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Ranking the Best Wetsuits for Watersports in 2021

Best Overall Choice
Rip Curl Flashbomb 3-2MM GBS Chest Zip Wetsuit

Rip Curl Flashbomb 3/2MM GBS Chest Zip Wetsuit

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Best Premium Choice
O’Neill Psycho Tech 3-2mm Chest-Zip Full Wetsuit

O’Neill Psycho Tech 3/2mm Chest-Zip Full Wetsuit – Men’s

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Best Budget Choice
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3-2 GB Steamer Back-Zip Wetsuit – Women’s

Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3/2 GB Steamer Back-Zip Wetsuit – Women’s

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Kyle W by Kyle W Updated on March 9, 2021. In

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Why would anyone get into watersports or any recreational activity involving water and want to stay dry? Doesn’t make sense, right? Not quite. Getting wet when you spend a considerable amount of time in the water is inevitable, but you want to protect yourself from dangerously cold temperatures.

Even the best wetsuits do not protect people from getting wet in the same way that good-quality rain ponchos or rain gear will. Instead, they are a lifesaver, especially for surfers, divers, paddle-boarders, and kayakers, who don’t live in tropical regions or people who hit the water during the cold months. The neoprene getups are your surest way to retain body heat and keep hypothermia at bay, at least for the most part.

As you may already know, a diver will need a different type of wetsuit than a kayaker. That’s another way of saying these suits are designed for different purposes, and although you may be lucky to find one that works well for most scenarios, there is really no such thing as a jack-of-all-trades type of wetsuit.

For this reason, we have rounded up a few of the best wetsuits for different purposes, including surfing, diving, swimming, and triathlon. We also offer some useful buying tips and how to care for your wetsuit at the end of the review.

The Best Wetsuits on the Market

Best Overall Choice

1. Rip Curl Flashbomb 3/2MM GBS Chest Zip Wetsuit

Rip Curl Flashbomb 3-2MM GBS Chest Zip Wetsuit

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The extra-stretchy Rip Curl Flashbomb wetsuit with highly flexible 100% E5 flash lining is the go-to choice for many surfers and extreme watersports enthusiasts. The suit’s design features several layers that let water out very quickly and lock in warmth in the chest, abdomen, and every other area, so you are kept warm even underwater.

The superior stretchiness means you get plenty of flexibility under the arms, and the flash lining tape in the arms provide increased durability. The advanced E5 neoprene material used in constructing this suit, plus the superior seam-sealing technology, makes this our best overall pick.

Specs

  • Material: Neoprene
  • Seams: Blind stitched and glued
  • Thickness: 2mm arms and legs, 3mm chest
  • Entry: Front chest zip
  • Main Use: Surfing

Pros

  • Superb stretch material
  • Lightweight
  • Warm

Cons

  • Tends to lose shape with time
Best Premium Choice

2. O’Neill Psycho Tech 3/2mm Chest-Zip Full Wetsuit – Men’s

O’Neill Psycho Tech 3-2mm Chest-Zip Full Wetsuit

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Surfers who won’t settle for anything less than a stretchy, cozy, and near-watertight wetsuit will want to take a look at the O’Neill Psycho Tech wetsuit. While there are quite a number of manufacturers dolling out great suits, there is a lot to be said for a brand that has often provided wetsuits for the US military.

O’Neill doesn’t pinch pennies when it comes to research and design, and it shows in their high-quality products. This option is very flexible, lightweight, durable, and provides a lot of warmth even in cold water temperatures. The RedZone zipper keeps water out, and the water-resistant neoprene ensures the small amount of water that gets in is not retained.

It doesn’t come cheap, though. But if you have the budget, we definitely recommend getting this one because it is worth the investment.

Specs

  • Material: Neoprene
  • Seams: Blind stitched and glued
  • Thickness: 3/2mm
  • Entry: Front upper zip
  • Main Use: Surfing

Pros

  • Very flexible and lightweight
  • Almost watertight stitching
  • Warm and dries quickly

Cons

  • A bit pricey

3. 2XU P:1 Propel Sleeveless Wetsuit

2XU P1 Propel Sleeveless Wetsuit

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Triathletes need wetsuits with lots of flexibility and great comfort, whether they are beginners or experts. 2XU’s wetsuit has been designed with the athlete’s technical needs in mind. The suit has a Super Composite Skin coating, meaning it reduces water resistance for faster swimming and also makes it easy to get in and out of the wetsuit.

