Are you in the market for a new wetsuit to keep you surfing through the cold season? Or perhaps you live in a temperate zone where wetsuits are required all year round? Either way, finding the right wetsuit is a blessing many of us take for granted.

Finding the perfect wetsuit

The best wetsuit is one that fits your unique body shape snugly. It will be flexible and warm and constructed of material (usually neoprene) that doesn’t give you rashes in unfortunate places. An area where most modern wetsuits fail is durability, with few lasting more than a couple of solid seasons of surfing. However, the tradeoff for this built-in obsolescence is high performance.

Wetsuit manufacturing

Despite sporting names and specifications that sound straight out of a sci-fi movie, most wetsuits are made from the same core materials. In fact, most of them come from exactly the same place. The Sheico Group, based in Taiwan, controls 65% of the global wetsuit market, doing the manufacturing for Quiksilver, O’Neill, Billabong, Rip Curl.

The wetsuit game is mostly about marketing. However, there are a few small brands out there trying to do things differently. Patagonia is making real headway as an environmentally sound choice. Isurus and others are experimenting with compression technology and innovative materials.

The list of wetsuit manufacturers

We’ve compiled a list of the wetsuit brands that are making waves. Some are old favourites and some are new upstarts, making a mark in a well-established and competitive market. When you’re spending upward of $600 on a piece of kit you want to get something just right.

Our recommendation is to go into a surf shop and try real products until you find a great fit. Ordering online is risky business if you’re not 100% sure of your size.

Rip Curl

Rip Curl surf wetsuits are recognized around the world for superior surfing wetsuit technology, offering premium durability, comfort and innovation.

3 Best Buys:

1. Flashbomb Plus 4/3 wetsuit

For the surfer who wants the best wetsuit possible, The Flashbomb Plus 4/3 is the Ultimate high performance cold water wetsuit, featuring 100% E5 Flashlining and internal E5 Flashlining Tape. The 4/3 is our most popular fullsuit and now features an extended E5 liquid mesh panel for increased warmth in windy conditions. This suit is versatile in a wide range of ocean and weather conditions. If you are looking for the warmest and highest quality 4/3 then this is your suit.

FEATURES

  • Easier Zip Free Entry System
  • 100% E5 Flashlining
  • Liquid Mesh Panels
  • Internal E5 Flashlining Tape on stress points
  • Magnet Key Pocket

2. E-Bomb 3/2 chest zip wetsuit

The E-Bomb 3/2 chest zip is the perfect wetsuit for the surfer looking for a super flexible 3/2 chest zip. Lightweight and extreme flexibility is achieved by using 100% E5 Neoprene in the entire suit except for a the critical warmth zone around the kidneys, where flash lining and mesh protect from the wind. E5 Tape secures stress points in the suit internally without compromising stretch. If you prefer chest zip entry and want the most flexible fullsuit available, this is your suit.

FEATURES

  • 100% E5 Neoprene
  • Internal E5 Tape in Stress Points
  • Flash Lining Mesh in back panle
  • Magnet Key Pocket
 3. Dawn Patrol 3/4 chest zip wetsuit

The new Dawn Patrol chest zip redefines performance and value from a leading Wetsuit brand. Flexibility and warmth are unparrelled at this price. All new Thermoflex Superstretch neoprene lines the internal torso and legs for increased stretch and warmth. We added E5 to the arms and 3/4 internal E5 tape to the rest of the body. Subtle refined graphics and colorways add a level of superiority.

FEATURES

  • E5 Neoprene
  • Thermoflex Neoprene
  • E5 Flash Lining
  • E5 Tape
  • Glue And Blindstitched

www.ripcurl.com


Patagonia

Neoprene-free Yulex® wetsuits feature 85% natural rubber by polymer content, replacing a petroleum-based material with a plant-based one for significantly reduced CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process. “We blend it with 15% synthetic rubber polymer for increased ozone and UV resistance to meet our rigorous demands for durability and strength.”

The Yulex emulsion removes over 99% of impurities and delivers a stronger, non-sensitizing natural material.

“Using natural rubber in place of nonrenewable, energy-intensive neoprene means up to ~80% less climate-altering CO2 is emitted in the polymer manufacturing process.”

Best Buy:

R2 Yulex front-zip wetsuit

Check out our review.

A high-performance, neoprene-free wetsuit, the R2® Yulex® Front-Zip Full Suit is made of 85% Yulex® natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber by polymer content; the natural rubber is derived from sources that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Suggested water temperatures: 55–60° F/13–16° C.

