Women’s wetsuits weren’t always as prolific as they are today, but with more women surfing than ever, the industry has stepped up to provide. Along with the increase of ladies in the lineup is an increase in the amount of quality surf wear and surf swimwear tailored for women.
Women’s surf style and design have come a long way over the past 15 years. From women’s wetsuits to surf suits to one-pieces, we have more options than ever to be comfortable in the water and look good doing it.
Finding just the right wetsuit can be tricky, so we’ve done the work for you and rounded up the best women’s wetsuits for every water temperature. If this is your first time buying a wetsuit, we’ll give you some direction in a wetsuit temperature guide below so you can get an idea of what type of wetsuit and thickness might be right for you. If you’re a seasoned wetsuit pro, just scroll down a bit.
The surf wetsuits below are listed in order from least to most thickness, so starting with women’s spring suits, then 3/2 wetsuits, 4/3 wetsuits, and 5/4 wetsuits.
• WETSUIT TEMPERATURE GUIDE •
Just as people are so different, so it goes with our tolerance for heat and cold. Keep in mind that one woman’s summer temperatures can be another woman’s winter temperatures. I’ll be the first to admit that I have as much tolerance for cold as a Caribbean Flamingo (i.e. none). So what might be the right equipment for your friend might not necessarily work for you.
We’ve put together a basic temperature and thickness guide below so you can get an idea of what you might want, but the best thing to do is to find the right gear that’s comfortable for you.
The best wetsuit is the one that gives you the most flexibility while keeping you at a comfortable temperature so you can stay in the water and shred longer.
|WATER TEMPERATURE||WETSUIT THICKNESS||WETSUIT TYPE||FOOD FOR THOUGHT|
|> 73 °F
> 23 °C
|None – 2 mm||Au Naturel, Rashguard, Surf Suit||There’s nothing quite like surfing in a simple bathing suit, but sometimes it’s nice to wear a rashguard or surf suit for sun/rash protection.|
|68 – 73 °F
20 – 23 °C
|1 mm – 2 mm||Rashguard, Wetsuit Jacket, Surf Suit, Spring Suit||In the warmer end of this range you can go for a jacket or surf suit, but closer to 68 °F (20 °C) you might be more comfortable in a 2mm spring suit.|
|64 – 68 °F
18 – 20 °C
|2 mm – 3/2 mm||Spring Suit, Wetsuit||If you’re hardy you can get away with a 2mm spring suit, but a 3/2mm wetsuit will keep you nice and cozy.|
|58- 63 °F
14 – 17 °C
|3/2 mm – 4/3 mm||Full Suit + Booties (if under 60 °F)||For these temps you’ll want a 4/3mm wetsuit or a really quality/newer 3/2mm. And if your feet get cold easily, consider booties.|
|52 – 58 °F
11 – 14 °C
|4/3 mm||Full Suit + Booties (hood optional)||In this range you’ll want a 4/3mm wetsuit and booties. And at the lower temps, you might even want a hoodie.|
|43- 52 °F
6 – 11 °C
|5/4 mm||Full Suit + Boots + Gloves + Hood||You’re a badass. For these freezing conditions, you want to have as much protection from the bitter cold as possible. Anything colder than this, have a 6/5mm and nerves of steel… and a hot tub waiting.|
In addition to water temperature, also consider the following elements when planning for the right wetsuit:
- Your tolerance for cold
- Air temperature
- Wind speed
- Level of activity
For cold air temperatures, more wind, or if you get cold easily, err on the side of wearing a thicker wetsuit. As mentioned above, these are general temperature guidelines and your level of comfort depends on many factors, most of all your body and preference.
Many brands will provide their own temperature recommendations that may differ slightly from the guide above. Don’t hesitate to chat with a knowledgeable salesperson at a local surf shop to get their thoughts on wetsuits and temperatures. Surf shops typically receive lots of customer feedback and they should also be able to give you some good insights that are specific to your area.
Best Women’s Wetsuits
1 – 2mm SPRING SUITS
Since spring suits are generally worn in warmer temperatures for just an added bit of warmth, it’s not as crucial to have advanced wetsuit technology to keep you warm. Whereas we definitely recommend to research and buy a full wetsuit based on quality and functionality, with spring suits you have some room to play with fun styles.
