A good wetsuit is one of the most essential things a diver needs. While it is possible to rent a wet suit for diving for short-term use on a vacation or day trip, owning your own suit ensures the best fit and the most comfort, and many people feel that it’s more hygienic.
In addition, wetsuits are not especially expensive, and they are an excellent investment in your comfort while diving. Here are the best wetsuits, along with a guide for how to choose the right diving wetsuit for you.
- Best Wetsuits: Reviews
- Best Warm Water Wetsuits
- Best Cold Water Wetsuits
- Buyer’s Guide
Best Wetsuits: Reviews
Best Warm Water Wetsuits
Aqualung’s HydroFlex series is exceptionally comfortable and full of high-performance features, making it a great dive suit inside and out. The Aqualung HydroFlex is made of super-stretch neoprene, with up to 250% more stretch than standard neoprene, making entry and exit easier and making it more comfortable in the water.
A super-soft inner material and flatlock stitching provide great comfort and ease while wearing. The V-shaped collar gives more room in the neck area, and seams are sealed and reinforced with liquid rubber for better protection and durability.
It has a reinforced chest panel to provide more wind resistance and durability from abrasions and anti-abrasion reinforcement in the shoulders and wrists.
The heavy-duty #10 zipper is built to last, with a loop zipper that makes entry and exit easier. Full-length models also have Powertex kneepads for tough but flexible abrasion resistance.
In contrast, long-sleeve models are dive-computer ready with a silicone traction pad at the wrist that keeps your computer in place even as the suit compresses underwater.
In addition, the HydroFlex neoprene is non-petroleum-based for a more sustainable future.
The Aqualung Hydroflex comes in 1, 2, or 3 mm thicknesses and in men’s short and full and women’s short and full models.
- More stretch than other types of neoprene for extra comfort
- Well-sealed to minimize water exchange
- Seams are stitched and glued for extra durability
- Abrasion-resistant reinforcement where needed
- Velcro at the neck may stick to the inside of the suit when stored
ScubaPro 1 mm Tropical Steamer
The ScubaPro Tropical Steamer is the best of both worlds. The 1mm thickness and slim protection without bulk make it a perfect suit for warm, tropical waters. In addition, the thumb loops and foot stirrups help keep it in place when layered beneath a thicker wetsuit, making it comfortable and useful in a wider range of water temperatures.
Made from 100% Everflex neoprene, the X-foam formula provides extra protection and durability. The interior lining on the torso is soft and comfortable, increasing warmth without adding bulk.
It has heavy-duty Tatex printed kneepads and shoulder patches for extra protection against abrasions, while thumb loops and foot stirrups keep the wetsuit in place and prevent riding up.
The rear diagonal zipper simplifies entry and exit with a PVC patch for durability. At just 1 mm thick and 1.5 pounds in weight, this suit is perfect by itself in warm water or layered for extra comfort and protection in cold water dives.
The ScubaPro 1mm Tropical Steamer comes in men’s and women’s sizes.
- Full body, lightweight protection without the bulk
- Comfortable and flexible
- Easy entry and exit
- Can be layered beneath other wetsuits for use in colder water
- Some people prefer short wetsuits for warm water diving
Best Cold Water Wetsuits
O’Neill Reactor II
The Reactor II is designed for ease and comfort at a reasonable price. The ultraflex composite neoprene is soft and comfortable, with superior stretch for a great fit. This wet suit has minimal flatlock stitched seams and strategic seam placement for excellent mobility and comfort.
The Smoothskin exterior provides additional insulation and wind resistance in cooler temperatures. The back zip makes for easy entry and exit, with excellent water resistance at the zip and collar. The Reactor II has classic style and comfort, perfect for beginners or casual divers in warm waters.
Founded by Jack O’Neill, the inventor of the neoprene wetsuit, O’Neill is committed to sustainability and protecting our oceans and has recycled over 5.5 million plastic bottles into Repreve fibers used in their gear. The company also supports several important water-related charities, including the Surfrider Foundation.
The O’Neill Reactor II can be found in men’s full and short, women’s full and short, and even kid’s sizes.
