How to choose the best wetsuit for surfing

Choose the best wetsuit and enjoy surfing more comfortably!

Surfers' session skills have also improved as wetsuit production techniques have improved, making them more comfortable year-round in cold water. A great surf session can turn into a disaster if you don't choose the right wetsuit. If it's too thin, you'll feel cold and want to get out quickly, and if it's too thick, you won't be able to move, and you may feel tired or overheated while paddling, making it difficult to enjoy paddling. Rip Curl offers a wide range of wetsuits for all temperatures.

From thick to thin, spring suits to full suits, read our guide to wetsuit types and temperatures to help you choose the right wetsuit for your next session or surf trip.

Surfing wetsuit fabric thickness guide

Neoprene is the main material used in wetsuits, and is made of small closed-cell structures that contain air, which acts as an insulator against cold water by trapping body heat. Thicker neoprene means a warmer suit, and wetsuits for surfing tend to be thinner than for activities like scuba diving due to the range of motion required.

Generally, wetsuit thickness is indicated by two numbers such as "3/2", but warmer models use three numbers such as "5/4/3". The first number represents the thickness of the torso in millimeters, and the second number represents the thickness of the legs and arms. If there is a third number, the second number represents the leg and the third number represents the arm. The arms and legs are thin for range of motion, and the torso is thick to retain vital core heat.

We have summarized the recommended fabric thickness and type of wetsuit depending on the water temperature.

water temperature Thickness (mm) Types of wetsuits
Below 6℃ 6/5 Full suit + accessories
6-11℃ 6/5-5/4 Full suit + accessories
11-14℃ 5/4-4/3 Full suit + accessories
14-17℃ 4/3-3/2 Full suit + accessories
16-20℃ 3/2-2/2 Full suit + accessories
18-24℃ 2/2-0.5 spring suit
22℃ or higher 0.5 Wetsuit jacket or rash guard

water temperature

The thickness of a wetsuit's fabric is directly related to water temperature, so it's important to understand the conditions in the area you'll be surfing. Research the area and check the water temperature. Just because the air temperature is warm doesn't mean the water temperature is high. Experimenting with different fabric thicknesses and types will help you find the perfect wetsuit.


Outside air temperature and water temperature can be very different. On days when the weather is cold but sunny, you won't need as thick a wetsuit as you would on days when both the air and water temperatures are low. Wind also affects temperature. Temperatures are low in the early morning, but as the sun comes out during the day it gets hot. Accessories are useful when the temperature changes drastically.


When choosing a wetsuit, consider whether you tend to get cold or sensitive to cold. The above guidelines for wetsuit fabric thickness depending on water temperature may not be ideal for everyone. If you are a person who is sensitive to cold, it may be better to make the fabric thicker, and if you are sensitive to heat, it may be better to make it thinner.

About wetsuit fabric thickness

Flexibility & Material

The thickness of the fabric for a wetsuit is selected based on several points, including heat retention in the water, flexibility of the material, and prevention of injury from the bottom or rocks. A thick wetsuit will keep you warm even in cold waters and protect you from scratches and scratches, but the added weight of a thick wetsuit will reduce your performance, and surfing for long periods of time can take a toll on your physical strength. Still, you may have to sacrifice some flexibility and strength for a warm session in cold water.

The material is also an important factor when deciding the thickness of the wetsuit fabric. For example, Rip Curl's 3/2mm Flashbomb HeatSeeker E7 features the warmest technology to date. In other words, even if a thickness of 4/3mm is generally required, depending on the material you choose, 3/2mm may be sufficient.


When the water temperature is low, such as below 15°C, rubber wetsuit accessories such as gloves, booties, and hoods are useful. Five-finger gloves and split-toe booties allow for easy movement, while mittens and round-toe booties provide warmth. If you often surf in cold water, a hooded wetsuit is also recommended. Choose the most suitable item according to your purpose.

wetsuit quality

When choosing a wetsuit, focus on quality as much as possible. Premium suits with top-of-the-line technology, materials, and craftsmanship that allow you to stay comfortable in any water temperature can come at a high price. Still, quality is an important point, especially when it comes to protecting yourself from the harsh cold.

Rip Curl's DAWN PATROL and OMEGA series are high-quality and cost-effective wetsuits that are recommended for first-time surfers.

Choose the right size

Choosing the size of your wetsuit is one of the important points in order to maintain a comfortable temperature in the water. If it's too big, cold water will get into the suit and you won't be able to keep warm. Ideally, the fit should be snug enough to allow a thin layer of moisture to enter between your body and the suit, but make sure it's not so tight that you can't move or that it won't rub and cause a rash. Neck chafing is common, so a rash guard is also recommended in the summer.

Check the size guide carefully to find the right fit, especially when purchasing from an online store. After purchasing, try it on to make sure there is no extra room in your torso, ankles, shoulders, and knees. Stretch your arms upwards or squat down to make sure there is no tightness or looseness. At Rip Curl, we make some of the most comfortable wetsuits on the market, so you're sure to find your perfect fit in no time.

Even if you're not sure which size or fabric thickness to go for, Rip Curl's official online store accepts returns and exchanges for unused items that have only been tried on, so buy with confidence!

*When trying on a wetsuit, please wear underwear such as inner shorts and try it indoors. If you wish to return the item, please dry it completely by turning it inside out and drying it in the shade for a day before returning it.

Now, change into your wetsuit and head out to The Search!