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Boardcave’s Best Wetsuits for Surfing [2022]

Wetsuits are like extensions of our skin that protect us from the elements and allow us to enjoy the water all year long. Selecting the best wetsuits for surfing is just like choosing the right surfboard. It should not only be based on comfort but, more importantly, according to water conditions.

Surfing wetsuits can be categorized into summer (warm water condition) and winter (cold water condition) wetsuits. But there is more to water temperature when selecting the best wetsuits. In this article, we look at the more salient points when choosing the best surfing wetsuits.

Why a Quality Wetsuit is Important

Drysuits or wetsuits? When it comes to surfing, wetsuits rule. Drysuits are loose-fitting and better at keeping you dry, but they produce a lot of drag, which can negatively affect your performance.

  • Protection: Wetsuits are like another skin layer that acts like sunscreen and protects the skin against cuts and abrasions.

  • It helps you swim better: Wetsuits make it easier for you to float. Aside from their insulating properties, they also give you that extra lift. Wetsuits also make you swim faster by offering a smoother surface allowing you to glide better over the water.

  • Stay warm: If there’s one good reason you should wear a wetsuit, it’s to keep your body warm. Wetsuits are not designed to be watertight but help you stay warm by trapping your body’s internal heat.

  • Stay dry: A common misconception is that wetsuits keep you dry. It keeps your body warm by first letting water come in and then creating a thin layer of warm water which works as a barrier that prevents heat loss.

  • Better flexibility in cold water conditions: Nothing beats surfing in the bare. But when the going gets cold, it might not be the best idea. Prolonged exposure causes your nerves and muscles to cool. Stay long enough, and you eventually lose strength and coordination.

    Kristin Van der Kloot rugged up in the Manera women's Magma 5/4 and hood. Photo: Cate Brown

    When Should You Wear a Surfing Wetsuit?

    There are no clear or formal guidelines in terms of when or where to wear a surfing wetsuit. It has often been a matter of personal or practical choice and everyone may handle the cold differently. Below are some rough guidelines you can follow to get an idea when a surfing wetsuit is required.

  • 75.2º and above: wetsuit not required, but a rashie is recommended for sun protection;
  • 65 - 70 º: consider a wetsuit top or a spring suit, depending on the air temperature;
  • 60-64 ºC and below: spring suit or a full length wetsuit (steamer) is recommended;
  • 59 ºC and below: full length wetsuit (steamer) is highly recommended along with consideration for booties and a hood for the extra chilly temps.

  • Things to Check When Buying a Surfing Wetsuit

    Before we get into our list of the best wetsuits for surfing, let us first look at some of the critical items to check when buying this all-important surfing equipment.

    Thickness

    If you’re planning to surf in cold water conditions, then getting a thicker wetsuit is critical. It keeps your body warm by preventing heat loss.

    A wetsuit’s thickness is represented by two numbers. A 3/2 mm (millimeters) wetsuit, for example, is three mm thick along the core and two mm thick along the arm and legs. The thickest portion of a wetsuit is located in your torso/core because it helps you better maintain your internal temperature by trapping heat. Another reason is unlike your legs and arms, which require better freedom of movement, a thicker and stiffer material could be used without compromising performance.

    Zipper

    Many of us would give little thought about the zipper’s importance in deciding which wetsuit to purchase. After all, it’s just something that gets us in and out of the wetsuit. But for those of us with some experience with wetsuits, the zipper’s location and length make a big difference in how easy or hard it is to get in or get out.

  • Back zip wetsuits. Zippers are usually placed at the back since this provides the easiest entry point. A major drawback is that this is the least watertight and can limit movements in the back.
  • Chest zippers. These are quickly gaining popularity because they offer better flexibility at the back while providing a better seal. However, having a chest zipper makes getting in and out of the wetsuit challenging.
  • Zipperless wetsuits. Before you start thinking of a tube where you imagine yourself wriggling to get inside the wetsuit, zipperless wetsuits still come with zippers or Velcro, usually located at the neck or chest area. Frequently found in thinner wetsuits, these offer the best in terms of flexibility.

    wetsuit Chest zip and back zip are the most common on surfing wetsuits

    Material

    Surfing wetsuits are commonly made of neoprene which is 2 to 6 mm thick. Standard wetsuit thickness comes in 2 mm, 3/2 mm, 4/3 mm, and 5/3 mm. Neoprene is a lightweight, watertight, flexible, and synthetic rubber material. Neoprene wetsuits are good insulators and are able to trap heat better while keeping water out. Much like a jigsaw puzzle, Neoprene wetsuits are made of several layers stitched together. Wetsuit quality is generally determined by how well it is glued or stitched together and its overall finish.

