Going to the beach and swimming in in the ocean is an activity looked forward to by almost everyone. Indeed, come summertime getting out and soaking up the sun and gettin in the water has become something of national pastime – letting loose in this way often means a much-needed break from the monotony and hard work of everyday life.
But if you plan to spend any length of time in the water, and lets face it, we all do, then you're going to need more than your trusty sunscreen to protect yourself. We're not all lucky enough to live in year round tropical climates, so depending on where you live the water temperature is likely to be somewhat less than ideal and we all need to be aware that our body loses heat 20 times faster in cold water than on land. This means that if you’re not well-protected from the cold, best case you'll be uncomfortable and will be heading back to dry land quickly while shivering from cold, or worst case there is the very real possibility that you can suffer from hypothermia.
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One of the best ways to protect yourself in these conditions is to insulate yourself with a neoprene wetsuit. With a wetsuit’s insulation, you can prevent excessive heat loss which means you can stay in the water longer and enjoy your time at the beach to the fullest.
Of course, there are different types and brands and types of wetsuits available on the market and deciding which one is best for you can be a headache, especially if it’s your first time buying one. But worry not! We’ve put together this wetsuit buying guide to hopefully make things a bit clearer and even offer you our own suggestions of what to buy.
We’ll be introducing a variety or different styles of wesuits into this ultimate wetsuit roundup so you will likely find one that suits the water conditions and temperature near you. This list contains a few of the different wetsuit types, price levels and products for both men and women. Without further ado, read on for our ultimate wetsuit buyers guide!
O'Neill Men's Reactor
Perfect for the price-conscious watersports lover
Rated by: Thomas
Xterra Wetsuits - men's Volt
Best Overall Pick
Perfect suit for maximum protection and versatility
Rated by: Thomas
Best For Ladies Pick
Comfortable and flexible
Rated by: Thomas
Rated by: Thomas
Henderson is a well-established brand in wetsuits and for good reason – the company is known for offering quality suits at very affordable prices. This Thermoprene Men's 3mm Shorty Wetsuit Springsuit offers that same high quality and affordability synonymous with the brand hence we've included it as a warmer weather, or "spring suit", in this best wetsuits roundup.
Despite the entry price, the Henderson Thermoprene Pro 3mm is an advanced level wetsuit that you won't find restrictive in terms of performance.
A standout feature is the improved Thermoprene material used here which is engineered to closely follow the body contours of the person wearing the suit.
This provides such a close fit that that many wearers report that once they are in the water it almost feels like the new material melts into the body, making this one of the most comfortable wetsuits on the market today.
This will have something to do with the new material being used here now being capable of stretching by up to 250 percent. This degree of elasticity is unprecedented and a significant improvement over the 180 percent stretching capability of the material used in their older suits.
Of course, aside from comfort, a wetsuit must be able to give the wearer excellent insulation and keep the body warm. The Henderson Termoprer Pro 3mm excels in this area as well, thanks to a number of design enhancements built into the suit.
For instance, the amount of seams in the suit has been reduced to a minimum. This means that heat loss via the seams has been reduced overall, allowing you to stay warm for longer periods of time. In addition, each seam is blind stitched and doubled glued to prevent heat loss even further.
With its classic styling combined with contemporary accents, you will look good in and out of the water.
Rated by: Thomas
If you’re in the market for a full-body wetsuit, then the Xterra Men's Volt Triathlon Wetsuit is a Full Body Neoprene Wet Suit (3mm Thickness) that could be the product you are looking for.
Xterra says it is specifically designed for open water swimming and even carries the Ironman and USAT’s approval and based on this feature this suit deserves a spot in our best wetsuits roundup.
The Xterra Men's Volt Triathlon Wetsuit is suitable for water swimming because it gives you an optimal range of motion and flexibility.
This is made possible by the wetsuit’s very flexible shoulder/arm panels which give you unparalleled mobility whether you’re trying to swim freestyle or any other swimming style that you prefer.
In addition, the Volt Triathlon Wetsuit sports scale-like catch panels in the forearm area, which helps when executing “catch-pull” strokes. The suit is also designed to reduce drag in water thanks to its coating called X-slice so you’ll get more speed with each stroke you make.
