What are wetsuits

Wetsuits: How to find the perfect wetsuit

If you want to surf comfortably even below 23 ° C, you can use a wetsuit. The problem: The selection of wetsuits is almost as large as there are waves at the surf spot.

This is how you avoid annoying bad purchases:

Find out what types of wetsuits there are, how to choose the right size and material thickness and what you should definitely pay attention to when buying.

What many surfers don't know:

When choosing a wetsuit, the correct processing of the wetsuit plays just as important a role as the material thickness and size.

No time to read the entire guide?

Directly to the wetsuit comparison

content
  1. Wetsuit comparison
    The 12 most popular wetsuits for women and men at a glance.
  2. Wetsuit checklist
    You should definitely pay attention to this when buying a wetsuit.
  3. Wetsuit types, functions and processing
    The surf suit types and technologies at a glance.
  4. Which wetsuit thickness is the right one?
    This is how you choose the right wetsuit thickness according to climate and region.
  5. Which wetsuit size is the right one?
    This shows you the perfect fit (including infographic).
  6. Neoprene care and cleaning
    This guarantees a long service life and durability.
  7. FAQ: Wetsuit knowledge
    Common questions and answers about wetsuits.

Wetsuit comparison

The most popular wetsuits at a glance


To make your choice even easier, we have compared the most popular men's and women's models for shorties and steamer wetsuits *.

In this way you avoid bad purchases and have all the advantages and disadvantages in a direct comparison!

(* Are you unsure of the difference between shorties and steamers? Then read our »detailed wetsuit buying guide first.)

Wetsuits for women

Men's wetsuits

Springsuits & shorties for women

PI-PE women wetsuit Pure
Material: 80% neoprene, 20% nylon
Advantages:
  • timeless design
  • cheap price
O'Neill Reactor 2 mm spring wetsuit
Advantages:
  • Ultraflex DS high-performance neoprene
  • internal key pocket
  • high wearing comfort
Rip Curl Women's Dawn Patrol Long Sleeve
Advantages:
  • ultra-light E3 neoprene technology
  • side key pocket
  • comfortable fit

»Back to selection

Steamers for women

PI-PE women wetsuit Pure Long
Material: 80% neoprene, 20% nylon
Lining & Reinforcements:
--
Advantages:
  • timeless design
  • cheap price
O'Neill Reactor 3/2 mm full wetsuit
Lining & Reinforcements: neoprene reinforced knees (Krypto Knee Pad technology)
Advantages:
  • Ultraflex DS high-performance neoprene
  • adjustable neck area
  • high wearing comfort
Lining & Reinforcements: neoprene reinforced knees (S-Flex knee technology)
Seams: GBS seams and stress points are additionally glued and sealed
Advantages:
  • ultra-light E5 neoprene technology
  • Premium quality and workmanship
  • magnetic key pocket
  • maximum comfort!

»Back to selection

Springsuits & shorties for men

PI-PE men's wetsuit Pure
Material: 80% neoprene, 20% nylon
Advantages:
  • timeless design
  • cheap price
O'Neill Reactor 2 mm spring wetsuit
Advantages:
  • Ultraflex DS high-performance neoprene
  • adjustable neck area
  • high wearing comfort
Quiksilver 2 / 2mm Highline Series Springsuit
Advantages:
  • Premium quality
  • high wearing comfort
  • fast drying time

»Back to selection

Steamers for men

PI-PE men's wetsuit Pure Long
Material: 80% neoprene, 20% nylon
Lining & Reinforcements:
--
Advantages:
  • timeless design
  • cheap price
O'Neill Reactor 3/2 mm full wetsuit
Lining & Reinforcements: neoprene reinforced knees (Krypto Knee Pad technology)
Advantages:
  • Ultraflex DS high-performance neoprene
  • adjustable neck area
  • high wearing comfort
Rip Curl E-Bomb Pro Zip-Free
Lining & Reinforcements: neoprene reinforced knees (S-Flex knee technology)
Seams: GBS seams and stress points are additionally glued and sealed
Advantages:
  • ultra-light E5 neoprene technology
  • Premium quality and workmanship
  • magnetic key pocket
  • maximum comfort!

»Back to selection

The best known and most popular surf wear brands & manufacturers are:

Rip Curl, Billabong, Quicksilver, Roxy, Xcel, O'Neill, Hurley, Patagonia, Dakine, Ion.

