For a long time, I had warned my mates off the 5mm wetsuits as all the feedback I heard was that while they could be warm, they were heavy and made your surfing cumbersome and slow. I didn’t want to sacrifice any of my surfing performance.
But once I relocated to Toronto, I had to find a solution for winter surfing because the conditions here were too cold to swim comfortably on my all-year-round 4/3 mm wetsuit.
While my O’Neil 4/3mm had served me diligently over the summer and spring, it had to take a rest for winter because it didn’t have enough insulation to shield me from the biting cold water.
I considered a dry suit, but to be honest, I didn’t like the feel of it.
Yes, it kept me dry, which was a plus, but it was cumbersome and uncomfortable. It hindered my mobility severely, and I couldn’t even use it for swimming or surfing.
This is not to mention it came at exorbitant pricing. I couldn’t afford that for a one-season wetsuit.
So, I had to do the unthinkable, and go against all my grain.
It was a hard decision, but I decided to acquire a winter wetsuit.
I got a thicker version of my O’Neil, the 6mm option.
It was by far warmer than my previous version, but what sealed the deal was after checking the specs of both wetsuits. The 4/3mm was 115 lbs., while the 6mm was 120lbs.
There was only 5 pounds of difference in weight between the two, yet their performance in freezing weather was like night and day!
And that’s not all; the 6mm wasn’t cumbersome as I had expected. Instead, the fit is great, it hugs my body just right and is comfortable overall.
My experience with the suit has been amazing, and I no longer have to fear getting blue from cold water, even in the harshest conditions.
Now, I assume you also need a wetsuit that will offer you the ultimate warmth and comfort in the coldest winter months.
I’ll help you find the right one for you.
In the guide below, I’ll share some of my favorite surfing picks. I’ve also included a buying guide to help with the selection.
Table of Contents
The Best Winter Wetsuits For The Money
#1 XCEL Infiniti Wetsuit - EDITOR'S CHOICE
I would be confident to call the XCEL Infiniti my surfing wetsuit.
See, I’ve several different wetsuits, and this is my favorite.
I can comfortably use it for different water sports, including wakeboarding, surfing and paddleboarding in ice water.
It’s deceptively warm, and I even don’t realize how cold the water is until I get a face blast from crashing.
And the good thing is the included hood stops every bit of water, so no more worrying about chill or blue lips.
One of the attractive features of this purchase is the ultra-stretch neoprene.
The softer Thermo Dry Celliant inner lining foam with a tighter weave textile is not only lightweight but comfortable, too. It has plenty of stretch, and I was impressed with the overall flexibility for a 6/5mm.
Getting on and off my boat has become easier than ever, and I don’t feel restricted when moving my hands and legs when swimming, paddleboarding or surfing. It feels like I’m wearing my boardies.
But ultimately, the greatest test for a wetsuit is how it shields you from freezing conditions.
Well, the Xcel passes this department with flying colors.
It provides unmatched comfort, even between the diving sets.
For a Great Lakes paddler like me, the 6/5mm thickness is important because I like getting out there in gnarly conditions.
It’s rated down to a whopping 38 degrees, but I’ve taken it surfing down to 32 degrees and remained super warm.
Along with the neoprene material, I’m also impressed by other handy features that promote better warmth.
For example, the Xcel chest zip wetsuit uses as minimal seams as possible, and the existing ones do a great job of keeping the water out and improving the durability to some extent.
The hood itself is also sealed and taped, and while some may say this is overkill, remember the Xcel is tailored for the most darn conditions. The design also reflects Xcel attention to detail.
Using this hood is also super easy and nice.
For one, it has a nice and smooth neck tab closure that prevents flushing and at the same time keeps you from oxygen deprivation or choking you as most wetsuits do.
I also love the chest zip entry.
While I have several back zip entry wetsuits, I love the chest design for a thicker wetsuit because it improves the overall mobility, and I don’t have to worry about freezing water dripping down your back.
Donning and doffing are also super easy, and I can do it all by myself without needing any help.
Another nice detail with the Xcel suit fits.
It fits snugly, just like a second skin. That’s why they perform so well for me.
I don’t even feel like I have it on me, which is awesome for a thicker wetsuit. Just ensure you follow the manufacturer’s sizing chart.