Xterra gives you 30 days to decide if the suit you’ve just ordered is a perfect fit for you. Yes, you got that right, you can even take it out for a swim just to test it out. If you find it too tight or too big for you, you can still have it exchanged for a different size before the 30-day period is up.
Rated by: Thomas
For female surfers the O'Neill Women's Reactor 3/2mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit might just be what you're looking for.
Packed with useful features and specifically designed for the female body-type, this wetsuit has been consistently getting high ratings from buyers, a testament to its quality, which, in turn, earns it a spot in this best wetsuit list.
This is a full wetsuit which means that it prevents heat loss better and is a better fit for colder waters. You'll be thankful for a full-body suit in cases where you suddenly find yourself immersed in ice-cold water - which is a more likely event on the shoulder periods either side of the summertime. In these temperatures shorty wetsuits will often not be guard against hypothermia.
While this wetsuit is affordable it's not lacking in the performance department. The Reactor 2/2mm Full Suit features wind-blocking panels in the chest and back areas which protects the user and keep your core temperature within comfortable levels even when you're sat out back in the lineup waiting for the next set to come along.
While it protects its wearer’s core temperature, body movement is not restricted by the O'Neill Women's Reactor Wetsuit at all. With its neoprene material, its shoulders and sleeves areas allow freedom of motion. This allows you to enjoy what you are doing in the water with maximum flexibility as you are unhindered by the wetsuit.
While its material is super stretchy and comfortable, the wetsuit is, at the same time, surprisingly durable. It has durable knee and chest pads that are abrasion resistant so you’ll be able to enjoy paddling out in your suit for a longer period of time without the wear and tear of other wetsuit types.
Rated by: Thomas
We’ve already included the women’s version of this product so it’s only fair for the boys to get their share. If you are looking for a product that offers good performance, comfort, and durability without breaking the bank then, like the female equivalent, the O'Neill Men's Reactor 3/2mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit could be perfect you.
The suit is so popular for among both male and female surfers that we’ve included it in this best wetsuit roundup as well. The Men’s Reactor 3/2 mm is perfect for for someone with ranging interests and an active lifestyle as it is suitable for a variety of watersports such as paddle-boarding, surfing, bodyboarding, and even white water kayaking.
Just like the female version, the O'Neill Men's Reactor 3/2mm is a full body wetsuit meant to protect your body against heat loss in colder waters, however, it does so without compromising mobility or comfort. With its highly flexible 3/2 mm neoprene material the suit adjusts to your body’s shape for a comfortable fit, and its flat seam construction ensures that minimal chafing occurs.
Body movement remains totally unrestricted, thanks to the flexible neoprene in the shoulders and sleeves areas. This allows wearers to enjoy their water activities to the fullest without feeling still or uncomfortable.
Rated by: Thomas
The NeoSport brand of wetsuits has been in the business for decades now and is known for producing high-quality products over the years.
It should come as no surprise so see one of their products, the NeoSport Men's Premium Neoprene 5mm Full Suit, would make it to this best wetsuit list.
At 5mm in thickness this NeoSport full body wetsuit is designed to give you optimal protection against heat loss while in the water. It is classified as a multi-sport suit which means that it is suitable for all types of water sports, not just surfing.
While it is thick and durable comfort is not an issue. The material used is premium 5 mm neoprene for which is soft and flexible. Most importantly this wetsuit has the capability to maintain ideal core warmth in both cold and somewhat warmer waters.
The suit features extra protection in areas that need it most. For instance, it has thermal-bonded knee pads for enhanced durability while maintaining enough flexibility for movement.
For extra insulation, the suit has glued and sewn seam, and the adjustable velcro collar seal ensures the perfect fit for all users preventing unnecessary heat loss.
The NeoSport Wetsuit is also very easy to put on with its #10 YKK back zipper which is also heavy duty for durability. Topping out the package it features lycra trimmed ankles and wrists areas.
If you’re looking for a great buy at an affordable price, then this suit is perfect for you. Since it is a multi-sports suit, it is suitable for all types of water activities including triathlons, scuba diving, and other more general watersports.
Rated by: Thomas
Not every water sports enthusiast wants the same thing from their wetsuits. But if you are one of those who prioritize speed above everything else, though is still on a bit of a budget, then the TYR SPORT Men's Hurricane Wetsuit Category 1 could be the suit you are looking for.
