I’ve always preferred warm water surfing over cold water surfing, so I never really thought much about surf hoods deeply.
Honestly, I even wrote them off in my mind. Earplugs were all I needed to keep warm for the tropical water climate.
But that changed once I relocated to Virginia.
While the water here is moderately warm, it gets really cold once the season changes, and I didn’t want to lose out on winter surfing.
So, I had no choice but to acquire a hooded wetsuit, though I was well aware they received a bit of stigma.
I had already heard they obstruct the action of surfing. They also gave the feeling of surfing in a bubble.
But after several uses, all I can say is some of the claims were simply bad-mouthery.
Sure, surfing with a wetsuits is definitely not similar to surfing without one, but if you need to take a dip in cold water, having a hooded wetsuit is necessary.
For one, your head won’t like it after two or three cold waves at 50 degrees.
But more importantly, I consider the hooded wetsuits as critical surf gear because they eliminate the risk of an exostosis, also known as the surfer’s ear. A regular wetsuit won’t do that.
Plus, if you love hearing and pain-free ears, I’d strongly suggest wearing a wetsuit hood in the colder months.
But of course, not all hooded wetsuits are the same.
You’d want to avoid the lousy types that will make skipping wearing a hooded wetsuit seem like the easy option.
Instead, go for the premium options that are comfortable to wear, protective, and those that will deliver a rash-free experience.
On top of that, chose a hooded wetsuit that keeps warm, even in the cold water.
Now, if you need to latter, we’re here to help.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best-hooded wetsuits. I’ve also included the top five of my favorite hooded wetsuits.
Table of Contents
The Best Hooded Wetsuits For The Money
#1 O'Neill Superfreak F.U.Z.E. Full Suit - EDITOR'S CHOICE / Most Flexible Suit
I’d feel confident calling this my winter suit.
While I never venture into anything below 40 degrees, I can confidently use the O’Neill Superfreak on the coldest days in the South East waters.
Plus, I can spend hours underwater, when lobster diving, without worrying too much about the cold water.
I mean, with a fabric thickness of 5/4mm, the O’Neill Superfreak is an oven but still comfortable.
This high-performance suit induces a level of heat I’ve not felt before, and I can easily feel warm spots develop in areas that I’m most active.
On top of that, it comes with drain holes located at the chest and upper arms. They help with the faster draining of water, so your body dries quicker and better maintains the body heat.
But that’s not all; the Hyperfreak FUZE arrives with a fully-taped seam. They’re triple-glued and blind-stitched, so the suit efficiently holds and warms water to keep you insulated. I would think twice about peeing in the suit.
What about comfort?
Superfreak is among the most flexible wetsuits I’ve come across.
It shines in this department, and I can now understand the delta in price between the 4/3 O’Neill Psycho Tech that feels like a straight jacket.
The Superfreak is different. It’s a top-of-the-line option, with an UltraFlex neoprene material that feels light and soft to the touch, much more than your average piece of neoprene.
It feels like slipping into your softest pajamas and is easy to get on and off.
This water wetsuit is comfortable in and out of the water and doesn’t impede motion. I use mine for surfing, paddling, snorkeling, and even swimming.
Plus, it arrives super light. It doesn’t weigh a thing and is better than the O’Neill Psycho Tech.
When dry, it weighs very little. But where it really shines concerning other wetsuits is when it’s soaking.
There’s hardly any water when you take it off, and it is quite comfortable to use.
While remaining comfortable and easy to use, the Superfreak is also quite practical and holds up well over time.
I’ve owned a Superfreak for 18 months and has been chucked out of bags, not washed after every surf, and even left in the sun to dry. Yet it hasn’t color faded or gotten any holes.
Also, none of the seams have peeled, which is common with its sibling, the O’Neill Psycho Tech.
Simply put, the Superfreak just seems a lot more functionally constructed, and everything, including the small details, is done with a purpose.
Adding to Superfreak’s durability, I was impressed by the Front Upper Zip Entry (FUZE) technology. It consists of a sturdy chest zip that makes you look like you’re wearing a pin-striped turtleneck.
The chest zipper is sturdy and won’t rust with seawater, so expect it to last long. It also prevents water from getting into the wetsuit, and this is ideal for cold water surfing, where the water gets icy.
#2 Billabong Men's Furnace – Best Value for Money
I can’t say enough good things about the Billabong Men’s Furnace.
It’s the best-hooded wetsuit you can get for the money, and I’m really psyched up about this purchase for several reasons.
One, it has Billabong‘s new groundbreaking Graphene liner.
