To get the very best wetsuit for your requirements, you first need to be looking at the category of suit for the time of year and water temperatures and matching this to the type of water sport for which you’ll be wearing it. Even if you choose a top of the range suit, if it is not appropriate for the conditions you will be using it in and the purpose you want it for, you will have wasted your money!
So read on, our best wetsuit guide will provide tips and advice to ensure you choose the right suit for you.
All wetsuits use Neoprene. This is a material made from foam rubber. However, since the early days of all Neoprene suits, technology has moved on and now this material is often laminated with other materials to provide a smooth inner lining making suits easy to put on and take off and an outer, tear resistant membrane. Other materials laminated into the fabric, such as Lycra help to increase flexibility by adding even more stretch. As a general rule, the colder the water, the thicker the suit you will need. Suits vary in thickness from 2mm used in summer ‘shorty’ suits right up to 6mm for winter suits. Our handy reference table below is designed to provide you with the best wetsuit guide depending on water temperatures. Wet suits are often a combination of two or three different neoprene thicknesses, for example a 5/4/3 refers to a garment with 5mm neoprene in the core body areas, 4mm for the limbs and 3mm in areas that require more flexibility.
|Water Temperature||Recommended Wetsuit and Accessories|
|18-21 C or 65-69 F||2mm shorty|
|17-18 C or 62-64 F||2mm short sleeve full suit or a long sleeved spring suit|
|14-17 C or 58-61 F||3/2mm full suit (suggested 2mm surf socks)|
|12-14 C or 54-57 F||3/2mm or a 4/3mm full suit (suggested footwear 3mm boot)|
|10-12 C or 50-53 F||4/3mm full suit (suggested 3mm boots plus 3mm gloves and 2mm hood)|
|8-9 C or 47-49 F and below||5/4/3mm or 6/5/4 full suit with either 5 or 7mm gloves and boots plus hood.|
What To Look For
- Choose a suit with glued and blind stitching to prevent leaks. Look for a suit that is fully taped – especially when choosing a winter suit. Flat stitched, unsealed seams are common in garments designed for warmer waters.
- For winter wear, the more expensive suits have plush thermal linings, sometimes called firewalls or heat-shields. In the past, thermal lining material was so stiff that to enable freedom of movement in a winter suit, manufacturers only put this type of lining in the chest and back area.
Newer thermal materials are much more flexible and stretchy so the ultra thin thermal lining can be used throughout the suit without restricting the wearer’s movements. For extra warmth, some suits include titanium. This can be woven into the fabric where the metal reflects body heat back to the wearer and/or applied as titanium oxide as an inner coating.
- Look for a suit with a top quality zipper. Most modern wetsuits have rear entry zippers so an extended zipper pull is pretty much an essential if you are going to be getting into and out of your suit without a buddy to help you.
- A nice refinement especially on suits designed for winter wear, is the barrier, called a floodgate or gasket found inside the zipper section. This stops the flush of water coming through. Gaskets are also available on the wrists, ankles and neckline of some suits.
- Another refinement that stops water flowing in is the provision of touch-fastening seals at the neckline.
- Some wetsuits have an integrated hood. This is mostly for cold water surfing and diving though.
- Integrated knee-pads are a good idea as they add durability to the area which probably gets the toughest wear.
Extra stretch in the knee, elbow and shoulder areas of some suits is provided by what are called ‘flex zones’. These areas provide four way stretch to allow the greatest possible ease of movement and if you are going to be in the water a long time, these reduce fatigue considerably.
|Wetsuit||Brief Description||Rating||See It Here|
|Reactor Series wetsuits utilize proprietary FluidFlex design in the shoulder and sleeves for improved range of motion||4.5||O'Neill Wetsuits Reactor 3/2mm Full Suit, Black
|Worn as base layer, Sport Skin increases warmth and also makes it easier to slip into neoprene suits||4||NeoSport Wetsuits Full Body Sports Skins, Black
|Versatile, all-around warm water wetsuit is one of NeoSport's bestselling models||4.5||NeoSport Wetsuits Men's Premium Neoprene 3mm Shorty
|Full-size wetsuit with 3 mm chest panels and 2 mm side panels||4.5||U.S. Divers Mercury Full Adult Wetsuit
|One of NeoSport's most advanced triathlon wetsuits to date, with lightweight Speed Skin neoprene and soft Coated Skin neoprene, provides buoyancy, flexibility, and comfort||4.5||NeoSport 5/3mm Men's NRG Sleeveless, Black
|Flat Stitched Construction Spring Suit||4.5||O'Neill Wetsuits Reactor 2mm Short Sleeve Spring, Black/Pacific/Graphtron
|100% Super Stretch Neoprene 40% Ultraflex 60% Fluid Foam||4.5||O'Neill Epic II 4/3 CT (Black, LS)
|Free R.O.M. (range of motion) zones eliminate restriction in the shoulders & back||4||TYR Sport Men's Category 1 Hurricane Sleeveless Wetsuit-Black
|Shorty short-sleeve wetsuit with 3-Millimeter chest panels and 2-Millimeter side panels||4.5||U.S. Divers Mercury Shorty Adult Wetsuit
1. O’Neill Wetsuits Reactor 3/2mm Full Suit
If you are looking for a full suit, this O’Neill 3/2 mm design offers excellent value for money and some great features and a manufacturer’s one year guarantee. The clever design of the neck and under-sleeve areas and the “FluidFlex” shoulder and sleeves design means that motion is unrestricted and chafing rashes are eliminated. It also has ergonomically designed knee-pads for comfort and durability.