There is plenty of rubber throughout the body, with different thickness in nearly all panels. Plus, you get lots of movement that helps to prevent fatigue.

Female triathletes can choose from a variety of sizes, from extra-small to extra-large and everything between. Of course, 2XU’s wetsuits are available for men, too. The options for men include the Propel Sleeveless and the full-sleeve style.

Specs

  • Material: Nylon laminated, sponge rubber
  • Seams: Glued
  • Thickness: 1mm to 5mm
  • Entry: Rear zip
  • Main Use: Swimming and Triathlon

Pros

  • Extremely slippery
  • Easy to put on and remove
  • Great buoyancy

Cons

  • Limited color options

4. XCEL Polar Hydroflex

XCEL Polar Hydroflex

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A suit made from mere rubber is not enough to handle the challenging task of deep diving. Luckily, the good folks at XCEL know that too well and have engineered the Polar Hydroflex with specific technology to help the diver stay warm and comfy under the water.

The inclusion of Glideskin material to the cuffs, ankles, and other access areas increases slipperiness for easy entry and exit. The wetsuit is particularly thick, which is a good thing if you plan to dive under the ocean in colder water temperature. XCEL also added Polar Protection System zip entry to eliminate the hassles of getting in and out of the wetsuit.

Specs

  • Material: Ultra-stretch neoprene
  • Seams: Blind stitched and glued
  • Thickness: 6mm to 8mm (8mm core)
  • Entry: Horizontal front zip
  • Main Use: Diving

Pros

  • Incredibly warm
  • Easy to put on and remove

Cons

  • Reduced movement
Best Budget Choice

5. Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3/2 GB Steamer Back-Zip Wetsuit – Women’s

Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3-2 GB Steamer Back-Zip Wetsuit – Women’s

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For under $200, you can own the extremely flexible Rip Curl Dawn Patrol wetsuit. The suit has remained a top choice among women surfers, and that’s not only because of the affordable price tag. The seams are blind stitched, glued, and taped for maximum durability.

It also features an easy-to-use rear entry zip, so you don’t have to struggle with getting in and out of the wetsuit. We recommend using the Dawn Patrol for low-key sessions in warm water, as the thickness may not be suitable for cold water temperatures.

Specs

  • Material: E5 neoprene
  • Seams: Blindstitched, glued, and taped
  • Thickness: 3/2mm
  • Entry: Rear zip
  • Main Use: Surfing

Pros

  • Inexpensive for a wetsuit
  • Easy to put on and remove
  • Excellent seam construction

Cons

  • Not the best choice for colder water temperatures

6. Vissla 7 Seas Wetsuit – Men’s

Vissla 7 Seas Wetsuit – Men’s

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Vissla’s 7 Seas Wetsuit is an excellent option when warmth is the most important consideration. The brand’s Thermal Brain Fuzz lining gives the full-body wetsuit its remarkable warm quality, making it a great choice for surfing in cooler waters.

The seam construction for this wetsuit is top-notch. Vissla didn’t just double-blindstitch the 7 Seas Wetsuit; it triple-glued the seams! That means there’s little to no chance of water getting in. To top it off, the super-stretchy limestone-based neoprene means you can paddle and retain your balance with unhindered movement.

Specs

  • Material: Neoprene, nylon
  • Seams: Blind stitched and glued
  • Thickness: 3/2mm
  • Entry: Rear zip
  • Main Use: Surfing

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Excellent seam construction
  • Impressive warranty

Cons

  • Tends to get a bit heavy because it retains water

7. O’Neill Men’s O’Riginal 2mm Back Zip Sleeveless Spring Wetsuit

O’Neill Men’s O’Riginal 2mm Back Zip Sleeveless Spring Wetsuit

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A full-sleeve wetsuit can cause overheat when you are paddling since your body gets a lot of exercise from the activity. Moreover, your body is mostly out of the water, so you are likely to sweat beneath a neoprene wetsuit.

For this reason, we recommend choosing a sleeveless suit for this purpose, and you’ll be extremely lucky to find a better what better option than O’Neill O’Riginal Spring Wetsuit. The 2mm thick suit is held together by flat stitched seams, which is ideal for letting water seep through to minimize heat. In addition, the material is breathable and quite flexible.