- Ultraflex neoprene is stretchy and comfortable
- Flat, strategic seams prevent rubbing and discomfort
- Wind-resistant surface
- Easy entry and exit
- Affordable price
- Designed for spring and fall water temperatures, not truly a cold water wetsuit
- Not very rugged or durable construction; better for casual diving
Henderson Thermoprene Pro
Henderson’s patented Thermoprene is an advanced neoprene with 250% more stretch and advanced abrasion resistance, along with maximum heat retention. These wetsuits are consistently rated as among the highest in comfort, designed to contour to every curve of the body.
These suits keep you warmer longer, with advanced patterning that reduces seams. All seams are double glued and double stitched for durability and water protection.
Inside, Thermoprene Pro wetsuits have a soft and durable aqua silk lining, with Duratex knee pads that provide excellent protection without restricting movement. Self-sealing YKK #10 zipper closures are also designed for durability.
Henderson has been making wetsuits since they were invented and famously was the first to patent the original zip-on wetsuit. The company is still based in New Jersey, and their Thermoprene Pro wetsuits are constructed with advanced patterning and construction techniques evolved over 50 years.
These suits are premium quality and backed by a 10-year warranty.
- Incredible stretch and fit for maximum comfort
- Interior aqua silk lining adds warmth and softness
- Durable construction in seams and stitches
- Wide range of sizes for excellent fit
- 10-year warranty
More expensive than other suits, but they are made to keep you warm and last for years
SEAC’s Komoda is an ultra-comfortable wetsuit made of UltraStretch neoprene. The Yamamoto 38 rubber exterior has a closed-cell honeycomb structure for extra buoyancy and durability, keeping you warmer than other materials with the same thickness and weight.
The interior Dry Fibre lining improves heat retention and dries quickly. The YKK zipper is rugged, and the zipper has a water barrier closure to prevent seepage.
The dual cone Smooth Skin Aquastop cuffs and ankles have zipper closures for additional water protection, and the wetsuit has extra reinforcement at the chest, knees, and shoulders.
SEAC wetsuits are designed in Italy and made for quality and durability, and the Komoda is a CE 14225-1 certified diving suit. It comes in 5mm and 7mm thicknesses and in men’s and women’s sizes.
- Yamamoto neoprene provides more warmth with less weight and bulk
- Ultra-comfortable flexible fit
- Smooth skin cuffs and ankles for more comfort and protection
- CE 14225-1 certified dive suit
- Sizing can be confusing since some products are listed as unisex
Some of the most important features to pay attention to when buying a diving wetsuit are:
Neoprene wetsuits are rated by thickness, from 1mm to 7mm or more. Thicker neoprene is warmer, more durable, and more abrasion-resistant. It is also usually less flexible, heavier, and slightly stiffer, with a narrower range of movement.
The ideal wetsuit thickness depends on the water temperatures you anticipate diving in and how versatile you want the wetsuit to be. Here’s a brief guide:
- .5-1mm wetsuit: water temps above 75°. Provides UV protection and mild abrasion resistance
- 1-2mm wetsuit: water temps from 66-75°. Choose a top or shorty for warmer temps in this range
- 2-3mm wetsuit: water temps from 55-65°. Choose a thicker or full suit for cooler temps in this range
- 3-4mm wetsuit: water temps from 50-55°. Add boots, gloves, and/or cap for colder temps in this range
- 4-5mm wetsuit: water temps from 45-50°. Choose a hooded suit with gloves and boots for colder temps in this range
- 6-7mm wetsuit: water temps below 46°, with additional thermal protection.
While wet suits are primarily made of various thicknesses of neoprene, modern wetsuits also incorporate other fiber types to allow the suit to stretch and flex. The amount of stretch in a suit makes it more comfortable to wear and increases your range of movement in the water.
Stretch in a wetsuit also makes it easier to fit, especially for people with rounder body shapes. If you have a larger chest, waist, or hips, or have an unusual or hard-to-fit body shape, look for a wetsuit with a neoprene blend that allows for more stretch to get a better, more comfortable fit.
If you are looking for a wet suit for the occasional dive trip or summer vacation, comfort and ease of use probably matter more than durability. However, if you will be diving in rugged conditions, cold water, or want a wetsuit to last for years, look for durability.
