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best women's wetsuits for surfing

Interested in staying warm? Look no further. Kelin Victoria

The Inertia

Editor’s Note: Welcome to The Inertia. For booties, check out our guide to the best booties, and learn more about men’s wetsuits here. Want to avoid getting your ears drilled? Read our earplugs review here.

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, since I first started surfing in 2008, the women’s surf industry has grown tremendously and 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 I’d feel comfortable recommending to a friend or family member for all of their cool and cold-water adventures. Without further ado, here is the Inertia’s 2023 Women’s Wetsuit Guide.

What Are the Best Women’s Wetsuits?

Best Overall: Billabong Furnace Comp ($419)
Best Fit/Comfort: O’Neill Hyperfreak Chest Zip ($350)
Best Bang for Your Buck: Roxy Syncro Plus Chest Zip ($220)
Warmest Wetsuit: Sisstrevolution 7 Seas 5/4 Hooded ($325)
Most Sustainable: Patagonia R-Series Yulex Front-Zip ($459)
Best Stretch: Feral 3mm2 ($415)
Most Stylish: Billabong Salty Dayz ($270)
Best Lining: Rip Curl E7 Flashbomb Heat Seeker ($519)
Great Eco-Friendly Option: Picture Organic Equation ($295)
Great Eco-Friendly Option: Kassia + Surf La Luna ($380)


billabong women's comp

Best Overall

Billabong Furnace Comp ($419)

Available In: 3/2, 4/3.

Warmth: 9
Durability: 8
Comfort and Flexibility: 9
Overall: 8.8/10

Sustainability: SMART foam partially recycled neoprene.

Features: AIRLITE 4D exterior fabric, chest key ring, & Super-flex taped seams.

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 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 I was 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.

Check Price on Backcountry Check Price on Cleanline Surf


O'neill Hyperfreak Women's

Best Fit/Comfort
O’Neill Hyperfreak Chest Zip ($350)

Available In: 5.5/4 mm hooded, 4/3, 4.5/3.5, 3/2, and 3.5/2.5.
Warmth: 9
Durability: 8
Comfort and Flexibility: 9
Overall: 8.8/10
Sustainability: No.

Features: TechnoButter 3 fully taped seams, lightweight quality construction, and a key pocket on the calf.

Either I’ve gotten wimpier or the water is colder this winter but regardless, I’ve spent a lot of sessions shivering this year. That was, until I slipped into O’Neill’s Hyperfreak suit. 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 Techobutter 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 I’m testing is rated a 4/3, the comfort and stretch is comparable to a 3/2, without sacrificing warmth. I love how soft and comfy this suit feels and the head opening for the chest zip doesn’t feel like it’s strangling me when I put it on (a big plus in my 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.

I’ve been surfing in this suit for over a year and the only wear and tear I’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 me.


roxy syncro plus

Best Bang for Your Buck
Roxy Syncro Plus Chest Zip ($220)

Available In: 4/3, 3/2.

Warmth: 9
Durability: 7
Comfort and Flexibility: 7
Overall: 7.8/10

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 I 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 I would recommend ordering one size up from your usual size for that perfect fit.


Sisstr 5/4 hooded 7 seas women's

Warmest Wetsuit
Sisstrevolution 7 Seas 5/4 Hooded ($325)

Available In: 5/4.

Warmth: 10
Durability: 8
Comfort and Flexibility: 6
Overall: 8/10

Sustainability: Japanese limestone-based neoprene.

Features: Smoothy panels, Neo 3.0 tape, & Bluesign approved.

This was a thicker suit than I’ve ever worn before, but I’ve been wanting to go on extra chilly trips, so the 7 Seas seemed like the move. Obviously, this suit was more challenging to get on than its thinner counterparts, but it wasn’t as bad as I 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.

I knew the hood was necessary for warmth but I’d never surfed in a suit with an attached hood so I feared it would feel claustrophobic. Luckily, the hood on this suit isn’t too tight fitting, so I 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 me into a cold-water warrior after all.


patagonia suit

Most Sustainable

Patagonia R-Series Yulex Front-Zip ($459)

Available In: R1 (3/2.5mm)R2 (3.5/3mm)R3 (4.5/3.5mm), and R4 (5.5/4mm).

