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A model in sea wearing an FLRC wetsuit

16 Best Wetsuits for Surfing

The best wetsuits perform the fundamental task of protecting you from cold or freezing temperatures as you wait for that perfect wave. Keeping your blood flowing and your muscles warm is the aim of the game and these wetsuit brands will improve coordination, reduce injury, and aid with mobility in the process.

In this article, we’ll be outlining the best wetsuits for surfing, but before we get into the nitty-gritty details we’ll show you a few things to consider before buying a new wetty of your own. After all, picking the best wetsuit is more about fit and function than style and grace. In short, it requires more than just a trip to your local surf shop, first, you’ll want to know what to look for. Let’s check it out.

how to pick the best wetsuit with zipper example

Image: Flatrock Wetsuits

How to Pick the Right Wetsuit

As most surfers can tell you, the activity is prone to all sorts of variables. So too is any list of the best surfing wetsuits. Not only do different designs accommodate different temperatures and situations, but a few brands are eschewing materials like neoprene in favour of something more natural and sustainable (although trusty neoprene remains more or less ubiquitous).

So what’s the most popular choice? The majority of swimmers and surfers opt for a single-piece (aka closed-cell) wetsuit before taking to the water. However, you’ll also want to consider an open-cell wetsuit, which offers more suction to prevent water from getting in (at the expense of ease of use aka. a total PITA to take on and off). Then there are potential fluctuations in temperatures and budgets alike. For these reasons, we’ve included value wetsuits, winter wetsuits, cold-water wetsuits, and more in our list below, but first, let’s review some basics.

How to Choose the Right Zipper Placement Type

Surfing wetsuits are commonly distinguished by way of three separate factors: their zipper setup, the thickness of their material, and their stitching. Here are three different types of zipper setups:

Zipper Placement Types Description Pros
Back-Zip Wetsuit What was originally the only kind of wetsuit is now both the most affordable and least effective option. It features a zipper on the back, which usually goes down a little under halfway. This type of wetsuit is not recommended in cold temperatures, as the water can and will seep down your back.
Chest-Zip Wetsuit Drop a little more cash and you can get yourself a quality chest-zip wetsuit. Featuring a small zipper in the chest area, this type of wetsuit generally lasts longer and offers better warmth and protection.
Zipper-less Wetsuit This type of surfing wetsuit is a relative newcomer. Offering security, flexibility, warmth, and durability in equal measure. Expect to pay for the privilege of owning one.

How to Choose the Right Thickness

Different temperatures call for different levels of thickness, most commonly measured in mm. When you see two or even three numbers in the overall measurement, those numbers go from the core layer outward. Here’s a general outline:

Thickness Temperature
2mm 19 – 22°C
3/2mm 13 – 18°C
4/3mm or 4/3/2mm 10 – 14°C
5/4mm or 5/4/3mm 8 – 12°C
6/5mm or 6/5/4mm 8°C
7/6mm or 7/6/5mm 5°C (or less)

How to Choose the Right Stitching Type

If you want to keep the water out and the heat in, get to know your stitching. Here’s a breakdown:

Stitching Type Description
Overlock Stitching A fixture on cheaper wetsuits, it lets the water seep in.
Flat Stitching A middle of the road option that holds up better than overlock stitching, but still lets the water in.
Blind Stitching Narrower stitching and glued seams will keep you relatively warm and dry, meaning this is one of your best (and more expensive) options during cold weather.
Stitch-less When a surfing wetsuit is sealed, taped, glued, or all of the above, it tends to skyrocket in terms of price point. Furthermore, it won’t necessarily hold up as well over time as most blind stitched counterparts. Nevertheless, some of the best winter surfing wetsuits are stitchless because they do a great job of keeping you dry.
Owen Wright Surfing

Image: Getty Images

Best Wetsuits for Surfing in Warm Conditions

These are the best wetsuits for surfing in warm and cool conditions.

