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rebecca parsons gemma lee wetsuit

Gemma Lee 4/3 in Candyfloss Pink. Photo: Jody Marcon


The Inertia

Wetsuits are both the biggest blessing and curse of surfing. They keep us warm and allow us to surf year round, but they’re pricey and can be a pain to put on and surf in. Luckily, wetsuit technology is constantly improving and the suits keep getting better. In a male-dominated sport however, it can be difficult to find gear specifically tailored to women, but the times they are a-changing, and plenty of awesome wetsuit manufacturers are making wetsuits with women in mind. So, I considered what qualities make a good suit and set out to find the best in the game. Here are six of my favorites.

Editor’s Note: It’s been a strange year for the wetsuit business, with skyrocketing demand and a very limited supply of neoprene. We’ve done our best to provide you with links to websites that still have stock and will update this article as that changes.

What are the best women’s wetsuits for surfing?

1. O’Neill Hyperfreak Chest Zip 4/3 ($329.95)
2. Roxy 3/2 Syncro Plus Chest Zip ($209.95)
3. Patagonia R2 Yulex Front-Zip ($459)
4. Billabong 3/2 Salty Dayz ($239.95)
5. Kassia + Surf Psychedelic 3 MM ($400)
6. Gemma Lee Candy Floss Pink 4/3 ($430)

For booties, check out our guide to the best booties. Learn more about men’s wetsuits here. Want to avoid getting your ears drilled? Read our earplugs review here.

What makes a good wetsuit?

When it comes to selecting a suit, there are a few things to consider before shelling out your hard earned cash. My criteria when selecting a suit is warmth, durability, comfort/flexibility, and admittedly, style.

A good wetsuit is warm.

Warmth is the number one most important factor when selecting a suit. If it’s not going to keep you warm, then there’s no point. Obviously, the thickness of the suit is going to affect the warmth, so it’s important to know which is appropriate for your region. Consult a wetsuit thickness and temperature chart or chat with friends in your local lineup before selecting a suit.

rebecca parsons oneill suit

Nothing is more comfortable or stretches better than O’Neill Technobutter. Photo: Jody Marcon

A good wetsuit is comfortable and flexible.

After warmth, the comfort and the flex of the suit are most important to me. If it’s a battle to get into my suit or if I feel like I’m being strangled the entire time I’m surfing, the suit isn’t a winner. I surf often, so I’m after a suit that’s fairly easy to take on and off, even if it comes at a higher price point. Another pro of a flexible suit is that it doesn’t impede my surfing — the downside of that is if I blow a takeoff or trip over my own feet, then I’ve only got myself to blame.

patagonia rebecca parsons

There is no better warranty in the wetsuit business than a Patagonia warranty. Photo: Jody Marcon

A good wetsuit is durable.

Wetsuits are pricey, so you’ll want a suit that’s going to last you more than a season. Depending on how well you take care of it and how frequently you surf, a good suit should last you at least a couple of years. However, a suit that is flexible and has a little more give may not last as long as a more rigid suit, so you’re dealing with a bit of a double-edged sword. A good warranty goes a long way as well.

A good wetsuit is stylish.

It may sound silly, but I care what my suit looks like. When I’m shelling out a few hundred bucks for a suit that I’ll be wearing multiple times a week for years, I want it to have a little flair.

1. O’Neill Hyperfreak Chest Zip 4/3 ($329.95)

Warmth: 5
Durability: 5
Comfort and Flexibility: 5
Style: 4
Overall: 4.5/5

Either I’ve gotten wimpier or the water is colder this winter but regardless, I’ve spent a lot of sessions shivering. That was, until I slipped into O’Neill’s Hyperfreak suit. The body and legs of the suit made from Technobutter 3, the brand’s exclusive, maximum stretch, water-resistant neoprene, while the arms and shoulders are constructed from Techobutter 3X, O’Neill’s new, pre-stretched neoprene that is the lightest, most flexible, and softest material the company offers. Additionally, the chest entry features a floating zipper panel and flush barrier with drain holes. The result is a warm, comfortable suit with style points to boot.

Buy here or here, on Amazon.

2. Roxy 3/2 Syncro Plus Chest Zip ($209.95)

Warmth: 4
Durability: 5
Comfort and Flexibility: 5
Style: 4
Overall: 4.5/5

When it comes to wetsuits, Roxy knows how to make them the way women want. While other companies offer women’s suits, they are often spinoffs of men’s designs and include a little too much room in the wrong places, if you know what I mean. Made from limestone-deprived neoprene, the Syncro has all the features you’d expect in a solid wetsuit: infrared thermal lining on the chest and back panel, taped seams, a chest entry system, strong kneepads, and drainage holes. The only thing missing is a place to stash your key. Although the suit is black, it features a subtle pattern on the sleeves, which gives it a little added flair. The suit is available at an affordable price while offering the technical features that comprise a good suit, which is a huge plus in my book.

