How to choose a wetsuit?

When you start surfing, whether you're a beginner or an experienced surfer, it's essential to have a neoprene wetsuit adapted to your different seasonal needs. It's said to be the crucial piece that offers protection from the elements, thermal insulation and freedom of movement, allowing you to enjoy all your surfing sessions to the full. However, finding one that perfectly matches your needs in terms of the brands, models and features available on the market can be a real challenge. That's why we'll guide you through the key elements to consider when buying your neoprene wetsuit. Here you'll find valuable information on the different aspects to consider, such as neoprene thickness, wetsuit style, cut, seams and much more! So, whether you're looking to tackle the cold waters of the ocean, or venture into the milder climes of the globe in search of the best waves, the HawaiiSurf team can provide you with the advice and recommendations you need to find THE ideal wetsuit to suit your needs and desires.

So, ready to embark on the wetsuit selection process? Dive into the following chapters to discover everything you need to know to make the perfect choice.

What is neoprene and why is it used in wetsuits? 

Neoprene is a synthetic material used in the manufacture of wetsuits and other water sports clothing. It's made from chloroprene rubber, an elastic, heat-insulating polymer.

Here are the reasons why neoprene is widely used in wetsuits:

  • Thermal insulation: Neoprene is famous for its thermal insulation properties. In fact, it traps a thin layer of water between the surfer's body and the material, creating a protective barrier against the cold. This layer of water is warmed by the surfer's body heat, forming an effective insulation that keeps the body warm even in the coldest waters.
  • Flexibility and elasticity: Neoprene is an extremely flexible and elastic material, allowing great freedom of movement during surf sessions. Neoprene wetsuits adapt closely to the body, offering a comfortable fit without impeding movement. Surfers can then paddle and stand up on their boards without restriction, improving their overall performance in the water.
  • Abrasion resistance: Neoprene is also appreciated for its abrasion resistance. When you're surfing or doing other water sports, you're in constant contact with water, boards, sand and other elements that can cause rubbing and scratching. Quality neoprene wetsuits are designed to withstand these rigorous conditions, offering excellent durability and protection against scratches and cuts.
  • Waterproofing: Neoprene is a waterproof material that prevents cold water from penetrating the suit. They are generally designed with glued and/or sewn seams to reinforce waterproofing. This helps maintain a stable body temperature by preventing water from seeping in, while reducing the effects of wind.
  • Lightweight: Neoprene is a lightweight, waterproof material, which is essential for comfortable surfing. Neoprene wetsuits take up very little space and do not restrict the surfer's movements. They offer a sensation of lightness and freedom, allowing surfers to concentrate on their performance without the hindrance of heavy, cumbersome equipment. 

Determine surfing conditions


Determining surfing conditions according to water temperature and season is purely essential to choosing the right wetsuit. As water temperature can vary throughout the year, it's important to first understand how this can affect your experience in the water.

In general, as everywhere else in the world, the warmer seasons, such as summer, can have pleasant water temperatures, while the cooler seasons, such as autumn and spring, can be cooler, depending on your location. So by keeping an eye on the weather forecasts and consulting local sources such as the WINDGURU website, you can estimate water temperature, periods, knots, wind direction and many other possibilities to determine the thickness of your wetsuit.

Adjusting your choice of wetsuit according to water temperature and season will help you get the most out of surfing! 


It's important to determine your surfing conditions based on the local climate and weather conditions, so you can plan the perfect day to get the most out of it!

Indeed, local climate and weather conditions can have a significant impact on waves, wind and water temperature! In some areas, windy climates can generate waves suitable for surfing, while in other places, a calmer climate will create milder surfing conditions. In addition, wind can significantly affect wave quality, with offshore winds (from land to sea) favouring cleaner waves.

Keeping an eye on local weather forecasts can give you valuable information on wind, temperature and wave trends, which will help you determine the best conditions to increase your chances of surfing the perfect wave! 


Waves are generally variable depending on :

  • Size
  • Management
  • The shape
  • The power

Some waves are better suited to beginners, while others are more suitable for more experienced surfers. To give you an example, beach break waves (waves formed on sandy bottoms) are generally easier to surf and offer ideal sections for learning the first maneuvers and sensations on the board.