    Close up of Manera wetsuit neoprene

    Style or type of wetsuits

    Aside from wetsuit thickness, another thing to consider is the wetsuit’s style. It also offers different levels of protection depending on the amount of wetsuit coverage.

  • Hooded full wetsuit. These offer the best protection against extreme cold-water conditions (below 44 degrees Fahrenheit). Hooded full wetsuits are 6/5 mm or 7 mm, which are the thickest and designed for frigid environments. Forty percent of the body’s heat is lost through the head, and a hood-equipped surfing wetsuit is the best solution for this.
  • Full wetsuit. These wetsuits provide cover for the whole body: core, legs, and arms. It offers a high level of protection against the elements and could be used for cold and cool water environments. Thicknesses range from 5/4 mm to 3/2 mm.
  • Spring wetsuit. These are designed for warm water conditions. It allows more flexibility by freeing the lower arms and legs for better movement. Spring wetsuits also have the most variations, with some having shorter arm coverage and full leg coverage or vice versa.

    A few different styles of wetsuits

    Our Recommendations

    Many of us tend to believe that there’s not much difference in terms of surfing wetsuits aside from their style or what company they came from. But surfing wetsuits are not only about style but more importantly functionality. Below, we give you a list of some of the best surfing wetsuits and when to use them:

    Overall Performers

    Manera Meteor Magma 5/4/3

    Manera wetsuits utilize the latest 3D design technology to create anatomically accurate patterns for optimal fit. The Men's Meteor Magma 5/4/3 Front Zip Steamer Wetsuit and Women's Meteor Magma 5/4/3 are specifically designed for cold water conditions. The Triplex Magma is a three-layer skin that offers exceptional protection, insulation, and comfort making this a winner for colder environments.

    The Meteor Magma wetsuit has a Magma fleece lining on all parts of the wetsuit except the arms to provide you uncompromized flexibility and offers 30% faster drying times. The bind-stitched seams are secured with SD2 Tape 2.0 and minimize water from coming in.


    manera wetsuits The Manera Magma wetsuit comes in mens and women's versions.

    Men's Best for Beginners

    Buell RB1 Accelerator 4/3MM Men's Fullsuit

    The great value and Buell RB1 Accelerator 4/3MM Men's Fullsuit is an all-season wetsuit that offers maximum protection and body heat retention when the water starts getting cold to the beginning of winter. 4mm thick in the torso and 3mm think in the arms and legs, the wetsuit keeps the heat trapped in your core while offering exceptional flexibility where you need it most.

    Women's Best for Beginners

    RBZ Stealth Mode 3/2MM Fullsuit

    The and RBZ Stealth Mode 3/2MM Fullsuit is at a great price point for beginners not wanting to splash too much cash. Men's Fullsuit is an all-season wetsuit that offers maximum protection and body heat retention when the water starts getting cold to the beginning of winter. 4mm thick in the torso and 3mm think in the arms and legs, the wetsuit keeps the heat trapped in your core while offering exceptional flexibility where you need it most.

    Most Comfortable Wetsuits

    The Manera Series

    Manera is a leading name in high-performance wetsuits, accessories, and apparel. Key to their well-crafted wetsuits is their use of 3D design software to create anatomically accurate patterns and the use of high-quality neoprene for all panels resulting to a more durable product. Manera wetsuits ensure consistency of heat retention throughout the body, elasticity, and a more natural feel when moving.

    Best Surfing Wetsuit Brands

    If you’re still undecided on what surfing wetsuit to buy, then selecting from the best surfing wetsuit brands is an excellent place to start. Below, we list the top surfing wetsuit brands.

    • O’Neill
    • Buell Surf
    • Manera
    • Vissla
    • Adelio
    • Patagonia
    • Billabong
    • Rip Curl
    • Olaian
    • Excel
    manera mens and womens wetsuits Manera men's and women's Wetsuits

    Best Surfing Wetsuits Roundup

    If you regularly hit the beach to catch the waves, then a good surfing wetsuit is the second-best investment you can make after a surfboard. This is why it is important that you take some time to think or even talk to an expert before making that purchase. If there is one good reason you should consider buying a wetsuit, then it should be Hypothermia, a real danger for anyone into water sports. It could strike not only during cold water conditions but can also happen on a clear sunny day. Making surfing wetsuits ‘not a want but a need’ for any serious surfer.




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