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 and better. In a male dominated sport, it can be difficult to find gear specifically tailored to women. Luckily, the women’s surf industry has grown tremendously in the past decade and these days, there are lots of wetsuit options for women.
After a lot of testing, it’s safe to say that the current state of women’s wetsuits is impressive. All the suits included in this review are suits we’d feel comfortable recommending to a friend or family member for all of their cool and cold-water adventures.
Our lead tester has been surfing for nearly two decades and as a team, we continue to research the latest and greatest in women’s wetsuit trends and technologies to keep things as current as possible. Over the past year, we tested eleven of the top wetsuits out there to bring you the best of the best. Read on for our top picks, to see them side-by-side, check out our Comparison Table, and for more info, here’s our Buyer’s Guide. For men’s wetsuits, click here.
The Best Women’s Wetsuits of 2023
Best Overall Wetsuit: Xcel Comp 4/3 mm Full Wetsuit
Most Comfortable Wetsuit: O’Neill Hyperfreak Chest Zip
Best Value Wetsuit: Roxy Syncro Plus Chest Zip
Most Sustainable Wetsuit: Patagonia R2 Regulator Front-Zip Full Wetsuit
Best Overall Wetsuit
Available In: 4/3mm
Pros: Comfortable and stretchy, affordable
Cons: Neck a little stiff at first
Features: 100% ultra-stretch exterior, critically taped seams
The Xcel Comp 4/3 is one of the most comfortable and stretchiest 4/3 suits we have ever owned. The lightest, stretchiest wetsuit on offer from Xcel, the suit features a 100% ultra-stretch exterior, Thermolite IR core, and critically taped seems. The neck was little hard to get on at first, but once it’s on the suit is super comfy, and we have no doubt it’ll stretch out and get easier with time. To top it off, this suit comes in a head turning maroon. Dare we say swoon?
When we’re in the market for a performance style 4/3, we usually expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $400. Billabong, Rip Curl, and Patagonia all have impressive performance suits, but all run upwards of $400. At $250, the Xcel Comp 4/3 feels like a steal. It offers the same warmth, comfort, and flexibility as suits from other brands at half the cost. While this suit seems just as durable, only time will tell (we will update should anything arise). Read the full review here.CHECK PRICE ON Xcel CHECK PRICE ON Amazon
Pros: Technobutter material is light and flexible, no break in
Cons: A little wear on the elbows over time
Features: TechnoButter 3 fully taped seams, lightweight quality construction, and a key pocket on the calf
We’ve all spent a session shivering in our wetsuit–it’s not. Luckily, the O’Neill’s Hyperfreak suit puts an end to chilly surfs. The body and legs of the suit are made from Technobutter 3, their exclusive, maximum stretch, water resistant neoprene while the arms and shoulders are constructed from Technobutter 3X, their new, pre-stretched neoprene that is the lightest, most flexible, and softest material they have on offer. 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.
Although the suit we tested is rated a 4/3, the comfort and stretch is comparable to a 3/2, without sacrificing warmth. We love how soft and comfy this suit feels and the head opening for the chest zip doesn’t feel like it strangles you when you put it on (a big plus in our book). This suit was comfortable right off the bat and didn’t have a break in period like most suits, thanks to its pre-stretched neoprene.
We’ve been surfing in this suit for over a year and the only wear and tear we’ve noticed is a little thinning at the elbows and the snap connector on the button is broken. Other than that, it’s still going strong and is a top pick for us.Check Price on Cleanline CHECK PRICE ON Amazon CHECK PRICE ON REI
Best Value Wetsuit
Available In: 3/2mm
Pros: Thermal smoothie on the chest, affordable
Cons: Not as durable as some other options
Sustainability: Limestone-derived neoprene, recycled lining
Features: StretchFlight 2 neoprene, thermal smoothie panels, GBS seams
When it comes to wetsuits, Roxy knows how to make them the way women want them. While other companies offer women’s suits, they are often spinoffs of their men’s designs and include a little too much room in the wrong places, if you know what we mean.
Made from limestone-derived neoprene, the Syncro Plus has all the features you’d expect in a solid wetsuit: thermal lining on the chest, triple glued and blind stitched (GBS) seams, a chest entry system, strong kneepads, and an internal chest key loop. The suit also features a thermal smoothie on the chest to keep you protected on windy days. The suit sports recycled polyester and nylon linings that make for both an eco-friendly and comfortable suit. The combination of features results in a suit that fits well, is moderately stretchy, and is comfortable overall.
