East Coast Wetsuit Guide: North East

Surfers walking in the ocean

When it comes to surfing, the East Coast is different. World-class waves are produced by massive storms that draw surfers from all over the world. But chasing the hurricane swells from late summer into the frigid Nor-Easters of the winter comes many changes in water and air temperature.

Technically, two people surfing the same swell could be wearing completely different gear based on the state they are surfing in. And those states could be right next to each other or thousands of miles apart. Whether you are a summer surfer or if you surf year-round, you’ll want to get set up with the right wetsuit quiver in order to stay comfortable on the East Coast.

The key to having the right gear on the East Coast is really just being ready for any situation. There are tricks to get away with less gear, but you’ll never regret investing in an extra piece of neoprene when those rad winter swells come through. The average surfer could easily wear 6 different types of gear throughout the year with the temperature fluctuations.

We’ve created a three-part East Coast Wetsuit guide based on each region and season to help narrow down the best quiver for your surf year. If you’re curious about what gear you need for the other regions of the East Coast check out the links below.

East Coast Wetsuit Guide Part 2: Central East Coast

East Coast Wetsuit Guide Part 3: South East Coast

We suggest using the National Centers for Environmental Information to keep up to date with your region's air and water temperatures. Following those recommendations will help narrow down what gear will work best for you before paddling out.

The North East Coast includes the following states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

*This guide is based on temperature estimates & personal experiences*

Looking out at a surf break.

What Does the North East Surfer Need?

The North East Coast is home to hidden point breaks, gnarly winter swells, and hard-core cold water surfers. Water temperatures can range from 60 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months and 35 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the fall/winter months. Whether you’re a “summer only” surfer or a year-round charger, you’ll benefit from having the right gear to get the most out of your sessions.

North East Wetsuit Recommendations


When late March and April roll around a surfer in the North East will need at least a 3/2mm to get by on the sunny days with colder water. That 3/2mm most likely will last into the summertime until it is warm enough to just wear a bathing suit. We’ve found that the 3/2mm wetsuit is a thickness that many surfers tend to simply love. It’s the perfect in-between of a spring and full suit that keeps you warm in the water with very few restrictions.


Summer in the North East begins in late May and usually lasts until the end of August. During those warmer months, the water generally stays between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your exact location. While it is not an absolute necessity, a 1-2mm neoprene jacket or shortie spring suit is a fantastic addition to your wetsuit collection. A 1mm jacket is perfect to have for the early morning dawn patrol sessions. It will keep you comfortable in the water before sunrise, then, as the sun rolls out you’ll be able to unzip to let in the refreshing water.

The 2mm shortie is more of an investment piece of neoprene but will give you the ability to paddle out in more diverse conditions. It’s really nice to have when you need it. Whether you choose a long sleeve with the short leg model or a short john (sleeveless with short leg), this type of spring suit is great for extra sun protection along with warmth.

Let’s review the “I only surf when it’s warm” complete wet suit package

For someone living amongst the “lobsta” and who simply wants to enjoy those warmer months of surf in the North East, here is what we suggest:

Women's and Men's 1-2mm neoprene jacket

Women's and Men's 2mm spring suit

Women's and Men's 3/2mm full suit

If you’re on a budget choose a suit for the spring/summer season that will fit your body's needs best. Do you run cold? Do you run warm? We can also help you narrow down the right suit, so don’t hesitate to contact our support team for product information.


Fall means bigger swell and weather systems, so you’ll definitely want a thicker suit. Your 3/2mm full suit from the spring will get you by in the first few hurricanes, but a 4/3mm will carry you into the beginning of winter.

A 4/3mm full suit, hooded or not, is one of the best options to have on hand when rolling into hurricane season. The 4/3mm full suit leaves you with more mobility than a 5/4mm while still providing enough warmth during the switch of seasons. With new wetsuit technology, thinner suits are getting warmer. So, a new 4/3mm can keep you warm until those harsh winter months hit.

Along with a 4/3mm full suit, we highly recommend picking up a pair of boots, gloves, and a detachable hood if needed. The North East weather can flip really quickly, so you want your fingers and toes to be protected from the cold. We recommend investing in some 5-7mm boots and a pair of 3mm gloves for the fall season. The longer your toes don’t go numb, the more potential barrels you could be in. Adding these accessories to your fall 4/3 full suit will help get you through the harsher storms that bring lower temperatures and harsh wind. Check out Wetsuit Boots, Wetsuit Gloves, and Wetsuit Hoods on our website.

Snowy winter scene on the east coast
Capture by Allie Heimerle


Winter in the North East is a different beast. It's time to whip out the thick neoprene. Once late November rolls around, it’s bitter cold until late March or April. Nor'Easters are the true test for a cold-water surfer. Temperatures get as low as the negatives in the air while the water temps will be in the low 30s. You’ll often see surfers covered in ice by the end of their session.

Folks surfing the winter swells can do well with a 5/4 Hooded wetsuit. Improved lining and seam construction has made some 5/4 suits feel as warm as a 6mm without the extra neoprene. A highly regarded 5/4 suit amongst cold water surfers is the Patagonia R4 Yulex Regulator 5.5/4 which is offered in men's and women's models. While the suit is one of our more expensive options, it could last you through the winter without purchasing a 6mm wetsuit. The R4 is known for its warmth and durability even in the gnarliest weather. If you’re looking to save a penny you can always layer your 5/4mm with extra neoprene undergarments to keep you in the lineup longer.

If you're the person that wants to stay out in the cold water all day through snow and ice, it would be worth investing in a 6mm wetsuit. The good news is that 6mm suits are more affordable than ever with prices ranging from $300 - $500. That 6mm suit will be the saving grace when you think you're ready to head home and then dreamy tubes start to for

With all that said, investing in the right gear for the season is super important to enjoy your surf without getting frostbite. And don’t underestimate a good pair of mittens, gloves, or boots. We highly recommend at least 5mm gloves and up to 7mm boots. Your toes and fingers are the first to go on when charging the snowy swell so keep them toasty.

So, you’re the year-round North East Surfer. That’s impressive and it also means you’ll need an impressive assortment of gear to get you through the many different weather conditions. Here is our list of what the “Year-round” North East Surfer might need in their wetsuit quiver.

Women's and Men's 2mm Spring suit

Women's and Men's 3/2mm Full suit

Women's and Men's 4/3mm Full suit

Women's and Men's 6mm Hooded suit

3mm Wetsuit Boots

1.5mm Wetsuit Gloves

5-7mm Wetsuit Boots

5mm-7mm Wetsuit Gloves/Mittens

Let’s Wrap it Up

The North East Coast can be snowy and bone-chilling, while summers in the Hamptons can be quite warm and pleasant. If you have the extra cash, investing in the right gear is worth it to be dialed in for any session. Having advanced, appropriate gear will excel your sessions and keep you in the water longer. But there are many ways to get through the entire year without buying 5 different wetsuits if you are strategic about it. If you’re on a budget check out our recommendations to figure out the best set of neoprene for the year.

Don’t hesitate to call our support team at 888-546-6176, drop a comment below, or email us at support@cleanlinesurf.com.

Still on the fence about what to get? Shop our full selection of wetsuits.

Cleanline Surf

Established in 1980, with locations in Seaside and Cannon Beach, Cleanline Surf is the Northwest's Original Surf Shop and remains your leader for surf, skate, and kitesurf needs..