The Best Winter Wetsuits for Surfing 2021

Whoever said “sun, sea and surf” definitely underestimated the thrill of catching rapid waves during the height of winter! There’s something special about running across empty beaches and seizing the day against cold white water. Winter is a special time for surfers, and you’ll want to get involved!

A big part of enjoying the winter waves is making sure your gear is up to scratch. Underestimate the chill and you’ll find your sessions cut short by the cold. However, with the right equipment, you can make that cold December and January water your playground.

Here, we take you through some of our favourite options when it comes to women’s and men’s winter wetsuits, along with all the accessories you’ll need to enjoy the waves.

Winter Wetsuit FAQs

Here at Wetsuit Centre, we get a lot of questions from people trying to decide what they need to enjoy the waves during the winter. We’ve answered a few of them below to help you make your choice, but if you have any more, get in touch with us!

Choosing a Winter Wetsuit Thickness

Picking the thickness of your wetsuit is always important, but it’s even more crucial in the winter. You need to make sure your winter wetsuit is thick enough to provide adequate insulation for the biting winter waters!

If you’ve never purchased a wetsuit before and have no idea where to look, a 5/3-thickness suit is generally a good recommendation. In most cases, a 5/3 wetsuit will get you through winter, along with some accessories (hoods, boots, gloves) for the coldest months.

If you surf in a colder climate such as North England or Scotland, or you particularly feel the cold, then a 6mm wetsuit could be the better choice. You shouldn’t need a 7mm wetsuit for surfing in the UK unless you really feel the cold or plan on surfing in snowy conditions.

For more information on wetsuit thicknesses, be sure to check out our complete guide below!

Check out our wetsuit thickness guide

Can You Wear a Winter Wetsuit in the Summer?

If you want to try and save a bit of money or invest it all into one high-quality suit, It is possible to buy a winter wetsuit and use that the whole year-round.

Of course, there are advantages to having a winter and summer wetsuit, the main ones being comfort and flexibility - the thinner summer suit will offer better manoeuvrability. However, if you don’t mind getting a bit sweaty during the summer, most people can use a 5/3 all year round, especially if you’re happy surfing without a suit during the peak of the season.

Should I Get a Wetsuit with a Hood?

If you plan on surfing during the peak of winter, then you absolutely will want a hood. Having a cold wave break over you is not a pleasant experience!

The big question isn’t whether you need one, but whether you should buy a wetsuit with an attached hood, or buy the hood separately.

Which type of suit you should buy comes down to when you expect to use the wetsuit. If you are looking for a winter wetsuit to use in spring and autumn, you might want to buy a hoodless suit and purchase the hood separately, so you only need it for those biting winter waves.

However, if you purely want a winter wetsuit for the colder months, you should consider buying one with a hood. Having the hood already sealed-on means there is no space for the ice-cold water to seep in, which can make all the difference in the peak of winter.

Check out our guide to winter wetsuit accessories

So, what are the best winter wetsuits available? Take a look below!

O’Neill Hyperfreak - Excellent Performance

Shop O’Neill Hyperfreak

If you’re looking for a high-performance winter wetsuit, the O’Neill Hyperfreak should be something you consider. Made from their Technobutter neoprene, the suit ranks as one of the most flexible winter wetsuits on the market! It also comes with all the high-end specs you would expect, including chest zips, minimal taped seams and a double-sealed neck.

The suit is available in a range of thicknesses, including 5/4 and 5/4+ (which is slightly thicker). You can also buy it hooded, making it a great choice for your winter suit!

O’Neill Hyperfreak - Pros and Cons

O’Neill Hyperfreak Advantages

O’Neill Hyperfreak Disadvantages

Technobutter neoprene makes it super flexible!

Performance wetsuit means slightly higher price tag.

Chest zip eliminates weak points.

Soft neoprene can wear down quickly for beginners.

Minimal, taped seams reduce water intake.

Xcel Infiniti winter wetsuit

Xcel Infiniti - Unbeatable Warmth

Shop Xcel Infiniti

Xcel are known in the surfing community for their high-end, high-quality wetsuits, and one of their most popular models is the Infiniti.