Specs

  • Material: Neoprene, nylon
  • Seams: Flat stitched
  • Thickness: 2mm
  • Entry: Rear zip
  • Main Use: Kneeboarding, Wakeboarding, Swimming, Surfing

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Breathable
  • Flexible

Cons

  • Chest rubber can get very sticky

Best Wetsuits: Buying Advice

Swimming in wetsuit

Wetsuit’s global sales will continue to witness tremendous growth as more people take part in recreational water sports. But that doesn’t mean every neoprene suit out there is right for you. Before you invest your money in one, consider the following buying tips.

Rubber Thickness

The thickness of the rubber in a wetsuit determines its flexibility as well as its warmth-retention capability. Consider choosing steamers, as these are designed to trap a small quantity of water between the rubber and the body. The water is warmed up by body heat and serves as a thermal jacket.

A 6/4mm wetsuit should do if you easily get cold than most people. Otherwise, opt for one that comes in 5/4mm thickness. These will keep you warm, even in the coldest months. For surfing in warmer temperatures, such as during summer, consider a 3/2mm thick neoprene suit. A 4/3mm also works great for the spring and fall seasons.

When considering thickness, remember that, unlike dry suits that completely lock all water out, wetsuits allow small amounts of water in but only for a bit. Choosing a very thick wetsuit might get slightly uncomfortable and can considerably restrict your movement when the trapped water warms up, especially if you do a lot of water-related cardio-activities such as swimming and surfing.

Size and Fit

Make sure to understand the company’s size chart to be sure you pick a wetsuit that fits you. Remember that size charts are different across manufacturers, so a listed size from one brand might not fit well for another company.

The surest way to get a snug fit without sacrificing free movement is to try it on. However, because it might not be convenient to buy your suit from a brick-and-mortar store, you can order a few different sizes and send back the rest when you have selected the best fit.

In any case, you might not get one that suits you perfectly unless you order a custom fit. But you should be able to find one that comes close to a perfect fit.

Stitching and Seams

Stitching and seams are the major factors that separate cheap wetsuits from high-end options. Generally, the options to choose from include:

Overlock Stitching

This is the most basic type of stitching. It does a poor job of preventing water from getting inside the suit. Wetsuits with overlock stitching are typically inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean they are not useful. You can save them for the summer when a constant flush will be more welcoming.

Flat Stitching

Suits with flat stitching lie flatter and prevent water seepage better than wetsuits with basic overlock stitching. However, they are not watertight.

Blind Stitching

These types of suits have narrower stitching than flat-stitched types. These options are great at preventing water seepage to a large extent because the seams are usually glued.

Sealed, Taped, and Glued

The very best wetsuits don’t only feature blind stitching; they are also sealed and taped on the insides and out. These options are typically on the pricier end of the spectrum, as should be expected. But they are worth every single dime, especially if you plan on surfing extremely cold water temperatures.

Use

The brand name is not as important as what a suit is designed to do. Consider what you want to use the wetsuit for before choosing one. For example, a surfing suit from a household name such as O’Neill might be worthless to you if what you want to use it for is a triathlon. For this reason, it is important to find out the intended use of a suit (just as we’ve listed in the reviews) before making your purchase.

How To Care For Your Wetsuit

How To Care For Your Wetsuit

It goes without saying that a little love is in order if you want your wetsuit to live to its expected lifespan (and even beyond). Your suit can only offer protection from cold if you protect it by caring for it. Here’s how to go about it.

Frequent Washing

Wash your wetsuit after each use. If this is not feasible, consider washing the suit as frequently as possible. Everything that goes on your body (and comes out of your body when the suit is on) ends up on your suit. This includes body cream or lotion, sunscreen, seawater, sweat, and even urine.

Of course, these elements may not outrightly damage your wetsuit, at least not immediately, but it will definitely smell awful. It is not difficult to wash a wetsuit, but any ordinary soap won’t cut the deal. Make sure you get an eco-friendly and hypoallergenic wetsuit-specific shampoo to keep your suit clean.

Store in a Dry, Shaded Area

Your wetsuit is better stored in a dry, shaded area with adequate ventilation. Dumping your suit in a place without proper airflow or in a confined space is an open invitation for mold growth. Whatever you do, avoid hanging your wetsuit to dry in the sun. Nothing shortens the lifespan of a neoprene suit quicker a keeping it in a hot environment.

Hang or Fold Loosely

The best place to hang your wetsuit is on a specially designed wetsuit hanger. If you don’t have this presently (consider getting one as soon as possible), you could place your suit on a thick-framed clothes hanger. A sharp wire hanger will stretch out the suit. If you prefer folding, do so loosely to avoid creases. Alternatively, roll them up for storage or travel.

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