The 10 Best Surf Wetsuits for 2018

Depending on your use, a surf wetsuit may be absolutely necessary for you to have during your day out on the water surfing.  Wetsuits are a great tool to help fight off the bitter cold of the water, and to help keep you nice and warm throughout the day.  Wetsuits don’t just provide this, however, but they also provide you comfort and style while out on the water as well. 

Top Surf Wetsuits Comparison Chart

All of these are important factors for many people, and they must be factored into the equation when you seek to buy one.  Today, we are going to help you figure out which wetsuit is the best one for you and your purposes.  This buying guide is going to help break down the various factors that go into selecting one, and then we are going to look at some of the most highly rated wetsuits that are on the market this year.  So let’s begin!

Surfing Wetsuit Buying Guide

Note:

Wetsuits are not meant to keep you 100% dry.  They do their best, but they aren’t going to be magically sealed from all water.  They are meant to help insulate you from the cold water, so keeping out the water is a bonus of sorts!

Uses

The primary use of the surfing wetsuit is to protect you from the cold water on winter days.  Of course, the water can be cold on any day, depending on where you are, so you may want one for those days as well.  Wetsuits help you stay warm so that you aren’t just safe, but also so that you are able to stay out on the water for longer periods of time.  The theory is that the longer you’re out there, the better the “surf” or waves will be.  No one wants to have to constantly come back in over and over, so wetsuits can help stop this from happening.

Surfing wetsuits do differ, albeit sometimes in small and minute ways, to other wetsuits.  Other types of water activities also have their versions of wetsuits.  These include ones for snorkeling, scuba diving, water skiing, wakeboarding, and just regular swimming, among others.  It should be known that some will probably be fine for use with multi functions, but some will not do so well.  It will be important to ask and see if they are good for surfing, but it’s always best to go with one that is specifically designed for surfing only.

Styles of Wetsuits

There are many different styles, or looks, that you can find associated with wetsuits.  These range from any number of purposes, so you are able to pick ones for a specific use.  Here are some of them that you can find out on the market:

Full suit

the full suit, or the “full-length suit,” is just the traditional surf wetsuit that we’re most accustomed to.  It has protection for the ankles, the neck, and the full body in between it all. So, it just covers the whole body.  This is definitely preferred for very cold days, as you’re going to want to have as much warmth as you can possibly have.

Spring suit

the spring suit gets its name from the season that it’s wetsuit would work best in: spring. This suit has a couple of options.  Either it can have a full-length cover on the upper body with a shorts-like set up for the legs, or it can have the direct opposite by having full coverage on the legs while having basically a t-shirt up top (in wetsuit form, of course).  This is good for days where it’s warmer, but still not anything like summer yet.

Drysuit

the dry suit is the ultimate winter weather suit to help protect you and to keep you warm.  It is recommended for use in conjunction with “extreme” cold weather.  It is bonded to help try and keep out as much water as it possibly can.  Many also employ other safeguards like Velcro or a similar system at strategic places, like the wrists and ankles, in order to make double sure that water does not seep in that way.

Farmer John/Long John/Short John

whatever you call this one, it has a basic function.  It is a one piece wetsuit that covers a much smaller portion of the body.  It’s top is basically a vest (think a muscle t-shirt) and it can have either long or short legs, depending on the weather and your choice.  For full on summer weather, the short legs would probably be preferable.  But for spring and/or fall, the longer legs may serve you well if it’s a little warmer day.

Water Temperatures and How They Affect Your Choice

Water temperatures are a big factor when deciding which surf wetsuit you should buy.  No matter what type, or look, you choose, you still have to make double sure that the suit you choose is up to the conditions that you will be encountering when you hit the water.  So, in order to make sure that you know, we’re going to go over the four main types and the temperatures for which they are best used in.  One thing to keep in mind is that air and water temperature are two completely separate things.  You must keep this in mind because it does not take very much for hypothermia to potentially set in if you are not protected well enough.  Just because it is 60 degrees F outside does not mean you can just jump into the water without the right protection!

Overlock Stitching

The first kind that we will discuss is probably the most popular type.  Overlock stitching is popular because it is the kind of stitching that will be best for use in warmer water.  If the water is at 65 degree F or warmer, then you are good to go.  This type of suit is constructed with the steams stitched on the inside of it, so you are not going to be able to see any stitching when looking at the suit.  This type of construction can be used with longer or shorter suits, so you can find some that are helped to keep you cooler when it’s very warm.  Water may seep in, but because of the increased temperature, it won’t give you any major issues.

