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.
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.
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. The USAT, the United States’ governing body for triathlon, released guidelines on the use of wetsuits and water temperatures. This could give you an idea on when a surfing wetsuit is required.
Under 50 degrees: Not suitable for open water swimming, even with a wetsuit
50 to 65 degrees: Suitable for open water swim, but wetsuit is highly advised
65-78 degrees: Suitable for swimming with or without a wetsuit. Sleeveless suits are popular at this temp.
78-84 degrees: Race directors use their judgment to allow or not allow wetsuits at this range
Over 84 degrees: Wetsuits not allowed
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
With so many firsts under its belt, like the first modern wetsuit, which was introduced in the 1950s, the first surf shop in San Francisco, and the first surf leash, O’Neil has established itself as a reputable name when it comes to surfing gear.
It comes as no surprise that our top choice for surfing wetsuits is the company’s Psycho series. O’Neill’s Psycho surfing wetsuits represent the best of what the company offers. It comes in two styles, full wetsuit (3/2, 4/3, 5.4) and hooded full wetsuit (5.5/4), which is designed for extreme cold-water conditions and offered in varying models, based off budget and features:
The Dawn Patrol series is a popular mid-range series of surfing wetsuits from Rip Curl: designer, manufacturer, and retailer of surfing sportswear. These come in various types and thicknesses with prices ranging from under $100 to $200. It's Freeflex, and E5 neoprene materials are lightweight and highly stretchable, helping you maintain flexibility. These offer superior quality at a friendly price point. Perfect for those who are new to surfing and would like to invest in a decent wetsuit without breaking the bank.
It may not hit all the bells and whistles of their more expensive counterparts, but it offers decent protection and comes at a very competitive price point. It is easy to put on with a back zipper and a long zipper pull. This 4/3 mm surfing wetsuit comes with glued and blind stitched seams, seamless crotch, and underarm inserts.
Comfort and functionality top bills this full surfing wetsuit from O’Neill. Made from high-quality neoprene with a high spandex rating (150% stretch factor), it gives you excellent freedom of movement. Seamless paddle zones provide unhampered motion and minimal seal placement for comfort.
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.
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.