You might also be interested in these articles:

Wetsuit purchase checklist

This way, bad purchases are avoided


To find the perfect wetsuit for your needs, first ask yourself the following questions:

  • What temperature is the water?
  • How is the weather (windy, sunny, cloudy ...)?
  • How sensitive are you to the cold?
  • How long do you want to stay in the water?
  • How is your body built?
  • Which performance factors are particularly important to you (e.g. high flexibility, fast drying)?
  • What role do style and color selection play for you?
  • How important is sustainability to you?
  • How much money do you want to spend?

Once the questions have been answered, you will know from our explanations below:

what kind of wetsuit you need and whether it fits you well.

" Back to overview

Wetsuit types, technologies and features



Wetsuits keep you warm in the water and protect your skin from abrasions and too much UV radiation.

The interesting thing about it:

Wetsuits are designed in such a way that a thin film of water is created between the skin and the suit, which warms up above body temperature - hence the name.

Most surf suits are black. Why? The absorption of sunlight increases the warmth of the wetsuit.

Wetsuits are (still) made from the “wonder rubber” neoprene. Thanks to the enclosed air bubbles, the synthetic rubber has a high thermal effect and provides buoyancy.

At the same time, neoprene is very elastic and hard-wearing - ideal for the demands of surfing.

What types of wetsuits are there?


Depending on the surfing conditions, region and water temperature, there are opportunities 3 different types of wetsuits at:

  1. Lycras and Rash Guards,
  2. Spring wetsuits (short wetsuits, also called shorty),
  3. Fullsuits (also called steamers).

Whether the surf suit is intended for women, men, boys or girls is irrelevant in this distinction. There is a smaller selection of surf suit types for babies alone - but these are probably not too demanding ...

1) Lycras and Rash Guards

Lycras, rashguards and surf tees are used especially in really warm water temperatures over 20 degrees and should primarily protect from UV radiation.

In addition, will prevents unpleasant abrasions on the upper bodythat can otherwise happen quickly due to the friction of the skin on the surfboard.

The advantage over classic wetsuits: They are quick to put on and take off and are usually made of light, very quick-drying materials.

2) springsuits and shorties

Springsuits and shorties are usually between 0.5 and 3 millimeters thick. Shortys have short legs and arms, although the type of collar and the exact arm and leg length vary.

Springsuits often have long arms and short legs, but there are a variety of models and designs.

The advantage over lycras and rashguards: They keep the core of your body warm and do not slip even on the toughest wash. Can also be used as a snorkeling suit.

3) steamer

Classic wetsuits with long legs and arms are usually 2 to 6 millimeters thick. Steamers differ in the processing of the seams, the location of the zipper, the neoprene thickness and the lining.

Why is that important? Depending on the characteristics, the wetsuits have different warmth and wind resistance.

There are even models with an integrated hood for particularly cold water, and sleeveless or short-sleeved models (also known as Long John or Long Jane) for warmer regions.

Discover below what you should pay attention to when processing zippers, seams and lining.

Zip - The zip is what counts

An important feature of wetsuits is that Zip, so the attachment of the zipper.

It makes it easier to put on and take off skin-tight wetsuits.

The most important thing now comes:

The longer the zip, the easier it is to put on and take off.

The disadvantage of zippers:

There is a higher chance of water entering and making the wetsuit less flexible.

There are 4 different types of zipper systems:

1) Front zip

As the name suggests, the front zip has a zipper at the front. Springsuits, where the heat effect is in the background, often have this type of zipper.

The advantage over back zips: As a rule, less water penetrates the suit. This type of surf suit is very easy to put on.

2) Back zip

With the back zip, the wetsuit is closed at the back. This is usually done with the help of a long strap so that you can open and close the suit on your own.

The advantage over front zips: The zipper does not pinch your body when you lie flat on the board. Also easy to put on.

3) Chest Zip

With the Chest Zip, the zip runs horizontally or slightly diagonally across the chest. Slipping in takes some practice.

The big advantage: Much less water gets in than with a front or back zip. Thus, the wetsuit warms better and is also more flexible, as the shoulders and back are completely covered. Plus, you don't have a ribbon flying around on your suit.

4) No Zip / Zip free / Zipperless

For surfers who value performance and who often stay in the water for a long time, there are special wetsuits without zippers. But they are even more difficult to put on.

The advantage of Zipfree wetsuits: Maximum comfort with minimum water ingress and maximum flexibility!

Seams - The quality shows in the details

The processing of the seams plays an important role in the water permeability and warmth of the surf suits. Thanks to the latest stitch techniques, seams are becoming more and more durable and flexible.