FEATURES

  • Made with neoprene-free 85% Yulex® natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber (by polymer content) that meets our rigorous standards for performance, durability, warmth and sustainability; the natural rubber is derived from sources that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified by the Rainforest Alliance; the synthetic rubber is chlorine-free
  • Torso/thighs have 95% polyester (51% recycled)/5% spandex inverted microgrid thermal lining that minimizes weight, dries fast and offers excellent flexibility
  • High-stretch 100% recycled polyester jersey lining in arms/legs improves flexibility and dry time; exterior face fabric made with 85% recycled polyester/15% spandex is durable, stretchy and water-resistant
  • 100% external seam sealing; all seams are triple glued and internally taped
  • Supratex kneepads and ankle cuffs for maximum durability and anatomic fit
  • Floating front-zip with replaceable, corrosion-proof Salmi® zipper for maximum performance and better seal

www.patagonia.com


O’Neill

“O’Neill’s exclusive, maximum stretch, durable hydrophobic neoprene with featherlight ENVY foam rubber core. We broke our neoprene down to each layer and re-engineered each one, to reach yet another level of materials technology.”

Best Buy:

Hyperfreakzippless comp 3/2 wetsuit

FEATURES

  • TB3-X/ TB3 Neoprene
  • TB3X Fully Taped Seams
  • ZIPLESS
  • Minimal Seam Design
  • Double Seal Collar
  • Plasma Wrist and Ankle Seals
  • TB3X Fully Taped Seams

www.oneill.com


Billabong

Designed specifically for warmth and comfort. Utilising the most advanced materials and construction techniques, coupled with an exclusive new entry system, it’s the most comfortable, warmest, most technical wetsuit you’ll ever have the pleasure of wearing.

Best Buy:

Foil 3/2 chest zip wetsuit

FEATURES

A classic reef break, located just out of downtown Santa Cruz, Steamers Lane has a rich surfing history and offers some of the most consistent surf in all of California. The wave is a playground for every type of surf enthusiast.

But you better bring your good attitude, because the pack is tight and you may find yourself paddling around in circles not catching anything. If you’re a newcomer, show some respect and it will come back to you in the form of a fast moving ramp to launch from.

Oh yeah, the water temps are never warm and a 3/2 is wearable year round. Get yourself into the Foil 3/2 Chest Zip Long Sleeve Steamer and consider your arsenal complete. As part of our world renowned Foil series, this 3/2 chest zip long sleeve steamer offers progressive performance at an entry level price.

In other words, you can expect high quality paired with high value. Made from premium Ax2 superflex neoprene for superior stretch, plus Furnace thermal lining with recycled hallow yarn jersey for increased warmth.

www.billabong.com


Xcel

Best Buy:

Infiniti 3/2 full suit

FEATURES AND BENEFITS

  • JAPANESE LIMESTONE NANOPRENE = LIGHTER, SOFTER, WARMER
  • “TDC” UPPER BODY (THERMO DRY CELLIANT) = QUICK DRY WARMTH
  • PLUSH THERMO LITE LOWER BODY = COMFORT AND WARMTH
  • WATER TIGHT ZIPPER W/MAGNETIC CLOSURE = KEEPS WATER OUT
  • QUICK DRY FIBERS = STAY DRYER AND LIGHTER
  • ENGINEERED DESIGN = FITS LIKE SECOND SKIN
  • NEW FUSIONX TAPE = HEAT PRESSURE SEAM PROTECTION
  • NEXSKIN WRIST AND ANKLE SEALS = MINIMIZES FLUSHING
  • GLIDE SKIN COLLAR = PREVENTS FLUSHING
  • BACK KNEE FLEX GROOVES = PREVENTS BUNCHING
  • ALL NEW ENTRY = EASY ENTRY
  • NEW ONE PIECE SHOULDERS = BALANCED RANGE OF MOTION
  • 100% ULTRA STRETCH = COMFORT AND PERFORMANCE
  • DOPE DYE YARN = SOFT ECO FRIENDLY ANTI FADE

www.xcelwetsuits.com/


Matuse

“Matuse’s product line has expanded but the mission statement will forever be: To make product ichiban (the best) by creating function-first, solution-specific innovations; to educate by telling a story, enhancing cultural and environmental awareness.”

Matuse’s ergonomic design and Geoprene technology create an unsurpassed combination of insulation and flexibility. Geoprene’s technology means thinner rubber can still be warmer rubber. Since it doesn’t absorb water, it weighs less. So it allows athletes to focus on the right issues (like better surfing), and fuss less over the wrong ones (like being cold, uncomfortable—and performing like a wet noodle).

Best Buy:

Dante 3/2 wetsuit

FEATURES

Geoflex is a material that has a different elastic range than that of our Geoprene. We used this material to create the new entry the Dante wetsuit has with the Butterfly-collar and the yoke pull-over. The idea was to develop a front-entry that was easy to get in-and-out of for almost everyone without taking water into the wetsuit.  