Buy here on Evo. For colder waters, go with the 4/3 version.

3. Patagonia R2 Yulex Front-Zip ($459)

Warmth: 5
Durability: 5
Comfort and Flexibility: 4
Style: 3
Overall: 4/5

I love everything Patagonia makes but when the brand first came out with its neoprene-free Yulex wetsuit a few years back, I wasn’t a fan. The suit fit extremely tight and was very restrictive; it didn’t have a lot of give nor did it seem to break in with wear. I was skeptical giving Patagonia suits another try but the first suit was either a fluke or the Ventura-based company has made some serious upgrades because this time around, I loved it. Fair Trade certified, the suit is made from 85 percent Yulex natural rubber that is FSC certified by the Rainforest Alliance and 15 percent synthetic rubber. Additional features include a front-zip entry with a key loop, flexible yet durable kneepads and cuffs, a warm thermal lining made from recycled materials, and all of the external seems are 100 percent sealed. The chest zip can be a bit of a challenge to line up as both ends are detached but once you’re in, you’re good. Although the suit is only available in solid black, it is function at its finest. The R2 suit is comparable to a 3/2 in thickness but is incredibly warm; you may even mistake it for a 4/3.

Buy here on Patagonia. For colder waters check out the Patagonia R4 here.

4. Billabong 3/2 Salty Dayz ($239.95)

Warmth: 5
Durability: 4
Comfort and Flexibility: 4
Style: 5
Overall: 4.5/5

Amongst my friends, we’re constantly talking about how Billabong has the cutest suits in the game. But for a while, the sizing was a little off so we steered clear of them — but after trying the Salty Daze 3/2, it seems like Billabong got that figured out. In an effort to be eco-friendly, the exterior jersey is made from recycled materials, upcycled car tires and neoprene scraps are combined for the foam layer. The suit is lined with Graphene Recycler. Additionally, it features a chest zip entry, glued and sealed exterior seams, durable kneepads, and a place to stash your key. To top it off, the suit features a fun pattern on the chest and sleeves without being overbearing.

Buy here on Evo

5. Kassia + Surf Psychedelic 3 MM ($400)

Warmth: 5
Durability: 3.5
Comfort and Flexibility: 4
Style: 5
Overall: 4/5

When I first started surfing in the Psychedelic suit, I hated it. Sure, the design is awesome, but the neck flap enclosure was difficult to get over my head and it felt like it was choking me. But, after giving the suit a fair go and breaking it in, I’m finally a fan. Thoughtful features include a smoothie V over the chest and back, taped and glued seams, kneepads, an infrared thermal lining, back zip closure, two neck flap enclosures, and a zip closure stash pocket on the left arm. While I didn’t like the neck flap enclosures out of the gates, I will admit they help prevent flooding and definitely keep you warmer. With its psychedelic, intergalactic design, this suit is definitely a head turner and I’m constantly getting compliments.

Buy here.

6. Gemma Lee Candy Floss Pink 4/3 ($430)

Warmth: 2
Durability: 4
Comfort and Flexibility: 5
Style: 5
Overall: 3.5/5

As much as I hate to admit it, when it comes to selecting a wetsuit I care about the aesthetic as well as the functionality. All of Gemma Lee’s suits come in bright, fun colors, which is something that I personally enjoy. When I first put this suit on, I was impressed by how easy it was to get into and how comfortable and flexible it was from the get go. Constructed with the environment in mind, the suit is made from a limestone-based neoprene and a nylon lining made from recycled PET bottles. Additionally, the suit features flatlocked stitched seams, a back zip for easy entry, and kneepads for durability. The suit lacks a place to stash your key, which is something we hope GL adds in its next model. While the suit includes a high micro cell structure that supposedly retains heat for longer periods of time and reduces water absorption, I found that the suit was on the chilly side for a 4/3 and was more comparable to a 3/2 — something to keep in mind if you plan on paddling out in frigid waters.

Buy here.

Disclosure: The Inertia may receive a small commission if you make a purchase from the affiliate links included in this feature at no additional cost to you. Our goal is always to entertain, educate, and inspire, and we hope you find this feature useful.

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