Graphene liner is the bigger brother version of graphene thermal liner, but now with more coating on the yarns.
This isn’t a marketing ruse, but it really works.
Remember Graphene is an excellent conductor of heat, so this classic orange/new purple and black liner is noticeably warmer than most liners.
Billabong Furnace utilizes the graphene from chest to knee on the front, ensuring your core is treated in a heat-retaining, luxurious fabric.
And it really does retain your body heat!
It’s also important to note that it uses a 5/4mm mix, so it’s definitely going to keep you toasty, even in the winter conditions.
What about the seams, and why should you care?
Well, seams are what keeps water out, and with this pick, you benefit from traditional double-glued and blindstitches seams, with some internal neoprene.
Simply put, no water will get into your body, and you won’t lose any heat.
And as usual, comfort and fit for the Billabong Suit are top-notch.
No weird dangly bit like grandma’s neck folds, but just a smooth and clean silhouette that makes you want to dance.
Of course, the neoprene used here isn’t the premium kind you’ll find in the flagship Furnace Carbon, but make no mistake, it doesn’t have the imitation of a cheap, stretchless neoprene.
It’s more than good for the average or casual user. In fact, it’s light and impressively flexible.
The entry system is easy to use and doesn’t have much natural rubber bunched around the shoulders. It feels like a nice warm cuddle pressing against your skin.
It’s not overly stretchy either and doesn’t feel like a leotard. Just enough rubber to keep you happy.
The Billabong Furnace hood is similarly comfortable to wear, and I’m pleased it comes with an improved and engineered fit system.
Billabong has redesigned the cut of their hood, and it now feels a little bit bigger and comfortable than before. Previous hoods were a bit polarizing, with some cold water surfers claiming they were too narrow and others felt they were too tight. The new shape, with cord lock, changes all that.
Finally, the design layout of the Billabong speaks volumes about its quality and functionality.
The wetsuit is quite practical and will withstand frequent abuses and rough usage without color fading, seam-peeling, or developing any holes.
#3 Flash Bomb 5/4mm by Rip Curl – Best All-Around Hooded Wetsuit
Having tried numerous body gloves without success, I was ready to level up my gear.
I wanted an all-around wetsuit that could offer the protection I needed from the cold, and I still use it for different water sports.
The Flash Bomb by Rip Curl seemed like the ideal pick.
I know you wouldn’t think so much of a brand with “rip” in the name, but surprisingly, Rip Curl makes some of the best wetsuits in the world.
And today, I’ll shed more light on the Flash Bomb and my overall experience with the wetsuit.
While I’ve not used the Flash Bomb for many seasons, I can say it has entirely changed my perspective about wetsuits, and more particularly, winter surfing.
I mean, I never thought I could be warm, even overheating, through the freezing South Coast winters.
With a fabric thickness of 6/5mm, the Flash Bomb is a great pick for the coldest coastlines out there.
It keeps me warm all through and ensures my body doesn’t lose any heat.
While at it, the Flash Bomb remains high performance and relatively light.
For example, it arrives with smooth skin (Liquid Mesh) developed to help cut down wind chill and absorb more heat from the sun.
On top of that, you’ll notice a few tile-like sections of smooth skin on both arms. It’s engineered to be more durable and cut wind chill, so it may be a great option for surfing.
Heatseeker is also quite comfortable to wear and probably one of the most convenient wetsuits to have.
First, it’s exclusively zipless. Now, while most zipless wetsuits require some elbow grease to get into, the Rip Curl has the design down the best, and I think it’s one of the easier zipperless suits to get in and out of.
The entrance is simple to navigate, but keep in mind zipless suits take time to get used to. So, if you’re coming from a chest zip suit, it may be a little bit more challenging to get it on and off for the first few times.
However, the fit is true to size and chart, for the most part. I’m 5’2″ and it runs slightly snug for me, and maybe it’s partially because of the zipperless entry.
Overall, Rip Curl Flash Bomb feels nice and comfortable to wear. When dry, it feels like slipping in your favorite pajamas.
Rip Curl’s entrance is simple, and it’s easy to navigate.
The seal is also super strong when closed, so there’s no leakage, and it’s hard to find a fault here.
#4 Hotline Ultra Combo Suits – Best Cold Water Wetsuit for Big Guys
I’ve surfed my whole life.
Surfing is a passion as snowboarding is.
I’ve always been looking for the best gear to bring the best out of my passion.
The Hotline Ultra Hot Combo suits, in large short, is one of my favorite picks.
It scores highly in many departments and will help riders get better at water sports, even in colder climates.