Warmth: 10
Durability: 8
Comfort and Flexibility: 7
Overall: 8.4/10

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.

I love everything Patagonia makes but when they first came out with their neoprene-free Yulex wetsuit a few years back, I wasn’t a fan. I was skeptical giving their suits another try but the first suit was either a fluke or they’ve made some serious upgrades because this time around, I tested their Yulex R2 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 suit 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. The suit is a little stiffer than some other options, but so much better than Patagonia’s original Yulex suit. Plus, it loosens up a bit with each wear.

Like all things Patagonia, I trust that this suit is well made and will withstand the test of time. Word on the street is that Patagonia is launching a new full suit this summer—we can’t wait to get our hands on it.

For colder waters check out the Patagonia R3 and Patagonia R4.


Feral Womens 3/2

Best Stretch

Feral 3mm2 ($415)

Available In: 5/4, 4/3, and 3/2.

Warmth: 8/10
Durability: 7/10
Comfort and Flexibility: 10/10
Overall: 8.6/10

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 my radar until recently and after taking this suit out for a test run, I’m 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 my Feral suit arrived in the mail, I couldn’t believe how soft and stretcy the material felt. From my experience with Yamato neoprene, it doesn’t always have the most give, so I was 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 my expectations. The comfort was next level, and I loved the inner wrist and ankle seals—it reminded me of a dry suit but without the suction cup discomfort. The neoprene feels thinner than other 3/2s I’ve tried so I worry about how it will fare over time, but it seems well made and I have only heard good things, so I’m 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

billabong salty dayz

Most Stylish
Billabong Salty Dayz ($270)

Available In: 3/2, 4/3, and 4/3 hooded.
Warmth: 9
Durability: 8
Comfort and Flexibility: 7
Overall: 8/10
Sustainability: 100% recycled exterior fabric, partially recycled neoprene SMART foam.
Features: Non-toxic, water based glues, silicon stretch internal jersey, GBS.

Billabong has been my surf brand of choice for years. They have a wide selection for women and their clothes and gear are consistently the cutest. I’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. I’ve had the luxury of testing out both the Salty Dayz 3/2 and 4/3 in recent years and I’m 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 I 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.

CHECK 4/3 PRICE ON Cleanline Surf CHECK 3/2 PRICE ON Evo

rip curl e7 womens

Best Lining

Rip Curl E7 Flashbomb Heat Seeker ($519)

Available In: 6/4 hooded (E6), 5/4 hooded (E6), 4/3, and 3/2.

Warmth: 9
Durability: 10
Comfort and Flexibility: 7
Overall: 8.4/10

Sustainability: No.

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 I’d worn a Rip Curl suit, so I was excited to give this one a try.

The first difference I noticed from my old 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 I 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, I think it seems like a weird upgrade, but I was interested in trying it out. I suspected a zip free wetsuit would be more difficult to put on and I was proven wrong until I got to the head portion. Getting my body into the suit was easy, but getting the neck section over my 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 I’ve owned. It’s kind of a double-edged sword because I 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, I loved everything about it. As I 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 I couldn’t pinpoint the activation during my session, I 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 I’ve owned from Rip Curl, I have no doubt it will withstand the test of time.

The E7 neoprene is currently only available in 4/3mm and 3/2mm wetsuits. For colder waters, the E6 neoprene used in Rip’s 5/4mm and 6/4mm wetsuits also delivers.

CHECK PRICE ON Cleanline Surf



picture organic equation wetsuit

Great Eco-Friendly Option

Picture Organic Equation ($295)

Available In: 4/3 and 3/2.

Warmth: 9
Durability: 8
Comfort and Flexibility: 7
Overall: 8/10

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 new 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. I was 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 I’m 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 I 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 I found it to be comfortable in the water. The construction seems solid, and this is a suit I see being a part of my surf essentials for years to come.


