Surf Suit Tips: Guide to Buying a Wetsuit for Surfing

Nov 24, 2023 BY AWE365 Team

Naturally, you’ll need a wetsuit to ensure your winter surfing sessions last longer than five minutes. But when buying a wetsuit for surfing you can’t just throw on any neoprene sweater and paddle out. Follow the top surf suit tips below and you’ll be more comfortable in the water whatever the season.

Surf Suit Tips Needpix Royalty free image California, USA

Water is denser than air, less forgiving and voraciously steals your body heat. When it’s cool outside, surfing will increase circulation and make you feel warm. And although blood will be pumping as you paddle around looking for waves, the sensation of body warmth is soon lost in cool water.

Guide to Buying a Wetsuit for Surfing

Top Surf Suit Tips

Follow these tips to buying wetsuits for surfing to make the most of your time in the water, whether that is winter surfing in the UK or summer surf breaks in Hawaii.

Choose the Right Wetsuit Thickness

The thicker the suit, the warmer and less flexible it will be. Of course we’d all like to be comfortably warm when surfing, but because surfers require a great range of motion – especially in the shoulders and arms. So we have to find a happy medium between the warmth and flexibility of our wetsuits.

Guide to Buying a Wetsuit for Surfing Flickr CC image of surfers at Morro Bay, USA by mikebaird

Surf wetsuit thickness is measured in millimetres. Usually the arms and legs are less thick than the torso to allow better freedom of movement whilst warming your core.

  • 2mm:  A “two-mil,” or suit with two millimetres of thickness, is fairly thin and very flexible. It is good for water in the range of 18-22 °C (65-72 °F).
  • 3mm: A “3/2” suit has three millimetres of thickness in the torso and two in the arms and legs. 3/2s are great for water in the 14-18°C (57-65°F) range.
  • 4mm: A 4/3 allocates its thickness in a similar pattern as the 3/2, and can be used in 10-14°C (50-57°F).
  • 5mm: Colder than that you’ll not only need a 5/4, but booties and a hat and gloves.
  • 6mm: If you plan on taking surfing courses or trips to destinations with especially chilly water, below 5.5°C (42°F), a six-millimetre suit would be required, or a dry suit, or even better a sanity test…

Wetsuit Seam Styles

Keep in mind the seam style when buying a wetsuit for surfing. And that it is not meant to keep your body entirely dry. The idea is to allow a bit of water inside which your body heats up.

Now surf suits are made of neoprene panels ingeniously stitched together. The seams along the edges of these panels are sometimes culprits of water leakage.

Guide to Buying a Wetsuit for Surfing Pixabay royalty free image

On a two-mil suit leakage is okay, even necessary in some cases, so seams should not be glued together. But for thicker suits, when leakage is a serious session-killer, make sure the seams are glued together and even taped from the inside for thicker ones.

Wetsuit Zipper Types

Keeping an eye on zipper types is one of the top surf suit tips. There are also several models of zippers. The most common is a full back zipper that zips all the way down your spine. This zipper makes getting in and out of your wetsuit easier, but can sacrifice leakage and flexibility.

Chest-zipper suits are tougher to get on, but control leakage and allow for maximum flexibility. If you’re suit is well made, the zipper style should not noticeably affect its performance. Zippers tend to be a matter of preference, although less so the thicker they get.

There are even some zipperless wetsuits on the market. They are extra stretchy but even harder to get on.

Mormaii Flexxxa wetsuit review 2.2mm Stretchy zipperless wetsuit photo of Tez Plavenieks

Always Try the Wetsuit on!

Finally, be sure to try on any suit before buying it. Many guys don’t wear anything under their wetsuits so this step can be gross if you think about it too long… So wear some shorts when testing! But trying it on is an absolute necessity in finding a surf suit well trimmed to your body.

Once inside the wetsuit, make sure it fits snug to your skin, but isn’t constricting. A wetsuit should not be tight enough to affect blood circulation. Check to make sure there is no bunched up material at any of your joints. If there is, the suit is too big.

Rotate your arms to simulate paddling. There should be no chaffing on your shoulders or on your armpit.

The best suit should fit like an extension of your skin. Try a variety of models and manufacturers, as each are cut slightly different. When you slip into one that’s the right size, flexible enough for you to squat in, and well fitting enough not to rub anywhere, you’ll know it.

Surf Suit Tips Pixabay Royalty free image

Tips for Buying Surfing Wetsuits

It is not a cheap investment so be sure to take your time and get the right suit, or selection of suits, for you. Find the right one and you’ll feel invincible, and may even consider quitting your job to fight crime and kick ass in your new suit. But I recommend heading out for a surf instead.

We hope you found this guide to buying a wetsuit for surfing useful. After you follow the top surf suit tips check out these surfing holidays worldwide to break it in somewhere exciting.


Drysuit, Rash Vest ), Water Clothing (Wetsuit, wetsuit, wetsuits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Related Articles


Pro Skier Review of ULLR D 3 Fingers Gloves by Helly Hansen

Welcoming pro skier Elsa Powell-Dooley to the AWE365 gear review team. She is testing out a whole host of kit for us this winter. First up, is this review of ULLR D...

Destinations: N/A
Read Article

Review of Aphex Sunglasses and Customisable MTB Goggles

If you are into action sports and outdoor activities then the right eyewear ensures the best view and protects your eyes. In this review of Aphex sunglasses and...

Destinations: N/A
Read Article

Review of Les Arcs Summer Activity Holiday in Arc 1950, France

My partner loves nothing more than whizzing down gnarly mountain biking trails. Whereas I’m an outdoor adventurer of a more sedate kind. In this review of Les Arcs...

Destinations: Arc 1950 Europe France +
Read Article

Newsletter sign up