But Ultra Combo Hotline Suits strongest suit is the sizing.
It’s a fairly large wetsuit, and this is a plus on many fronts.
Fit-size, it’s a bit bigger than the similarly-sized wetsuits, and it’s made for the big boys.
The guys at Hotline understand the surfer’s body better and have built this wetsuit for those with bigger and wider shoulders. Those with more oversized frames and those that aren’t fat but fit. And maybe the little overweight guys.
Another benefit of the relatively larger size is it’s well-suited for those with prior injury.
The size, along with a helpful front chest zipper, allows recuperating surfers to have easy access in and out when zipping the wetsuit.
But the main reason why I was intrigued by this wetsuit is that it keeps the users warm.
With a fabric rating of 5.5 4mm, it will allow you to face any cold waters without worrying about hypothermia or getting cold.
It’s super warm and cozy that I can now last for several hours snorkeling without my body getting chilled.
On top of that, the neoprene material used on this wetsuit is super-stretchy. But not so much that it feels clumsy.
Instead, the Ultra Hot Combo Suit stretches just right and according to the size chart.
And because of the “bigger” size, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting on and off this wetsuit.
However, considering sizing on this wetsuit is challenging since Hotline has a different system from other leading brands.
They mostly accommodate the plus sizes.
You can try their different sizes, but one thing you can be sure of is the Hotline Ultra Combo Suits are the perfect option for bigger guys because they can accommodate bodies of up to 280 pounds.
#5 Body Glove Red Cell Chest-Zip Hooded Wetsuit - Best Wetsuit for Durability
Our final pick on the list of the best-hooded wetsuits, the Body Glove Red Cell Wetsuit, was built to stand the harshness of winter and cold waters.
It’s a little tight and stiff on the shoulders for most users, but that’s a minor flaw for the superior warmth it offers and incredible interior lining.
But one of the greatest attractions of this purchase is that it is the go-to option when it gets actually cold.
The 5/4/3 neoprene mix on this wetsuit can withstand temperatures from 46-53°F / 8-12°C.
It’s super warm and will keep you from the pangs of cold, allowing you to surf or even snorkel for hours.
While remaining super-warm and cozy, this bad boy doesn’t fail in the durability department.
It stands strong, and even after several seasons of use, constant exposure to the sun, and rarely rinsing it after a session, it’s still in good shape.
The overall construction and minimal paneling design on this wetsuit is state-of-the-art as there’re fewer places the suit can tear or wear. I don’t think I’ll be replacing it anytime soon.
Now, for such a durable wetsuit, you might comfort, and flexibility is the least of its suits.
I also thought so, but size medium (I’m 5’10”) felt good for me.
Flexibility-wise, the neoprene stretches well, so I have no problem using the suit for paddling or surfing in general.
While still on the comfort factor, the insulation on the inside feels lush and premium.
The Red Cell insulation is super-smooth, silky, and thick enough that you’ll feel as if you’re wearing a fleecy onesie, like a baby.
This is also reflected in the hood, and this is a nice experience. The manufacturer has put much thought into designing the hood, and I absolutely love everything with this wetsuit.
Best Hooded Wetsuits Buying Guide
Now that we’ve covered some of the best hooded wetsuits let’s take a quick look at some of the markers to consider when selecting the right wetsuit for your needs.
Consider what you want to use your wetsuit for.
For example, do you need it for surfing, open water race, swimming, or triathlon? Or simply need a suit to use in cold waters?
If you need your wetsuit for competition purposes, I’d recommend choosing the top range or at least the mid-range option.
These wetsuits have higher and better specifications that will give you an advantage over your competitors.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a casual or training hooded wetsuit, choose a mid-range budget pick. These don’t really require the best specifications.
There’re two main types of wetsuits design to pick from:
1) Full wetsuit
2) Sleeveless Wetsuit
While both options are fantastic, there’re key differences between these two designs.
The sleeveless wetsuits are perfect for water temperatures between 62°-68℉, so they’re ideal for tropical or warmer climates.
You can use them all-year-round and offer a wide range of motion and flexibility.
On the other hand, the full wetsuits are suitable for temperatures below 60℉ (15°C).
Full wetsuits provide better insulation, though they limit motion and aren’t as flexible as the sleeveless picks.
Different wetsuits are designed from different fabrics.
While all of the features are some type of neoprene fabric, there are differences between the neoprene fabrics.
But generally, the higher the cell value of the neoprene fabric, the higher the quality of the fabric.
Wetsuit Zipper Placement Types
The warmest suits come in different zipper orientations.