The Xcel infiniti is designed to a professional’s standard. As a result, it comes with an amazing array of high-performance features, such as specialist wrist and ankle seals and magnetic closure zipper. However, the standout feature of the Infiniti is definitely its warmth.

The new Xcel Infiniti comes with Radiant Rebound thermal lining, which works to keep cold temperatures out and your body heat locked in. As a result, the Infiniti is one of the warmest wetsuits you can buy - a great choice if you’re looking forward to long January surfs!

Xcel Infiniti - Pros and Cons

Xcel Infiniti Advantages

Xcel Infiniti Disadvantages

Thermal lining for incredible heat retention.

High price range.

Packed with high-end features and tech.

Made with eco-friendly materials.

O’Neill Epic winter wetsuit

O’Neill Epic - A Great Entry-Level Winter Suit

Shop O’Neill Epic

If you’re just starting out and want that balance between performance and price, you can’t go wrong with the O’Neill Epic.

For many years, the Epic has been seen as one of the best entry-level wetsuits available. It offers high specs in the most important areas, including Ultra Flex neoprene and glued and blindstitched seams. However, the most important feature winter surfers will be interested in is the FluidFlex Firewall, an added layer of body insulation that will help you stay in the water.

The Epic is available in a wide range of sizes for men, women and kids. It also offers a range of thicknesses, from summer 3/2s all the way to hooded winter suits.

O’Neill Epic - Pros and Cons

O’Neill Epic Advantages

O’Neill Epic Disadvantages

FluidFlex Firewall for added warmth.

Not as high spec as other options.

Good beginner specs including knee pads.

Quality neoprene at a good price.

Check out our O’Neill Epic wetsuit review

C-Skins Legend - The Best Budget Winter Wetsuit

Shop C-Skins Legend

If you’re looking for a basic-level winter wetsuit, you should consider the C-Skins Legend. You won’t find many advanced features here, but you’ll also struggle to find such a reputable winter wetsuit at a cheaper price.

The C-Skins Legend offers everything a surfer would want if they’re just starting out. The flexibility is good, and it’s a very durable suit with knee pads. However, given the price, the neoprene isn’t as flexible as other models, and the back zip means a little less protection from the water.

C-Skins Legend - Pros and Cons

C-Skins Legend Advantages

C-Skins Legend Disadvantages

Almost unbeatable on price.

Very basic specs.

Good quality neoprene.

Back zip offers less water protection.

Durable for beginners.

No thermal lining.

What is the Best Winter Wetsuit for Surfing?

So, how do you choose which of these is right for you?

Ultimately, it’s going to come down to:

  1. Your budget.
  2. When in the year you will use the suit.

If you are passionate about surfing and are looking for a purely winter wetsuit to go alongside your summer gear, then you should consider the O’Neill Hyperfreak or Xcel Infiniti as best-in-class options.

On the other hand, if you are just starting out this winter and are unsure what you need, you might want to consider a good entry-level model, such as the O’Neill Epic or C-Skin Legend.

If you want a wetsuit that could potentially take you through the whole year, then you could consider any of these wetsuits at the thickness that works best for you.

What are the Best Winter Surf Boots?

There are so many great wetsuit boots available, so you’ll want to pick some up before the winter! Many of the brands featured above produce boots that are made to the same high standard, so you can’t go far wrong with a pair of 5mm O’Neill Psycho Techs or Xcel Infinitis.

The main thing to consider here is whether you want round toe boots or split toe boots. Some surfers feel uncomfortable in a rounded boot because it feels different to having your bare feet against the board. A split toe boot allows the big toe to move freely, which can improve your sense of contact.

Winter Wetsuit Gloves

Winter wetsuit gloves are fantastic for the coldest waters, helping to keep your precious digits warm. Similar to the boots, so long as you purchase from a reputable brand, you can’t go far wrong.

The main thing to consider for gloves is thickness. Unless you get particularly cold fingers, a 3mm glove should do just fine. 5mm gloves are great for icy waters, but the thicker the pair, the less flexibility you’ll have.

We hope this guide will help you find the perfect gear for your winter surfing! Remember, we have a wide range available here, along with an experienced team that’s on hand to answer any questions! Get in touch with us or browse our blog for more advice on picking the perfect suit.