8 Best Wetsuits For Surfing (with pictures)

Having the correct wetsuit is like wearing the appropriate clothing for the day’s weather.

You wouldn’t go out surfing a snowstorm in your boardshorts, or to the beach on a sunny day with a ski jacket on, so you shouldn’t go surfing without the correct wetsuit.

So What Are The Best Wetsuits For Surfing?

There are a number of well-known, high-quality wetsuit manufacturers around the world, including but not limited to names such as XCEL, Billabong, Roxy, O’Neill, Quiksilver, and Rip Curl.

Here is a list of some of the best wetsuits available on the market, their pros and cons, and what exactly you should be looking for when you need a new wetsuit.

  • Save
8 Best Wetsuits For Surfing

What Kind of Wetsuit Do I Need?

Depending on the climate you are surfing in, the thickness and style of your ideal wetsuit will differ.

If you use a wetsuit that is too thin or too large for you, you will quickly become cold. Because we lose heat 20 times faster in water than on land, this can lead to serious health problems such as hypothermia.

On the other hand, if you decide to wear a 6mm full-body wetsuit while surfing in the tropics, you will likely not even make it to the water before overheating, potentially fainting, and in an extreme case, heatstroke.

Below are the recommended style and thicknesses for wetsuits in varying water temperatures.

Wetsuit ThicknessWater Temperature (°F)Suggested Wetsuit Style
N/A>72Rash Vest or Long Costume
0.5mm – 2/1mm65 – 75Jacket, Shorty or Long Short
2mm – 3/2mm62 – 68Spring Suit, Full Suit
3/2mm – 4/3mm58 – 63Full Suit & Boots
4/3mm – 5/4/3mm52 – 58Full Suit (Optional Boots, Hood, and Gloves)
5/4mm43 – 52Full Suit, Boots, Gloves & Hood
6/5mm +42 and belowFull Suit, Boots, Gloves & Hood

Although the above recommendations are accurate to a point, your ideal wetsuit will differ with your individual body type, temperature regulation, and how active you are in the water.

The 8 Best Wetsuits for Surfing

Although your ideal wetsuit will in the end be up to you, the following are a few recommendations of some of the best wetsuits for surfing on the market.

Tropical Water Wetsuits:

Warm Water Wetsuits:

Cold Water Wetsuits:

Rash vests and Skin covers:

Best Tropical Water Wetsuits

For tropical climates or water temperatures between 65°F – 75°F (18°C – 24°C), a wetsuit jacket or rash vest or spring suit will suit your needs perfectly.

For Men
Volcom Stone Neo Wetsuit Jacket

A wetsuit jacket is perfect for the warmest waters as it still provides some insulation (yes, even in the tropics you will get cold), as well as protection from the harsh sun, all while allowing some water movement to prevent overheating.

Volcom, needing no introduction has made the Stone Neo, a 2mm jacket that is perfect for those hot summer days.

Cons:
  • Not suitable for colder waters.
  • Drawstring is not watertight and will let in some water (which may be nice in some cases).
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
For Women
Billabong Salty Dayz

When the weather is hot and the water is warm, there is no time for a full-length wetsuit.

The Salty Dayz from Billabong is the perfect spring suit for women. With long arms, you will have full upper body protection from the sun and other elements while keeping your legs free for maximum movement and comfort.

This 2mm wetsuit is slightly more than surfing with only a rash vest, but not too much to leave you sweating in the water.

Pros:
  • A perfect blend between style, comfort, and flexibility.
  • Internal stretch jersey is made from recycled material.
  • Aqua Alpha water-based adhesive adds environmentally friendly strength to stitched areas.
Cons:
  • Only suitable for warm or tropical water.
  • Does not protect the lower body from the sun.
  • Front zip may become uncomfortable when paddling.
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Warm Water Wetsuits

When you aren’t lucky enough to be surfing day in and day out in the tropics, but still have the privilege of surfing in warm water, a warm water wetsuit is your perfect choice.

Warm water surfing wetsuits are usually styled as shorts (short arms and legs) or a thin full-length wetsuit.

