It’s always a weird feeling writing about winter wetsuits when the water up here (Gold Coast) is still too warm for even a vest. But Jim (Lipped) is already into a 3/2 for the earlies down in Jan Juc. So it’s definitely time to at least start thinking about winter wetsuits, and here’s the first of three Buyers Guides.

Today’s guide covers suits in the $0-350 price bracket and runs from most expensive to least. Early next week we’ll drop the $350 – $550 guide. Ideally, these guides will cover everything you’re looking for and help you get a good Winter suit that’ll work to your budget, keep you warm and let you stay flexible too.

One of the other pressing questions is ‘which wetsuit should I buy?’ We’re trying to select wetsuits for our Buyers Guide based on assessing the same information that you get as a consumer, whether in-store or online. As most of us do research online before buying, or going in-store to purchase, we figured it’s an even playing field for us all but this Buyers Guide should make a little easier.

This guide, obviously, is the lower end of dollars scale and there fore isn’t always loaded with top tech, materials, etc. We upped it to $350 this year (last two years it’s been sub $300) as there’s such a glut of solid suits that sit just under $350. So you’re definitely going to find some great value in this guide, whether it’s a back up suit or your full time suit.


7 Seas


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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - Vissla

Running anatomically correct engineered body lines that allow for unrestricted warmth and performance the 7 Seas is also running a few spares in its make up. By spares, I mean Spare Tires – The 7 Seas suit has Carbon Black, one of the key ingredients of neoprene, can now be made from scrap rubber tires. This significantly reduces energy consumption and cuts CO2 emission by 200g per wetsuit. How good!

Extra bonus is triple stitched GBS seams and a 12month warranty from time of purchase. Out of all the suits on offer in this price bracket, this one from Vissla would have to be the go-to for anyone sniffing around this price level. At $349 this thing, it’s an increase from last year ($20) but still commands your attention on a value level (it won the award for ‘best value suit’ in our 2019 Winter Wetsuit Awards – and you can read the review of the suit from 2020 here)

Warranty is :
• 1 year from original purchase date on all seams.
• 1 year from original purchase date on neoprene.




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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - O'Neill

“With a thermal liner that makes it feel like summer on the inside, the Defender keeps the water out, the heat in and keeps you toasty at all times. An all-round performer, fully flexible, comfortable, durable and incredible value for money.”

Like Rip Curl, if you’re having a wetsuit discussion you have to include O’Neill and this here is there semi price point offering – the Defender. A new model on my radar it has probably (imo) the best chest zip closure going on a full suit, it really easy makes getting the suit on/off. Along with thermal fur, GBS seams, etc but it doesn’t have the Technobutter that O’Neill has been pushing in their suits lately.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years of wearing/testing O’Neill suits is they (and this might be wild to state) seem better cut for tall lanky people. Someone like myself who is better defined as a walking dim sim, you should probably get a half size (MT, or MS, etc). It’s O’Neill though, and they have been making kick ass suit for years…

12 months from date of original purchase (more here)

Rip Curl

Dawn Patrol


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“The Dawn Patrol is the wetsuit for the surfer who wants high performance and durability, providing great service whilst also being great value. This wetsuit has many of the high end features you will find in our Ultimate suits. We use E5 Neoprene and E5 flash lining, plus the entire suit is GBS with seam taping.”

Four or five years ago this would have near top of the table in terms of what you got with a top-line wetsuit. You’re getting flash bomb lining, a mix of E4 & 5 plus that all important smoothie on the back panel (i love smoothie). Plus the reputation that Rip Curl has in the wetsuit (and surf hardware) world

With that in mind you can rest assured that this suit will hold up through a winter if this is where your budget sits or if you’re Rip Curl die hard and can’t cop their top of line e-bomb or flashbombs. Sprinkles on top include the warranty below…

*3 yr warranty on all stitching
*12-month warranty on all materials


Furnace Rev


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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - Billabong

“The Furnace Revolution features Billabongs exclusive Furnace Graphene. Innovative new graphene wrapped yarns combine with carbon fibers for a wetsuit that is lighter, stronger and warmer for longer. Furnace Graphene is 50% lighter than traditional hollow fiber liners and 200x stronger than steel.”

The specs are pretty damn fantastic for a $350 suit and given how much Bong continue to improve each year over the last 6 years or so and you’re pretty much going to get a pretty solid suit for the price. Billabong have always managed to make a solid suit offering in the mid price tier. I would say that if you are going to buy a Bong suit this year though I would suggest the new Natural Furnace that have going (it’ll be in $550+ bracket).

*3 yr warranty on all stitching
*12-month warranty on all materials




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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide -

“Men’s chest zip GBS wetsuit set with a 100% StretchFlight x2 neoprene, designed with Vapor Stretch on the back panel, and finished with a WarmFlight® x1 far-infrared thermal lining on the back panel.

Traditionally, Quiksilver suits haven’t been the best. But over the last 12 months or so they’ve undergone some changes (new head designer) and have been pushing innovative ideas out to the masses (you see the Highline Pro?). This continues with the Syncro – it’s not groundbreaking by any means, but it’s a solid suit for the price point and another notch that says Quik is now competing in the wetsuit space. If you’re a Quik die-hard, definitely have a look at this suit – extra bonus with the colours.

Entitled to a replacement or refund for a major failure and compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. (not super clear on their site)




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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - Xcel

Xcel are the tradesman of wetsuits. Not flashy but plenty of depth and they get the job done. They took out awards for the warmest and all-round wetsuits last year (for the Drylock X suit – review here). If you’re looking at their Comp suit here, you should have confidence it’ll be a good suit.

