Top Picks: 10 Eco-Friendly Surf Products of 2023
Nothing lasts forever, and each year surfers buy new leashes, boards, fins, and wetsuits to replace their gear that’s snapped, torn, or just plain ol’ worn out. With such constant demand and inevitable turnover, it’s great to see certain companies offering more environmentally-friendly options to minimize their production impact. Now more than ever, surf companies are releasing excellent products with smaller carbon footprints, more sustainable sources, and healthier production methods. We’re proud to carry these brands and created this list to showcase the most eco-friendly surf products for 2023.
Eco-Friendly Products Featured
- Patagonia Yulex Wetsuits - $49+
- Billabong Furnace Natural Wetsuits - $449.95+
- Dakine Surf Traction Pads - $41.95+
- Futures Alpha Net Plus Fins - $37.95+
- Slater Designs Traction Pads - $41.95+
- Lib Tech Surfboards - $799.95+
- Slater Designs Leashes - $31.95+
- Lib Tech RRIPS Fins - $49.95+
- O'Neill Blueprint Wetsuits - $129.95+
- KS1 Endorfins - $129.95+
Patagonia Yulex Wetsuits
No wetsuit company has pushed more for sustainable production in recent years than Patagonia. Their introduction of Yulex marked the first truly successful neoprene alternative in wetsuits. Yulex is a rubber that’s harvested from the sap of a rubber guayule tree in South America. This rubber is renewable, and yet it still flexes and carries the same warmth as the limestone-based neoprene we’re all used to wearing. Patagonia initially offered only a few models in Yulex, but after a few years of success and positive feedback, they now build all their wetsuits and rubber gear using this material.
Beyond Yulex rubber, they also have popularized a bunch of more environmentally friendly production techniques, such as dope-dying their fabrics, using solvent-free glue, and running a recycled polyester liner.
Billabong Furnace Natural Wetsuits
Billabong has been experimenting with many interesting materials and now proudly offers an environmentally friendly suit called the Furnace Natural. The Furnace Natural uses Yulex Pure Stretch foam, similar in source and production to the rubber Patagonia uses. The big difference between the two is that Billabong’s recipe is more flexible and wears a little lighter in the water. Even more impressively, Billabong has engineered the Furnace Natural to break down once in a landfill. The chemicals and materials present in a landfill start the reaction, so these wetsuits will hold strong until you throw them out.
Even on the rest of their wetsuit models, Billabong has found a way to be eco-friendly by using 100% recycled materials in their jerseys. If you’re unfamiliar, every wetsuit’s rubber is sandwiched on either side with a thin layer of fabric called a jersey. Billabong uses a blend of recycled polyester, nylon, and spandex (from their rashguard production) to create these internal and external jerseys on every wetsuit they make.
Back in 2018, Dakine switched its whole line of traction pads to Friendly Foam. Friendly Foam is an EVA foam pad like the ones we’re all used to, except Dakine engineered an additive called EcoOne inside each pad. EcoOne accelerates biodegradation in the presence of chemicals in an active landfill. This means that the pad won’t break down in the ocean or after years and years after use but WILL biodegrade once it’s in a landfill. Honestly, we haven’t noticed a difference in feel, performance, or appearance since they switched over.
Futures Alpha Net Plus Fins
Futures Alpha series of fins are made by combining recycled fishing nets (via a program called Net Plus) with their tried and true methods of fin production. Discarded fishing gear is thought to account for 10% of all the plastic pollution in the ocean, and Bureo’s Net Plus material keeps those nets out of the ocean’s food chain and repurposes them into fins.
Aside from keeping this stuff out of the water, the Net Plus program also protects wildlife and supports local fishing communities by offering them financial incentives for participating. These fins are the real deal, and with their mid-level amount of flex, they are a smart choice for any daily driver. To top it off, all Alpha fins are made domestically in Huntington Beach, CA.
Slater Designs Traction Pads
Slater Designs traction is made from Algae. Algae is a green, plant-like organism that grows extremely quickly at the surface of freshwater habitats. For their traction pads, Slater Designs partnered with Bloom, a company that brings a machine to lakes and ponds to pull algae out of the freshwater, returning clean, filtered water back to the ecosystem. Bloom then uses the algae to make flexible foams like a traction pad. In fact, each traction pad is the product of algae from about 28 gallons of filtered water.
When these pads first came out, they sounded almost too good to be true, and we weren’t sure how well algae would withstand the abuses of surfing. After a few years, we can say that these are solid as they come and haven’t had any issues with them falling off or breaking down.
Lib Tech Surfboards
Our neighbors to the North: Washington’s Lib Technologies, have been doing things their way for decades. Lib’s surfboards are no exception and are made 100% out of their proprietary materials. Other than the set screws for their fin boxes, literally, every material used in their boards was developed by Lib Tech for Lib Tech.
Founders Mike Olsen and Pete Saari developed their own unique, Bio-Matrix resin that’s less toxic chemically than traditional resin and requires fewer solvents during glassing. This resin also requires practically no sanding, so they’re far less hazardous waste and further resin exposure to their workers. Libs also use Nitrogen Cell Foam for their blanks which are made with environmentally friendly blowing agents. Finally and best of all, Lib Tech surfboards are all made in America.
Slater Designs Leashes
The Slater Designs leash is made of recycled plastic bottles, urethane, and Yulex, the same plant-based rubber Patagonia’s wetsuits are built with. These leashes are tough with stainless steel swivels and come in two different thicknesses, comp and regular. We’ve used these leashes extensively and found them to be just as strong and dependable as any other premium leash.
Lib Tech RRIPS Fins
Lib Tech's RRIPS fins use the offcuts (imagine the corner pieces of a surfboard blank) that would normally be thrown in the trash to use as the core of their fins. This is a smart and efficient way to upcycle the extra scrap materials from their surfboard production to something great. The same environmentally friendly bio-resin Lib uses for their boards is used here, and these fins are available in a few different styles and sizes.
As a reminder, these fins only work in Lib Tech boards with their unique FOC fin box, so be sure to double-check your board before ordering.
O'Neill Blueprint Wetsuits
As one of the original wetsuit companies, O'Neill is known for their groundbreaking buttery-smooth Technobutter neoprene. O'Neill took this popular neoprene and found a way to infuse recycled oyster shells, tires, and plastic and launched the eco-friendly Blueprint Series of suits.
If you're familiar with the Psycho Tech, the Blueprint is pretty much the same suit, but incorporates more eco-friendly materials. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves: the Blueprint certainly isn't the most eco-friendly suit out there, but we're stoked to see O'Neill moving towards more sustainable production processes. Read our full review of the Blueprint Wetsuit.
KS1 Endorfins Surf Fins
We're not surprised that Kelly Slater has done it again on the eco-friendly front. In 2021 he introduced his new line of surf fins: Endorfins. Modeled after the KS1 fin template, the Endorfins are comprised of a 100% recycled P.E.T. (polyethylene terephthalate) core which is 90% air. The fins are so lightweight that they can float on water. In typical Slater fashion, we've found the fins can withstand the wear and tear of high-performance surfing.
Remember that the FCS II model doesn’t click in and out like a typical FCS II fin. The Endorfins have two screws for each fin, ensuring they are locked in snugly. If you're curious about the KS1 Endorfins, take a look at our full review.
There you have it; those are the 10 most environmentally friendly surf products at the shop right now. We hope more companies follow suit and can produce their gear in a more sustainable fashion. If you have any questions about this gear or any of the gear on our website, leave a comment, give us a call at 1-888-546-6176, or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you see any environmentally friendly surf products you think we should be carrying, be sure to let us know!