Flatstitch or Flatlock

Flatlock wetsuits are also recommended for warmer water as well.  This type has a range of 62 degrees F and up, so it’s seemingly not a big difference on the surface from the overlock type.  The major departure it takes from overlock stitching is that you can see the seam from the outside of the suit.  Many claim that they look like “railroad tracks.”  On the interior, the seam is more comfortable than what you will find when wearing a suit with overlock stitching.  However, this type will also have some water seepage, so you still have to make sure the temperature is in the correct range.

Blindstitched

Blindstitched wetsuits are suits that are best for colder water.  They are typically glued and blindstitched together, but we wanted to keep it as simplistic as possible when referring to them so you have an easier time selecting what you need.  There is no recommended temperature for this type, but it’s obviously going to be around 62 degrees F and below down to about 50 degrees F.  After that, you should look at the next type to help you out.  As for this type, the seams are glued and stitched in an effort to completely seal you away from any and all contact with water.  If any water does come through, it will be very minimal.  This type of suit is going to cost more, typically, than the two types above.  But it will keep you protected, which is the most important part of any day out on the water.

Blindstitched with Fluid Seal

If you are going to be in ridiculously cold water, you’re probably going to want to take a look at this type of blindstitched wetsuit.  This “fluid seal” will allow you to be in water that is 50 degrees F and below because all of the inner seams are reinforced with tape.  Like the other blindstitched type, this type will also allow very minimal, if any, water to seep into the suit.

Seams

Now that we know the types of stitching and what they are best used for, we need to talk seams for just a minute.  Seams and stitching do go hand-in-hand together, but there are some things to point out with seams.  If you are looking for comfort over functionality, you are going to want to have more seams.  However, the less seams there are then the better the suit will ultimately be at keeping water out.  There is a definite trade-off here that must not be taken for granted.  So, it’s natural to believe that you’re going to fit better with more seams and that you’ll not fit quite as well in a suit that has less seams.  Lastly, the more seams you have the less flexibility you will also find.  This can be a problem, so you might want to take these factors into consideration!

Thickness of the Suit

The thickness of the suit will help determine whether it is good for use with certain temperatures or not.  These numbers are shown in millimeters (see how much tiny differences can make!), and typically are made up of two numbers separated by a slash.  Its first number indicates the thickness of the material that covers the middle of the body while the second shows the thickness of the material over the legs, shoulders, and arms.

  • Cold water- look for a thickness of 7/6 mm just to be safe.
  • Warmer water- you don’t need near as much thickness; so you can look in the 2/1 or even 3/2 mm categories.

Ensuring a Good Fit

Some just simply will not fit as well as others, no matter how highly functional they are.  Some will fit brilliantly, but you will be left worrying about whether you have the protection you need for your specific purpose that day.  So, making sure that you fit well is very important.  It’s always a good idea to measure your mid section, your legs, and your arms before going.  This can help narrow down your search.

Remember, some brands will fit differently than others.  So you can’t assume all will be the same.  The thing to remember is that you need to make sure that the suit allows you to move freely and comfortably.  No one wants to be “binded up” when they are on the water.  If you can’t move easily when surfing, it doesn’t matter what you look like because you’re going to fall or cause yourself some danger!

Trying on different wetsuits will still help, though.  And you can always go home and purchase a suit that you loved later!

Best Surfing Wetsuit Reviews

 

Orca Men’s Openwater Fullsleeve Wetsuit

this wetsuit from Orca is designed for open waters. It is at a bit of a premium price, but it looks great with the orange color and will keep you warm in the waters that hover at 55F and above.  Remember, if you drop below that it will affect your extremities first.  It has a thickness of 1.5/2.5mm and is very warm and flexible.  Definitely is worth a look if you’re looking for an all-around type of suit

Pros

    • Keeps you visible
    • Good for open waters
    • Good in cool water

Cons

    • A little pricey
    • Not specifically for surfing

 

O’Neill Men’s Reactor 3/2mm Wetsuit

depending on the size and color, you can purchase this one for a moderate price to slightly above moderate.  It’s very good for surfing in warmer waters as its 3/2mm.  It also has an added bonus in knee pads, which can and will help your comfort when paddling. It is a full suit that covers the entire body and is flatlock stitched as well.

