The Best Insulated Wetsuits for Cold-Weather Surfing, Paddleboarding, and Swimming

insulated wetsuits man surfing in cold water
Austin Neill / Unsplash

Dawn patrol in the dead of winter is what separates the serious surfers from the soft-toppers. But even the toughest surfer won’t paddle out before sliding into some thick neoprene. Of course, you don’t want your insulated wetsuit to impact your performance once you get out there.

 

 

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Beyond keeping you warm in the water, the best insulated wetsuits are ultra-stretchy, quick-drying, comfortable against your skin, and durable enough to last multiple seasons. To keep you ripping even when the water turns chilly, we put together a list of the best wetsuits from top brands including Rip Curl, Patagonia, Xcel, Isurus, and more. Grab one, and don’t let cold temps keep you on the beach.

The Best Insulated Wetsuits for 2021

Dakine Cyclone Zip Free Full Suit 3/2mm insulated wetsuits
Dakine Cyclone Zip Free Full Suit 3/2mm Courtesy Image

1. Dakine Cyclone Zip Free Full Suit 3/2mm

Dakine is new to the wetsuit business, but you’d never know it based on the premium Cyclone Zip Free wetsuit. Traditional stress points have been eliminated with its unique Apex Fit pattern, and the proprietary zipperless seal system effectively prevents flushing and makes for easy entries and exits. The limestone-based neoprene also allows for complete freedom of movement due to its exceptional flexibility and low weight, while Dakine’s Hexo Therm fabric lining traps heats to keep you warm on even the chilliest mornings.

[$380; dakine.com]

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Xcel Infiniti 5/4mm Hooded Full Wetsuit
Xcel Infiniti 5/4mm Hooded Full Wetsuit Courtesy Image

2. Xcel Infiniti 5/4mm Hooded Full Wetsuit

If the water temperature at your local break dips into the 40s, you need a top-notch thick wetsuit (plus booties and a hood). Xcel is renowned for its high-quality wetsuits, and this cold-water option lives up to that reputation. The NanoLite Japanese Limestone Neoprene provides excellent flexibility for a thick suit, while the gridded Channel Flex design in the upper body further increases mobility. The Radiant Rebound lining in the upper body traps body heat, while a cushy ThermoLite lining in the lower body keeps your legs toasty and comfortable. And with Nexskin wrist and ankle seals preventing bone-chilling water from seeping in, you can surf all morning without getting zapped by the cold.

[$415; xcelwetsuits.com]

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Arena SAMS Carbon Triwetsuit insulated wetsuits
Arena SAMS Carbon Triwetsuit Courtesy Image

3. Arena SAMS Carbon Triwetsuit

This steamer from Arena isn’t your typical surf wetsuit—it’s designed specifically for triathletes and ocean swimmers. Most notably, it features a Shark Attack Mitigation System, or SAMS. Developed in conjunction with researchers at the University of Western Australia, this unique color pattern aims to reduce the risk of shark attacks by making the swimmer appear less palatable to a shark. Aside from avoiding dangerous wildlife encounters, the suit is built for excellent performance in the water. The neoprene is distributed to create even buoyancy and improve your swimming position, and Aerodome panels lined with carbon fabric add stability at your core. Finally, the entire suit has a sleek external coating to reduce drag in the water.

[$580; arenasport.com]

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Isurus Evade 2/2mm Chest Zip Wetsuit
Isurus Evade 2/2mm Chest Zip Wetsuit Courtesy Image

4. Isurus Evade 2/2mm Chest Zip Wetsuit

Isurus delivers an exceptional heat-to-thickness ratio with the Evade 2/2mm Chest Zip. The secret is in the premium Yamamoto Japanese neoprene—a stretchier blend that’s used in the arms, shoulders, and neck—along with a compression liner in the lower body. Beyond the premium rubber, this wetsuit significantly reduces shoulder restriction with its arms-up design, it stabilizes your muscles through compression, and it eliminates flushes with improved seals.