The most common ones are:
1) Back-Zip Suit
This is a traditional design and the most inexpensive zipper closure.
The back-zip is fine for swimming in temperate waters on relatively warm days.
2) Chest-zip Suit/ front upper zip entry
The front upper zip entry wetsuits are usually the more expensive suits and tend to keep you warmer, thanks to the smaller, well-protected zipper sitting on the front of the suit.
However, the chest zipper design makes them the most challenging design to get in and out of, but well worth it.
Chest zip suits also tend to last longer.
The zipperless wetsuits are more of a performance suit than most would require.
Water Temperature/ Wetsuit Thickness
Hooded water suits are generally ideal for cold-water use, but some will shield you against the freezing waters better than others.
This boils down to the wetsuit thickness, measured in millimeters.
Usually, the wetsuit’s thickness is presented in two, sometimes three numbers/listings.
For example, 3/2, where one depicts the core and the other the rest of the body. The core is usually thicker to keep your body temperature up while allowing for mobility in other areas.
Temperature rating corresponds with the thickness, for the most part, but rating may vary from one brand to the other.
Size charts vary from one company to the other, so it’s always good to check the chart to determine which one fits you best.
You can also go for the custom options.
Stitching and Maximum Seam Sealing
As we mentioned earlier, most hooded wetsuits are made out of neoprene, but it’s the stitching and watertight seal that make all the difference.
Some of the common stitching designs include:
1) Overlock Stitching
It’s the most basic stitching and allows water to flow in your body.
I’d save them for the spring and summer seasons.
2) Flat Stitching
It’s by no means watertight, but it lies flatter, so it holds up better against water flow than the basic overlock stitching.
The blindstitched surf wetsuits have even narrower stitching than the flat-stitched ones.
They’ve blind stitched seams, which do a better job of preventing water seepage.
Some of these options even have Liquid Taped Cuff Seals to prevent water flushing.
4) Sealed, taped, Glued
The very best of the blindstitched winter wetsuits are also triple-glued, double-blind stitched seams and taped from inside and out.
A full combination of all these features makes the warm suit virtually water-resistant, but at the expense of a high cost.
Along with the wetsuit, consider the extras that come with the suit.
For example, some options come with an internal key pocket and an external key pocket for holding your important accessories.
Taking Care of your Winter Wetsuits
Here’s what every first-time wetsuit owner should know about taking care of their wetsuit:
1) Wash your wetsuit every time you use it, or at least frequently
Remember, winter wetsuits take on everything you put into them, from sweat, seawater, urine to sunscreen.
So, yes, it’s always good to give them a thorough clean after use.
2) Store your wetsuit dry in a shaded area
Hanging your wetsuit in the sun to dry is the quickest way to end its life.
Instead, you can choose to hang it loosely on a hanger in a room with plenty of ventilation,
Best Surf Wetsuits Buying Guide Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Can you wear a hooded wetsuit without the hood?
A: Unless it’s an attachable hood, not wearing a hood in a hooded wetsuit will likely leave space for excess water and result in the loss of body heat.
Q: How tight should a wetsuit hood be?
A: Generally, the best hooded wetsuit hood should be tight enough to keep out excess water from your head but still comfortable enough to wear for an extended period.
Q: Can hood help swimmers with head pain?
A: Yes, if you normally get head pains and ice cream headaches when you submerge your head in water, then the winter wetsuits can help by insulating your head.
Q: Can a wetsuit hood protect my hair?
A: Yes, the warmest wetsuits will, especially if your hair is long.
The hood keeps your hair safely contained and out of your face.
Q: Are hooded surf wetsuits UV protective?
And this is because the neoprene from which the hoods are made out is treated against UV light. It helps with over-exposure to the sun, which can lead to sunburn and heatstroke.
Q: Can a hooded wetsuit prevent a surfer’s ear?
A: The main cause of the surfer’s ear is prolonged exposure to cold water and wind chill. A hooded wetsuit will prevent this condition by keeping your ears warm and dry.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best hooded wetsuits goes to the O’Neill Superfreak F.U.Z.E. Full Suit.
It’s an all-around solution and my favorite warmest wetsuit for cold water needs and will keep your body from losing heat.
It’s a versatile option too, and its flexibility makes it a great option for different water sports such as surfing, paddling, and swimming.
The suit is also durable, and you won’t be replacing yours any time soon.
This is not to mention this winter wetsuit has some unique design features such as an anti-flush barrier with drain holes, glide skin collar, chest zip, and wide chest area that go a long way to promote better performance on the water.
This is one suit I’d recommend.