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. Although it seems well made, it doesn’t seem quite as durable as some other options, but we shall see how it fairs over time. This suit runs a little small, so we would recommend ordering one size up from your usual size for that perfect fit.CHECK PRICE ON Amazon CHECK Out the New Swell Series Suit On Backcountry CHECK Back Zip PRICE ON Backcountry
Most Sustainable Wetsuit
Pros: Incredibly warm, flexible
Sustainability: The best of the best. Yulex rubber, recycled lining, fair trade and sustainable manufacturing
Features: Stretchy Yulex 85% natural rubber, 100% externally seam sealed, internal key loop, & Fair Trade Certified sewn
We love everything Patagonia makes but when they first came out with their neoprene-free Yulex wetsuit a few years back, we weren’t huge fans. We desperately wanted to love the suit because of its sustainable properties, but it was super stiff and uncomfortable and unfortunately wasn’t a winner. We were a little skeptical to give their suits another try but the first suit was either a fluke or they’ve made some serious upgrades because this time around, we tested their R2 (3.5/3mm) loved it.
Fair Trade certified, the suit is made from 85% Yulex natural rubber that is FSC certified by the Rainforest Alliance and 15% 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 the external seems are 100% 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 (3.5/3mm) is a bit thinner than your classic 4/3 at 3.5/3mm but is incredibly warm; you’ll have a hard time distinguishing it from a 4/3. It’s incredibly flexible out of the gates and feels comparable to traditional neoprene (if not better). Patagonia was a little tight-lipped about the specific improvements they made to this suit over last years, but we were blown away by the comfort and warmth. Like all things Patagonia, we trust that this suit is well made and will withstand the test of time.CHECK PRICE ON PATAGONIA
Best of the Rest
Pros: Super stretchy, inner wrist and ankle seals
Cons: Material is a little thin, runs a tiny bit small
Sustainability: 100% Yamamoto neoprene
Features: Inner wrist and ankle seal silicone tape, external thigh key pocket, & strategic seam design
Feral is a brand that wasn’t on our radar until recently and after taking this suit out for a test run, we’re stoked to have discovered this brand. Based out of the Bay Area in California, the Feral team are no strangers to cold waters, and it shows in their wetsuit design.
When our Feral suit arrived in the mail, we couldn’t believe how soft and stretchy the material felt. From our experience with Yamato neoprene, it doesn’t always have the most give, so we were anxious to get the suit in the water and see if it was worth its salt. It is. Made from 100% Yamamoto Japanese rubber, the suit features stretchier neoprene in the neck, shoulders, and arms and lightweight rubber in the body and legs. Additionally, the suit has a smooth, low-water-absorption jersey, strategic seam design, critical seam taping, inner wrist and ankle seal silicone tape, PK waterproof zipper with stainless steel pull, and an external thigh key pocket.
Warm and comfortable, with all the bells and whistles, this suit exceeded our expectations. The comfort was next level, and we loved the inner wrist and ankle seals—it reminded us of a dry suit but without the suction cup discomfort. The neoprene feels thinner than other 3/2s we’ve tried so we worry about how it will fare over time, but it seems well made and we have only heard good things, so we’re hopeful. If you prefer a looser fit, consider ordering a size up, but for the most part sizing is pretty spot on.check price on Feral
Pros: E7 Flash Lining provides perfect blend of warmth, stretch, and comfort, Flex Energy lining
Cons: Head portion is difficult to get on
Features: E7 Flash-Lining, Flex Energy, zip-free, & a single seam cut
Rip Curl has been regarded as one of the best in the wetsuit industry for years, and the Flashbomb is supposed to be the best suit they offer. It had been years since our tester had worn a Rip Curl suit, so she was excited to give this one a try.
The first difference we noticed from a previously owned Rip Curl wetsuit (circa 2013) was that the E7 Flash-Lining was a lot less fuzzy than the original models. The fuzziness was never something we loved, and the new model proved to be more comfortable and offered more stretch than its predecessors.
