Choosing a surfing wetsuit is important if you want to ride waves year round. The right features will help you in drastic ways by allowing you to have a longer, and more comfortable session. Wetsuits are not made to keep you completely dry, but they are designed to let a bit of water in to be warmed by body heat, and this layer of water between you and your suit is what keeps you warm and happy. So we will be going over some important features present in today’s modern wetsuits.
The thickness of a wetsuit is measured in millimeters (mm). For instance 2mm, 3/2mm, 4/3mm and 5/4mm. The first number represents the thickness of the material in torso to provide your core warmth, and the second number represents the layer used on both the arms and legs. Check the water temperature of the breaks you will be surfing at, and then check out the chart provided bellow.
Neoprene type plays an important role in the flexibility, warmth, and durability of the wetsuit. There are three types of neoprene available Super Stretch Neoprene, Standard Neoprene, and Super Stretch Water Repellant Neoprene. For surfing it’s advised that you have at least 30% super stretch neoprene, or it would be too hard to paddle due to the limited flexibility of the material, but these suits come at a fair price. Seasoned surfers will want to use 100% super stretch neoprene for a glove like fit and maximum flexibility, but tend to be more expensive. Bellow I have highlighted in red where Super Stretch Neoprene is used in both 30% and 100% wetsuits.
Seam construction affects the warmth of the wetsuit greatly. Surfer’s surfing in colder areas 65 degrees and below need sealed seams to keep warm water in and cold water out. Bellow are the three most common seams used in wetsuits today.
- Flatlock Stitching: Recommended for warmer water at about 62F and above. These seams may let some water to penetrate your wetsuit.
- Sealed (Glued and Blindstitched): These seams are recommended for temps 55F and up. The construction is tailored for cold water surfing. Very little water will penetrate.
- Sealed & Taped (Glued Blindstitched & 100% Taped): Used for very cold waters 55F and below. Tape covers the length of the seam, and lets no water penetration at all.
- Full Zipper – Zipper is located on the rear of the suit, and may extend to the lumbar region of the back.
Short Zipper – The zipper runs to about mid back. The advantage of a short zipper is more flexibility, and less water entry.
- Chest Zip – The chest zip is a bit harder to get into, but offers the best flexibility, and much less water entry compared to back zips. Chest zips are less likely to flush at the neck providing superior cold water protection. And if water does get in many chest zip systems have drainage holes both in front and in the back of the wetsuit.
- Poly Fleece Lining – A lining in the interior of the suit that looks like a micro fiber towel. This lining wicks away water from the suit, but retains body heat keeping you that much warmer.
Water Repellant Neoprene:
This type of neoprene is only found in the best wetsuits. The material is hydrophobic (water does not absorb) allowing the wetsuit to have water resistant properties. Water just beads off this material like a freshly waxed car. Since the material is virtually waterproof wetsuits made from this material will keep you warmer and drier longer.
My favorite feature on a wetsuit. Most suits on the market come with a key pocket. With this simple feature your car key is always safe and near you.
Hope you guys enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Happy surfing!
Check out the 11 Best Wetsuits on the market right now:
1. O’Neill Wetsuits Men’s Pyrotech 5.5/4 mm w/Hood F.U.Z.E. Full Suit
O’Neill’s new Pyrotech Series combines their exclusive Techno Butter neoprene with Techno Butter-Air Firewall insulation, Single Fluid Seam weld and a F.U.Z.E. closure system. Lighter, Warmer, More insulating and quick drying with improved ease of entry. Pyrotech is the latest advancement in cold water wetsuit technology.
2. Bare 7mm Elastek Full Suit Men’s Wetsuit
100% Elastek Super-Stretch stretches up to 200% more than standard neoprene. Elastek utilizes the latest in neoprene laminates to provide uninhibited flexibility and stretch. Knee pads provide exceptional grip and durability. Full-stretch neoprene laminates allow for total range of motion while maintaining a soft, supple feel against your skin. GLIDESEAL Neck seal with adjustable comfort collar.
3. Xcel 4/3mm Revolt X2 Thermo Dry Celliant Wetsuit
The Revolt is an ultra-premium full suit featuring all new TDC Thermo Dry Celliant, a revolutionary inner lining with smart fibers that recycle your body heat into infrared energy for greater warmth, increased endurance, faster recovery, and enhanced overall performance. In the Revolt, TDC is featured in a diamond patterned high pile chest for core warmth, and an infrared print low pile lower body. With exclusive material and seam innovations, including a watertight X2 entry system, full water-repellent Quick Dry Fiber exterior and Xcel’s exclusive Drylock Wrist Seals, the Revolt delivers advanced performance, warmth, and stretch.
