The 10 Best Wetsuits

Updated March 07, 2018 by Chase Brush

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We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you are a diver, snorkeler, windsurfer, triathlete, or water skier, you'll find one of these wetsuits perfect for your favorite sport or hobby. We've included both full-length options and shorties, as well as models designed for tropical or cold waters, to ensure you stay comfortable and ready to perform during all of your adventures. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best wetsuit on Amazon.

10. NeoSport Premium 3.2mm

The NeoSport Premium 3.2mm has a thick torso to help keep your core body temperature high in cold waters. It provides a good balance of warmth and flexibility, and comes in at an affordable price that makes it a good choice for those who don't dive often.
  • collar can be adjusted for comfort
  • extra padding in high wear areas
  • sizing runs small
Brand NeoSport
Model S832WB
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Hyperflex Men's Access

With reasonable price options and a fit that accommodates figures of all shapes and sizes, the Hyperflex Men's Access is a great choice for the casual aquatic sports hobbyist. Wear it while swimming in the pool, wake-boarding out on the lake, or body-boarding at the beach.
  • stylish logo design
  • comes in a few color combinations
  • traps excess water in the legs
Brand Hyperflex
Model XA832MB
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Hollis Neotek Semi-Dry

If you are a true adventure junkie who won't let anything stop you from pursuing your hobbies, including frigid waters, then you need the Hollis Neotek Semi-Dry. It comes with a hood to prevent heat loss through the head, and is a mix of 6, 7, and 8mm neoprene.
  • multiple pockets for gear
  • good spinal padding
  • very expensive option
Brand Hollis
Model pending
Weight 7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

7. Cressi Women's Summer

The Cressi Women's Summer is ideal for playing in temperate waters. It's made with 3mm thick neoprene, and long arms and legs that offer plenty of flexibility. You don't have to worry about water getting in through the openings, either, since they all have Aquastop seals.
  • wrist and ankle zippers
  • also comes in men's version
  • colors can fade over time
Brand Cressi
Model CR02
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Zoot Sports Z Force 1.0

Triathletes looking for a lightweight, yet warm and buoyant, option would be well-served by the Zoot Sports Z Force 1.0. It's built with varying levels of panel thickness, plus a low-friction SCS coating, letting you glide through water with minimal drag.
  • sizing guidelines are accurate
  • comfortable low-cut collar
  • not for general purposes
Brand Zoot Sports
Model pending
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

5. Billabong Women's Spring Fever

This Billabong Women's Spring Fever, from a leading name in surfing, is proof that you can wear a wetsuit and still look stylish at the same time. It sports a flattering cut that also works well for pool use or snorkeling in tropical waters, plus bright splashes of color.
  • boy shorts leg style
  • smooth back zipper
  • not for cold temperatures
Brand Billabong
Model JWSPLSPF
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Rip Curl Dawn Patrol

The Rip Curl Dawn Patrol is a mid-level offering for anyone who wants decent performance without shelling out $300-plus for a more expensive one. It's well-designed for winter surfing, as it ensures lots of flexibility without excessive leaking.
  • dries very quickly
  • heat pocket on chest area
  • great value for price
Brand Rip Curl
Model WSM4DM-P
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Seavenger 3mm Neoprene

The Seavenger 3mm Neoprene is a low-cost choice that is available in men's and women's options. It's not for very intense physical activities, but it does stretch enough to not hinder your movement while snorkeling, and the zipper has a long leash attached to it.
  • flexible panels on knees and armpits
  • minimal water flow in and out
  • not for expert divers and swimmers
Brand Seavenger
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Phantom Aquatics Men's Marine Shorty

The Phantom Aquatics Men's Marine Shorty features a host of technical specs that make it perfect for spring or summer use, including tough YKK zippers, flat-lock stitched seams, and 3-D anatomical sculpting that doesn't pinch or bind. It comes in a range of sizes, too.
  • high friction seat for wet surfaces
  • micro-teeth velcro neck fastener
  • very sleek look
Brand Phantom Aquatics
Model PAQMSMBK-LG
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. O'Neill Men's Reactor

There aren't many models as versatile as the O'Neill Men's Reactor, which works as well for light diving and snorkeling as it does for competition-level surfing. It's comfortable for most people, and has Krypto knee pads that help protect your legs against bumps and dings.
  • nonirritating material
  • also good for paddle-boarding
  • durable enough to last for years
Brand O'Neill
Model TYR
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

The History Of The Wet Suit

Human beings have taken to the water for tens of thousands of years. Ancient accounts of deep sea free diving tell of men routinely reaching depths of 100 feet or more below the surface for the purposes of harvesting sponges, shells, coral, pearls, and to salvage items from sunken ships. Ancient swimmers took part in everything from competitions to military campaigns, with aquatic soldiers serving as everything from scout to saboteur.