2. NeoSport Wetsuits Men’s Premium Neoprene 3mm Shorty
Available in black or blue with lighter trim, this 3mm shorty suit is a bestseller for NeoSport. It is ideal for use in warmer waters, providing warmth for the torso without the risk of getting too hot. It has a good quality YKK back zipper, robust flat lock seams, an adjustable collar and Lycra trimmed edges to avoid risk of chafing. It also comes with a manufacturer’s one year warranty.
3. U.S. Divers Mercury Full Adult Wetsuit
This full 3/2mm wetsuit, incorporates many features found on more expensive suits. It has titanium in the 3mm chest panels for extra warmth, unrestricted mobility thanks to the super stretch panels under the arms and flat locked seams to avoid chafing. It also has Neoskin seals to keep out water on the wrists ankles and neck. Considering the wide range of sizes (from small to XX large) and the two-year warranty, this suit offers exceptional value for money!
|Wetsuit||Brief Description||Rating||See It Here|
|Flat Stitched Construction Full Suit||4.5||O'Neill Wetsuits Women's Reactor 3/2mm Full Suit, Black
|Women's 3-millimeter, anatomically cut, shorty wetsuit constructed of premium neoprene||4||NeoSport Wetsuits Women's Premium Neoprene 3mm Shorty,Lavender Trim
|Flat Stitched Construction Spring Suit||4.5||O'Neill Wetsuits Women's Reactor 2mm Short Sleeve Spring, Black/Festival,
|Designed And Created Using Innovative and Patented Manufacturing Technology||4.5||Cressi Lido Women's Wetsuit (2-mm)
|100 percent Neoprene|
Back Zip provides easy entry
|4||Hyperflex Wetsuits Women's Access 3/2mm Full Suit, Black
|All in one wetsuit for temperate waters||5||Cressi Summer 2.5mm Womens Back Zip Full Wetsuit
|100% Super Stretch Neoprene 40% Ultraflex 60% Fluid Foam||5||O'Neill Women's Epic II 3/2 CT (Black)
|100% Super Stretch Neoprene 40% Ultraflex 60% Fluid Foam||4.5||O'Neill Women's Epic II 4/3 CT (Black)
|For people serious about open water swimming who prefer the sleeveless/long john style, the Sonar offers more technology than ever before||5||Orca Women's Sonar Sleeveless Wetsuit
|Chill breaker mesh skin on the chest and back - provides added warmth on those chilly mornings||5||Hyperflex Wetsuits Women's Cyclone 2.5mm Spring Suit,Black/Red
1. O’Neill Wetsuits Women’s Reactor 3/2mm Full Suit
The Reactor range from O’Neill provides a great quality suit at a budget price. The suit is comfortable to wear with the super stretch construction in the shoulder and under arm areas providing greater flexibility. The seams are flat-stitched and unsealed and the spray-resistant chest panel makes this a good choice for water skiing and surfing. Some reviewers suggest ordering one size bigger than your dress size.
2. NeoSport Wetsuits Women’s Premium Neoprene 3mm Shorty
Available in two colors, black, or black with lilac trim, this shorty 3mm wetsuit is designed to fit and flatter – although many reviewers recommend buying a size larger for optimum fit. It is comfortable to wear and easy to put on with a heavy quality back fastening zip. It has an adjust-to-fit Velcro collar and Lycra trim around the seals at leg and wrist to keep the water out. Its 3mm thick neoprene construction keeps the torso warm but allows optimum mobility and in addition to the flat lock seams has additional spot taping to ensure durability.
3. O’Neill Wetsuits Women’s Reactor 2mm Short Sleeve Spring
This great value, lighter weight (2mm) shorty is branded as a spring suit and is certainly getting great reviews from ladies who have bought it for snorkeling. In three colors and cut to fit the female figure, the flat stitched seams, smooth skin panel over the chest and well designed neck seal make it comfortable to wear and the O’Neill Fluid Flex construction around the shoulder and underarm area enable unrestricted movement. Sturdy YKK back zip too.
Choosing Your First or Your Next Wetsuit
Now that you have read our best wetsuit guide and checked out our recommendations, we hope that you feel in a much better position to make an informed decision about the type of suit you need. Being sure of the features that are important to you from the get go is the best way to avoid an expensive mistake.