Zip free wetsuits have been trending lately and personally, we think it seems like a weird upgrade, but we were interested in trying it out. We suspected a zip free wetsuit would be more difficult to put on and were proven wrong until we got to the head portion. Getting the body into the suit was easy, but getting the neck section over the head was challenging to get both on and off. With time, it got a little easier but was still far more difficult than other suits we’ve owned. It’s kind of a double-edged sword because we know the challenge of putting it on is also what allows it to have a tighter seal and therefore be warmer.
Aside from the challenge of getting the suit on, we loved everything about it. As we mentioned, the updated E7 Flash-Lining is incredible and provides the perfect blend of warmth, stretch, and comfort. The suit also features “Flex Energy,” which is a lining on the back and shoulders that generates heat as you move through the water. Although we couldn’t pinpoint the activation during our session, we can vouch for the incredible warmth of the suit. This suit sports a single seam cut, meaning no seams cutting into you in weird places and a little added stretch. The quality of the suit is exceptional and based on past suits we’ve owned from Rip Curl, we have no doubt it will withstand the test of time.CHECK PRICE ON Cleanline Surf
Pros: Stylish, comfortable
Cons: A little roomy in the crotch area
Sustainability: SMART foam partially recycled neoprene
Features: AIRLITE 4D exterior fabric, chest key ring, & Super-flex taped seams
Amongst the girls, 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 Dayz 3/2 a couple years ago, it seems like they’ve got their sizing dialed in. And they’ve dialed it even further with the Furnace Comp. The suit still had a little extra room in the crotch area, but overall, it fit well.
In an effort to be eco-friendly, the Furnace Comp is made from a blend of 70% recycled nylon, 19% nylon, and 11% elastane. The result is a material that is much softer, stretchier, and more comfortable than traditional neoprene. According to Billabong, the exterior material is called AIRLITE 4D and provides 20% more stretch, which seems pretty spot on. The interior fabric is Billabong’s, and we were honestly shocked how soft and comfy this suit was and the amount of flex it provides while paddling.
Additionally, the suit features a chest zip entry, Super-flex taped seams, durable kneepads, and a place to stash your key. To top it off, the suit has a fun lower leg pattern that adds a little extra shazam. For even more shazam, check out our most stylish pick, the Billabong Salty Dayz, below.
Pros: Smoothy panel on back, comfortable hood
Cons: Stiff at first
Sustainability: Japanese limestone-based neoprene
Features: Smoothy panels, Neo 3.0 tape, & Bluesign approved
The thickest suit in our collection, the 7 Seas seemed like the perfect suit for extra chilly trips. Obviously, this suit was more challenging to get on than its thinner counterparts, but it wasn’t as bad as we expected. When you first get the suit on, it’s stiff, but it loosens up a bit once you hit the water and start moving.
We knew the hood was necessary for warmth but our lead tester had never surfed in a suit with an attached hood and feared it would feel claustrophobic. Luckily, the hood on this suit isn’t too tight fitting, so she didn’t feel that way at all and appreciated the added warmth.
Sporting a chest-zip entry, the 7 Seas suit has triple glued, blind stitched seams, super stretch Neo 3.0 tape, an easy access key cord, knee pads, liquid tape cuff seals to prevent flushing, and Glideskin on the hood to also prevent flushing. The suit features a smoothy panel on the back, which help provide a barrier against wind and further seal in the warmth. Despite being cold blooded, this suit might just turn our tester into a cold-water warrior after all.CHECK PRICE ON EVO CHECK Hood Free Version on Backcountry
Pros: Fun pattern
Cons: Feels snug at first
Sustainability: 100% recycled exterior fabric, partially recycled neoprene SMART foam
Features: Non-toxic, water based glues, silicon stretch internal jersey, GBS
Billabong has a wide selection for women and their clothes and gear are consistently one of the cutest brands for women. We’ve always been a fan of the look of their wetsuits, but for a while, the sizing/fit was a bit off. Luckily, they’ve got that figured out. We had the luxury of testing out both the Salty Dayz 3/2 and 4/3 in recent years and we’re a fan of both.
In an effort to be eco-friendly, the Salty Dayz 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.
The 4/3 Salty Dayz is everything we love about the 3/2, just a little warmer. The suit is mainly black with a subtle floral pattern on the arms and chest, giving it a fun, feminine flair. Like most 4/3 suits, the Salty Dayz feels a little snug at first, but once you take it out for its maiden voyage the stretch becomes notable and overall, it’s a comfortable suit that fits well.