Flatrock sarvo series 3x2mm full length

Image: Flatrock

1. Flatrock Sarvo Steamer

The team at Flatrock are quickly building a reputation for designing the comfiest surfing wetsuits in the industry. The Sarvo 3x2mm is hand cut from 18 panels of the finest Japanese neoprene giving it an almost tailor-made feel to it. It’s super soft and warm and comes with the peace of mind of a lifetime warranty on all stitching and zippers.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 3/2mm
Price: $349.99 AUD

Buy it here

Oneill hyperfreak 32 steamer

Image: O’Neill

2. O’Neill Hyperfreak Steamer

Often touted as some of the best wetsuits for surfing, O’Neill’s Hyperfreak line delivers an impeccable tier of warmth and stretchability. As with other entries in the range, this one combines hydrophobic super-stretch TB3 neoprene with fully taped seams to ensure maximum warmth, strength and durability.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 3/2mm
Price: from $399.99 AUD

Buy it here (O’Neal) Buy it here (Amazon)

Flatrock wetsuit top

Image: Flatrock

3. Flatrock Bronte Wetsuit Top

With the expert guidance of an award-winning Sydney-based industrial design firm, Flatrock designed the Bronte Series 1.5mm Wetsuit Top. The extra stretch in the neoprene makes paddling for waves a breeze.

Zipper system: Zip Free
Neoprene thickness: 1.5mm
Price: $149.95 AUD

Buy it here

Ripcurl flashbomb heat seeker 32 chest

Image: Ripcurl

4. Rip Curl Flashbomb Heat Seeker Chest Zip E6 Steamer

At A$699.99, this wetsuit is on the pricier side, but you definitely get what you pay for. This is one of the best surfing wetsuits, period. Welcome to the top shelf, gentlemen.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 3/2mm
Price: from $699.99

Buy it here (Rip Curl) Buy it here (Amazon)

Quiksilver mens capsule everyday 1

Image: Quiksilver

5. Quiksilver Capsule Everyday Sessions Chest Zip

Lightweight by design and quick to dry, this surfing wetsuit from Quiksilver strikes the perfect balance between quality and affordability. If you want to cover the basics with efficiency and style, look no further.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 3/2mm
Price: from $399.99 AUD

Buy it here (Quick Silver) Buy it here (Amazon)

Xcel wetsuits

Image: Xcel

6. Xcel Comp X Short Sleeve

Xcel is beloved by surfers worldwide and with good reason, as the brand warms you up without weighing you down. Crafted from Japanese limestone nanoprene (aka neoprene), Drylock X features Celliant black inner lining, extra protection on the wrists, ankles, and collar, and a waterproof chest zipper with a magnetic seal.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 2mm
Price: from $279.99 AUD

Buy it here (Xcel) Buy it here (Amazon)

Need essentials liquid taper

Image: Need Essentials

7. Need Essentials Ultra Premium

If you want true bang for your buck, check out Need Essentials, which packs a bevy of choice features into all of its wetsuits. That includes 80% Rapid-dry thermal lining, sealed cuffs, and the highest grade of 4-way stretch neoprene. The blind stitched seams are both glued and taped and the cuffs are sealed. At US$222.99, this is easily one of the best value wetsuits for surfing.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 3/2mm
Price: from $300.00 AUD

Buy it here

Best Wetsuits for Surfing in Colder Conditions

Thanks to the best winter and cold-water wetsuits for surfing, frigid temperatures won’t get between you and those gnarly waves!

Finisterre mens nieuwland

Image: Finisterre

8. Finisterre Nieuwland Yulex 4mm

Offering peace of mind and body alike, this cold water wetsuit by Finisterre is made from sustainable materials such as Yulex Pure natural rubber and recycled laminates. Double-needle blind stitching and fully taped seams keep the water out while an elongated back panel improves heat retention. You might struggle a bit (or require assistance) when putting this wetsuit on or taking it off, but in return, you get supreme warmth and a perfect fit.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 4mm
Price: $437.00 AUD

Buy it here

Ripcurl flashbomb heat seeker

Image: Ripcurl

9. Rip Curl Flashbomb Heat Seeker E6 Chest Zip Steamer

This high-performance wetsuit is fast to dry and 25% stretchier and lighter than the previous model. Plus, it comes from Rip Curl. If you have the cash to spare, grab a Flashbomb and be done with it.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 4/3mm
Price: $749.99 AUD

Buy it here

Oneill hyperfreak

Image: O’Neill

10. O’Neill Hyperfreak Steamer

O’Neill’s top-selling silhouette culls from the best of all worlds. Streamlined and superior, it pairs high-grade neoprene with watertight stitchless technology and super seal cuffs. If you’re seeking one of the best cold-water wetsuits for surfing, it’s a no-brainer.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 4/3mm
Price: $449.99 AUD

Buy it here (O’Neal) Buy it here (Amazon)

Ripcurl e bomb

Image: Ripcurl

11. Rip Curl E-Bomb Zip Free Steamer

Rip Curl is one of the best names in the game and Flashbomb is their best range, which is why we’ve included it no less than three times. This zip-free wetsuit is bolstered by Flex Energy lining, liquid mesh panels, and so much more. It will cost you, but it’s worth every penny.