The TYR Sport Hurricane wetsuit line is specifically designed to give you the maximum performance in terms of speed in the water.
TYR Sports Cat 5, for instance, is probably one of the most popular speed-focused suits on the market, which makes it a favorite among those who can afford its rather high-end price tag.
Fortunately, the brand understood that not everyone can afford or needs the TYR Hurricane Category 5 wetsuit, so the company has partnered with triathlete Andy Potts to come up with a more streamlined version of the higher end models of their series. The result is the TYR Sport Men's Hurricane Wetsuit Category 1, a triathlon suit that incorporated some of the design elements of its higher-end cousins giving it superb performance while remaining affordable.
This superb speed in the water is made possible by the greatly reduced drag. The suit features a speed wrap paneling with its lightweight neoprene material which improves buoyancy while decreasing drag, allowing you to glide through the water with ease.
Propelling yourself in the water is also made easier with the suits’ free range-of-motion zones. With your movement unrestricted, you can concentrate on your stroke andswim with ease.
The TYR SPORT Men's Hurricane Wetsuit Category 1 is made from the Yamamoto Ultra Durable Coated neoprene. The suit’s thickness varies between 1.5 mm to 5 mm depending on the area. This make it the perfect suit for novice triathlon athletes and those jsut looking to get in shape to help with their paddling on surfing days.
Rated by: Thomas
You’ve probably noticed that we’ve included O’Neill products in this best wetsuit list earlier. But this Men’s Reactor 2 mm Back Zip Spring Wetsuit is a bit different. For starters, this is a shorty wetsuit, which may not have as much heat retention capability of a full suit, but it does have its own set of advantages.
One such advantage is that you’ll feel a lot freer with this suit. Since your arms and legs are exposed with no obstruction, you’ll have greater mobility with this compared to others.
This mobility is made possible via the used of the exclusive Fluid-Flex Material in the suit’s sleeves and shoulders.
But it does not mean that you’ll be feeling cold at all. Your core temperature will be just fine, thanks to the FluidFlex foam neoprene in the chest, body and leg areas. This also adds durability to the suit.
O’Neill also paid attention to the wetsuit’s seams. It is breathable and non-chafing with its flat-lock stitching and overlapping seams.
Meanwhile, heat loss via the neck opening has been addressed by the manufacturer as well. The suit features a single Superseal Neck with its Smoothskin Fluid Foam to not only keep cold water from coming in but also keep the neck area comfortable. The manufacturer says that the wetsuit can handle temperatures up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and also offers UV protection.
Many people prefer a shorty wetsuit as it does not look out of place even in beaches compared to full suits, which makes this product a crowd favorite. In addition, the suit is offered in a variety of colors and sizes so there are some options available for those slightly more fashion conscious among you who want to color code their attire.
Rated by: Thomas
While fullsuits offer better overall protection, not every watersports lover is a fan of the design. For some, a suit that covers the entire body is viewed as a bit too restrictive, and it isn't always necessary for those lucky enough to be near warmer waters.
A good option for those who plan to spend a good bit of time out of the water without having to change in and out of wetsuits all the time would be to buy springsuits.
These suits cover only up to the area above the knees and you can also choose between short and long arm models to better suit your taste.
The overall vibe you get from wearing a springsuit is that it is a more casual and relaxed version of the fullsuit. Wearing a springsuit also makes sense if you are located in tropical waters because you don’t need that much protection against heat loss due to the generally warmer waters.
For the ladies, among the different products that stand out is the Henderson Women's Thermoprene 3mm Front Zip Shorty Springsuit. It's very flexible and comfortable as well as affordably priced so we included it here in our best wetsuit roundup.
This is a very anatomically friendly suit because the zipper is located at the front, which makes putting it on as well as getting it off a much easier task.
The stretchy and highly flexible material feels great. It provides compression resistance without getting you feeling any suit squeeze. The material of the suit is called Thermoprene and is just the right amount of thinness at 3mm for protection and comfort. It is super stretchy as well as it can stretch by 75 percent more compared to regular wetsuit material.