Reef break waves (formed on rocky bottoms) are more powerful and hollow, ideal for more experienced surfers. It's by understanding the different wave characteristics and observing the conditions on site that you can assess whether waves, wind direction, tide and other factors play a determining role in wave catch.

Once again, wave size, wind direction, tides and many other factors play a decisive role in determining conditions! So by studying and familiarizing yourself with the different types of waves, you'll be able to choose the right time and place to enjoy a successful, safe session suited to your skills.

Choosing the right combination

Choosing the right type of wetsuit is essential, especially when you're just starting out! Surfing wetsuits offer thermal protection as well as a so-called comfort layer between your body and the cold water, allowing you to get the most out of your sessions in the water!


Fullsuits are wetsuits that cover the entire body, ankles and wrists.

  • Thermal protection: Fullsuits offer optimum thermal protection, covering the entire body. They maintain body heat, protecting you from cold temperatures. Fullsuits are available in different thicknesses, so you can choose the one that suits you best, depending on your surfing style and conditions.
  • Flexibility: integral wetsuits are designed to offer excellent flexibility, enhancing freedom of movement. In fact, technological advances in wetsuit construction have reduced restrictions on movement, essential for paddling and taking off with ease. The most modern full-body suits feature strategically placed panels and flexible seams for enhanced mobility.
  • Thickness and surfing conditions: full-body wetsuits are available in a range of neoprene thicknesses, from thinner models for warmer waters to thicker versions for colder waters. Wetsuit thickness depends on the water temperatures in which you'll be diving. For example, a 3/2mm wetsuit is ideal for cool waters, while a 4/3mm wetsuit is suitable for colder waters.
  • Additional features: full-body wetsuits include additional features to enhance performance and durability. These may include flat seams to reduce skin irritation, knee reinforcements for abrasion resistance and wear, rear zippers for easy donning and doffing, and inner linings for enhanced thermal insulation. 
  • Waist fit: choosing a full wetsuit offers a comfortable, ergonomic fit. A suit that's too tight can restrict movement, while one that's too loose can allow water to seep in. 

In short, full-body wetsuits are designed for optimum thermal protection, flexibility and mobility. Make sure you choose the right thickness for the right conditions, and find the right size and fit for optimum comfort!


Springsuits, also known as "Shorty" or "Shorties", are shorter wetsuits that cover half the legs and arms.

  • Thermal protection: Springsuits offer lightweight thermal protection ideal for warmer waters and seasons that don't merit optimum coverage on sunny days. Ideal for moderately warm waters or for surfers who prefer a lighter, more ergonomic feel in the water!
  • Flexibility and mobility: The Shorty is designed for excellent flexibility and freedom of movement. Leaving the arms and knees uncovered offers greater freedom of movement when paddling or taking off. These suits are ideal for the most demanding surfers looking for greater freedom of movement during more active, sporty sessions. 
  • Suitable for warmer waters: Springsuit wetsuits are generally used in warmer waters, usually on the return from warm spring days and hot summer days. They offer light protection against sun, wind and the various irritations created by rubbing, keeping the body protected and cool even in warmer conditions!
  • Versatility: Shorty wetsuits aren't just for surfing - they're also ideal for other water sports, such as paddling, swimming and kayaking/rafting.) Their lightweight, ergonomic design makes them an ideal, versatile choice for venturing into different types of outdoor aquatic activities!
  • Size and fit: Be sure to choose a Springsuit surf suit that offers a comfortable, close-fitting fit. Sizes may vary between brands, so it's important to consult the size charts below. A good fit guarantees better protection while enhancing freedom of movement!

In short, Springsuit wetsuits offer lightweight thermal protection and increased freedom of movement. Suitable for warmer waters, they offer optimum versatility for venturing into other water activities, and are ideal for surfers looking for a lightweight, ergonomic wetsuit!

Sizing guide 


SS: Between XS and S, equilavent of size XS and weight S

ST: equivalent to size S and weight M

MS: equivalent to size M and weight S

MT: equivalent to size M and weight L

LS: equivalent to size L and weight M

LT: equivalent to size L and weight XL

XLT: equivalent to size XL and weight 2XL 

Depending on your usual size, you can try out 3 types of combinations:

Standard size

The half-size below

The half-size above

If you're used to wearing size M and you're small and slim, you'll need size MS. On the other hand, if you're used to size M and you're rather tall and stout, you'll need size MT!