The 3/2 Dante wetsuit aka the Ichiban. The Dante wetsuit is the most flexible wetsuit that we have ever made. Hence, it perfectly suits people that don’t like front zips and / or back zips and it’s specifically engineered for customers that don’t like putting a wetsuit on – or taking one off.
SATIN SEAL TAPE: A durable yet flexible SCS tape that provides extra seam durability that is soft and comfortable to your skin.
BUTTERFLY COLLAR ENTRY: A new system that allows for easy-in and easy-out while eliminating water entry with its adjustable high neck line. Ichiban infused.

www.matuse.com


Hurley

Designed with flexibility and lightweight technology, Hurley wetsuits help provide lasting warmth and effortless movement.

Best Buy:

Hurley Advantage Max 3/3 full suit 

FEATURES

  • Lightweight warmth

Featuring a soft interior with Infrared technology to help keep you warm, the Hurley Advantage Max 3/3mm Fullsuit Men’s Wetsuit lets you move quickly and fully—so you can stay comfortable in cold conditions.

  • No Zip, No Fuss

Cinched shut with one hand so you can suit up and go, the innovative no-zip chest entry keeps things simple, even when your suit is still wet from those last few waves the night before.

  • Move Freely

The Paddle Assist forearm design features grooves that grab water as you pull back, bringing added force to each and every paddle.

  • Incredible Insulation, Lightweight Feel

Interior Infrared technology is lighter, warmer and softer to the touch than its predecessor for better insulation and comfort.

MORE DETAILS

  • Stretchy seams stay out of your way so you can move freely
  • Jersey fabric kneepads are lightweight and durable
  • Covert external key pocket on the lower leg
  • Fabric: Body: 80% neoprene/20% nylon. Forearm panels: 100% polyurethane.

www.hurley.com


Peak

Peak is a core surf brand that manufacturers quality products for core surfers the world over.

Best Buy:

Climax Pro 3/2 zip free wetsuit

FEATURES

100% Sealed Zip Free wetsuit featuring 100% lightweight and flexible X-Stretch neoprene, a key pocket on the lower leg and critical taping.

  • The all new Climax Pro ZIP FREE – the lightest and most flexible wetsuit available
  • Lightweight, maximum stretch
  • Less seams, ultimate performance

www.peak.com.au


Isurus

Isurus Surfing Wetsuits are designed with a special material that helps get warm, oxygen rich blood to your muscles when it is needed most.

Muscles that get increased blood flow and oxygen create less lactic acid, which allows you to:

SURF STRONGER. SURF LONGER. STAY WARMER.

“Our passion is to build world-class wetsuits that stand up to the harshest conditions the ocean might offer. Living and surfing in and along the California coast a frequent topic of conversation was just how much wetsuit innovation had stagnated and quality had deteriorated.  It is about designing a wetsuit that improves surfer performance.”

Best Buy:

Alpha-Elite 434 wetsuit

Check out our review of the Isurus.

For wherever you want to take it, this wetsuit will keep you warmer, performing better and surfing longer in cool water surf conditions. The Alpha Elite 434 is a full Compression Wetsuit with added MST Muscle Stabilization Taping to reduce muscle vibration which can lead to premature fatigue.

The surfing 4/3 mm wetsuit features a special compression material and anatomically designed compression panels that move in unison with the body. The kinesiology based MST provides additional support by wrapping your muscles in a cage-like exoskeleton support structure. Enabling unmatched performance in the water.

Rapidly has become a go-to wetsuit favourite of cold water surfers.

FEATURES

• Wetsuit Temp Range: 50°F (10°C) to 57°F (14°C)
• Compression Wetsuit
• Chest Zip Entry System
• 100% Japanese Neoprene from Yamamoto
• Ultra Light (Doesn’t absorb H20)
• Quick Drying – 98% Hydrophobic
• 4mm Japanese Yamamoto Neoprene Zircronium Fleece and SCS Nano Skin Smoothy in Back, 4 mm Chest and Waist down
• 3mm Japanese Yamamoto Shoulders and Arms

www.surfisurus.com


Quiksilver

One of the original surf brands, synonymous with performance.

Best Buy:

Highline Plus 4/3 chest zip wetsuit

FEATURES

F’N Lite 2 neoprene features a new surface texture to minimise drying time between sessions, thermal Smoothie on chest and back panels – wind and water repellent to keep you warmer, WarmFlight® °Far Infrared x2 thermal lining – our warmest and fastest drying thermal lining, WarmFlight® lining on lower legs & arm panels, glued & blind stitched (GBS) seams that reduce sew through & water entry to keep you warmer, Hydrolock seam seal, F’N Lite taping: internal neoprene seam sealant for watertight reinforcement and added comfort, Flush Lock 2.0 Seals help prevent flushing through the wrists & ankles, fused edges, water-block semi-dry chest zip, PK #8 metal head zip, Ecto-Flex knee pads, durable, lightweight & flexible to protect you and your board, suitable for suggested water temperatures of 9°C-13°C / 49°F-55°F, this is a guide only: weather and sensitivity to the cold & conditions at your local break will affect temperatures & choice of equipment.

www.quiksilver.com