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The 10 Best Wetsuits for Every Occasion

Whether you’re surfing, diving, or paddling, these wetsuits for men, women, and kids will keep you warm and comfortable no matter the conditions.

best wetsuits
Staff, Courtesy of O'Neill

The Scandinavian adage of, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes,” applies to the underwater world, too. With a wetsuit that fits well, you can get out there even in the chilliest water. No matter if you’re a surfer, paddler, diver, or want to make the most of your time in the ocean, there’s a wetsuit that’s up for the challenge of keeping you warm.

How Wetsuits Work

Almost all wetsuits are made from neoprene, a soft, synthetic-rubber material that uses closed air cells as insulation. When you wear a wetsuit, the neoprene traps a thin layer of water between your skin and the wetsuit. Your body heat warms this water, creating an additional barrier between your skin and the cold water around you so you can spend much more time in the water with a wetsuit than without one. Premium wetsuits designed for maximum warmth often have sealed seams, which prevents cold water from leaking in along the stitching.

Here’s what to look for and how to decide what’s right for you:

Types of Wetsuits

Manufacturers design wetsuits to meet the needs of a particular water sport. Surfing and swimming wetsuits are durable against abrasion and tend to offer maximum mobility, especially in the shoulder area. Scuba diving wetsuits are often thicker and tighter because the neoprene compresses—and loses some of its insulating ability—under pressure as you descend. More niche designs include spearfishing wetsuits, which are usually have a camouflage pattern and a padded chest to prop the speargun against, and free diving wetsuits, which are made for compression and flexibility but are notoriously fragile. When choosing the best wetsuit for you, opt for one that will suit the sport you’ll be doing most of the time. Wetsuits marketed towards surfers tend to be the best all-around wetsuits for general water sports like casual swimming, bodyboarding, snorkeling, and paddling.

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Wetsuit Thickness and Cut

A wetsuit’s thickness refers to the thickness of the neoprene, which correlates to how warm it will be in the water. Like a jacket, the thicker it is, the more insulation it will provide. Wetsuits are often rated with two thickness measurements, for example, 3/2 mm. The higher number is the thickness around your torso, where maintaining warmth is key, while the lower number is the thickness of the arms and legs of the wetsuit, giving them more freedom to move. If you see a rating with three numbers, those refer to the thickness in the chest, legs, then arms.

Wetsuits also come in several cuts, with the most popular being springsuits that have short sleeves for warm water and fullsuits that have long sleeves for cold water. Fullsuits can be paired with a hood, gloves, and booties for added warmth.

Below are some general guidelines to help you choose the best wetsuit thickness and cut based on water temperature. However, insulation isn’t one-size-fits-all, and what works best for you might vary based on your metabolic rate (people with faster metabolisms generally run warmer) and other factors.

  • 65–75°F: 2 mm springsuit or top
  • 60–64°F: 2 mm to 3/2 mm springsuit or fullsuit
  • 55–59°F: 3/2 mm to 4/3 mm fullsuit
  • 50–55°F: 4/3 mm to 5/4/3 mm fullsuit
  • Below 50°F: 5/4/3 mm to 7 mm fullsuit

Sizing follows standard men’s and women’s apparel. The right suit should feel like a second skin. If there are air pockets around the underarms, lower back, groin, or neck, it’s likely too loose. You should be able to raise your arms and squat without feeling any pinching, chafing, or loss of circulation.

How We Evaluated

As someone who is in the ocean almost every day, wetsuits are a staple in my wardrobe. I have tested tens of wetsuits while surfing, kitesurfing, diving, and kayaking in a variety of water temperatures. I am also the founder of The Salt Sirens, a website all about ocean sports. When evaluating models, I considered durability, warmth, fit, and value for the money as key factors. I consulted popular ocean sports forums, websites, and advice from industry professionals for options that stand out above the rest. Keep reading to find the right fit from our recommendations of the 10 best wetsuits.

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Best Men’s Fullsuit
O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3+ mm Chest Zip Full

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 4/3 mm
  • Cut: Fullsuit

One of the most popular wetsuits in the world, the O’Neill Hyperfreak is flexible and comfortable even during long hours out on the water. This wetsuit’s chest-zip entry has an extra 0.5 millimeters of material to keep the wetsuit flush against your body, adding extra warmth. The seams are taped and glued to prevent leaks. The seamless underarm panel is a favorite feature, which protects against chafing during surf or swim sessions.

  • Durable and comfortable
  • Lifespan is longer than similar wetsuits

  • Chest-zip entry can take a few tries to get used to
  • Expensive
Best Women’s Fullsuit
Roxy 4/3 Syncro Plus Chest Zip

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 4/3 mm
  • Cut: Fullsuit

Roxy’s excellent Syncro line includes this lightweight and warm full-length wetsuit with a zipper across the chest (the line includes a back-zip model as well). It feels toastier than similar wetsuits in at this price point, largely thanks to the quality of seam-sealing and thermal fleece lining along the torso. If you’re debating between a 3/2- and a 4/3-millimeter model, this wetsuit feels more like the thinner option next-to-skin but offers the superior insulation of a 4/3-millimeter suit.

