Yes, the summer was nice, but it is the winter surf season that everyone keeps on waiting for. There are numerous reasons why to prefer the more wild side of surfing during the winter – when the oceans are producing the best quality waves all around the world. When it comes to surfing in cold waters – you should hear the advice from any well-seasoned surfer as they’ll be talking about the importance of investing in a good-quality wetsuit.
- More consistent swells
- Fewer crowds
- More parking spots
- Powerful waves
Surfing and diving wetsuits are what Xcel specializes in, so you’ll be guaranteed with specialization in quality.
Also, Xcel wetsuits are generally warmer compared to other wetsuits so make sure to check out their charts for size and temperature!
Water temp: 46-53’F / 8 – 12’C
Drylock & Drylock X(Chest Zip)
Comp & Comp X (Chest Zip)
Infiniti (Chest/Back Zip)
Comp (Chest/Back Zip)
Axis Hooded (Chest Zip)
Axis (Back Zip)
O’Neill is the oldest wetsuit manufacturer offering the widest variety of surf wetsuits for women, men, and the youth.
There are plenty of sizes, designs, and different types to choose from. It’s really hard to go wrong picking a wetsuit when there’s O’Neill in the selection.
O’Riginal (Front Zip)
Epic (Chest Zip) 210
Epic (Back-Zip) 200
Epic (Chest Zip) 200 USD
Epic (Back Zip) 190 USD – Available on AMAZON
Furnace Carb (Chest Zip)
Salty Dayz – Eco (Chest Zip) – Available on AMAZON
Syncro HD CZ Hooded (Chest-Zip) – Available on USOutdoor
Syncro Hooded (Chest Zip) – Available on AMAZON
Syncro (Chest Zip) – Available on AMAZON / USOutdoor
Syncro (Back Zip) – Available on AMAZON
Performance (Chest Zip) – Available on AMAZON
Syncro Plus (Chest Zip) – Available on AMAZON
Syncro (Back Zip) – Available on AMAZON
5. Rip Curl
Related: Rip Curl – Bomb series overview
Women’s 5/4 and 5/3 Steamers
Dawn Patrol (Back Zip) – Available on evo.com
Omega (Back Zip) – Available on AMAZON
Omega (Back Zip) – Available on AMAZON
Since Hurley’s focus on surfing is mainly towards the warm-waters, there’s only one distinctive steamer to choose on their whole winter-wetsuit range.
Sizing chart: Hurley
4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14
Advantage Plus (Chest Zip)
- Strategically positioned seals away from the underarms, shoulder blades, and inner leg
- 80% neoprene 20% nylon
- Exoflex neoprene fabric is lightweight and incredibly stretchy
- 0.5mm split neoprene tape hand-glued to each seam for durability
- Covert external key pocket on the lower leg
- An innovative toggle fastener lets you secure the chest opening with 1 hand, so you can cinch and go
- Insulated Hollow-fiber fleece helps traps heat while Smoothskin in the paneling reduces wind chill and retains 0% water
- Lightweight kneepads feature a jersey construction to retain less water, keeping the suit lightweight when in use
- Updated details include lighter, less-absorbent kneepads and a more streamlined silhouette.
The most advanced manufacturer on this list. Patagonia uses a completely different material called Yulex. A choice for the maximalists!
2, 4, 6, 8, 8 tall, 10, 10 tall, 12**, 14
55 – 60’F / 13-16’C
R3 Yulex Back Zip / Chest-Zip
48 – 55’F / 9 – 13’C
R4 Yulex Chest-Zip Hooded
37 – 48’F / 3 – 9’C
- 100% external seam sealing, internally taped
- Supratex kneepads and ankle cuffs for maximum durability and anatomic fit
- Floating, asymmetrical front-zip with corrosion-proof Salmi® zipper provides a better seal and extends suit’s lifespan; unlike other designs, the zipper is replaceable
- Adjustable hood opening with cord lock and an easy-access key loop
Buy from PATAGONIA >
How to choose a wetsuit?
- Determine how often will you be surfing
- Choose a price range – premium, mid-range or entry-level
- Choose the thickness – 5/4 or 4/3. Check out the water temperatures at your local break
- Choose the model you like – Back-Zip, chest zip or zipless
- Check the right SIZE as each manufacturer has slightly different size charts. Important!
- Enjoy surfing and take care of the wetsuit!
Surf wetsuit is the SECOND-MOST EXPENSIVE gear item after the surfboard
What is the difference between a Springer and the Steamer wetsuit?
The name steamer comes from the steam of hot air that leaves the suit after getting out of it in colder temperatures.
- All steamer wetsuits are full suits – that cover the entire body, while the spring suits range from the short sleeve / short leg / long jane spring suits to full suits.
- Steamer wetsuits have all Glued and Blindstitched seals (GBS) to minimize the water leakage inside the suit.