While the wetsuit is stretchy, flexible and very comfortable, it is still surprisingly durable. This is because the neoprene is laminated with pull and abrasion resistant fabric to protect against wear and tear. It also sports an adjustable collar as well as a comfort seal to better keep the water out. All seams are blind stitched and GBS-glued.
This is a springsuit that is ideal for use in warmer tropical waters. If you plan to use this even in cooler areas, it is recommended that you pair it with a jumpsuit to better protect your body against the cold environment.
Before you buy your wetsuit, here are a few factors you need to keep in mind before finalizing your choice. Choosing a suit without paying attention to some of these important factors could result in a wetsuit that does not fit in well with the water activities you are planning to do, meaning you'll find yourself looking for an upgrade all too soon.
One aspect you might want to keep an eye on is the thickness of the wetsuit’s material. So how thick should your wetsuit to be? The general principle is that the thicker the suit, the better heat loss prevention it can offer. This means that those who plan to do their watersports activities in colder areas or do them during colder months will have to don thicker suits to be better protected against hypothermia. Similarly, those living in tropical climates where the weather and waters are comfortably warm throughout the year can do with minimal heat protection from their suits.
Of course, there is a downside to wearing super thick suits. They generally limit your mobility to some extent and you will have to decide for yourself to find the right balance. Again, there are models that offer good mobility with good heat loss protection but they are usually more expensive.
Here is the recommended thickness of the wetsuit material for different temperature ranges. Please note that temperature here is in Fahrenheit.
0.5 mm - 2/1 mm
2 mm - 3/2 mm
3/2 mm - 4/3 mm
4/3 mm - 5/4/3 mm
5/4 mm - 5/4/3 mm
42° and below
6/5 mm - 6/5/4 mm
There are different types of wetsuit styles. Due to their varying designs and the degree of coverage, they offer different levels of protection to your body. A careful look at how different styles affect their heat loss prevention capability will give you an idea which types of suits are probably best for the water activity you are planning.
For instance, there are hooded full wetsuits, are also known as hooded fullsuits, which offer the best coverage and protection. They are basically fullsuits with an added hood, which makes sense if you really want to keep heat loss to a minimum because 45 to 45 percent of the body heat is lost through the head and face area.
Meanwhile, there are fullsuits that cover the entire length of your arms and legs. While they lack, the hood, many people prefer this suit as it frees up your head area. They offer good protection and they are usually offered in the 3/2mm to the 5/4mm range of thickness.
The long john/jane wetsuits are sleeveless neoprene suits that offer protection to the entire length of your legs. However, they leave your arms exposed but some people prefer these types of suits as they free up your arms for paddling.
Another type is called the springsuit which is basically a short-armed and short-legged suit. This is very popular among casual watersports enthusiasts as it provides protection to the body’s core temperature while freeing up the arms and legs to enjoy different types of water activities more. Some manufacturers also prefer to call this a shorty wetsuit.
Basically, the more a suit covers your body, the better protection against heat loss it can give you. There is a tradeoff though because you might lose some mobility the more body parts you cover. Even with the most flexible wetsuit material, you will still feel the suit against your skin which could feel like you are a bit restricted.
Aside from the type of water activity, you will also need to factor in the water temperature. In tropical areas where the temperature is balmy year-round you only need the minimal protection so fullsuits might not be the best option (the exception to this rule might be for scuba diving activities where you may want some protection against the elements underwater. Did somebody say jellyfish?!?).
When buying a suit, you might need to consider the buoyancy it offers. Simply put, a suit with great buoyancy helps you float in the water more easily and allows you to concentrate your effort on propelling forward instead of keeping yourself afloat. Less experienced swimmers will want to look for more buoyant wetsuits while more experienced and strong swimmers can do without the added help, especially if they plan on wearing it for diving.
Most manufacturers advertise their suit’s flexibility because it is an important factor in water activities. Even fullsuits can offer great mobility if their material is flexible enough. Similarly, comfort is an important consideration since you will likely be in the water for a long time. Choose a style and designs that prevent chafing so you’ll be more comfortable for longer periods.
We hope you enjoyed reading this best wetsuits buying guide. Ultimately, you will have to take into account your own specific needs, location, and the water activities you want to engage in when deciding which wetsuit is a best match for you.