Warm water wetsuits are perfect for water between 62°F and 68°F (16°C – 20°C).

For Men
Hurley Advantage Streamer

Hurley, being one of the leading brands when it comes to wetsuit production, needs no introduction.

The Advantage Streamer is an ideal top entry wetsuit for the months between summer and winter.

This 3/2mm full-body wetsuit will keep you protected from the sun, insulate you when the water becomes cooler, but is not too thick to overheat you.

Pros:
  • Full body protection from the sun and other elements.
  • Thick enough to keep you warm on cooler days.
  • Hidden key pocket on the lower leg.
  • 0.5mm neoprene tape hand-glued on seams for durability.
Cons:
  • May be too warm for the hotter days but too cold for the colder winter waters.
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
For Women
Roxy Pop Surf Chest Zip Wetsuit

As a female surfer, you will no doubt have heard of Roxy, its surfboards, wetsuits, and other apparel.

The Pop Surf wetsuit by Roxy is a top entry 3/2 mm wetsuit, perfect for those spring days as you wait for the warm summer waters.

Made with recycled polyester external lining, a 3mm internal fleece lining around the body and upper arms, 2mm on the arms and legs, and 100% Stretch Flight X3 neoprene this warm water wetsuit from Roxy is top of its class.

Pros:
  • Internal fleece lining on the chest and upper arms.
  • Ecto-Flex knee pads.
  • Flush lock 2.0 seals on wrists and ankles to prevent water movement.
  • Fused edges on the neck, wrists, and ankles protect seams from coming undone.
Cons:
  • Fleece may make the warmer days slightly uncomfortable.
  • Only available in a bright blue color.
  • Not suitable for tropical water or cold winter climates.
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Cold Water Wetsuits

When it comes to surfing in cold water you enter an entirely different world.

READ ALSO  Best Fitbits for Surfing

The icy water hurts your head, the waves seem rougher and less tamed, and your hands become so cold you can’t feel your surfboard when popping up.

Surfing in cold water is about as raw as surfing gets, which is why a thick, warm, and well-insulated cold water wetsuit is essential to facing that winter swell.

Coldwater wetsuits are suited for waters between below 42°F and up to 63°F (<5°C – 17°C) depending on the thickness of the wetsuit.

Cold Water Wetsuits - For Men
XCEL, 5/4mm Drylock

XCEL may be one of the most renowned wetsuit brands, and it's with good reason. Their wetsuits are durable, flexible, and suit the purpose that they are designed for to the tee.

The men's XCEL Drylock is a 5/4mm hooded wetsuit with the best seal on the market.

The top entry makes getting in and out of the suit tight but necessary for the added seal, while the high pile fiber chest fleece keeps you cozy and warm in the coldest of waters.

Pros:
  • Includes attached hood.
  • 100% waterproof zipper with magnetic close.
  • Drylock wrist seals.
  • Stitch-free seams.
Cons:
  • Only suitable for the coldest of days.
  • When not using the hood it can become annoying as it fills with water.
  • The wetsuit is bulky and heavy when wet because of the added thickness.
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Cold Water Wetsuits - For Women
XCEL, 6/5mm Drylock
$449.95

Just like the Drylock for men, XCEL has a winter wetsuit designed and cut for women.

This suit has all the same features as the XCEL Drylock X, but with a 6/5mm thickness to ensure maximum warmth.


Pros:
  • Includes attached hood.
  • 100% waterproof zipper with magnetic close.
  • Drylock wrist seals.
  • Stitch-free seams.
Cons:
  • Only suitable for the coldest of days.
  • When not using the hood it can become annoying as it fills with water.
  • The wetsuit is bulky and heavy when wet because of the added thickness.
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Surfing Rash Vests

When the water is simply too warm for a wetsuit, but the sun is too hot to go bare-skinned or you suffer from surf wax rash you will likely want to cover your skin with something thin, water porous, and streamlined.

Luckily, rash vests tick all these boxes. Rash vests are only suited for the warmest of climates, often with water temperatures above 72°F (22°C).

