The dawn patrol in the dead of winter is what separates serious surfers from soft-toppers. But even the toughest surfer won’t row before sliding into thick neoprene. Of course, you don’t want your insulating suit to have an impact on your performance once you step out.
Besides keeping you warm in the water, the best wetsuits are super stretchy, quick-drying, comfortable against your skin, and durable enough to last for multiple seasons. To keep you in shape even when the water gets cold, we’ve put together a list of the best wetsuits from top brands like Rip Curl, Patagonia, Xcel, Isurus, and more. Grab one and don’t let the cold keep you on the beach.
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1. Dakine Cyclone Zip Free 3 / 2mm full suit
Dakine is new to the wetsuit business, but you would never know it thanks to the premium Cyclone Zip Free wetsuit. Traditional stress points have been eliminated with its unique Apex Fit pattern, and the proprietary no-zipper seal system effectively prevents rinsing and makes getting in and out easy. The limestone-based neoprene also allows full freedom of movement due to its exceptional flexibility and low weight, while Dakine’s Hexo Therm fabric lining retains heat to keep you warm even on the coldest mornings.
2. Xcel Infiniti 5 / 4mm full hooded suit
If the water temperature at your local break drops into the 40s, you need a top notch chunky wetsuit (plus slippers and a balaclava). Xcel is renowned for its high quality wetsuits, and this cold water option lives up to that reputation. NanoLite Japanese Limestone neoprene offers excellent flexibility for a chunky wetsuit, while the Channel Flex grid design in the upper body further increases mobility. Radiant Rebound lining in the upper body locks in body heat, while a plush ThermoLite lining in the lower body keeps your legs warm and comfortable. And with Nexskin wrist and ankle seals preventing freezing water infiltration, you can surf all morning without being zapped by the cold.
3. Arena SAMS Carbon Triwetsuit
This Arena steamboat is not a typical surf suit, it is specially designed for triathletes and ocean swimmers. More specifically, it has a Shark Attack Mitigation System, or SAMS. Developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Western Australia, this unique color pattern aims to reduce the risk of shark attacks by making the swimmer less appetizing for a shark. In addition to avoiding dangerous wildlife encounters, the suit is designed for excellent performance in the water. Neoprene is distributed to create even buoyancy and improve your swimming position, and Aerodome panels lined with carbon fabric add stability to your core. Finally, the entire suit has a sleek outer coating to reduce drag in the water.
4. Isurus Evade 2 / 2mm Chest Zip wetsuit
Isurus offers an exceptional warmth / thickness ratio with the Evade 2 / 2mm chest zip. The secret is in the premium Japanese Yamamoto neoprene, a more stretchy blend used in the arms, shoulders and neck, as well as a compression liner in the lower body. Beyond premium rubber, this wetsuit dramatically reduces shoulder restriction with its arm-raised design, stabilizes your muscles through compression, and eliminates flushes with improved seals.
5. Florence Marine X 3 / 2mm fullsuit
The signature brand of two-time WSL World Champion John John Florence is designed for surfers looking for a high quality wetsuit. While this option comes at a steep price, you will get what you pay for. To build it, JJF and his team source premium Japanese neoprene that’s warm, flexible and durable enough to last for several seasons. Each suit is then assembled by hand to create a tight seal that eliminates the need for rigid interior tape.
6. Matuse Scipio front zip 3 mm
While most high-end insulated wetsuits still use traditional neoprene, Matuse has started using a new hydrophobic material known as geoprene. Pure limestone based neoprene, it is 98% waterproof and also has built-in air chambers to store radiant heat. In addition to being extremely warm and flexible, the Geoprene material feels silky and luxurious against the skin while providing excellent wind protection.
7. Rip Curl Flashbomb Search 3 / 2mm Zip Free
Rip Curl is known for their premium cooler suits and their Flashbomb series is one of the best. Freedom of movement has always been a hallmark of Rip Curl models, and the Flashbomb Search continues this tradition with ultra-stretch, lightweight E6 Thermo Lining neoprene in the arms and shoulders. The suit features an expansive E6 Flash liner to retain heat from the ankle to the neck (even the stitching tape is designed to retain heat), and the sealed cuffs prevent rinsing and also increase durability.
8. Billabong 4 / 3mm Furnace Chest Zip Wetsuit
Ecological and warm, the oven lives up to its name. The graphene-infused heat-conductive liner is made from 100% recycled fibers, the Smart Foam comes from recycled car tires and neoprene waste, and the ultra-flexible outer jersey also uses recycled materials. The result is a wetsuit that provides excellent warmth and flexibility while minimizing its impact on Mother Nature.
9. Patagonia R1 Lite Yulex fullsuit with short sleeves and front zip
This lightweight Patagonia wetsuit is a perfect choice for stand-up paddlers or those who surf in hot water spots. Made from 85% natural rubber and featuring 100% recycled polyester linings, the R1 Lite offers enough warmth to keep you from catching a cold, yet it has a lot of flex, so your paddle strokes don’t are never limited. It is also Fairtrade certified, a rare feature among cooler suits.
10. Quiksilver 4 / 3mm Marathon Sessions Chest Zip Wetsuit
As the name suggests, the Marathon Sessions Chest Zip wetsuit is designed to help you stay in the water longer. This Bluesign certified eco-friendly suit features a WarmFlight infrared thermal liner, made from recycled plastic bottles, which retains and diffuses body heat for excellent warmth. Plus, StretchFlight neoprene is lightweight and flexible, so you can surf for hours without getting in your wetsuit.
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