#2 Nataly Osmann Men 5mm Neoprene – Budget Pick
I wasn’t expecting much from this warm suit, given its low price.
In fact, I was a little bit skeptical about it.
But I’m glad I acquired it because it’s a steal. It keeps me nice and warm and fits great for California water. I even use it in the winter.
I’ve also not found any issues with it, and keep in mind I surf with my buddies who have the $400 versions from “better” name wetsuit brands.
Out of the box, it appears to be well made, and after a couple of uses, I only have good things to say about it.
I’ve taken it through lots of abuse, and yet, it remains tough. For example, the knee pads have held up well to some moderate abuse, and there’re no more ripped ankle seals.
I’m also super stoked to see the ankles, shoulders, crotch, and other high-action spots are stitched around the circumference for better sturdiness.
The Nataly Osmann is a closed-cell suit, so no need for the cream rinse to get it on. I’m satisfied.
But the greatest benefit with this Nataly is that it’s warm as hell. I didn’t want to leave the 50 degree water, even after two hours.
I also took it to surf into the 54F Pacific Ocean Waters and didn’t feel cold. Arms were a little bit chilly, but it’s nothing to complain about. Granted, I grew up as a kid swimming in those wetsuits without a wetsuit.
On my first dive, I also found it easy to get on and off this wetsuit.
The stretchable cuffs and good design make donning and doffing a breeze. This is not to mention it has a nylon lining adhering to the neoprene rubber and will make it easy to manage the wetsuit without the help of a second person.
I’m also pleased with the blind stitched seams, stitches and paneling design because it promotes more flexibility on the suit, better than even some of the premium wetsuits for winter.
It’s easy to get onto the boat from the water after a surf or even the deck of a swimming pool effortlessly. My range of motion was fluid, and the mobility was out of the world, so much that I could swim and do other tricks without any restriction.
What about fit?
It’s snug and fits just right.
I wear an XL, and often, even the best wetsuits don’t fit me well around my shoulders. Not a problem with this wetsuit!
It runs true to size and fits different body shapes; just ensure you follow the sizing chart.
#3 ZCCO Wetsuits Men's 5mm Premium Neoprene -Best Value Wetsuits
For the money, the ZCCO Premium Neoprene is a superior winter surf suit. It’s absolutely a big step-up from the run-of-the-mill $70-tier winter wetsuits.
It’s a likable option, and there’re plenty of admirable surprises waiting for you.
First, this is a good, quality, heavy, 5mm good suit.
Now, after handling it for a couple of times surfing over the last winter session, all I can say is the premium pre-stretched neoprene used will give your wetsuit a long life. While it definitely needs care, it’ll hold up to some surf abuse and neglect.
I was also super stoked to see added reinforcing overlays on the knees, which helps extend the longevity and toughness of this wetsuit. The whole suit seems tough and strong.
Material aside, I personally like the zippers.
They’re heavy-duty and durable. They also don’t cause much trouble as I experienced with other wetsuits.
What about heat insulation?
Well, it first comes with an open-cell neck closure. It’s well-designed, rugged and does a great job of keeping the water out and keeping you warm from your own body heat.
Secondly, the 5mm makes for a substantial but fitted/flexible wetsuit.
It works well down to about 90ft in freshwater or water depth of 30 ft and about 50-65 degrees.
Yes, the 5 mm is thick for some users, but it doesn’t pose any problem, especially when scuba diving and surfing.
I find it challenging to bend, though, especially when reaching my toes. But it’s not a dealbreaker since I can always squat by my knees.
On a side note, I also love the front zip because it allows me to unzip the wetsuit from the front, while everyone else has to have someone help them zip up and zip down. Seems like the perfect wetsuit for me.
The fit is also amazing and isn’t restrictive at all. The sizing chart is accurate and will accommodate your body structure effortlessly.
#4 Quiksilver 4/3 Highline Plus Chest-Zip Hydrolock – All-around Winter Wetsuit
There’re a lot of factors I considered when selecting the best winter wetsuit.
I needed something with flexibility, enough radiant heat insulation, durability and decent pricing.
After reaching different wetsuits on the market, I settled on the Quiksilver Highline, and this is because it ticks most of the boxes in my list of wants.
My first attraction to this high-performance wetsuit was the exceptional warmth.