For Men
FK Surf Long Sleeved Rash Vest

FK Surf is a small manufacturer when compared to some of the top dogs, but pride itself on their high-quality surf wax, leashes, traction pads, vests, and more thanks to their size.

Pros:
  • Tight, streamlined fit.
  • The bright blue color makes it easy to spot.
  • UPF 50+ protection.
  • Light and porous to prevent overheating in hot weather.
Cons:
  • Creates very little insulate and warmth.
  • Only protects the upper body.
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Rash Guard - For Women
Roxy, Active Long Sleeve Vest
$58.00

Since 1990, Roxy has been proud to call itself the only female exclusive extreme sports brand.

As their products are created for women, by women, they have a better fit, style, and elegant touch.

The Active Rash Vest is a perfect example of how Roxy brings together beauty, style, and performance together.

READ ALSO  How to Safely Store a Surfboard? (7 Helpful Tips)


Pros:
  • 78% Recycled Polyamide and 22% Elastane.
  • Fitted design to remain streamlined.
  • UPF 50+ protection.
  • Chlorine and sun resistant properties.
Cons:
  • Only provides upper body protection.
  • Creates almost no insulation.
Buy Now
Disclosure: We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

What to Look For When Buying a Wetsuit for Surfing

Although you now have a few suggestions for top-quality wetsuits for various situations, choosing the best wetsuit for yourself will always come down to your personal preference.

Choosing the correct wetsuit can often be tricky, but there are a few things you should always consider before pulling out your bank card.

Wetsuit Style and Thickness

You should always consider the style and thickness of a wetsuit before buying it. As mentioned before, a wetsuit either too thick or too thin will be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

Take note of the average water temperature for where you’ll be surfing and then refer to the table above.

Inspect the inside of the wetsuit to see if there is a fleece lining. This is a bonus for extra warmth but may be too warm in hot waters.

Wetsuit Quality

Quality is something that you should look for in everything that you buy, and a wetsuit is no different.

Poor quality wetsuits often don’t fit well, have leaky seals, and tend to break after minimal use.

A good quality wetsuit, on the other hand, can last you for years if it’s cared for properly.

Before buying your new wetsuit, you should always take a look at the following:

Seams

The seams of your wetsuit should always be double stitched and when possible hand glued. This will prevent the seams from fraying from constant friction.

You should also look for water seals on the wrists and legs. Without water seals small amounts of water will enter and exit your wetsuit through these areas, thus reducing its effectiveness.

Zips

Wetsuit zips should be made with high-quality plastic or insulated stainless steel. If a cheap steel is used the zip will quickly rust from the salt in the ocean.

You should also look out for zip seals that help prevent water from entering at the zip, as well as tuck it away to prevent it from coming undone and padding it so as not to annoy you while you surf.

Padding

You may not think it necessary, but added padding on the knees, elbows and even butt of your wetsuit can add years to the life of your suit.

These places make the most friction with your surfboard and are therefore usually the first places to break when padding isn’t used.

Price Range

Price is important, although it shouldn’t always come over quality, sometimes we don’t have a choice.

Always keep in mind your price range before wetsuit shopping. This will help reduce your picks to viable options, as well as not leave you wishing for what you can’t afford.

Brand/ Cut

The brand of your wetsuit is as important as each of the above.

Although many people think wetsuit brands are purely for the name (as many are extremely overpriced), they have more to do with your choice than you may think.

Apart from quality assurance, different wetsuit companies produce different styles and cuts of wetsuits, of which some are better for one person, while others suit another.

If possible (when buying in-store) try a variety of wetsuit brands before deciding what is best for you.

It may seem like a mission to constantly put them on and remove them, but you’ll be happy about the extra work when you’re surfing and it feels like you’re wearing no wetsuit at all.

Conclusion

Whether you are surfing the tropical waters of Costa Rica, or the icy waters of South Africa, wearing the appropriate wetsuit will make all the difference.

Too thick and you will overheat, too thin and you won’t last long before you can’t feel your toes.

A wetsuit or some form of body cover is an essential part of a surfing setup and should never be overlooked.

  • Save
Scroll to Top
313 views
Copy link