The biggest point of variance between spring suits is their design. Spring suits come in many forms, from racerback tops with full-length legs to long-sleeves and shorts, to surf suits with 1 – 2mm neoprene for warmth.
We listed a few spring suits below so you can see different styles, but we found so many awesome suits we created a separate post you can check out here:
Duskii makes really fun high-performance activewear for the water. The Haleakala Tank Suit is made with 1mm soft neoprene, front zip entry, and has medium bum coverage so you’re not at high risk of ocean wedgies.
The Hurley Fusion 202 Springsuit is 2mm, really comfortable and flexible, and has a front zip entry for easy on/off. I own this suit and love it. After trying on a bazillion surf suits (all of which didn’t fit well), I realized that my long torso does not mix will with one-piece anythings. So if you have a long torso, this suit is a winner!
Cynthia Rowley has a really colorful and fun line of sporty women’s swimwear and spring suits. This Peach Colorblock Wetsuit is made with 2mm Fiber-Lite Neoprene with bonded seams and cover stitch detail. Covered back zip with nylon pull and secure velcro closure at high neck. Zip coin pocket on lower back.
Made with a neoprene alternative called Yulex made from renewable natural rubber from Hevea trees, Patagonia’s 2mm Long Jane Spring Suit is as good for the environment as it is for your warmth. This spring suit offers warmth, comfort and sun protection for the core and legs while maintaining full freedom of movement for paddling.
3/2 WOMEN’S WETSUITS
Matuse specializes in premium wetsuits made with limestone-based rubber (as opposed the typical petroleum-based neoprene). Matuse’s two types of rubber–Geoprene and Geoflex–are not only better for the planet (hooray!), their technology comes with a whole lot of perks. These limestone-based rubbers are 98% water impermeable which means these wetsuits don’t soak up water and therefore stay warmer, lighter, and dry faster. The Artemis 3/2MM wetsuit is made from Geoprene and is super flexible and buttery. In the water this wetsuit fits your body like a glove, keeping you warm without weighing you down.
Ripcurl’s Flashbomb Wetsuit has won praise and awards for years for its maximum warmth, great flexibility, and fast drying. Ripcurl claims its the “fastest drying wetsuit in the world,” which comes in especially handy if you don’t dig climbing into a cold damp wetsuit. I love cold damp wetsuits, said no one ever. In late 2016 Ripcurl launched their new Flashbomb E5 Flash Lining with 25% more stretch, faster drying time and a lighter lower profile. This lightweight warm suit is Ripcurl’s most expensive suit, but the quality and durability will make it last.
Patagonia has received lots of attention for their latest line of wetsuits that are neoprene free. Neoprene wetsuits are not very eco-friendly or easy to recycle, so Patagonia created a wetsuit from renewable natural rubber from Hevea trees. Patagonia’s wetsuit production reduces CO2 emissions by up to ~80% when compared to conventional, nonrenewable neoprene, and the wetsuits themselves have received rave reviews for durability and warmth. Good for the environment and your surfing? Sounds like a win, win! We also love that Patagonia’s women’s wetsuits come with the option of front-zip or back-zip.
4/3 WOMEN’S WETSUITS
There’s some serious tech happening in O’Neill’s Psycho Tech Wetsuit that gives you the warmth, flexibility, and durability you want in 4/3-worthy temperatures. O’Neill’s Technobutter 2 Neoprene is one of the most advanced super stretch neoprene on the market. The wetsuit uses small gaseous pockets in the Air Firewall to trap and retain heat. The tiny pores encapsulate warm air and keep it close to your body keeping you toasty. This tech is also what makes this suit weigh 20% less than traditional neoprene and gets 30% less water absorption.
This is Patagonia’s 4/3 model of their Yulex Wetsuit, which is actually 4.5mm/3.5mm. Patagonia has received lots of attention for their latest line of wetsuits that are neoprene free. Neoprene wetsuits are not very eco-friendly or easy to recycle, so Patagonia created a wetsuit from renewable natural rubber from Hevea trees. Patagonia’s wetsuit production reduces CO2 emissions by up to ~80% when compared to conventional, nonrenewable neoprene, and the wetsuits themselves have received rave reviews for durability and warmth. Good for the environment and your surfing? Sounds like a win, win!