- Steamer wetsuits have insulated fleece in the torso (sometimes the whole suit) area
- Steamer wetsuit is usually considered from 4/3 thickness and thicker, while a Springer wetsuit is considered from 1mm to 3/2mm. Yes, a 3/2 is considered a winter wetsuit in some parts of the world as well (Winter? Pheh.)
- It is also advisable to wear boots, gloves, and hoodies with a steamer, whereas using a spring suit it’s not that common.
One-piece surf suit or two-piece wetsuit? Most surfing wetsuits are one-piece surf suits, while the alternative cold-water wetsuits for diving are two pieced wetsuits where the pants and jersey come separately. I haven’t noticed any of those models used in surfing, and there’s a reason for that. Diving wetsuits are not as flexible therefore not suitable for surfing but can be used for cold-water surf photographers.
Are steamer more expensive than spring suits? Generally yes, since there are more technology and features involved in making one. Although a premium spring suit can cost more than a mid-range steamer etc.
Is it hard to paddle in a steamer? Although the steamers are thicker than springers, the difference is not that noticeable. The better wetsuit you are going to get, the more freedom of movement there is due to premium materials. Premium wetsuits are pricier for a reason!
Ladies wetsuit = Female’s wetsuit = Women’s wetsuit
There’s no wrong answer, but a bigger variety of steamers are equipped with the chest zipper. Especially in high-end wetsuits. Down here you’ll also find a few zipless female wetsuits.
Back-Zip wetsuits are known for their easy exit/entry capabilities, while the bigger zipper area creates a bigger area of water reaching inside the suit. Especially after a wipe-out or duck-diving.
Chest-Zip wetsuits are a bit trickier to get in/out of the suit at first but have a more snug fit due to fewer stitchings.
Zipless wetsuits are a new trend that’s sharing a similar conception to the chest-zip wetsuits. Zipless wetsuits generally cost a bit more than your average suit.
4/3 or a 5/4 thickness for winter season surfing?
5/4 = 52’F / 11’C and upwards
4/3 = 58’F / 14’C and upwards
4mm on torso and 3mm on arms and legs are generally meant for water temperatures 58 ‘ 63’F / 14′ – 17’C while 5mm on torso and 4mm and arms and legs hold better warmth around 52′ – 58’F / 11’ – 14’C.
That means, if the water temperatures at your home surf break fall in one of those categories, get a one suited for that. Although, if you aren’t really a big friend of the cold, and as the extra warmth, getting a warmer wetsuit is totally ok!
NOTE: The conditions may vary from different factors such as % of body fat, weather (wind) conditions and person’s physique, metabolism, and much more.
NOTE: Xcel wetsuits are a fracture warmer than shown at the average guide here!
What are the best steamer wetsuit brands?
The main surfing brands that manufacture surfing gear for women are:
- Rip Curl
All those brands listed above have divine knowledge and experience making proper technical gear for surfing and can be trusted no matter what.
Does Vissla make women’s surf wetsuits? No, or should I say not yet?
Difference between the wetsuits?
Budget/Entry level $150–$200 / Mid Range $200–$250 / High End $250–$500
It’s up to the person’s preferences when choosing a wetsuit. By the end of the day, it’s usually the price that decides the selection. Non-surfing brand wetsuits do not have strategically placed seams, inner jerseys and the premium fit you’d need from a surf wetsuit. Especially on a steamer wetsuit!
1.) If you’d like to get just anything to surf a few times a month for a short period, and don’t want to spend too much money (on the most important gear in cold-water surfing!) – a budget/entry-level wetsuit might be the one for you. Although there are many budget surf wetsuits for women, in this article I will be still reviewing the cheap ones from the best surf brands out there! Price range: 150-200$. I Wouldn’t really call them budget wetsuits though.
2.) A mid-range wetsuit is great for an intermediate surfer who values the quality, longevity, and premium features of their technical gear. Getting a mid-range wetsuit by a well-known surf brand is a way to go if you are after maximizing your capabilities in the surf. Price range: 200-250$ Good choice for dedicated surfers who want to progress and enjoy the time in the water.
3.) Premium wetsuits are for wahines who want to get the best product that’s out there and like to perform with maximum insulation and flexibility. Premium wetsuits cost a lot of money, but for a good reason. They dry quicker, feel better, and last longer – if taken proper care of. Price range: 300$. Whenever you have a chance, feel the premium wetsuit material so you should know the difference!
NOTE: There are always wetsuits on sale by known brands. Either online or at your local surf store. The reason why the wetsuits are discounted is usually that the need for end-of-season clearance, and over time the neoprene materials start to lose their qualities just hanging. Although, it is something not worry too much about as the materials have been updated each year for a long-lasting lifetime!
In order to take care of your wetsuit and make the most out of it’s expected lifespan, check out our Wetsuit Care Guide.
Essential things to know
- Always rinse wetsuit after use in clean water, inside out
- Dry on the shaded area (Keep out of direct sunlight)
- Use a proper wetsuit hanger
- Never use the drier
- Hand wash