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Wetsuit for Surfing: What Do Surfers Want?

   November 21st, 2017   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

For all you current or aspiring surfers, we’re answering the question ‘what do surfers look for in a wetsuit?’. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, finding that perfect wetsuit for surfing can be overwhelming and a tad confusing. Everyone is different when it comes to wetsuits and the brand/style they love. But surfers can all agree on one thing – er, well, a few things – when it comes to what to look for in a wetsuit for surfing and they’re listed below!

All About that Neoprene

Standard, 100% stretch, 100% super stretch. What do these words mean when it comes to neoprene type? Standard stretch is great for beginners. This neoprene has about 50% stretch, so it’s not the best for those who want to perform in the water, but, it’s a great starting point. Meanwhile, for all you surfing enthusiasts, 100% stretch neoprene is vital when it comes to performance and endurance. Quality neoprene is soft and flexible so you get a great range of motion and it also helps making getting into a wetsuit a little less of a pain in the toosh. Here are some of our favorite standard and 100% stretch neoprene suits:

It’s All in the Fit

A wetsuit for surfing – or for any water sport, really – should feel and fit like a second skin. Now, if you can’t breathe, that’s a no-no; the wetsuit should move with you, not against you. Fit is everything for surfers as they don’t want water pouring into their suit nor do they want to be suffocated (can’t really blame them on that one).


When someone is looking for a wetsuit for surfing, they also take the thickness of a suit into consideration. Thicknesses like 3/2mm, 5/4mm, etc. work well in different water temperatures. For instance, if surfing in water temps that are 73 degrees F, then consider a shorty springsuit. But, if you’re a brave soul surfing in water temps dipping into 50 degrees F, a 5/4mm fullsuit (with or without a hood) is certainly up your alley. The thicker the suit, the warmer you’ll be.

Don’t Forget About Seams and a Zipper

A wetsuit for surfing wouldn’t be complete without seams and a zipper. You have to get in and out of the suit somehow, right? And something needs to hold the entire suit together. As far as seams goes, there’s flatlock, sealed, and sealed & taped. Flatlock works best in warm water temps as the stitching does still allow for water to seep in. On the other hand, a surfer may prefer a sturdier seam that’s less restricting like a simple sealed seam (glued and blind stitched). And remember when we touched on 5/4mm and cold water suits? A good amount of those suits have sealed and liquid taped seams – meaning sealed on the inside and liquid taping on the outside of the suit which works to block water from seeping into the wetsuit.

As far as zippers go, options like a back zip, chest zip or even zip-free are available. Back zippers used to dominate the wetsuit market but chest zip and zip-free have really stepped up in the wetsuit technology game and a chest zipper is especially becoming more popular with surfers. Why? More range of motion.

What’s in a Name?

Lastly, let’s talk brand. Some people are die hard Quiksilver or O’Neill fans. Brands like Billabong and XCEL are also pretty popular in the surfing scene, but, sometimes it never hurts to be a open-minded when it comes to branching out and trying other brands. Take it from these dudes who were part of a blind-test wetsuit challenge:

Lauren (LoLo) has been turning words into blog posts for Wetsuit Wearhouse since 2014. She learned to surf for the first time ever in Costa Rica but she gravitates more towards SUP. When she's not scouring the web for travel deals, you can find her either hiking, running, gardening, tending to her animals, or reading a good book outside on a beautiful day.

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  • Al says:

    Hi LoLo / Team,
    I am 59 and overweight. I always snorkel on top of the water and never had a wetsuit. I will be going to the Big Island this Feb and according to what I can find water temp is between 73-78 F and thinking I may need one for this trip – not sure of thickness and suit size. What do you recommend? Is a two piece better for my size?
    Height 66″
    Weight 245 #
    Chest 51″
    Waist 51″
    Hips 47″
    Neck 16″
    Inseam 28.5″


  • Laura Lister says:

    Can you advise me? I am 78 years old and find my pool a bit too cold. I would like to purchase a wet suit jacket that is very flexible and easy to swim and do aerobics in. Since swimming helps arthritis, movement is very important. I do not do straight laps, but various exercises worked into a lap. Also – I am overweight so I do not want anything “sexy”.

    What do you think?

    • Crysta Goff says:

      I’m going to send you a private email, Laura. (:

    • John Gross says:

      Hi make sure it has a full zipper they can be hard to get off at your age,you dont want a full suit or a pull over that you may need helping getting on and off,i just checked ebay theres a xxxl camo jacket full zipper,25$bid 15 shipping.looks new.
      And you can use as out of water jacket if its super cold.they really hold heat in shockingly so.
      Because of how hard they are to remove you might want to start with hood gloves and feet.try searchs like neoprine gloves socks hood.jacket check ebay cheap.also thift stores often have wetsuits for like 20$

  • Marco says:


    I read your blog in a quick and non efficient way. I didn’t find the answer I was looking for. I found your views very interesting, points are great too, thank you for your post. It helped me understand a little into what I was looking for. I hope you carry on with your views and different ways of wording your initial subject/subjects. Enjoy reading your book in hot summer days, it’s when you’re most alive in the most ways you can be.


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