Yes, it’s not as thick as the other picks in our bundle, but if you need an all-around chest zip wetsuit, you’d be hard-pressed to pass this one.
The good thing with the 4/3mm neoprene thickness is I can use this one suit in the moderate winters and feel comfortable during summer, spring and autumn.
It’s thick enough to provide me with the insulation and keep my body temperatures warm, yet, not so thick that it stifles mobility or anything.
More importantly, it won’t feel like an oven when I’m using it for the warmer, tropical-climate weather conditions.
One of the unique features that enhances the warming sensation on this wetsuit is Quicksilver’s proprietary thermal lining.
The red thermal lining helps your body retain warmth using “mineral-enriched fibers.” I’m not exactly sure how they work, but what I can say is that it’ll keep your warmth.
Of course, with the added warmth, expect a bit of extra weight. And this is probably the greatest bane with this wetsuit.
It feels a bit heavier, especially when compared to some of the newly-fanged technology wetsuits out there. While it does offer optional insulation for the weight, it takes a longer drying time, making for a nippy morning deck change.
But the good thing is once you’re inside, the insulation is sufficient to quell any lingering chills.
Fit-wise, the Highline maintains incredible flexibility and elasticity. I’m pleased with its range of motion and durability, critical for mobility-intensive sports such as swimming, surfing, scuba diving and snorkeling.
Wearing Highline is also cozy and feels nice.
A snug fit is partly because of the comfortable neck liner and the triple glued and blind stitched seams reinforced with liquid tape.
Besides doing an excellent job of keeping the water out, they eliminate the irritation and chafing on your skin.
On a note aside, I’m also impressed by the overall construction. It’s a quality wetsuit that seems like it’s going to last for a while, and they’re no flimsy features.
In particular, the front zipper showed no signs of wear, keeps the water out and doesn’t have any issues with snagging.
#5 Rip Curl Flashbomb Heatseeker Wetsuit – Best Performance Winter Wetsuit
I’ve been testing the Rip Curl Flashbomb Heat Seeker for a while now, and I now can see why there’s so much hype surrounding this high-performance wetsuit.
I love this suit because it’s noticeably warmer and at the same time super-comfy. It’s the best wetsuit I’ve worn in such a long time.
And with a limestone neoprene thickness of 4/3mm, I’m confident that it’ll get me going through the entire winter.
Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of this purchase, and we’ll start with the fit/comfort.
Rip Curl Heatseeker feels like slipping into your softest pajamas; the entrance is easy to navigate, and when inside, the seal is resistant, so much that there’s no leakage. It’s hard to find fault in this wetsuit.
When it comes to performance, the wetsuit lives up to its name-heatseeker.
It’s warm and allowed me to get through the darndest winter conditions. While I could have never imagined surfing in winter without a 5mm wetsuit, this option does a great job of keeping me warm.
Of course, it’s not like an oven, but it has pockets of heat, and this is a good thing when I don’t have to be in the water for long.
On top of that, the Flashbomb Heat Seeker competes with other premium wetsuits for the tag of the most flexible and comfiest wetsuits.
It stands out from the rest of the wetsuits because of the energy flex technology.
This is a proprietary design that helps with the flexibility of the wetsuit. It’s an amazing addition that will make you feel like you’ve got nothing on your body.
The wetsuit fits like a second skin, and you should have no problem using it for swimming or snorkeling. For me, I’ve no issues getting back to the boat after a steamy session in the water.
Construction on the Rip Curl FlashBomb Heatseeker also measures up, and now I can see the delta in price between this model and the Hyperfreak and other low-class options.
I understand the hype and can’t judge anyone for digging a little deeper into their pockets.
Fit-wise, the Rip Curl is incredible at all levels.
It’s easy to put on and take off. It also fits nicely, snugly hugging my body for the best performance. I’m in love with the HeatSeeker.
Best Winter Wetsuits Buying Guide
In the best winter wetsuit buying guide below, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about selecting the right wetsuit for your needs.
Hopefully, by the end of the guide, you’ll manage to make the right decision when selecting the right wetsuit.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Winter Wetsuit
The level of thickness for a wetsuit is important because it’ll determine whether it’ll shield you well against adverse water conditions.
Some of the neoprene thicknesses to consider for your winter surf suit are:
4/3mm Wetsuit- Water Temperatures 12~ 15 °C
This is the most commonly-used wetsuit.