Pros: Comfort zones to protect ribs, warm
Cons: A little stiff
Sustainability: Made using Eicoprene technology, a non-petroleum synthetic foam derived from a mix of oyster shell powder, limestone, and recycled tires
Features: 3D-Knit construction, WPF lining, & comfort zones to protect ribs while paddling
Picture is one of the newer players when it comes to surf gear and wetsuits, but they’re already doing an impressive job making sustainable suits. Their wetsuits are made using the latest Eicoprene technology, which is a non-petroleum based synthetic foam that’s derived from oyster shell powder, limestone, and recycled tires. The recycled polyester lining is laminated with Aqua-A, a solvent-free water-based glue that contains zero harmful chemicals. The suits are Bluesign approved and meet the Global Recycled Standard.
All of Picture’s eco initiatives sound good on paper, but they’re not worth much if the suit doesn’t perform. We were leery that it wouldn’t be up to par with the other suits, but it’s safe to say that the Equation is a solid suit.
This suit features everything we’re looking for in a solid 4/3: fully taped seams, glued and blind stitched constructions (GBS), knee pads, a key pocket, and watertight seals. The watertight seals combined with the 3D-Knit construction and WPF lining results in a suit that is nice and toasty. It also has comfort zones to protect the ribs while paddling, which is something we haven’t seen in a suit before but really liked. While this isn’t the most flexible suit on the market, it’s got a good amount of stretch and we found it to be comfortable in the water. The construction seems solid, and this is a suit we see being a part of my surf essentials for years to come.
Pros: Smoothie/jersey combo, back zip entry
Cons: Double neck flap enclosure takes some getting used to
Sustainability: Recycled thermal heat lining, Earth First Construction Elements
Features: Smoothie V over chest/back, key stash pocket on left arm
From the mind of professional surfer, Kassia Meador, the La Luna wetsuit is designed with warmth and comfort in mind. The 3/2 and 4/3 mm suits feature a smoothie/jersey combination that offers maximum warmth and comfort.
Unlike other, older models of Kassia + Surf wetsuits, the La Luna is comfortable out of the gates. The double neck flap enclosure took a little getting used to in terms of comfort, but we appreciate that it works to prevent cold water from entering through the neck. This suit also sports a back zip, which is rare these days and is something that we’re actually a big fan of because it’s makes it easier to get in and out of.
Created with the environment in mind, the suit sports a recycled thermal lining on the torso for added warm. Additionally, Earth First Construction elements are woven through the suit to conserve energy, save water, and keep harmful chemicals from entering the ocean. Other thoughtful features include fabric kneepads, a smoothie V over the chest and back, and a key stash pocket on the left arm.CHECK PRICE ON Backcountry
Pros: Super stretchy, seams strategically placed
Cons: Difficult to get on
Sustainability: Limestone based neoprene, dope-dyed yarns, carbon black recycled from old tires
Features: Key pocket in chest panel, 100% taped seams, Xtend 2.0 interior lining
Out of the box, this suit looks great. It’s soft to the touch and looks superhero sporty, with a cute flash of pink on the sleeve. But, when our tester went to try it on, she wasn’t so sure.
Like many suits, the Advantage Plus sports a chest zip entry and in order to get it fully zipped up you must pull the neck portion over your head. While we never particularly enjoy this part of getting suited up, this one was especially hard to put on. It took a couple of tries and a little assistance to get on but once it was on, it was comfy and didn’t feel like it was choking out tester. She thought maybe she needed a bigger size, but the suit fit perfectly once she got it on. With each time our tester took on/off the suit it got a little easier, but it was still much more difficult than other suits which made it lose a lot of points.
Once the suit was on, it was fantastic. It fit like a glove, the interior line was super soft, and it had plenty of flex. Designed with movement in mind, the suit features a new Superstretch Neospan exterior material for added stretch and the seams are strategically placed out of the way so you can move freely. Other thoughtful features include a key pocket in the interior chest panel, 100% taped seams, an insulated interior, a smoothskin neck to seal out water, and lightweight kneepads. This is a high-performance suit designed with serious athletes in mind.CHECK PRICE ON Hurley
Pros: Super stretchy and comfortable
Cons: Runs small
Sustainability: Limestone-based neoprene
Ho Stevie! has been on our radar for awhile as an affordable option for board bags and car racks. But recently, they added wetsuits to their list of offerings. We have to admit, we were a bit skeptical at first but after wearing the suit for a couple sessions, it’s safe to say we’re impressed.