Pros

    • Great for surfing
    • Has knee pads
    • Very good for warmer waters

Cons

    • Not intended for cold water
    • Durability is a question

 

O’Neill Men’s Epic 4/3mm Wetsuit

this wetsuit allows you to go into slightly cooler waters than the wetsuit from O’Neill above would.  This wetsuit is a full suit and is best for waters that are around 60F, but it’s still not recommended to go any lower.  It’s also at a higher premium-level price because of this.  It has Velcro closures to help seal the water away, knee pads, and a “double sealed” neck as well.  Also has a ‘covert’ zipper!

Pros

    • Can surf in cooler waters
    • Has cool color choices
    • Velcro and neck seals help

Cons

    • Premium pricing
    • Could get too warm in some waters

 

O’Neill Reactor Spring Suit

coming in a number of colors that accentuate the common color black is the O’Neill Reactor Spring Suit.  This one has partial protection on both your arms and legs as it has a t shirt look up top and shorts look down on the bottom.  It’s definitely much better for warmer water as it also is 2mm in thickness and has flatlock construction.  It is also cheaper as a result of all of this!

Pros

    • Good price
    • Excellent for warm days
    • Nice colors

Cons

    • Not good for cold days
    • Runs a little small

 

O’Neill Women’s Reactor 3/2mm Full Suit

this option will allow women to better fit than forcing them to try and fit into a men’s suit.  This full suit fits the anatomical structure of a woman better, and it’s meant for use in relatively warm waters.  You could make go down to 60F, but it’s not tremendously thick and still has flatlock stitching.  It’s at a moderate price but has the knee pads and neck seal like its male counterpart.

Pros

    • Fits women much better
    • Good for warmer water
    • Has knee pads

Cons

    • Not great for cold water
    • Has an odor

 

O’Neill Youth Reactor 3/2mm Full Suit

this entry to the list is almost identical to the last entry except it is made for youth that are looking to learn how to surf.  It’s a full suit, allows them to go into relatively cool water, and has knee pads to help make them more comfortable as well. The great thing is that the sizes better fit the youngsters!

Pros

    • Good for the youth
    • Still has knee pads to help
    • Decent price

Cons

    • Still had an odor
    • Hard to get on and off

 

Cokar Women’s One Piece Wetsuit

this is a very inexpensive option for the ladies to take a look at. This wetsuit claims to offer UV protection, gives a nice slim fit, looks great, and is very lightweight as well.  It has a number of colors and couple of different styles to help you catch the eye.  It is a full-length suit, and it’s meant for very warm waters ONLY.

Pros

    • Very low price
    • Fine for warmer waters
    • Great designs

Cons

    • Not good in cool water at all
    • Pads aren’t a great help

 

O’Neill Women’s 2mm Reactor Spring Suit

this is definitely the option for a lady to go to on a warm day out on the water.  This spring suit is at a good price, and it will keep you cool throughout the day with its short sleeves and shorts look.  It has foam all over the body to keep you comfortable and it also has the knee pads that are commonplace with O’Neill’s suits.

Pros

    • Good price
    • Keeps you cool
    • Padded and comfortable

Cons

    • Not good for cold water
    • The color will fade

 

Lapaya Women’s One Piece Wetsuit

If you’re a lady and you’re looking for a wetsuit that will be very fashionable and inexpensive, then this is probably your suit.  It has a long sleeve at the top but just has a bikini bottom down below to leave the legs completely uncovered.  It’s also polka dotted and best for those that need a “skinny” fit.  There are no pads, however.

Pros

    • Great price
    • Great style

Cons

    • Not great for cold water at all
    • No pads

 

Neosport Men’s Neoprene 7/5mm Full Suit

this one comes at a very high price, but it is specifically made for surfing in cold waters.  It is flatlocked stitched but it taped at the points with the most pressure on them.  The neoprene keeps it soft, comfortable, and it helps keep you warm in very cool waters.  It also has an adjustable collar, a key pocket on the inside, and knee pads to help when paddling.

Pros

    • Great for cold water
    • Adjustable and allows some storage room
    • Very comfortable

Cons

    • Very high price
    • Looks aren’t the greatest ever

 

Conclusion & Recommendations

Buying a wetsuit isn’t so hard if you know what exactly you are on the lookout for.  It can be tough to narrow down your search without knowing what kind of water you are going to be getting yourself into.  If you are unsure, you can always call local shops, friends, or even go online and look at water temperature averages.  This can be a big help that will likely safe you money, time, effort, and a lot of worries.  If you find yourself out there with a wetsuit that is starting to seep a little more than it used to, you can now find the perfect suit to replace it thanks to our guide!  No matter if you’re surfing in the winter or in the dog days of summer, you can continue on with the fun with the correct wetsuit!

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