Having a good wetsuit is one of the most important elements of a good surf session. Keeping your muscles and body warm improves coordination, blood flow, cramp and injury reduction, and overall fun! Here are our top picks for the best surfing wetsuits this year.
Wetsuit buying tips: When looking for suits, you should determine how often you surf, what price point you can afford, and what water temperatures you’ll be surfing in. Know that taped and stitchless suits are much warmer, but break down faster and are more expensive. Stitched suits aren’t as warm but tend to last longer and are cheaper. Back zip suits are not as warm as chest zip and zipperless suits, but back zip suits are cheaper. Most wetsuits these days are extremely flexible, and even low end suits are quite good–so if you’re a beginner, start there. If you’re an avid surfer, however, you’ll probably lean more towards the warmest and most flexible suits available.
Xcel wetsuits are my favorite, and the suit I’ve been personally wearing for years. They fit super well, dry fast, and they’re warm. The only downside that I’ve found with these suits are that they don’t tend to last very long before the taping starts to deteriorate, but I’ve also found that happens with ALL taped suits. Make sure you rinse your suits after every session to ensure that they last as long as possible. If they do start to break down, you can ship your wetsuit back to Xcel for repair or replacement.
I also have a few O’Neill wetsuits in my quiver, and they are another one of my favorite wetsuit brands. O’Neill was the first ever wetsuit brand, based out of Santa Cruz, and they have consistently paved the way for neoprene technology in the surf industry. I really like the O’riginal line, which has a retro smoothskin style. O’riginal suits are more for summer, however. Their most advanced and warmest suit line is the Psycho Freak, with several mid and low range suits such as the Hyperfreak and the Psycho One.
Rip Curl suits are another extremely popular brand. Known for being very fast drying and flexible, Rip Curl suits offer an extended line of entry to elite level suits. Most people I know that wear Rip Curl suits are extremely loyal to the brand. Remember, sometimes suit fits can be very brand specific for your body type, so it does pay to try one on if you haven’t purchased that brand before. Rip Curl suits are also known for their bright color options.
Billabong wetsuits have been around for ages, and are another leading brand in the surf world. They have an extended line of suits catered to all skill levels and price points, and also offer industry standard warranty on their suit integrity.
Matuse suits are a high end brand, focusing on the best materials and craftsmanship. These suits are expensive, but make up for it in terms of warmth, lightness, and flexibility. Although a newer brand, Matuse made a huge impact on the wetsuit market when they entered the industry, quickly becoming a household name in terms of premium rubber. Matuse suits have streamlined cuts and generally come in all-black.
- Best Bet: Matuse Dante Geoflex
Patagonia builds their brand on eco-friendly neoprene, leaving the smallest environmental footprint per wetsuit. In general, neoprene wetsuits are not the most eco-friendly to produce and recycle, and Patagonia has set out to create wetsuits made from natural rubber technology that is extremely environmentally friendly. These suits also have a reputation for great warmth and durability.
- Best Bet: Yulex Natural Rubber suits