For women, sizes are expressed in numbers ranging from 2 to 16 :

2: Very small, close to a large child size

4 : XXS

6: XS

8 : S

10 : M

12 : L

14 : XL

16 : 2XL

In general, sizes 4 (XXS) to 14 (Xl) are the most common. The principle here is to choose in exactly the same way as for men.

Please note that sizes may vary depending on the brand. Please check the different size guides for each brand!

In case of doubt, if no size seems to fit you, go for the bust size first, which will best fit your morphology! 

Additional features


Nowadays, there are 4 different opening/closing systems for wetsuits. These 4 systems make wetsuits easy to put on and take off, while ensuring maximum watertightness!

  • BACK ZIP :



Nowadays, there are 4 different opening/closing systems for wetsuits. These 4 systems make wetsuits easy to put on and take off, while ensuring maximum watertightness!


The Back Zip is the most widespread and oldest back zipper. There are two types of Back Zip. Those generally used on entry-level wetsuits, with no lining and therefore very poor waterproofing, and top-of-the-range Back Zips with a double collar for optimum wetsuit comfort and waterproofing.

Note that wetsuits with Back Zip may be less flexible at the back, but easier to put on and take off after your sessions in the water! Unlike other fastening systems, the Back Zip is equipped with a Velcro fastening at the collar, allowing you to adjust the collar's tightness to the shape of your neck for maximum watertightness.

Find the best Back Zip wetsuits from the most influential brands, at the best prices, only on HawaiiSurf!


The Front Zip is a front zip system that opens on both sides. This is the least watertight system, as water can enter from either side. However, this wetsuit is easy to put on, and will ensure maximum freedom of movement around the shoulders.

This type of closure is especially suited to lightweight wetsuits such as shortys or 3/2s, which require little thermal performance. It is therefore less efficient from a thermal point of view, but very comfortable and easy to put on! 

  1. Reinforcements and protection
  2. Seams and bonding types


  1. Neoprene thickness and thermal insulation
  2. Table of recommended temperatures for each thickness
  3. Body areas requiring extra thickness
  4. Flexibility and mobility considerations


You'll find different wetsuits, each with specific uses depending on surfing conditions and water temperature. Without further ado, here are the different thicknesses commonly used and their different uses:

  • Combinations from 1mm to 1.5mm :
  • Water temperature: 18-23° C
  • Season/protection level: summer/light protection

Wetsuits made from 1 to 1.5mm-thick neoprene provide protection from UV rays, while guaranteeing warmth for all temperatures from 18 to 23°C. These wetsuits are designed for warm waters and summer conditions. The following models are available:

  • Spring Suit (shorties)
  • Long Janes (suit without arms)
  • Tops
  • Leggings
  • Thickness: These suits are made from ultra-thin neoprene. They generally offer a thickness of 1mm on the back and torso, with a slight variation possible up to 1.5mm. This low thickness enhances the feeling of closeness to the skin, offering excellent freedom of movement, with a sensation of lightness in the water for ever longer and more progressive sessions.
  • Lightweight thermal protection: these wetsuits are primarily designed to offer very light protection against the cold. They are ideal for sessions in warmer waters during the summer months or in more tropical climates. Although they don't provide as much thermal insulation as thicker wetsuits, they offer reliable protection against the elements such as wind and chafing.
  • Versatility for warmer seasons: 1 to 1.5mm wetsuits are often used during the transition to warmer temperatures, such as spring and autumn, when the water is still a little cool. They offer light protection against lower temperatures from the beginning to the end of the season.
  • Protection from the elements: While suits this thin don't provide maximum thermal insulation, they do offer some protection from the outside elements. They help to reduce the effects of wind, sun and rashes caused by friction, as well as providing light UV protection.

In short, 1mm to 1.5mm wetsuits are ideal for warmer waters and transitional seasons, for surfers looking for lightweight, comfortable protection without sacrificing ergonomics for optimum freedom of movement.

  • 2/2mm combinations :

 Water temperature: 16-20° C

  • Season/protection level: summer/light protection

Generally used in the spring/fall mid-season, discover our light to medium-weight wetsuits!

Thickness: This is how the suits are made, so you'll find a