The 4/3mm wetsuit thickness is suitable for most surfers.
And the good thing with this wetsuit is the level of thickness is just right to keep you warm without stifling your flexibility.
The 4/3 summer wetsuit is also not extremely warm for you to cook in, so you can use it all year, around, from summer to winter.
5/4mm Wetsuit for Water Temperatures (8~10°C)
The 5/4mm are slightly warmer than the 4/3.
Usually, these great wetsuits are thickest at the main body parts and lower leg, while the arms, shoulders and back legs are made with 4mm panels.
6/4 mm Thicker Suits for Water Temperatures below 8°C
These are the ultimate winter suit.
They’ll handle the extreme conditions while keeping you warm as possible.
Sure, the 5.4 has great insulation, but you’ll find that you get cold quickly when duck diving.
The 6/4mm are the real deal and sure-fire option for the real die-hards who prefer surfing at sub-zero temperatures.
Fixed Hood or Separate Hood?
Keeping your head warm is an effective way of maintaining body temperature. This is because you lose a lot of body heat through your head, especially in sub-zero conditions.
A hooded wetsuit will also do a great job of preventing surfers’ ears. This is not to mention it blocks wind hitting your ears.
The good thing is, there’re numerous wetsuits with hoods that will let you stay warmer and for longer.
Some have built-in hoods, while others are attachable.
Winter water suits with built-in hoods seal off better than the detachable hoods.
Another important factor that you shouldn’t fail to consider is seam construction.
It’s necessary for a warm wetsuit.
There’re a few different seam constructions, and we recommend you choose a high-end construction for a longer lifespan.
At all costs, I would advise you to stay away from the flatlock construction for the winter wetsuits because they’re not waterproof and will make you go cold quickly.
Here are the different seam constructions:
1) Glued and Blind Stitched (GBS)
The glued blind-stitched are the most common in cold-water wetsuits but not the most high-end.
The GBS will prevent water from entering your suits because the construction process creates a strong and waterproof seam.
2) Liquid Sealed Seams
The Liquid Sealed Seam is a high-quality version of the traditional GBS seam, with an extra liquid neoprene seal.
The best winter wetsuits benefit from this limestone neoprene seam construction because the liquid seam reinforces the seam and, over time, prevents pinholes from forming where panels come together.
3) Power Seams
They’re a narrower version of the liquid neoprene but lack blind stitching on the outside.
The power seams have blind stitching on the inside or are completely stitchless.
They’re available in different colors, but they tend to be less durable due to the thin seal without reinforcement.
4) Taped Inside seams
This is the strongest reinforced and high-end seam construction for the best wetsuits.
It consists of neoprene tape applied on the seam’s inside.
The seam construction is more waterproof and provides an extra layer of protection against water leaks.
Plus, it eliminates chafing and any form of irritation on the skin.
It’s good to consider a wetsuit in your budget range.
Expensive doesn’t always mean better. But don’t go for the cheap wetsuits either. Stick to your budget.
Accessories/ Additional Features
Finally, consider the extras that come along with a wetsuit.
The more expensive options, for example, come with a host of extras such as an external key pocket, detachable hoods, leashes and much more.
Best Winter Wetsuits Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are the warmest wetsuits?
A: The warmest wetsuits are generally the thickest.
When choosing winter suits, I would recommend you choose options with a thickness of 4mm+ thickness.
Those with double-blind stitched seams and higher thickness are even better, tolerate the coldest environments, and have better heat retention.
However, understand that thicker suits will impede the overall flexibility.
Q: Is a 3mm wetsuit OK for winter?
A: I wouldn’t advise a 3mm wetsuit for winter.
While they’ll promote better mobility and won’t restrict your movements, they’ve a thin layer that won’t insulate you much against the cold.
The 3 mmm are only suitable for the spring, summer, and autumn when the conditions aren’t that murky.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best wetsuits for winter is XCEL Infiniti.
It’s also my favorite pick, and I love it because of its reliable nature, great insulation and wonderful performance.
With a 6mm premium neoprene thickness, there’s not much of a cold that will come your way or stop you from enjoying time in the water.
And while offering reliable insulation, it’s also quite practical and flexible enough not to stifle your arm movements and mobility. It’s also among the comfiest wetsuits on the market.
I would buy this great wetsuit again!