Zipper system: Zip Free
Neoprene thickness: 4/3mm
Price: $549.99 AUD

Buy it here

Hurley advantage plus

Image: Hurley

12. Hurley Advantage Plus

One of the best value wetsuits for surfing, Hurley’s Advantage Plus features double-glued, blind stitched seams for a smooth feel. That’s joined by a lightweight and less absorbent kneepads and a discreet external key pocket on the lower leg, amongst other things.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 4/3mm
Price: $429.99 AUD

Buy it here

Billabong comp hooded

Image: Billabong

13. Billabong Furnace Comp Hooded Chest Zip Fullsuit

Built like a furnace with the name to show for it, this premium wetsuit features welded seams and an adjoining hood. To put it in the simplest of terms: when the water is cold (about 45-55F), you stay mobile and warm.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 4/3mm
Price: $599.99 AUD

Buy it here (Billabong) Buy it here (Amazon)

Body glove

Image: Body Glove

14. Body Glove Red Cell Chest Zip Fullsuit

With its infrared honeycomb insulation, Evo-dry exterior, super-stretch neoprone, and other choice specs, the Red Cell easily ranks amongst the best winter wetsuits for surfing. It’s a smooth and durable operator, to say the least.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 4/3mm
Price: $490.00 AUD

Buy it here (Body Glove) Buy it here (Amazon)

Patagonia wetsuit

Image: Patagonia

15. Patagonia R3 Yulex Full Suit

The wetsuits from Patagonia have a reputation for being overpriced and a little uncomfortable, but they’re also eco-friendly. In lieu of neoprene, this silhouette employs a blend of 85% Yulex natural rubber and 15% synthetic rubber. It’s also Fair Trade Certified sewn.

Zipper system: Chest
Neoprene thickness: 4.5/3.5mm
Price: $749.95 AUD

Buy it here (Patagonia)

Vissla wetsuit full

Image: Vissla

16. Vissla 7 Seas Back Zip Full Suit

With back zip entry this wetsuit is super easy to get in and out of. Vissla’s 7 Seas Surfing Wetsuit is constructed from limestone neoprene and loaded with high-performance features. Glideskin on the neck and liquid tape cuffs reduce flushing while Brain Fuzz lining traps heat and drys quickly. Stretchy and comfortable, the wetsuit is further distinguished by its unbeatable price point.

Zipper system: Back
Neoprene thickness: 4/3mm
Price: $369.99 AUD

Buy it here (Vissla) Buy it here (Amazon)

General FAQ

What's the best wetsuit for surfing?

O'Neill's Psycho Tech line and Rip Curl's Flashbomb line are considered two of the best wetsuits for surfing, though they tend to cost more than most counterparts.

Which wetsuit brand is the best?

Some of the best wetsuit brands are Rip Curl, O'Neill, Flatrock, Xcel, Quiksilver, Need Essentials, and Billabong.

How do I choose a wetsuit for surfing?

Once you know the general temperature of the water, consider the following factors when buying a wetsuit: placement of the zipper, thickness of the material, and type of stitching. All of these features will affect dryness, warmth, and comfort levels while you surf.

How much should you spend on a wetsuit?

The price of a quality wetsuit can swing from US$180 up to US$600 and higher. If you don't have tons of money to spend, you can find a number of great wetsuits in the US$200-$350 range.

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STAFF WRITER

Jacob Osborn

Jacob Osborn is an accomplished author and journalist with over 10 years of experience in the media industry. Jacob holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin--Madison and has previously written for Stacker alongside co-authoring a Young Adult novel through Simon & Schuster. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Jacob specialises in entertainment, technology and alcohol reporting. You might find him crate-digging at the nearest record store or sampling whisky at the nearest bar. He daydreams of travelling around the world, but for now, the world will have to come to him by way of lifestyle products, gear, gadgetry, and entertainment. Let's call it a happy compromise while he saves up for the next big trip.