Depending on the fit, wetsuits can have a lot of pressure at the zipper and seams. Wetsuits are also prone to abrasions, especially in the knees. For a more durable wetsuit, look for glued and stitched seams and that have abrasion-resistant reinforcement in those areas.
A poorly made wetsuit can rub and chafe inside, especially at seams or high-movement body joints. Naturally, this can make diving much less enjoyable. So, in addition to getting a wet suit that fits properly, look for a wetsuit pattern with fewer seams, flat seams that reduce rubbing, and a soft interior lining that promotes comfort.
Ease of Entry and Exit
It’s no secret that wetsuits can be difficult to put on and take off, especially if it’s a full suit with tight cuffs at the wrists and ankles. It may seem counterintuitive, but back zip wetsuits are usually easier to put on and take off than front zips because they more quickly free your shoulders and allow for more movement.
However, front zips are generally more water-resistant and are an excellent choice for surfing or other activities where you may get hot and want to open the suit for more air. Making the right choice depends on your preferences and the fit and zip of a specific suit.
While wet suits come in a range of prices, the high and low-end costs aren’t too extreme. Higher-end wet suits tend to have better patterns, stronger seams and be made from more durable, high-quality neoprene.
Low-cost wet suits are often less durable and less abrasion resistant, and seams or zippers may give out earlier. However, if you only need a wet suit to last for a single summer or a single vacation, there are a range of very affordable wet suits that will look and feel great.
How to Size Wetsuit?
Finding the right fit in a wetsuit is incredibly important and difficult. A wetsuit should fit snugly against your skin, without gaps or bunching, but also without restricting or binding. The right fit is essential for your comfort and freedom of movement, but the fit has as much to do with cut and pattern as size.
Every manufacturer uses different measurements to determine the sizing, so the best way to find your size is to take accurate measurements of your body and then consult the manufacturer’s size chart.
If you are in-between sizes, choose the larger size. If you are a more difficult-to-fit body shape, look for wet suits with more stretch and flexibility that will better match your contours.
When testing the fit of a wetsuit, practice moving your arms and shoulders through their complete range of movement, and try squatting and standing. While thicker wetsuits will restrict movement slightly, a wet suit should not pull or cause pressure when you move your arms, shoulders, elbows, and knees.
Do You Need Different Wetsuits for Diving and Surfing?
While both suits are made of neoprene, diving wet suits have significant differences from wet suits designed for surfing, swimming, or other water sports. Here’s a quick overview of the differences.
Made of compression-resistant neoprene designed for underwater pressure. They are made of thicker neoprene that provides more protection from cold and is reinforced against scuba gear and straps rubbing.
Made of lighter, more flexible neoprene for a broader range of movement. They are cooler since surfers are often in the sun and generating body heat. In addition, they are reinforced against the wear of rubbing against the board in the chest and knees.
If you are looking for a multi-activity wetsuit, the general rule is that you shouldn’t surf or swim in a diving suit; they’re too hot and don’t have enough range of movement. However, for casual dives in warm water, it is possible to dive in a surfing wetsuit.
Difference a Between Wetsuit and a Steamer?
A ‘steamer’ is another name for a full-body wetsuit (although they are also available in short arm versions, which is confusing) that covers you to the wrists and ankles. They are an insulating layer that can be worn beneath another wetsuit or worn alone for full-body abrasion and UV protection.
What to Wear Under a Wet Suit?
Most divers wear a swimsuit beneath their wet suit. Wearing a swimsuit prevents chafing and lets you unzip the suit if you get hot and want a break. In addition, some divers wear a full-body rash guard or a poly fleece warming base layer beneath their wet suit in cold water.
When you are diving, you want to be free to explore the underwater world around you without distractions or discomfort from your wetsuit. Finding the right wet suit is a balance between the right fit and feel for your body and the conditions and temperatures of the water you will be diving in.
Because pattern, construction, and fit can vary widely between different manufacturers, many people find a brand of wetsuit that works well for them and then stick with that brand.
When a manufacturer offers a variety of wet suit length and thickness options, it makes it easier to get your perfect fit and then choose the right wet suit for the moment.