February 11th, 2016
SeaMade: Women’s Wetsuit Buyer’s Guide A series on surf, cross training and lessons on all things salty by guest blogger, Madison
Wetsuits- the armor of surfers. Having a good wetsuit can make or break a surf session. Ask any surfer what their favorite wetsuit is and they will probably tell you they have a collection. I think I have about 10 wetsuits right now. Each has a purpose depending on whether it’s for longboarding or shortboarding, or warmth or style.
If a suit does not properly fit one’s body it will likely leak or constrict blood flow. Wetsuits should fit snuggly but you shouldn’t feel like you can’t breathe. I recommend spending the extra dough to get a good fullsuit because staying warm is one of the most important factors of cold-water surfing. Suits often go on sale at the end of the season, so keep your eye out for some deals. I’ve reviewed a few wetsuits from SWELL’s gear shop that are good for a variety of water temps. Read on to see what I thought of them…
(photo: @billywatts )
THE TOP PICKS:
* Best Overall: Billabong 4/3 Revolution Chest Zip
* Best For Warmth: XCEL Infiniti X2 4/3 Fullsuit
* Best For Style: Billabong Salty Jane Spring Suit
* Best For Flexibility: Well, the spring suits obviously, but in terms of full suits, the Roxy 3/2 Syncro Chest Zip Fullsuit is the flexiest.
* My Stats: 5’1 – petite & curvy – size 4 wetsuit
* Scale: 10=best / 1= worst
* Price: $ wallet friendly, $$ crack open the piggy bank, $$$ splurge
Billabong 3/2 Synergy Back Zip Full Suit
* Style: 9- slate gray with light blue arms and legs, plus a neon orange highlight at rib cage.
* Fit: 9- very stretchy and comfortable. Fit my petite body nicely- the sleeves & legs were not super long. May be too short for taller ladies.
* Practicality: 7- 3/2 fullsuit with flatlock seams on the inside that prevent chaffing, but outside of the seams are not sealed so cold will creep in sooner than later. There is not an over the neck pull over so water will likely creep in through neck. Neck hole neoprene is pretty thin.
* Warmth: 7- Only some of the flatlock seams are fluid sealed too (fluid seal is like a liquid tape that is super smooth and great for warmth). There is not an over the neck pull over but there is a backflap water guard on inside of the back zipper for extra protection and zipper chaffing prevention.
* Price: $$- good price for what you get
* Notes: The kneepads are extra cushy, which is good for longboarder gals that knee paddle. Overall, this is a decent suit that will be good for gals that surf an hour or less in 60-68 degree water.
Billabong Salty Jane Spring Suit
* Style: 10- so dang cute and flattering. I love the muted colors combined with the tribal stripe panels on lower leg.
* Fit: 10- legs were great length on me, a little tight on the bust but it will break in nicely.
* Practicality: 6- one duck dive and the suit would be full of water, unless you get it tight enough to really seal onto your skin.
* Warmth: 4- it is 2mm thick so this is definitely a summer or warm fall day suit. I like long leg/short arm suits more than the opposite version because legs are submerged in the water for more time (while waiting for waves) than arms while surfing.
* Price: $- stylin’ and fairly practical suit for just about a hundred- I’ll take it!
* Notes: I would wear it without a bathing suit top underneath because the top isn’t too low and revealing and the back cross-strap keyhole looks cute open.
* Style: 10- this is a sexy suit! It has a cheeky booty cut and front zipper, both of which can be used to flaunt your assets while paddle battling against dudes.
* Like the Salty Jane above, it has pretty colors with tribal stripe paneling down the sides.
* Fit: 7- the torso and sleeves are long on me and bunch up, but that means it will be good for average to taller gals.
* Practicality: 5- if you don’t zip the front up all the way, water pours in and gets caught at the bottom of the suit. Plus the zipper digs into the sternum if it is left down, so just unzip while sitting out the back waiting for waves.
* Warmth: 3- my legs get cold when I wear this suit in SoCal, but the long sleeves protect me from wind. This suit would be good in warm water on windy days.
* Price: $- If you have some extra money, get it for days you want to flaunt your cutie booty in the lineup. Otherwise, get more bang for your buck with something like the Salty Jane above.
* Notes: It’s OK to sacrifice practicality for style sometimes.
* Style: 8- Basic black suit with pretty blue tie-dye panels on top and lower legs.
* Fit: 9- A little long on me so it will be good for average to taller gals. Very comfortable. Even though it has front zip entry, it is easy to get into because the neoprene is very stretchy.
* Practicality: 10- it can be used in many regions. It has front zip entry than ensures minimal water leakage at neck. The neckline is ultra smooth and non-chaffing. It also has a cord under the front zipper flap to stash a car key.
* Warmth: 9- this will be a great suit for winter in SoCal or summer & fall in northern regions. Most of the outside seams have fluid seal and the inside seams have taped seal but are not fluid lined. There is a “furnace lining” material that retains heat on the inside.
* Price: $$$ – well worth it for the warmth and practicality of the suit.
* Notes: This suit is cute, comfortable, and warm, making it perfect for low 50s to mid 60s water.
* Style: 7- traditional black with red and purple accents. Not my favorite color combo but it adds a nice pop against the black.
* Fit: 8- good length on my petite self. Super stretchy neoprene makes it real comfortable.
* Practicality: 8- Good fall suit for SoCal. However, none of the seams are sealed so I don’t think it would keep you warm during longer sessions. Would be great for sessions around an hour in colder water. The front zipper unzips all the way making it easy to get into. It also has a cord under the front zipper flap to stash a car key.
* Warmth: 7- this 3/2 feels a bit thinner than the other 3/2s. None of the seams are fluid sealed or taped, but they are blindstiched, making them smooth. It has a fuzzy liner on the front and back inside panels that makes the suit cozy and soft.
* Price: $$
* Notes: I would use this suit in water in the 60s. The kneepads are not very thick.
* Style: 5- traditional/minimalist plain black.
* Fit : 7- the neoprene isn’t super stretchy at first because it’s so thick, but it has a seamless body and I think it will break in to be comfier. The torso is longer than average but the arm and leg lengths are average.
* Practicality: 9- Great cold water suit. The neck is not lined as nicely as the Billabong or Roxy suits above, but it doesn’t leak much. The wrist and ankle holes are fluid sealed, as well as most of the inner seams.
* Warmth: 10- this is a heavy duty 4/3 that is like armor against 50-60 degree water. You can probably use it for less than an hour in high 40s water but that would be pushing it into the need for a 5/4. The outer seams are not sealed but most of the inner ones are.
* Price: $$$- well worth it for the amount of warmth this suit will provide. It is well made and should last a long time with proper care.
* Notes: The front entry zipper does not fully unzip- it stops at the end of the zipper. Combine that with the ultra thick neoprene and this suit is a struggle to get into. It is super warm though so I just think of that struggle to get suited up as a warm up to surf.
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