The Furnace Carbon Comp Wetsuit is Billabong’s most high-performance wetsuit they offer for women and it delivers. Billabong’s Furnace Carbon Lining uses carbon threads to maximize warmth and minimize weight. The suit has minimal seams for increased flexibility, and a two-stage closing system (Drymax chest zip entry) keeps the water out.
5/4 WOMEN’S WETSUITS
If you’re looking for a 5/4mm, you want the best technology and quality you can get to keep you toasty as a field mouse in a haystack at Christmas. Then just add on some 5mm booties and 5mm gloves and you’re ready to face that ice-cold wonderland! Yew!
Ripcurl’s Flashbomb Hooded 5/4 Wetsuit is the warmest suit in their Flashbomb Collection. Ripcurl’s Flashbomb Wetsuit has won praise and awards for years for its maximum warmth, great flexibility, and fast drying. Ripcurl claims its the “fastest drying wetsuit in the world,” which comes in especially handy if you don’t dig climbing into a cold damp wetsuit. I love cold damp wetsuits, said no one ever. In late 2016 Ripcurl launched their new Flashbomb E5 Flash Lining with 25% more stretch, faster drying time and a lighter lower profile. This lightweight warm suit is Ripcurl’s most expensive suit, but the quality and durability will make it last.
Wetsuit manufacturers have been pushing to create new technologies and Xcel is one company that’s leading the pack. Xcel’s Women’s Infiniti Hooded 5/4 Fullsuit is made with Xcel’s exclusive Thermo Dry Celliant (TDC) technology which is a high-tech wetsuit lining with a responsive textile that’s activated by your body heat. A proprietary mineral blend embedded into its fibers converts body heat into infrared energy and then redirects that energy back to your body. So essentially, you become your own heater, which is a big win when you’re submerged in the freezing cold.
HOTLINE WOMEN’S UHC 5/4 HOODED WETSUIT
Hotline is a boutique wetsuit company started by pro-surfer Brenda Scott-Rogers in the 80s. Hotline was one of the first wetsuit companies to design wetsuits specifically for women at a time when women simply wore men’s suits to surf. The Hotline Women’s UHC 5/4 Hooded Wetsuit incorporates a unique shoulder-to-shoulder zip for fast entry and exit, a freeze-free four-way inner seal, and snug hood. Created for women by women, I’ve heard rave reviews about these suits in cold water. I have a friend who has spent 10 years surfing the freezing winters of the North East of England and Scotland and she is a loyal and avid fan of Hotline wetsuits. I personally have never had the joy of surfing in 40-degree water so I’m going to take her word for it.
WETSUIT BUYING TIPS
- ALWAYS TRY BEFORE YOU BUY – Wetsuit fit can be a tricky thing so trying on a wetsuit before you buy is a must. When you try on a wetsuit, move around to see how it moves with your body. Touch your toes, do some pop-ups, paddle some air, and make some surf movements to see how it feels. The suit is going to feel different and be a bit looser in the water, but it’s a good idea to move as much as possible to get an idea if it’s hitting you wrong anywhere.
- GET THE RIGHT FIT – You want a snug fit without being too restrictive, and you want as much moveability as possible. A suit that’s baggy in any area is a no-go. Loose neoprene will let water in so you’ll get colder faster, and it could also rub your skin causing a rash (and uncomfortableness).
- FIND DEALS ONLINE – This might seem to go against the “try before you buy” tip above, but bear with me. I’ve found some really great discounts on women’s wetsuits online. If you find a great online deal just make sure the company has a good return policy. Also, do some research on the brand of wetsuit so you are making the best-educated guess on size, and then you can try it on when you receive the wetsuit. If the fit isn’t right then you can return it for another size or suit.
- DIFFERENT BRANDS HAVE DIFFERENT SIZES – This might be a given, but know that just like any other clothing brand, wetsuits come in very different sizes and cuts. What might work great for your friend might not necessarily be the best fit for you.
- QUALITY GOES A LONG WAY – As with many things in life, you get what you pay for. If you happen to find a really good quality wetsuit at a discount, that’s awesome (and I always search for these deals myself), but typically cheaper wetsuits aren’t going to have the quality. Many less expensive wetsuits don’t last very long and won’t keep you as insulated. A cheap 3/2mm just isn’t going to keep you as warm as a really quality 3/2mm. So as a rule of thumb, the top of the line wetsuits will have the brand’s best tech to keep you toasty when you need it most.
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