As winter temps in the South drop faster than Mikey Wright’s wallet, it’s time for most surfers to start thinking about their rubber. Should you upgrade now? Hold out a little longer and wait until next year? Or get through most of winter and pick something up on sale in September? One of the other pressing questions is ‘which wetsuit should I buy?’ This guide should make all of those questions a little easier.

I’ve been testing rubber for some time now, and this year was no exception. A little while back I tagged into the Lipped Podcast wetsuit review to see what’s warm, what stretches and what leaks more than a ten-year-old tea bag. For my money this has been the best year for wetsuits for a really long time. Everyone has stepped up their game, with a handful of brands really breaking through key aspects of what makes a good suit.

Here are my top picks for suits this year, depending on what you’re looking for…

Billabong Furnace Carbon

$620

Billabong Furnace Carbon Fullsuit - Winter Wetsuit Buyers Guide

Pound-for-pound the Billabong Furnace Carbon is the warmest wetsuit I’ve ever worn. Seriously. The secret is in the purple stuff on the inside. It’s Japanese made, carbon-fuelled and, apparently, pretty expensive considering the elevated price tag for the suit.

Bottom line, it will keep you sweatier than a sumo at a sauna orgy. I’m in West Oz and the 302 is too hot for me. It’s plenty stretchy too. Comfortable, easy to put on, finished super well.

If you surf with polar bears and penguins, this suit (or thicker versions) should be your go to.

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Patagonia R1 Yulex

$600

Patagonia R1 Yulex Fullsuit - Winter Wetsuit Buyers Guide

Every year I try the Patagonia suits and every year they’ve been stiffer than a politician trying standup. Not this year. This thing is insane! For sure the best all-round wetsuit of this year’s pack. It’s stretchy, warm, well-made AND has environmental considerations built in. I won’t go into detail about the Yulex rubber being better than neoprene, or recycled jersey being better than virgin, but safe it say, it makes a very caustic product much more friendly for mother earth.

If you want something that is a pleasure to surf in, will last a few seasons and will keep you toasty, get this suit. The enviro aspect is now a bonus, instead of the main feature.

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Rip Curl E-Bomb

$450

Rip Curl E-Bomb Zip Free Fullsuit - Winter Wetsuit Buyers Guide

Hands down the stretchiest, most comfortable suit ever made. Where Billabong has broken through on warmth, Rip Curl has stepped it up in the Ferrari stakes. This isn’t as toasty as the other suits out there and it’s not built to be (for Rip Curl, that’s their Flashbomb). It’s built to have you as close to surfing in the buff as possible, without the shriveled mollusk going into its shell. The price is great too, since it’s all E6 stretch rubber and no thermal lining.

West Aussies, Queenslanders and New South Welshmen – this is likely your suit of choice (unless you’re a lizard that feels the chill more than most).

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Need Essentials Thermal

$240

Need Essentials Thermal Fullsuit - Winter Wetsuit Buyers Guide

Hello value. Finally, Need Essentials have put some thermal linings in their suits and delivered a warm, stretchy 302 for just $240. Are you kidding?! It’s stealth all black and performs really, really close to most of the other top-tier suits our there. The finishing isn’t as good as the other options, but you’re getting what you pay for there. Make no mistakes though, it’s an incredible suit for what you’re paying.

If you’re watching your bucks and want something that’s rock solid and will keep you in the water all winter, grab this suit.

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