Made from a limestone-based neoprene, the Ho Stevie! women’s wetsuit is sustainably made but is also incredibly comfortable. The material feels extra stretchy, making the suit easy to take on and off and comfortable to wear in the water. The suit features GBS seams and flatlock stitching. Ho Stevie! offers a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you’re not stoked, you can simply return it.
Additionally, the suit sports a YKK chest-zipper with a built in key loop. One important thing to note is that sizing is funky. Our lead tester typically wears a size 6 wetsuit, but found that a size 10 was the best fit. So unless you want your suit super tight, you’ll definitely want to size up.CHECK PRICE ON Amazon
|Wetsuit||Price||Available In (mm)||Sustainability||Features|
|Xcel Comp 4/3 mm Full Wetsuit||$200||4/3||No||100% ultra-stretch exterior, critically taped seams|
|Billabong Furnace Comp||$419||3/2, 4/3||Yes||AIRLITE 4D exterior fabric, chest key ring, & Super-flex taped seams|
|O’Neill Hyperfreak Chest Zip||$350||5.5/4 hooded, 4/3, 4.5/3.5, 3/2, 3.5/2.5||No||TechnoButter 3 fully taped seams, lightweight quality construction, and a key pocket on the calf|
|Roxy Syncro Plus||$220||3/2||Yes||StretchFlight 2 neoprene, thermal smoothie panels, GBS seams|
|Sisstr Seven Seas 5/4||$325||5/4 Hooded, 5/4 No Hood||Yes||Smoothy panels, Neo 3.0 tape, & Bluesign approved|
|Patagonia R2 Regulator Front-Zip Full Wetsuit||$459||R1 (3/2.5), R2 (3.5/3), R3 (4.5/3.5), R4 (5.5/4)||Top-tier||Stretchy Yulex 85% natural rubber, 100% externally seam sealed, internal key loop, & Fair Trade Certified sewn|
|Feral 3mm2||$415||5/4, 4/3, 3/2||No||Material is a little thin, runs a tiny bit small|
|Billabong Salty Dayz||$270||3/2, 4/3, 4/3 hooded||Yes||Non-toxic, water based glues, silicon stretch internal jersey, GBS|
|Rip Curl E7 Heatseeker Flashbomb||$519||6/4 hooded (E6), 5/4 hooded (E6), 4/3, 3/2||No||E7 Flash-Lining, Flex Energy, zip-free, & a single seam cut|
|Picture Organic Equation||$295||4/3, 3/2||Yes||3D-Knit construction, WPF lining, & comfort zones to protect ribs while paddling|
|Kassia + Surf La Luna||$380||5/4 Hooded, 5/4, 4/3, 3/2, 2||Yes||Smoothie V over chest/back; key stash pocket on left arm|
|Hurley Advantage Plus 4/3 MM||$355||4/3, 3/2||Yes||Key pocket in chest panel, 100% taped seams, & Xtend 2.0 interior lining|
|Ho Stevie! Women’s Wetsuit||$240||4/3, 3/2||Yes||GBS|
How We Tested
Born and raised in Orange County, California, with a short stint in Santa Cruz for college, our lead tester has worn her fair share of wetsuits over the years. And one thing she’s learned through her experience is that not all wetsuits are created equally. Some are ultra-warm. Some are comfortable. Others are not. Some withstand the test of time. Some are stylish. You get the picture. With wetsuit technology ever evolving, we decided it was time to set out to find the current best wetsuit on the market.
Obviously, everyone is entitled to her own opinion and the perfect wetsuit is going to vary from person to person. We tried to consider factors that most people are looking for in a wetsuit. Warmth. Stretch/comfort. Durability. Style. Materials. Special features. Anything that may contribute to the suit raising the bar for wetsuits.
We reached out to the top wetsuit manufacturers in the business and asked them to send us their favorite suits from this season. If you’re wondering if this is a pay-to-play type of guide, it’s not. No company paid to be included in this guide and each review is simply based on our experiences with the suit.
In order to test each suit, you guessed it, we surfed. Not only did we surf, but we jumped in unheated pools, wore them scuba diving, and shoved ourselves in and out of them multiple times (because a serious factor of a good suit is how easy it is to take on/off).
