With longer, warmer, sunnier days upon us, it’s time to make sure you’re prepared for as much time out in the water as possible by choosing the very best women’s surfing wetsuit for you. But with so much out there on the market, it can all be a bit overwhelming. How thick does a summer wetsuit need to be when summer is a relative term? Will a chest zip, back zip, vertical front zip, or no zip at all be most conducive to unencumbered, carefree shredding? In order to help you decide which wetsuits best suit your surfing, your budget and your local waters, we’ve compiled a short list of the very best on offer from our broad range of women’s wetsuits.
Whether you’re just starting out on your surfing journey, have been surfing for a while and want a suit to help take you to the next level, or have reached already reached tube sensei status and simply want the best possible technology available to keep your performance as high as your stoke vibe, we’ve got you covered.
Roxy POP Surf 3/2mm Wetsuit
As far as everyday surfing essentials go, the 3/2 fullsuit is your go-to wetsuit of choice for a broad range of water temps (from 14 °C or so up to the high teens, maybe even low twenties). POP Surf is a special collection within the Roxy range, its credentials resting on unparalleled warmth and flexibility, a commitment to sustainability, and the star-power of style guru Stephanie Gilmore, pictured top.
StretchFlight 3 neoprene combined with WarmFlight fleece lining through the core keeps you toasty warm while maintaining full flexibility and ease of movement in a form-flattering silhouette. A horizontal chest zip entry, now standard on most high-end suits, is easy to use, less leaky and restrictive than a back zip, and maintains comfort and durability; meanwhile Flush Lock 2.0 seals (round the wrists and ankles) and drainage holes stop the suit filling with water. With recycled materials including 25 plastic bottles reincarnated in each wetsuit, POP surf’s sustainable manufacturing process cuts waste, solvent use and water use, helping you surf with a lighter planetary impact. Also available in 4/3mm for slightly colder water temps.
Billabong 3/2mm Salty Dayz Wetsuit
Ticking some very similar boxes is the Salty Dayz 3/2mm by Billabong, which likewise belongs to an “eco capsule collection” but offers slightly more on the sustainability front. Calling any wetsuit sustainable is arguably, well, a stretch, and generally speaking, there’s little to choose between most neoprene wetsuits. But Billabong has made some good progress with their jersey linings (this is the stretchy fabric that lines the neoprene foam). The foam itself, which makes up the bulk of the suit, contains roughly 30% recycled content, but the jersey lining of the Salty Dayz 3/2mm is now made up exclusively of recycled materials – a major breakthrough. The graphene-infused fibres in the Graphene Recycler thermal lining, which covers the internal chest and back panels, are likewise fully recycled.
Hurley 4/3mm Advantage Plus Women’s Wetsuit
If a 3mm wetsuit isn’t quite going to cut it – let’s say most of your aquatic escapades will involve immersion in water somewhere between 10 and 15 degrees celsius – then a 4/3mm wetsuit is the next step up. On certain coastlines – central coast Portugal, say, where mild water temps prevail year round and the sea doesn’t warm up much in summer – a 4/3mm may be the only wetsuit you ever truly need. Even in the UK, a 4mm suit might keep you going through winter (in the South West, for instance, when backed up with decent wetsuit boots, gloves and hood) and will only be too warm 2-3 months of the year.
Enter the Advantage Plus, a classic wetsuit whose distinctive double hoop on the left sleeve immediately marks it out as a Hurley product. This is one of the brand’s higher-end suits, made from ultra stretchy Exoflex neoprene and lined with quick-dry, heat-trapping thermal fabric inside the chest, stomach and back panels. What’s more, if you’re not too keen on florals or bright colours it comes in a simple low-key black colourway, which can be frustratingly rare in the women’s wetsuit market. We also have the same wetsuit in a 3mm version.
Roxy 1.5mm POP Surf Long Jane Wetsuit
The long john – often dubbed the long jane when designed for female use, as in this case – has long legs but no sleeves whatsoever. In effect it’s the neoprene equivalent of dungarees, and was once a favourite among sailors and windsurfers, but in the surfing world it partakes of a classic, soulful, slightly leftfield sensibility. One glance at the Roxy POP Surf Long Jane, with its retro stylings and simple, assertive silhouette, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s 1.5mm thick all the way through, and features an old-school vertical front zip. True, you’re unlikely to see one in a WSL heat, but then again you probably won’t be surfing in one of those any time soon? One thing about the long jane is that, in larger or heavier surf, the lower neckline and round the shoulders are vulnerable to flush-through, which obviously isn’t what you want from a performance point of view. But in small waves, when you’re unlikely to be duck-diving under giant walls of white water, this won’t be a problem – part of the reason, surely, why long johns and janes are so popular among single-fin longboarders.
Rip Curl 1mm G-Bomb Bikini-Cut Shorty Wetsuit
For extending sessions in warmer waters when the waves are so good you won’t want to get out, or for extra freedom during shorter surfs in chillier climes, the G-Bomb bikini-cut long-sleeve shorty by Rip Curl delivers comfort and style to keep you looking and feeling great. Think water temperatures in the high teens and above (although air temperature and wind conditions will also have a bearing). Built from excellent-quality E5 neoprene and stitched with E-stitch high-stretch seams, you won’t believe the flexibility offered by this lightweight summer wetsuit. Even in comfortably warm water, the long sleeves can be a big plus on blustery days, providing protection from windchill (not to mention the UV rays).
The Searchers long-sleeve shorty, below right, also by Rip Curl, does basically the same thing as the G-Bomb, but is made of the marginally less stretchy E4 neoprene, and thus comes in at 10 squid cheaper. Bikini-cut shorties are something of a speciality for Rip Curl, and tend to sell out as soon as they come in. Reinforcements, however, arrive frequently, so keep checking back if we haven’t got your size.
The Short Jane / Women’s Sleeveless Shorty
And lastly, the short jane, aka the women’s short john, aka the sleeveless shorty – often, though not necessarily, with a “bikini cut” around the seat. Various degrees of cheekiness are available. Let’s be honest, there’s not a whole lot to them, either in terms of actual material (typically 1mm of neoprene) or distinguishing features – they’re still super useful for an extra boost of warmth when the water/air temp is borderline, but your choice will basically come down to your preferred cut, colour and/or print. Hence we’ve included a few different options for your perusal under the one heading (see below).
A bikini-cut outline keeps heat in the core while liberating the arms and legs and giving you the freedom of basically surfing in a swimsuit. If you want to avoid sunburnt cheeks, the Patagonia R1 Lite Yulex Spring Jane provides slightly more coverage (with what’s known as a “boyleg” cut), and will possibly project a more soulful vibe in the lineup. Plus you get an extra half mil of warmth. It should also be noted that the Patagonia suit, like all Patagonia wetsuits, eschews neoprene in favour of Yulex natural rubber – the gold standard as far as sustainable wetsuit construction is concerned, due to lighter extraction and energy footprints.