Great Eco-Friendly Option

Kassia + Surf La Luna ($380)

Available In: 5/4 Hooded, 5/4, 4/3, 3/2 and 2

Warmth: 9
Durability: 8
Comfort and Flexibility: 8
Overall: 8.3/10

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

What Matters Most When Buying a Wetsuit? How Did We Calculate Recommendations for Best Wetsuits?

When considering what makes a good wetsuit, the main factors I considered were warmth, stretch/comfort, and durability. I also considered sustainability and style as well. Each suit received a score out of 10 for each category, which I 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, I 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 I consider important when buying a wetsuit.

Wetsuit Price Overall Score Sustainability Best For
Billabong Furnace Comp $419 8.8 Yes Best Overall
O’Neill Hyperfreak $350 8.8 No Best Fit/Most Comfortable
Roxy Syncro Plus $220 7.8 Yes Best Bang for Buck
Sisstr Seven Seas 5/4 $325 8.0 Yes Warmest Wetsuit
Patagonia R-Series $459 8.4 Top-tier Most Sustainable
Feral 3mm2 $415 8.6 No Best Stretch
Billabong Salty Dayz $270 8.0 Yes Best Style
Rip Curl E7 Heatseeker Flashbomb $519 8.4 No Best Lining
Picture Organic Equation $295 8.0 Yes Eco-Friendly
Kassia + Surf La Luna $380 8.3 Yes Eco-Friendly


How We Tested

Born and raised in Orange County, California, with a short stint in Santa Cruz for college, I’ve worn my fair share of wetsuits over the years. And one thing I’ve learned through my 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, I 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. I 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.

I reached out to the top wetsuit manufacturers in the business and asked them to send me 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 my experience with the suit.

In order to test each suit, you guessed it, I surfed. Not only did I surf, but I jumped in unheated pools, wore them scuba diving, and shoved myself in and out of them multiple times (because a serious factor of a good suit is how easy it is to take on/off).

The Billabong Salty Dayz in action at San Onofre. Photo: Jody Marcon

Factors to Consider When Buying a Wetsuit

Wetsuit Fit

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 I tested in this review are a size 6, which is my typical wetsuit size. I’m 5’7”, 125 lbs. with an athletic build. I’d say my 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, I did my best to find suits that were best of both world options. For some suits, however, I did prioritize warmth and others I 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.

Sustainable Wetsuits

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 environmentalist. 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.

Wetsuit Durability

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 I tested these suits over the course of a few months, durability will be based on early impressions of the quality and how I 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 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. Plus, when I’m wearing a suit with a splash of color, I feel a little less like shark bait.

When purchasing a wetsuit, I also consider whether it has a key pocket. I have a standard metal key, so I don’t need to be as picky as those with higher tech keys. My personal preference is an external calf pocket, with a key loop inside for added security. Internal key loops work well too but I have a slight fear that my key is going to twist sideways and stab me.

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, I still kind of like them. Chest zips seem to be the go-to these days. Zip free is a newer design, that I’m 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!

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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. I’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 my 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.

The Patagonia R2 is a 3.5/3mm wetsuit. Photo: Jody Marcon

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, I tend to wear a 4/3 during the worst of winter and a 3/2 throughout shoulder season. When I venture north, I’ll either wear my 4/3 with booties and a hood or switch to my 5/4. I tend to run cold. Below is a general guide based on water temps.


wetsuit thickness chart


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.

roxy rebecca parsons

Wetsuits with a smoothie panel: the Roxy Syncro Plus. Photo: Jody Marcon

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 I have multiple suits, I tend to check conditions before I head out and if it’s a bigger day that I know is going to require a lot of paddling to make it back out between sets, then I will typically pick my 3/2. If it’s a mellow 1-2 feet that will require minimal paddling, then you’ll usually find me reaching for my 4/3.

If you’ve made it through all 4,000 plus words of this article, then thanks for reading. Although opinion will vary from person to person, I hope this guide was helpful and will take some of the stress out of shopping for your next suit. I’ll do my best to update this article as suits go in and out of stock online and will add updates if I’m 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.

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