Editor’s Note: We first published this review in December of 2021. In June of 2023, we did some housekeeping and dropped some of the suits that we didn’t love or were no longer available. Over the summer, we had the opportunity to try out the newly launched Patagonia R2 Regulator, which we added to the review. The majority of our testing was done in California, with some additional testing done in Hawaii on scuba diving trips. Since its original publication, a number of the suits we tested have gone out of stock or have limited quantity as the brands drop their latest wetsuits. We are working on acquiring and testing the newest suits from each brand and will update this review as we get in the water with them to continue to offer you the latest and greatest in women’s wetsuits.
|Xcel Comp 4/3 mm Full Wetsuit||9||9||10||9.3|
|Billabong Furnace Comp||9||8||9||8.8|
|Roxy Syncro Plus||9||7||7||7.8|
|Sisstr Seven Seas 5/4||10||8||6||8|
|Patagonia R2 Regulator Front-Zip Full Wetsuit||10||8||7||8.4|
|Billabong Salty Dayz||9||8||7||8|
|Rip Curl E7 Heatseeker Flashbomb||9||10||7||8.4|
|Picture Organic Equation||9||8||7||8|
|Kassia + Surf La Luna||9||8||8||8.3|
|Hurley Advantage Plus 4/3 MM||9||8||6||7.6|
|Ho Stevie! Women’s Wetsuit||8||7||9||8|
How Did We Calculate Ratings for Best Wetsuits?
When considering what makes a good wetsuit, the main factors we considered were warmth, stretch/comfort, and durability. We also considered sustainability and style as well. Each suit received a score out of 10 for each category, which we then averaged to reach the overall score. Since durability is more difficult to determine after only a couple months of testing, that score was weighted less than warmth and stretch/comfort.
Here’s the breakdown. Warmth: 40, Stretch: 40, Durability: 20. In addition to the big three, we also noted whether or not is was sustainably made and any noteworthy or standout features. Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown of these criteria, sustainability, and other things that we consider important when buying a wetsuit.
Wetsuit Buyer’s Guide
Fit is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a wetsuit. If you’re buying in person, we highly suggest hopping in a dressing room and trying on the suit. Yes, it’s a pain, but it’s worth it for a good fit. No matter how incredible the suit is, if it doesn’t fit you well it’s not going to get the job done.
In general, wetsuits should fit snuggly, but not so tight that your range of motion is limited. Think of it as your ‘second skin’ while surfing. The neoprene will loosen up in the water and will stretch a bit with time, so it should definitely feel tight when you first try it on.
All the suits we tested in this review are a size 6, which is our lead tester’s typical wetsuit size–she’s 5’7”, 125 lbs. with an athletic build. Her legs are a little on the long side, but in general I’m proportional and size 6 tends to get the job done. If you’re ordering online, reference the size charts and make sure the company has a solid return policy in case it’s not a good fit. If you find a winner, you might want to consider sticking with that brand down the road.
Warmth vs. Stretch/Comfort
Warm and stretch/comfort are a bit of opposing forces when it comes to wetsuits. The warmer the suit, the thicker and less stretchy it will tend to be. On the flipside, a super comfortable and stretchy suit typically isn’t going to be the best option for cold water warriors. In this review, we did our best to find suits that were best of both world options. For some suits, however, we did prioritize warmth and others we prioritized comfort. Before purchasing a suit, it’s important to think about what type of surfer you are. If you tend to run cold and find it ruins your sessions, it could be worth sacrificing some comfort for added warmth.
For the longest time, eco-friendly simply wasn’t an option when it came to wetsuits. That was until 2016, when Patagonia dropped their Yulex wetsuits, the world’s first and only neoprene wetsuits made from natural rubber. Since Patagonia launched their sustainable wetsuit, other companies have followed suit and gotten creative in coming up with sustainable alternative for wetsuits. Sustainability is trending and the surf brands have taken note.
From an environmental standpoint, Yulex has the smallest impact on the environment, making it the best option for the planet and environmentalists. After that, wetsuits produced from recycled materials like old tires, oyster shells, etc. are the next best option. And then there’s limestone neoprene (aka Yamato neoprene) which uses calcium carbonate from limestone where regular neoprene is derived from crude oil.
