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!
There are several brands and styles to choose from, so it can be a bit confusing. Typically the people I know tend to choose one brand and stick with it because it seems to fit them best or they find it more comfortable.
Since wetsuits are so personal it’s hard to pick the absolute best, so we have put up a few of the top choices. Personally I like Xcel and O’Neill because they fit me best, but you’ll find as many reasons to buy other brands out there from other surfers. With that said, here are our top picks for the best wetsuits for surfing for the 2019 and 2020 winter seasons and beyond!
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.
Please note, in the tables below I have picked ONE wetsuit to illustrate each company’s wetsuit lines. Unfortunately there are so many varieties and also men’s womens’ and children’s suits that it would be impossible to put them all into tables. All of the text links point to general pages where you will find all the sizes, thicknesses, women’s mens, etc, and the examples in the graphic tables link to those specific suits.
The Best Wetsuits For Surfing 2020:
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. The women’s Salty Dayz line offers great suits with fun prints.
Top Tier: Furnace
Midrange Best Buy: Revolution
Low End Entry: Absolute
Fun Women’s Suits: Salty Dayz
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
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