4. Hyperflex Wetsuits Men’s Voodoo 4mm Hooded Front Zip Fullsuit
Hyper flex’s new Voodoo HFZ brings major advancements in cold water wetsuit technology. Highlighting Voodoo is the introduction of Atomic Foam Super Stretch Neoprene, which they internally-lined with their new AQ6 thermal fabric. Additionally, the Chest/Back/Hood is equipped with their new Reactor Core+ insulation panels. Voodoo HFZ also benefits from their new Cocoon Entry Point & Closure System design. All seams are glued and blind stitched and sealed with their Fusion Weld liquid tape. Simply put, Voodoo increases warmth without increasing thickness allowing you to surf lighter, longer and warmer.
5. Xterra Vortex Triathlon Wetsuit Fullsuit
The all-new Vortex Fullsuit is an advanced upgrade of America’s Best Selling Triathlon Wetsuit, the Vortex Fullsuit. Ideal for athletes for who want an all-around wetsuit to use while training and racing, the new Vortex Fullsuit continues to offer the perfect combination of performance, flexibility, and durability. The interior is lined with X-FLEX LINER 2.0, for smoother transitions, and its upgraded neoprene provides greater overall flexibility and buoyancy.
6. Billabong FOIL Steamer 5/4/3mm Men’s Full Wetsuit
Billabong has completely revamped the Foil line of wetsuits this year, and they did a really nice job for the price point! This wetsuit features 100% superstretch neoprene for excellent flexibility in the water. They beefed up the stretch by adding top of the line “ZG300” superflex to critical pivot points, and eliminating some unnecessary seam panels. A new water resistant zipper, combined with internal zip flaps and sealed seams help keep the cold water from flushing the suit. The chest is lined with a thermal poly fleece lining that wicks moisture from the skin while adding some extra insulation. Also features: chafe resistant collar, adjustable neck, internal key loop, durable kneepads, and a FREE 3mm bibbed hood. Every Billabong wetsuit is made of the finest quality materials and workmanship. Proper care will insure many happy seasons of use. Please be sure to rinse your suit with fresh water and hang out to dry.
7. Cressi Summer 2.5mm Womens Back Zip Full Wetsuit
All-in-one for temperate waters, hoodless, with long sleeves and pants, made from double lined 3 mm thick neoprene. To reduce water infiltration, the strong rear YKK zip has an Aquastop under zip. The neck is watertight thanks to a single-lined neoprene seal. The seals at wrists and ankles have a zip to make it easy to put on and take off. The legs are preformed to guarantee easier kicking movement.
8. Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Chest Zip 4/3 GB Wetsuit
The Dawn Patrol offers performance, durability and a great value. They have updated this series with E4 Neoprene in critical flex zones. This suit is 100% Super stretch.
9. Synergy Women’s Endorphin Fullsleeve Smoothskin Neoprene
The Synergy Endorphin is is a high performance full sleeve wetsuit providing you with flexibility, flotation and speed at an exceptional value. Designed and constructed for optimum balance between buoyancy and flexibility, it is perfect for all levels of ability, be it competing in triathlons or for open water recreational swimming. The Endorphin Full Sleeve. SyPrene SmoothSkin treated with Nano SCS Silicone for added strength and super-low friction covers the entire suit. The silicone treated neoprene makes the suit non-porous, producing low friction for maximum glide. AquaLift panel, which promotes superior flotation. AquaLift side panels wrap around the torso to create added buoyancy. HiFlex Panels. Dual SmothSkin Neck. Internal Zipper for reduced drag and water penetration. SuperFlex and HiFlex rubber on the shoulders and arm panels boast an unsurpassed 680 percent flexibility. Special inside lining absorbs far less water than is typical, keeping this suit light and allowing it to peel off easily in transition. One of the main concerns when buying a wetsuit is finding the right size. While sizing is a matter of both height and weight, your weight is the determining factor of the size of the wetsuit.
10. O’Neill Wetsuits Mens 4/3 mm Epic Full Suit
The Epic Series now with many of thesame sick features as their high-end wetsuits, including 100% Ultraflexneoprene, double seal neck closure, LSD (lumbar seamless design) andre-engineered covert blackout zip. For 2013 They’ve added a 5/4mmfor extreme conditions. With clean graphics and sharp style lines make the Epic the best value in the industry.
11. TYR SPORT Men’s Hurricane Wetsuit
Every Hurricane starts out as a Category 1, but some have the potential to get a whole lot more powerful. The teamed up with Andy Potts to design a streamlined version of the more advanced Hurricane Series Wetsuits and incorporated some of the highlights of their higher level suits to create the Men’s Category 1 Wetsuit, a triathlon suit that maximizes performance and minimizes cost.