As far as performance is concerned, limestone neoprene is probably the top performer, with suits made from recycled materials following closely behind. When it comes to sustainable options, Yulex is the worst performance-wise, but its technology continues to improve, so the difference is only marginal.
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. From an environmental standpoint, the longer a suit lasts the better. Considering we tested these suits over the course of a few months, durability will be based on early impressions of the quality and how we foresee the suits lasting over time.
What Other Factors Matter in a Wetsuit?
There are a lot of factors to consider when buying a wetsuit. Warmth is one of the most important factors 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.
It may sound silly, but we care what my suit looks like. When we’re shelling out a few hundred bucks for a suit that we’ll be wearing multiple times a week for years, we want it to have a little flair. Plus, when we’re wearing a suit with a splash of color, we feel a little less like shark bait.
When purchasing a wetsuit, we also consider whether it has a key pocket. Our personal preference is an external calf pocket, with a key loop inside for added security. Internal key loops work well too but we have a slight fear that our key is going to twist sideways and stab us.
Another factor to consider when buying a wetsuit is the zipper design. Is it a back zip? A chest zip? Zip free? Back zips at this point are almost obsolete, but not going to lie, we still kind of like them. Chest zips seem to be the go-to these days. Zip free is a newer design, that we’re still on the fence about because wetsuits are already difficult enough to put on, but no zippers to dig into your chest is a case in their favor. Some zippers require you to put two pieces together, some are already attached on one end, and some require a snap to seal. Lots to consider but like most things, it ultimately comes down to comfort. Finally, seams and taping are other factors to consider.
How Do I Take Care of my Wetsuit?
Taking good care of your wetsuit is essential to ensure it has as long of a life as possible. After each use, be sure and rinse your wetsuit with fresh water and hang it to dry. In addition to freshwater rinses, it can be helpful to rinse your suit with a wetsuit cleaner every few months to keep it smelling fresh and feeling good. And if a tear occurs, fix it before it gets bigger!
How Long Should My Wetsuit Last?
Forever. Just kidding, we wish that were true. At minimum, your wetsuit should last you a year. And that’s if you surf every single day. In general, wetsuits should last a couple of years before they thin out or get holey. We’ve had suits that have hit the four-to-five-year mark but those are the best of the best. Oftentimes, if it’s a thicker suit like a 4/3 or 5/4 mm suit, it’ll become our warmer water suit after a few years. Even though it’s lost some of its thickness, there’s usually still enough for it to serve the purpose of a 3/2. To help your wetsuit last as long as possible be sure and take good care of it: Wash it regularly, re-seal your wetsuit seams when they start to split, be careful when taking your wetsuit on/off, and avoid changing directly on asphalt.
What Thickness Wetsuit Should I Get?
Wetsuit thickness is dependent on a few things: Where you surf, what time of year you surf, and how hot/cold you run. In southern California, we tend to wear a 4/3 during the worst of winter and a 3/2 throughout shoulder season. When we venture north, we’ll either wear my 4/3 with booties and a hood or switch to my 5/4. Below is a general guide based on water temps.
The above is just a general guideline to abide by, there are plenty of other factors to consider when choosing the thickness of your suit. Thicker suits tend to be more work to paddle in, but they will also keep you warmer—you have to decide which is your priority. Wind and sun are also factors to consider. If it’s extra windy or not very sunny, it’ll make you feel colder, regardless of the water temp. Wetsuits that have a “smoothie” panel on the chest area can be helpful in blocking wind.
Another factor to consider is how active you are in the water. If you tend to do a lot of paddling with minimal downtime, then you may want to opt for a thinner suit as you’ll run warmer. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and find yourself sitting around a lot between sets, then you could benefit from a thicker suit. Because we have multiple suits, we tend to check conditions before we head out and if it’s a bigger day that we know is going to require a lot of paddling to make it back out between sets, then we will typically pick my 3/2. If it’s a mellow 1-2 feet that will require minimal paddling, then you’ll usually find us reaching for my 4/3.
If you’ve made it through all 5,000 plus words of this article, then thanks for reading. Although opinion will vary from person to person, we hope this guide was helpful and will take some of the stress out of shopping for your next suit. We’ll do our best to update this article as suits go in and out of stock online and will add updates if we’re able to test additional suits or should any problems arise regarding durability. See you in the water.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.