[$470; surfisurus.com]

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Florence Marine X 3/2mm Full Suit
Florence Marine X 3/2mm Full Suit Courtesy Image

5. Florence Marine X 3/2mm Full Suit

Two-time WSL World Champion John John Florence’s signature brand is tailored to surfers in search of a top-quality wetsuit. Although this option has a lofty price tag, you’ll get what you pay for. To build it, JJF and his team source premium Japanese neoprene that’s warm, flexible, and durable enough to last through multiple seasons. Each suit is then assembled by hand to create a watertight seal that eliminates the need for stiff interior tape.

[$750; florencemarinex.com]

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Matuse Scipio 3mm Front Zip insulated wetsuits
Matuse Scipio 3mm Front Zip Courtesy Image

6. Matuse Scipio 3mm Front Zip

While most premium insulated wetsuits still use traditional neoprene, Matuse has started using a new hydrophobic material known as Geoprene. A pure limestone-based neoprene, it is 98-percent water impermeable and also features built-in air chambers to store radiant heat. Beyond being extremely warm and flexible, the Geoprene material feels silky and luxurious against the skin while also providing excellent wind blockage.

[$600; matuse.com]

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Rip Curl Flashbomb Search 3/2mm Zip Free
Rip Curl Flashbomb Search 3/2mm Zip Free Courtesy Image

7. Rip Curl Flashbomb Search 3/2mm Zip Free

Rip Curl is known for premium insulated wetsuits and their Flashbomb series is one of the best. Unrestricted movement has always been a hallmark of Rip Curl’s models, and the Flashbomb Search upholds this tradition with super stretchy, lightweight E6 Thermo Lining neoprene in the arms and shoulder areas. The suit features extensive E6 Flash Lining to retain heat from ankle to neck (even the seam tape is designed to trap warmth), and sealed cuffs prevent flushing and increase durability, too.

[$350; ripcurl.com]

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Billabong 4/3mm Furnace Chest Zip Wetsuit
Billabong 4/3mm Furnace Chest Zip Wetsuit Courtesy Image

8. Billabong 4/3mm Furnace Chest Zip Wetsuit

Eco-conscious and toasty warm, the Furnace lives up to its name. The heat-conductive, graphene-infused liner is made from 100-percent recycled fibers, the Smart Foam is sourced from upcycled car tires and neoprene scraps, and the ultra-flexible outer jersey utilizes recycled materials, too. The result is a wetsuit that offers excellent warmth and flex while minimizing its impact on Mother Nature.

[$440; billabong.com]

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Patagonia R1 Lite Yulex Front-Zip Short-Sleeved Full Suit
Patagonia R1 Lite Yulex Front-Zip Short-Sleeved Full Suit Courtesy Image

9. Patagonia R1 Lite Yulex Front-Zip Short-Sleeved Full Suit

This lightweight suit from Patagonia is a perfect choice for standup paddlers or those who surf in warm water locations. Constructed from 85-percent natural rubber and featuring 100-percent recycled polyester linings, the R1 Lite offers enough warmth to keep you from catching a chill, but it has plenty of flex, so your paddle strokes are never restricted. It’s also Fair Trade Certified—a rare trait among insulated wetsuits.

[$299; patagonia.com]

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Quiksilver 4/3mm Marathon Sessions Chest Zip Wetsuit
Quiksilver 4/3mm Marathon Sessions Chest Zip Wetsuit Courtesy Image

10. Quiksilver 4/3mm Marathon Sessions Chest Zip Wetsuit

Just like the name suggests, the Marathon Sessions Chest Zip Wetsuit is designed to help you stay in the water for longer. This Bluesign certified, eco-friendly wetsuit features a WarmFlight infrared thermal lining—made from recycled plastic bottles—that traps and radiates body heat for excellent warmth. Additionally, the StretchFlight neoprene is lightweight and flexible, so you can surf for hours without your suit getting in the way.

[$320; quiksilver.com]

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