Review: XCEL Comp X Wetsuit

Editor's Choice

I’m standing on a beach somewhere on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand. It’s the shoulder season, between winter and summer. I wouldn’t call it spring because despite the flowers attempting to burst free from their buds, the sky is gray and the wind cold. The water. Well, let’s just say it is far from spring suit temperature (it’s around 15 degrees Celcius / 59 Fahrenheit in the water and less than that on land).

Sitting in my car, I watch a few mushburgers crumble towards the sand. Two brave souls bob in the lineup like lonely seals. Every fiber in my body screams — go home. But today is different. I can’t escape. Geniya, who manages, is sitting beside me, urging me to get out of the car and into the ocean.

“We need to test this wetsuit, and what better day than today?” she says. “I’ll surf like a kook I reply — and nobody wants to see that,” I protest. But resistance is futile. Then the wind abates, and the ocean settles for a moment. I grit my teeth and flip open the trunk. Like treasure in a treasure chest, my XCEL Comp X lights up my face as I look down at its awesome yellow and red inner lining. I strip down and suit up.

My experience with the Xcel Comp X

First and foremost, I love the satin soft feel of this wetsuit. It slides on without fuss and feels lighter and more flexible than the other suits hanging in my garage. Sometimes you put on a new wetsuit, and it feels rigid, like a new shoe, that will take some wearing in. Other times the suit is too supple, sliding on but staying loose around the wrists and ankles. The Comp X is in the “Goldilocks zone” of wetsuits. Not too rigid and not too loose — it’s just right. I love the little touches, like the magnetic closure that clicks into place after securing the front zipper. Only real surfers could dream up such features.

I paddle out and completely forget I’m supposed to be paying attention to the wetsuit. This is perhaps the highest compliment I can give. I’m present to the surf, scratching around the lineup for some energy, oblivious to the wind and water temp. I’m just in the zone — the Goldilocks zone, that is.

I paddle out and completely forget I’m supposed to be paying attention to the wetsuit. This is perhaps the highest compliment I can give.

I catch a few crumbles and wish a set would roll through. It does, but not where I am. I’m toasty and end up out there for over an hour. I wonder why the Comp X has a funky yellow, red, and green inner lining (keep reading). One little close-out turn on a runner brings me back to the beach.

“See, that wasn’t so bad,” says Geniya. She’s 100% right.

The purpose of a wetsuit is to enable you to surf in conditions that would otherwise compromise performance, not to mention well-being. As wetsuit tech has evolved, products have shifted from being cumbersome suits of armor made of toxic rubber to sleek and refined creations like this. In my opinion, the Comp X is at the forefront of wetsuit technology. Not only does it offer superior performance, but it also ticks the sustainability box (more below). Note: I wear the Comp X almost exclusively now.

As a core surf brand, XCEL, continues to deliver the goods. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this wetsuit — above all of the other major brand performance wetsuits available today. If you’re a surfer looking for performance with care for the planet, then go no further.

Read on for the tech specs.

About the Comp X 3/2 mm

The Comp X comes in various thicknesses: 3/2mm, 4/3mm, 4.5/3.5mm hooded, and 5.5/4.5mm hooded. Whether you’re surfing during a shoulder season or preparing for seriously cold waters, there’s a Comp X designed to keep you comfortable. I used the 3/2 model — in 15 degrees Celsius / 59 Fahrenheit water, with wind chill. Usually, I’d be wearing in 4/3mm in such conditions, but this was not needed, a testament to Xcel’s TDC material…

Unmatched Performance and Warmth

The Comp X is like the Tesla of wetsuits—top-of-the-line, high-performance, and warm. But what’s the secret sauce? It’s the Thermo Dry Celliant (TDC) infrared interior. This is not jargon or a gimmick; it’s backed by clinical evidence. TDC material increases blood flow, making your muscles more alert and less fatigued. XCEL says, “When the body reacts to the Celliant Black Smart fiber Technology (just like TDC Smart fiber) with increased blood flow and heat is produced by the body through the Infrared Process, heat is then retained within the fibers of the inner lining of the wetsuit… creating the warmest, performance surf wetsuit one could experience.”

The TDC is distinguished by an eye-catching heat map pattern, so you not only feel warm but look cool when hanging the wetsuit on your rearview mirror.

The FDA actually labels TDC as a medical device and general wellness product. So you’re not just buying a great wetsuit; you’re technically investing in your well-being (and getting longer surfs as part of the deal).

Revolutionary Comfort

Comfort is a non-negotiable when you’re out in the water for hours, and XCEL has nailed it with the Comp X. The exterior is made from their lightweight Channel Flex material, which reduces fiber and water weight, giving you unparalleled freedom of motion.

The Comp X offers a one-piece front and back panel design along with completely sealed seams.

The Comp X is our best selling, most iconic, and most award winning wetsuit, delivering maximum comfort with unbeatable infrared warmth.

The Sustainability Factor

The XCEL Comp X wetsuit incorporates several eco-friendly innovations to reduce its environmental impact. Firstly, it utilizes limestone neoprene, which is derived from earth-mined limestone, replacing the traditional petrochemicals in neoprene. This substitution not only curtails the reliance on fossil fuels but also avoids the environmentally harmful practices associated with their processing. In addition, the wetsuit integrates recycled oyster shells as a replacement for calcium carbonate, which is typically used in neoprene production. This creative reuse of waste material reflects a responsible approach to resource consumption.

Furthering its commitment to sustainability, the wetsuit employs eco-carbon black, a key component in neoprene, now sourced from pyrolyzed scrap rubber tires. This innovative recycling process significantly slashes energy consumption and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 200g per wetsuit. Moreover, the wetsuit is assembled using water-based glue instead of traditional solvent-based laminating glue, thereby eliminating the release of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere.

The environmental stewardship continues with XCEL’s neoprene recycling process, where the aim is to recycle as much neoprene production waste as possible, converting it into high-quality neoprene. This strategy minimizes the waste directed to landfills. Additionally, the wetsuits are crafted using neoprene rubber foam that has a minimized formulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), significantly reducing the potential release of these harmful substances. Finally, the wetsuits feature recycled polyester made from recycled plastic bottles, further decreasing waste and material consumption. These concerted efforts showcase XCEL’s dedication to integrating sustainable practices into their product lifecycle.


If you’re searching for a wetsuit that doesn’t compromise on performance, comfort, or sustainability, the Comp X by Xcel is a must-have. The initial investment is definitely worth the unparalleled experience you get in return. The Comp X is not just a wetsuit; it’s a revolution.

Review: XCEL Comp X Wetsuit
Best Performance Wetsuit
This is our #1 choice in performance wetsuits for 2023.
Best features
Comfort and fit
TDC lining
Needs improvement
Editor's Choice