"What is the right wetsuit for me?"
This is a question we get asked a lot in the shop. There are a lot of variables that go into fitting someone into the “right” wetsuit. Will this be your only wetsuit? Do you surf year-round or only in the summer? How much are you comfortable spending? Are you someone who generally runs cold or are you comfortable in cooler temperatures? It is always best to visit your local surf shop and talk with a professional when making this decision, but I will try my best to break things down in this blog and give some examples of our favorite suits.
The water temperature here in the PNW tends to group what wetsuits work for us into 3 price range categories: entry level 5/4mm, mid-range 5/4mm, and higher end 4/3 & 5/4mm. Each of the wetsuit manufactures we work with offer models in these price ranges. They also offer numerous other options, but those tend to get lost based on our specific water temperature needs. For example, an entry level 4/3mm simply isn’t warm enough for us. Likewise, a high-end 6/5/4mm is too warm. It’s too cold for any 3/2mm suits and a mid-range 4/3mm is borderline warm enough. Like I said, lots of variables but I will try to simplify things.
Entry Level 5/4mm - $175 to $269
Both hooded and non-hooded versions are available. These suits have the thickness of neoprene you need, but in an effort to keep the cost down, lack the technology which keeps you dryer, and thus warmer for longer periods of time. If you are a beginner or someone who doesn’t plan on staying in the water for more than an hour or so, this is a great option. The neoprene used in these suits aren’t as flexible or as light as the higher end suits, but again, if you aren’t planning on spending multiple hours in the water this isn’t an issue.
Bottom line: If you are on a budget or not looking to surf longer than everyone else in the line-up, these are your suits!
- Quiksilver Syncro 5/4/3 Hooded and Non-Hooded
- Billabong Furnace Absolute 5/4 Hooded
- Xcel Axis 5/4 hooded and Non-Hooded
Mid-Range 5/4mm - $279 to $389
Hooded options only. This is the sweet spot on cost vs technology for cold water wetsuits. These suits should keep you warm for an entire session and be flexible enough to not limit your fun. If you are going to spend this much money on a wetsuit, there are a few things you should be looking for: welded or taped seams, higher end neoprene, and a quality inner liner.
Bottom line: For most brands, these are their workhorses of models. They should offer everything you will need in a quality wetsuit. Like a loyal steed, they are tried, true and tested to get the job done.
High-End 4/3 and 5/4mm - $385 to $550
Hooded 5/4mm and both hooded and non-hooded 4/3mm options. If the mid-range suits are so good, why should you buy one of these high-end options? Believe it or not, they are that much better and worth every penny! If you are someone who surfs regularly, spends multiple hours in the water, and is looking for the most flexible and lightest suit to maximize your performance, these are your wetsuits. Or, if you are not on a budget and you simply want the best, you will be blown away by the quality and benefits you get by spending a little more money. You will be getting the lightest and most flexible neoprene, warmest and least absorbent liner, and every other feature available to keep you dry and warm! Because of all these features, going to a thinner 4/3mm is possible even on our coldest days.
Bottom line: If you want to perform at your highest level or be as warm as you can without sacrificing flexibility, spend the extra dollars and grab one of these suits! You won’t be disappointed with the little less money in your bank account.