referred to as SCS (Super Composite Skin).
SCS Technology is proven to repel water as you swim. This makes it easier to swim faster, saving anywhere from a few seconds to tens of seconds per 100. The lesser effort exerted in the waters makes you less tired and drained.
Surfing Wetsuits VS Other Watersport Apparels
Wetsuits and Drysuits
Both are used for thermal insulation for a longer stay in the cold waters but differ in materials and functionality. Wetsuits are constructed with rubber neoprene and are intended to keep you warm when wet. However, they are not waterproof. Thus, if your wetsuit is a little loose-fitting, the wetsuit can get you cold.
Drysuits, on the contrary, are entirely waterproof. But they are not designed for warmth if used on its own.
Wetsuits are more favorable to use in cold water conditions. The skin-tight design of wetsuits allows for more speed and better maneuverability. Drysuits are better for out of the water activities like kayaking, standup paddling, or wake surfing. It is for those who do not like getting any cold water on their skin and do not necessarily care about restriction.
Wetsuits and Rash Guards
Rash guards’ difference from wetsuits lies primarily on its function. While wetsuits keep the wearer from feeling cold, rash guards keep the surfers from abrasion brought by sand and waxy residue from surfboards. They barely offer any help in keeping the surfers warm. They are the go-to shirt not just by watersports athletes but for baseball and soccer players too.
Its convenience for both dry and wet sports are due to them serving as a thin-layered base shirt that can protect the wearer from sunburn, cuts, stings, and, of course, rashes. These thin-layered base shirts are usually made of spandex, nylon or polyester.
Water Temperature Guides
There are water guides that aid in determining which kind of suit to wear on specific conditions, and while they are extremely helpful, they are not rules that are written in stones. They are but references for water temperature and comfort level. They should be in no way dictate how long you should be on the waters.
|Water Temperature °F||Wetsuit||Water Temperature °C|
|46° and below||6/5mm Hooded Fullsuit||8° and below|
|46° to 53°||5/4mm Hooded Fullsuit||8° to 12°|
|49° to 55°||4/3mm Hooded Fullsuit||9° to 13°|
|51° to 58°||4/3mm Fullsuit||11° to 14°|
|56° to 64°||2mm or 3/2mm Fullsuit||13° to 18°|
|62° to 68°||2mm Fullsuit, Springsuit, or Long Johns||17° to 20°|
|65° to 70°||2mm Springsuit or Short John/Jane||18° to 21°|
|70° to 73°||1mm or 2mm Jacket and/or Boardshorts||21° to 23°|
|74° ++||Rash Guards / Boardshorts||23° ++|
Factors to Consider in Getting the Best Surfing Wetsuits – Buying Guide
Open waters are harsh. They can be hot, cold, or full of harmful elements. Therefore, making wetsuits an investment for avid and regular wave riders. The best surfing wetsuits can last a good two to three years if taken care of properly.
When shopping for the best surfing wetsuits, be sure to consider the following factors before deciding which one to put into your cart.
Get the wetsuit that conforms to your body size. It is pointless to get a wetsuit that does not fit you. Loose wetsuits can be leaky and irritating while tight ones can be constricting. For this factor, you should go to physical stores and try some suits to know your size.
Once you know your size, it will be easier to find the surfing wetsuit you need that will also conform with your budget. Don’t forget to read reviews to weed out wetsuits that are incorrectly advertised at the wrong sizes.
Serious surfers know surf wetsuits are worn a lot and for long periods. They will go through a lot of strain and beating from all the elements it will be exposed to – water, UV, sharp objects, etc.,
Go for wetsuits whose construction is made of quality materials, decent thickness, and sturdy type of seams. The most common preference is flat-lock seams. Neoprene is flexible and can shape according to your built. But, since you can’t try them out on the waters before buying them, you may check out how they do by reading reviews left by those who have tried them out.
Always consider the main areas where the wetsuits will be sealed against your body – neck, wrists, and ankles. Make sure these points are flexible and comfortable while they keep the water out. The best surfing wetsuits have seams that can be adjusted or built with comfort and safety in mind.
Wetsuits designed for cold water climates measures from 5mm to 8mm thick and often come with built-in hoods for extra warmth. High-quality neoprene is recommended, although other high-quality materials can work too. Over time, new materials are being discovered and used for wetsuits. But, so far, neoprene has proven to give a good balance between flexibility, comfort, and price.
Surfing requires a lot of physical movements; therefore, your wetsuit should help you maintain maneuverability as you surf. The best surfing wetsuit is the one you can wear comfortably for a long time that is flexible enough to keep you from feeling like you are strained.
Taking Care of Your Surfing Wetsuit
Wetsuits are awesome investments. They are your superhero costumer as you ride the waters and rip those swells. While most people find it better to surf in board shorts, surfing wetsuits undeniably extends your time longer in the waters, especially when the temperatures are harsh.
Surfing wetsuits cost from $75 to $500. With such a price tag, it will be pointless to leave them neglected and not taken care of. Here are some parting tips on how to maintain your surfing wetsuits. These will not only prolong your surfing wetsuit’s useful life but will also keep it looking good and feeling fresh a lot longer.
- Carefully getting in and out of the wetsuit. The seams and seals have been engineered to be durable and sturdy, but they can only take so much. Force exertion can simply rip them apart. The best way to wear it is by rolling the body of the suit down inside out as you start wearing it on your legs. Then, roll it up over your torso, through your chest and arm slots. Make sure to remove any sharp jewelry to keep it from rips.
- Clean it thoroughly with fresh water. Rinse it inside and out after each use. Even when you think you will have to use it for another round of ride. Salt buildup destroys your surfing wetsuit as quick as leaving it directly under the sun.
- Hang them to completely dry. Just make sure, it is not directly under the sun. Do not hang it by the neck or the shoulders as it might stretch everything out. Slide the top of the suit through a plastic hanger and hang it doubled-up, inside out to help both sides of the wetsuit dry at the same speed.
- Turn the suit inside out until it is completely dry. This is especially done when the wetsuit is left to dry after days of not using. Only the side that you left outward will dry, and it leaves the other side marinated in a rubber-destroying moist. Flip it inside out occasionally to make sure you get 0 moisture on both sides.
- Use wetsuit shampoo. As carefully as you rinse your surfing wetsuit, there will still be spots that you will miss, leaving salt buildup in crevices that are hard to reach. Fill up a bucket with cool water and some capfuls of wetsuit cleaner, make it sudsy, and toss the wetsuit in. Give it a little rub and knead and you’ll get a clean and corrosion-free surfing wetsuit.
It may sound absurd, but some people still do it, so I’ll just leave it here. Do not piss in your wetsuit. Other than it ruins the neoprene, it’s also just gross.
Wetsuit technology improves year by year. With new materials and suit construction refining flexibility, warmth, and ease use of use, it has surely become an integral part of surfing. After all, a good surfer knows that to enjoy the sport of surfing truly, you must be able to last longer in the waters. And, that’s what surfing wetsuits are for.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Why are surfing wetsuit zippers found in the back?
Q: Why does my wetsuit smell?
Q: Which wetsuits are for surfing?
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G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at many of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which also rubbed off on my two young sons! I am also lucky to spend a lot of ocean-time in my favorite second home, Indonesia. In addition to SurfHungry I have founded several other websites in my areas of passion, namely coffee and rock climbing, and am also a regular rowing content contributor.