There are 4 types of processing for wetsuits:

  1. Flatlock: overlapping stitch, particularly flexible and strong, water and air permeable for a pleasant climate at warmer temperatures
  2. Wallpapered: flexible tapes on the inside of the seam, increased durability, less water ingress and pleasant feel
  3. Glued & Blindstitched (GBS): Neoprene is glued and then sewn from one side with a blind stitch, is often sewn several times and / or additionally taped, very good water-repellent seam
  4. Sealed: Seam sealed with liquid sealant for maximum water resistance, especially in winter wetsuits

This is how you recognize quality:

To ensure maximum flexibility and comfort, high-performance wetsuits try to get along with as few seams as possible.

Wetsuits such as For example, the G & E-Bomb series from Rip Curl avoid seams around the shoulders and arms, as maximum freedom of movement is required here.

Lining and reinforcements

Especially with surfing beginners, the material on the knee wears out faster. Hence are Kneepads absolute standard. Reinforced knees are useful to both strengthen the material and to protect the skin from abrasions.

It gets even better:

For better heat storage, many wetsuits are also partially or fully equipped with thermal lining. In addition to a positive warming effect, these linings are usually water-repellent, quick-drying and stretchable.

" Back to overview

Neoprene strength

How thick should the surf suit be?



The thickness of a wetsuit is given in millimeters. Most surf suits have the material for better thermal performance somewhat thicker in the trunk area. In contrast, the Neo is a little thinner on the legs and arms for optimal freedom of movement.

What does that mean if the material thickness is specified as “4/3” on a wetsuit?

For a "4/3" or "4/3 steamer", 4mm thick neoprene is sewn on the torso and 3mm thick on the limbs.

The right thickness for the respective surfing opportunity is determined by the water temperature, your physique or your personal sensitivity to cold, but also by the weather.

What many do not know:

  • Water cools the body up to 40 times faster than air!
  • Wind also cools down, while the sun warms up.

If you are not sure how thick you need for your first wetsuit, you can borrow a suit to test it out.

Note: Rental suits often do not fit well or have a hole or two. This already limits their heating effect.

A new, well-fitting surf suit will keep you warm even with the same material thickness than a sloppy neo from the surf school!

Wetsuit thickness according to climate and temperature

A rule of thumb: The colder the water, the thicker the neoprene should be.


The perception of temperature differs from person to person. The graphic and the following table therefore only provide an initial guide and the areas overlap.

Imagine you have offshore wind, perfect waves and an empty line-up - this is the surf session of your life! Now there is nothing worse than having to surf out of the water after an hour, as you can hardly move because of the cold. What do we learn from it?

Even if you think you're a hard bone If in doubt, choose the wetsuit one level thicker!

Wetsuit thickness by region

Depending on the climate zone and surfing region, the requirements for a wetsuit also differ.

Our recommendation:

On surf trips in Central to Southern Europe you are well advised for most of the year with a 4/3 steamer - even when it gets colder and windier.

On windless, sunny days in summer it may be too warm for you. Then just let some water in or pack a 3/2, shorty or springsuit if necessary.

In Scandinavia, Ireland and the Baltic States cold water junkies get their money's worth. Here it is recommended - at least in winter - to complement the wetsuit with surf shoes, gloves and a neoprene hood.

" Back to overview

Wetsuit size

How to find the perfect fit


What is the optimal fit of your wetsuit? The moth reads:

Sits, fits, does not wobble and has no air!

Wetsuit sizes are roughly the same as your normal dress size. The problem is that the differences between the individual manufacturers are sometimes quite large.

Be sure to test several wetsuit sizes. This is the only way to find out which make and which size best suits your body shape!

How do you know if the wetsuit fits you?


In a surf shop or wetsuit outlet, specialist staff can provide you with professional advice on wetsuit tests. If you don't have a shop near you, you can also order a selection of wetsuits online and try them on at home.

If you can answer yes to the following 5 questions, you have found the perfect fit:

1. Does the suit fit nicely, also at the neck, arm and leg ends?

A wetsuit has to fit like a second skin. If it is too far, too much water will come in. This makes paddling harder and you cool off faster. In addition, the fabric can cause uncomfortable friction in areas that are too loose.

2. Can you still breathe well despite the tight fit?

That would be quite useful if you have to get a lot of air quickly between 2 set waves ...

3. Do you have enough freedom of movement in a wetsuit?

Carefully try out whether the suit offers you enough flexibility for prone position, paddling, pop-up and turning. By the way: The Neo expands a little more in the water!

4.