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.
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.
The Best Wetsuits For Surfing 2023:
TIP: check out Evo’s clearance section first to see if they have any wetsuits in your size – they offer huge discounts.
Xcel wetsuits are one of my favorites, 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.
Xcel wetsuits were first developed in 1982 by Ed D’Ascoli, a passionate surfer and founder of Xcel. D’Ascoli’s goal was to create a wetsuit that was more flexible and durable than anything else on the market at the time. He began experimenting with neoprene and different construction techniques, eventually developing a revolutionary method of gluing and blindstitching seams that greatly improved flexibility and reduced water leakage. Xcel wetsuits quickly gained a reputation among surfers for their superior performance and comfort, and the company has continued to innovate and improve their products over the years. Today, Xcel is one of the top wetsuit brands in the world, offering a wide range of wetsuits and accessories for surfers, divers, and other water enthusiasts.
- Top Tier: Drylock X
- Midrange Best Buy: Infiniti and Comp X
- Low End Entry: Axis
The best place to get the full line of the latest Xcel suits is straight from their website, with free shipping:
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. Right now O’Neill’s premier suit is the Hyperfreak featuring technobutter. Technobutter is their top of the line neoprene. They also offer the Ninja and the Epic and Heat as mid and lower tier suits.
O’Neill wetsuits were first developed in the early 1950s by Jack O’Neill, a surfer and entrepreneur from California. O’Neill was frustrated with the uncomfortable and restrictive wool sweaters and jackets that surfers wore in the cold ocean water, and he began experimenting with different materials and designs for a better solution. He eventually came up with the idea of using neoprene, a synthetic rubber material that was lightweight, flexible, and provided excellent insulation. O’Neill’s first wetsuit design was a one-piece, sleeveless suit that covered the torso and legs, and he began selling them to other surfers out of the back of his station wagon. The popularity of O’Neill’s wetsuits grew rapidly as word spread about their superior performance and comfort, and the company quickly became a leading brand in the surfing industry. Today, O’Neill is still a major player in the wetsuit market, offering a wide range of products for surfers, divers, and other water sports enthusiasts.
- Top Tier: Hyperfreak
- Midrange Best Buy: Ninja
- Low End Entry: Epic or Heat
The best place to get a full line of O’Neill wetsuits online is Hansen’s, offering 10% and free shipping:
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.
Rip Curl wetsuits were first developed in 1969 by Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer, two surfing enthusiasts from Australia. They were frustrated with the poor quality and uncomfortable wetsuits that were available at the time, and they began experimenting with different materials and designs to create a better product. They eventually developed a wetsuit that used a combination of neoprene and nylon, which provided both warmth and flexibility. The first Rip Curl wetsuits were hand-stitched in Warbrick’s garage and sold to local surfers, and the company quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality wetsuits that could withstand the harsh conditions of the Australian coastline. Today, Rip Curl is one of the top wetsuit brands in the world, known for its innovative designs and commitment to sustainability.
- Top Tier: Flashbomb
- Midrange Best Buy: E Bomb (comp) and Dawn Patrol
- Low End Entry: Omega
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.
Billabong wetsuits were first introduced in the early 1980s by Gordon Merchant, a surfer and entrepreneur from Australia. Merchant had previously founded Billabong, a surf apparel company, and saw an opportunity to expand the brand into the wetsuit market. He began working with neoprene and other materials to develop a line of wetsuits that would meet the needs of surfers in different conditions, from cold water to tropical climates. Billabong wetsuits quickly gained a reputation for their durability, flexibility, and innovative designs, and the company has continued to evolve and improve its products over the years.
- 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.
Patagonia was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, a passionate climber and environmentalist. The company originally focused on producing high-quality outdoor gear, but over the years it has become known for its commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices. In 2016, Patagonia launched its line of Yulex natural rubber wetsuits, which were developed as an alternative to traditional neoprene wetsuits, which are made from nonrenewable petrochemicals. Yulex wetsuits are made from natural rubber derived from the guayule plant, which is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The production process for Yulex wetsuits also uses significantly less water and energy than the production of neoprene wetsuits. Patagonia’s Yulex wetsuits have been well-received by surfers and other water sports enthusiasts, and they represent an important step forward in sustainable wetsuit technology.
Best Bet: Yulex Natural Rubber suits