  • Good value

  • Can be challenging to size
Best Men’s Springsuit
Rip Curl E-Bomb 2/2 Zip Free Short Sleeve Springsuit
Rip Curl

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 2 mm
  • Cut: Springsuit

Zippers are a primary pain point for many ocean athletes, as they’re one of the first places water will leak into. Rip Curl’s E-Bomb Springsuit forgoes a zipper completely, fastening with a neoprene panel and an adjustment cord across the chest. The 2-millimeter neoprene is soft and flexible, holding its shape even after heavy use.

  • Zip-free entry
  • Very comfortable

  • Runs small
Best Women’s Springsuit
O’Neill Reactor 2 2-mm Back Zip S/S Spring
O'Neill Wetsuits

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 2 mm
  • Cut: Springsuit

With well-placed seams, this wetsuit keeps you warm without feeling like you’re wrapped in neoprene. O’Neill installs seamless panels under the arms, making it one of the most comfortable wetsuits to wear even for long paddling sessions. The back-zip entry makes the wetsuit easy to take on and off and ideal for surfing. Many surfers find a front zipper becomes uncomfortable because it can get jammed with surf wax, bunch up, and irritate skin.

  • Comfort durability
  • Affordable

  • Shorts can ride up on some women
Best Budget Springsuit
Body Glove Pro 3
Body Glove

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 2 mm
  • Cut: Springsuit

Ideal for warm water, the Body Glove Pro 3 offers insulation and comfort at an affordable price. A long back zipper and Velcro neck closure makes this wetsuit easy to slip in and out of, and it has durable seams. For a simple and comfortable wetsuit that will last more than one summer, this wetsuit is a top contender. However, if you’re in the water every day, you might want to invest in one with sealed seams for better protection against leaks.

Shop Men’sShop Women’s

  • Great value
  • Easy to take on and take off

  • Small leaking through back zipper
Best Wetsuit for Inclusive Sizing
Henderson Thermoprene Pro Back Zip Jumpsuit

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 3 mm
  • Cut: Fullsuit

Henderson is making waves in the wetsuit world on account of its inclusive sizing that ranges from extra-small to 6X in short and tall variations. The Thermoprene Pro line features front- and back-zip options, and shorty styles as well. The neoprene has a forgiving stretch, and there are fabric panels on the inside of the torso area for extra insulation. Seams are double-glued and double-sewn, preventing water from seeping in.

Shop Men’sShop Women’s

  • Available in a wide range of sizes
  • Comfortable

  • Not as flexible as some suits
Best for Cold Water Diving
Aqua Lung AquaFlex 7 mm Wetsuit
Aqua Lung

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 7 mm
  • Cut: Fullsuit

Aqua Lung is one of the longest-lasting players in diving, and its wetsuits have been fine-tuned for scuba divers looking to explore the coldest water. Small details like a silicone pad to keep wrist computers in place and fray-resistant ankles and wrists makes it a premium wetsuit. It also has a durable back zipper, liquid-sealed seams, and fabric around the chest for added warmth.

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  • Neoprene stretches more than most

  • High price point
Best for Swimming
TYR Hurricane Wetsuit Cat 1 Sleeveless

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 5/3/2 mm
  • Cut: Sleeveless

Built to keep drag at a minimum, the TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Sleeveless Wetsuit strikes a balance between mobility and warmth. The sleeveless design helps prevent chafing under the arms, a common experience for swimmers wearing with full-coverage suits. The neoprene thickness measures 5 millimeters around the torso, 3 millimeters along the back, and 2 millimeters along the neck and shoulders.

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s

  • Freedom of movement meets warmth

  • Velcro neck closure can cause chafing
Most Sustainable Wetsuit
Patagonia R1 Yulex Back-Zip Full Suit

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 3/2.5 mm
  • Cut: Fullsuit

Patagonia was one of the first major brands to move away from petroleum-based neoprene for wetsuits. Instead, it uses 85 percent Yulex, a material largely sourced from natural rubber, combined with 15 percent synthetic rubber. The torso and thigh area of the wetsuit have a quick-dry lining for additional warmth. Each seam is sealed, blocking cold water from creeping in. Some athletes find the Yulex material is less flexible than conventional neoprene, though most people get used to it within a few wears.

Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s

  • One of the most sustainably made wetsuits on the market

  • Expensive
  • Some people find it stiff
Best Spring Suit for Kids
Cressi 1.5 mm Shorty Spring Wetsuit

Key Specs

  • Thickness: 1.5 mm
  • Cut: Springsuit

For added sun protection and insulation, the Cressi 1.5-millimeter Shorty is perfect for pool or beach days in warm water. Putting on the wetsuit is easy for kids with a large front zipper and wide leg holes. It’s also quite affordable should your little one grow out of it within a season. The thinner neoprene and lycra is stretchy, soft, and flexible.

Shop Boy’s | Shop Girl’s

  • Easy to take on and off

  • Sizing can be challenging
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