It’s running Japanese limestone neoprene, anti fade dope dyed yearn, triple GBS seams and that all around amazing engineered fit that Xcel has developed over the years.

$350 is a pretty nice price for it. Well worth a look if you’re not feeling the main brands you normally buy from. But if you’re going to go Xcel, just pony up another couple hundred (easier said than done) and get the Drylock X – that suit is magic…

*1 yr from original purchase date on all seams.
*1 yr from original purchase date on neoprene.




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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - zion

“Core Disciples, children of Zion. The New Testament of neoprene is nigh. Since the dawn of man North Coast pilgrims have persevered the sub-tropical winter in the tattered robes of the traditional Cash Converters backzip. Grimly enduring flat lock seepage, crippling groin rash and day long prawn shrinkage.”

This suit is 100% free of bullshit gimmickry and has been developed the chosen one of core lords, SURFCORE 2001. With that in mind you forgo all the technical features, etc and just bathe in your own coreness when rolling around the line up in this piece. The Core Lord. Saviour of the Northern winter and lightweight ceremonial gown which satisfies even the most militant of core extremist. Made by Zion, an independent Australian company, and will only require a partial sacrifice of your fortnightly Newstart allowance.

Even if you don’t want to buy this suit, click through so you can read the product description. So good.

No such thing here, you wear this until it falls apart after your 10,000th layback. 

Project Blank



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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - Project Blank

“Our 3/2 Eco-recycled steamer takes being green minded to another level whilst still offering all the high-performance features you love.”

Project Blank is the newest of the new brands popping up in the wetsuit market, they’ve been around maybe a year and have seemingly made a decent impact on the market.

This suit itself offers up a lot features that we now expect as a basic for the most part – limestone rubber, thermal lining, taping etc – where they stand out a little more is their position around the environment, the suits use 45 PET bottles in every suit to. Amongst other things.

If you’re familiar with needessentials concept of DTC and low prices, then you’ll most likely enjoy what Project Blank are doing, it’s basically same same except for the red internal jersey (and is $20 more). Haven’t yet tested one, but there’s a good amount of info on the site around what you’re getting. Ideally we’ll have a review up shortly for you.

*6 month limited warranty (not great)




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LTTCZ = Liquid Tape Thermal Chest Zip Wetsuit.

needessentials have become the go-to company for people wanting a bargain suit that still works well. This suit is their Liquid Taped Thermal Chest Zip option, which is pretty crazy considering it’s only $300 for a 3/2.

In reality, it’s more like a 3.5/2.5 suit if you look at their website specs. It’s got all the bells (but no whistles because you don’t need those) – liquid seams, thermal lining and stretch rubber and is real warm.

If you’re in Victoria or South Oz (12-16 degrees C), or are generally a sook when it comes to the cold, then lean toward this as a bargain option. If you’re WA, NSW, or QLD (18 degrees C +) then the $240 non-liquid tape Need suit might be a better version for you.

*6 months on seams, stitching and materials. 




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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - PEAK

Remember Peak? Don’t see them as often as years gone by, I think the last noticeable moment was with Kerrsy riding for them and now they have Banting repping them. They’re still out making some amazing suits and given they’re basically Rip Curl suits but a season or two older you’re always going to win here.

This one, the X-Dry, is a 3/2mm Chest Zip 100% Sealed Front Zip wetsuit featuring lightweight and flexible X-Stretch neoprene in the arms, shoulder and knees, thermal mesh chest and back panel, a key pocket and X-Dry fast dry lining.

Not sure what else to write. Solid back up suit if you’re flush, great suit if you’re stuck for pennies. Win.

*3 year warranty on all stitching
*12 month warranty on materials 




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Not so much a new comer anymore, but still hanging around making good quality suits at an amazing price point, ISC is a brand you really need to consider if you’re looking at needessentials or Project Blank.

Old mate who started Independent Surf Co did the suits at Billabong for about 20 years, and so you can rest assured that ISC use great quality rubber and panelling/seams (a huge thing that many DTC wetsuit brands sometimes skip).

This Tuxe suit from Independent Surf Co has all the bells and whistles you need in a full suit for winter – stretch, taping, rapid dry lining, GBS seams, etc etc. Really need to test one of these suits as they’re a nice price alternative if Need Essentials, Project Blank or Coastlines doesn’t cover what you want.

*6 month warranty on materials and stitching




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2021 Winter Wetsuits Buyers Guide - Coastlines

“The Coastlines 3mm/2mm Chest Zip Steamer is perfect for those cool, crisp days when the water is cold, the wind has a slight chill, and you want full body protection from the elements. This suit is made so you can extend every session and really top up the wave tally.”

Coastlines are another new brand playing around in the price wars of the wetsuit market. Coastlines offers a very similar wetsuit to need/ISC/Project, but this one in particular doesn’t have any thermal lining. There isn’t much of a difference between all the brands around this price point and with this Coastlines suit coming in at $265, it’s very attractive.

And these are sold either online or from your local The Surfboard Warehouse (think it’s only Gold Coast based, so better off shopping online).

Not sure to be honest as I can’t find anything on their site that tells me. So either ask, or skip. Warranties come in handy when you need them most.. 

If reading our Buyers Guide for Winter Wetsuits has been too much, here’s something to give you some extra froth about surfing in the cold watch the below clip of team Billabong in Alaska. They shot this sometime early last year (i think) and the waves they get in Alaska look pretty damn fun.