In the later Renaissance, technological development finally began to alter the ways in which people entered the water. Developments like the diving bell allowed a person to spend longer periods of time underwater in relative safety, though accidents were frequent enough, and usually tragic in nature. Diving bells were employed throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, most often for salvage work aimed at recovering the cannons, gold and silver, and other goods lost with sunken ships.

The early 1700s saw the first diving "dresses", which were designed to permit greater control by the person within and included the ability to control watertight sleeves that stuck out from the hard walled devices. Rather than merely a veritable underwater room, these diving dresses at least conformed to the general shape of their occupant, though range of motion was still dramatically curtailed.

The 1800s saw the first true diving suits. Usually made from layers of leather and/or watertight fabric, and with the iconic copper diving helmet atop, diving suits of the 1830s finally allowed for true movement by a diver under the water connected to the surface by a hose (or a series of hoses). Dive times were extended and what a diver could accomplish while submerged grew in proportion.

The next great advance in diving technology came in the 20th century, when self-contained underwater breathing apparatuses (better known as SCUBA gear) first came to the fore. Liberated from tethers connecting them to the surface, divers could now range far and wide of their own accord, the implications of which were not lost on any of the major combatants during WWII. Frogman was the name given to soldiers of the era who would often approach targets underwater to conduct sapping missions or to collect intelligence.

Scuba gear would continue to develop apace throughout the rest of the century. In the mid 1900s, there was one more major development in aquatic gear: the development of the wetsuit. Credit for the conception of the wetsuit goes to a physicist working out of Berkeley, CA named Hugh Bradner. He first posited the idea that insulation provided by a thin layer of semi-porous fabric could preserve enough heat for comfortable protracted use even in cold waters, and conducted research to identify the ideal material and arrangement of the aquatic garments.

Bradner was more interested in science than in sales, however. His idea, revealed in 1951, would be seized upon by others and, by the end of the decade, commercial wetsuits were cropping up far and wide. They were soon put to use by everyone from military divers and rescue swimmers to surfers and beyond. The pairing of the lightweight, warm, and flexible wetsuit and the ever-improved, ever-more-compact scuba systems available to the public would revolutionize sport and commercial diving in particular.

How The Wetsuit Works

Contrary to popular belief, wetsuits don't work by warming up the water trapped between the body and the suit; not exactly, at least. While that water is gradually warmed to a comfortable degree, the suits actually work by trapping in body warmth with the gas bubbles trapped in their own fabric.

Neoprene, the fabric most commonly used in wetsuits, can hold millions of minute nitrogen bubbles within its fibers, and these bubbles form a layer of reliable insulation against the ambient chill of the water. This is the concept that was first understood in a practicable way by Hugh Bradner.

The issue with neoprene is its inherent weakness and tendency to tear or to be easily punctured. Early wetsuits required their user to don them with the greatest care, and could easily become damaged to the point of uselessness. (Suits with large rips or that have been stretched out allow for so-called washing, which is when cold water rushes into the warmed wetsuit, thereby undoing its thermal properties.) To avoid this, the modern wetsuit usually employs two layers of neoprene with a layer of a more durable rubber or spandex sandwiched between them.

Choosing The Right Wetsuit For Your Needs

Before you chose a wetsuit, you have to consider both the types of aquatic activities in which you participate and the places in which you will be swimming, surfing, or diving. In general, it's a good idea for most recreational users to wear only as much wetsuit as they need given water temperature and personal comfort levels.

Shortie wetsuits that cover only the upper thighs, torso, and upper arms are fine for mild to cool waters in which the wearer is only looking to maintain a warmer core temperature. These suits are great for surfers in particular, as the activity is already prone to elevate body heat, and as freedom of motion is important.

Full-body wetsuits are often called steamers, a name gleaned from the steam released after a user removes his or her suit on a cool day. These neck to ankle suits can be augmented with booties and hoods for extremely cold waters, and many have double seals at the neck, wrists, and ankles which can keep their wearer almost totally protected from the cold water all around.

For the competitive or distance swimmer, there are specially made wetsuits that are thin, sleek, and have a water repellent finish that helps their user glide though the water with minimal effort.


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Last updated on March 07, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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