Summer Wetsuits! The first week of summer is here, which means it’s time to think about thinning down what you wear in the surf to be looser, freer and get a little sun on your skin. What? I hear you say. Don’t you mean it’s almost winter? It is if you’re reading in the Northern Hemisphere, in which case mark your calendar for May 16th 2019 to come back and have a read again. But, if you’re from the dirty south, simply live somewhere warmer anyway, or if you’ve got an unhealthy rubber fetish, then pull on your booties and neoprene cape and read on. Here is your summer wetsuit buyers guide.

This summer wetsuit buyer’s guide is all about short arm steamers and wetsuit jackets. Since Lincoln thinks springs suits are good and wrote all about them here. I prefer to avoid having my balls being clamped in a rubber vice like springy’s often do, and like to feel all tropical and have boardies on (depending on how warm the water is). So, here are my key picks for summer wetsuits this 2018/2019 season…

Quiksilver Highline Plus

$200

Summer Wetsuits Buyers Guide Quiksilver
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This is a great high-end jacket with lots of smooth rubber on it to reduce wind chill during those blowy summer sea breezes. It’s also the only good coverage smooth jacket I saw that didn’t have a ridiculous zip up the front. Are those still in fashion? Really? 🤦‍♂️

Anyway, this has sealed seams, full-stretch rubber and a nice finish. A really great summer wetsuit jacket to pair up with some good boardies so you’re feeling all Free Willy but a little less chilly.

Rip Curl E-Bomb

$200

Summer Wetsuits Buyers Guide Rip Curl
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Because I’m so in love with Rip Curl’s E6 rubber they get a run here in the wetsuit jacket department as well. Only just though. Why? BECAUSE THERE’S ZERO INFORMATION ABOUT THIS JACKET ON THEIR SITE. It’s a couple of pics and a price. Not even any dot points. Seriously, if I was shelling out $200 for a wetsuit jacket, I’d want a little education on it.

If you zoom in on the pics on their suit you can confirm it’s E6 rubber and has GBS seams (assuming the photo sample is the same as production, which it should be). If you’re a fan of Rip Curl’s steamers like me, this wetsuit jacket should continue to keep you happy.

Billabong Revolution

$150

Summer Wetsuits Buyers Guide Billabong Vest
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I really, really like Billabong’s Revolution series of wetsuits, throwing out fun prints on good performing rubber. If they had a short sleeve steamer in stock with this kind of styling on their website, it would have gotten a run as the middle price option in our summer wetsuits guide. Alas no. But hurrah, this jacket is a ripper.

It’s reversible, which means you get two looks for the price of one. It has sealed seams for warmth, comes in excellent stretchy rubber and is a great price for just $150. My top pick jacket for this season for sure.

Independent Surf Co

$90

Summer Wetsuits Buyers Guide Independent Surf Co
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You thought you’d see a Need Essentials Jacket here again, didn’t you. Not this time. Why? Because I’m not a huge fan of zips on wetsuit jackets (even in the back) and while Need has added one into theirs, Independent Surf Co haven’t. They’re also crazily priced at $80 and I know ISC use great quality rubber because I used one of their suits a little while back for testing.

If you’re wanting a no frills but still high-grade vest at a super value price this one is the go (or head over to Need Essential if you’re willing to add the light leak a zip will bring in exchange for making it easier to get onto). But we’re here for this one, it’ll be your best value purchase.


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Rip Curl E-Bomb

$400

Summer Wetsuits Buyers Guide Rip Curl e-Bomb
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Ohhh lordy. This is the short sleeve version of the steamer I thought was the most high-performance during my winter tests (you can find them here). The new E6 is super dreamy, flexible like a double-jointed gymnast and easy to get on. The zip-free closure has a great seal, while the all-black look in this suit is super stealth.

It wasn’t the warmest steamer getting around, however, which means it won’t be the warmest short sleeve. But then, this is a summer guide so it’s not the #1 concern. Likely you’re more worried about squeezing out every ounce of twist, spin and stretch you can. In which case, this is the go.

Patagonia R1 Yulex

$450

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This is the amputee brother of the wetsuit I thought was the best mix of stretch, warmth and environmental considerations this winter just gone. A massive step up in terms of flexibility for Patagonia, they’ve retained most of their toasty factor, with a really solidly built suit from recycled materials and naturally-grown Yulex rubber.

Everyone needs to up their game in terms of sustainability and Patagonia lead the charge here. Get behind them and keep our mother ocean happy. She might not bitch slap you so hard next time you’re out in the water.

O’Neill Superfreak

$300

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A great medium-priced option from one of the best wetsuit makers in the world. O’Neill been at it a long time and know how to put something really warm and flexible together. Pity they’re not so great with product descriptions. Click the link and see what I mean. 5 dot points of technobabble that means bugger all to me except it’s got glued and blind stitched seams.

Still, I know the Superfreak is a good suit because I’ve worn them in the past and would be more than willing to take a punt on going one of these knowing it’s a great middle ground for price/brand integrity.

Need Essentials

$180

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Again, a suit I’ve reviewed in the past in the steamer version here and recently been surfing in the short sleeve version too. Plenty stretchy, sealed with quality materials, Need Essentials are for sure one of the best value options on the market right now. They don’t quite have the full finishing of the top brand’s suits, but they’re amazing to surf in and look stealth AF.

For well under $200 you’ll be hard pressed to find something that matches this wetsuit at basement price for the level of performance you’re going to get.