Wetsuit technology has come a long way since surfers first started exploring colder waters. Today wetsuits are warmer, more flexible, and more comfortable than ever before. Each year brings new advancements to make surfing more enjoyable, and 2019 is no exception. We’ve reviewed our hooded suits and after talking to customers, employees, and team riders, these are the 6 best wetsuits for cold water surfing.
O’Neill Psycho Tech 5.5/4mm
“The Most Flexible Suit on the Planet”
The shop favorite here at Cleanline, the Psycho Tech by O’Neill has been our best selling cold water wetsuit since it was introduced 4 years ago. The Psycho Tech has all the quality features you would expect from O’Neill’s top of the line suit, including their famous, super stretchy Techno Butter 3 Neoprene that really makes this suit stand out.
What’s up with Techno Butter?
Techno Butter is O’Neill’s highest-performing neoprene and allows for near unrestricted movement in cold water. If you’ve worn a suit with Techno Butter neoprene in the past you know it’s incredibly flexible and a comfortable fit as well. Techno Butter 3 is the newest version of this material and it’s been updated to be even lighter, more comfortable and flexible than ever.
New for 2019, O’Neill has made some big changes under the hood with an update to their internal tape and liner. All of the seams on the inside of the Psycho Tech are now sealed with O’Neill’s TBX3 Tape. This tape is super lightweight and flexible so it’s able to better re-inforce and protect the seams without stiffening up the wetsuit.
The beloved Firewall liner has also been upgraded to now cover more of your body than ever before. The Firewall liner is the red internal jersey that is super warm and comfortable and it now runs all the way from the core down through the legs. The arms and shoulders don’t have this lining but that’s a conscious choice by O’Neill to keep those areas lighter.
The Psycho Tech, despite its performance features, doesn’t feel fragile and can definitely hold up to the abuses of consistent use. Many of our staff and team riders have been wearing this suit daily for a year with only minimal cosmetic issues. It’s also worth mentioning that this is definitely one of the easiest chest zip suits to get in and out of and the zipper on the chest entry is really solid. For more info, be sure to check out our full review of the suit.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All in all, the Psycho Tech is easily the most flexible suit out there and is our favorite hooded suit for it’s all-around quality.
Patagonia R4 Yulex 5.5/4mm
“Eco Friendly with Unrivaled Warmth”
Patagonia over the years has created some of the warmest wetsuits. Since its introduction, the R4 has established itself as the number one choice for east coast winter surfers, great lakes surfers, and anyone else surfing well into the 30’s and 40’s.
What’s the story with Yulex?
Yulex is a natural rubber derived from a plant called the Hevea tree found around the rainforests of Guatemala. Patagonia has been experimenting with Yulex since 2012 but in 2016 switched their entire line of wetsuits over to this material.
Yulex shares the same warmth and flexibility characteristics as neoprene but has a much smaller carbon footprint, and since it’s harvested from a tree, it can be more sustainably reproduced.
A few years have passed since Patagonia has switched their suits to Yulex and in this time they’ve been able to re-design and focus certain features. In particular, Patagonia has made some serious improvements to the flexibility and flex of this suit.
Starting with the rubber, Patagonia made some important tweaks to the Yulex formula resulting in easily the most flexible series of suits they’ve ever produced. These new suits are seriously more pliable than past versions and make for much easier paddling.
The fit has also been re-designed to allow for more room in the chest and shoulders than last year’s suits. These suits now fit completely true to size and are comfortable to wear. Aside from their environmental friendly Yulex rubber, Patagonia has now also made changes to their glue and production methods to make sure these suits carry the smallest environmental burden possible.
We’ve always been impressed here at the shop by Patagonia’s warranty and they definitely stand behind all their products and provide excellent warranty repairs. That being said, the R4 is without question one of the most durable suits out there and very rarely comes back for warranty.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The R4 comes with the biggest price tag out of any of our cold water suits, but it’s a great suit and totally worth the extra cash.
Rip Curl Flash Bomb 5/4mm
“Excellent All Rounder”
New and improved for 2019, the award-winning Flash Bomb is back. Top to bottom, the Flash Bomb is a solid suit that’s been re-tuned and upgraded.
This year the Flash Bomb has the E5 Flash lining all the way throughout the inside of the wetsuit. The E5 flash lining is that classic orange, fuzzy material you’ve probably seen on the inside of Rip Curl’s best suits for years. That Flash lining dries really quickly (as little as 15 minutes), which makes it worth it’s weight in gold for winter dawn patrol sessions.
In terms of warmth, we think the Flash Bomb is second only to the R4. The mesh smooth skin on the chest and back of this suit is pretty wind resistant and does a good job of generating warmth in your core. It’s well taped internally through most of the suit, and has an external seam weld over the stitching. Internal tape adds weight to a suit, but the Flash Bomb uses a new lightweight tape to make up for it and this suit still feels light in general.
Flexibility-wise, the Flash Bomb is more flexible than just about any other suit except for probably the O’Neill Psycho Tech.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, this is the most balanced coldwater suit available and after wearing one it’s kind of a no-brainer as to why it’s been voted “Wetuit of the Year” 3 times by SIMA.
Billabong Furnace Ultra 5/4mm
“High Performance and Environmentally Conscious”
Previously called the Furnace Carbon Ultra, the Furnace Ultra is an incredible new model that ticks all the boxes of performance, environmental-friendliness and affordability. If you’re wondering why the “Carbon” title was dropped from this wetsuit, it’s because the Furnace Ultra no longer uses Carbon as its main ingredient in the internal linear. Billabong instead has developed a new, groundbreaking material called Graphene.
Graphene is a relatively new material that was first discovered back in the ’60s but wasn’t readily used until about 15 years ago. Billabong has always been on the cutting edge when designing their liners, most notably with carbon the past couple years, and they’re the first wetsuit company to manufacture a suit with Graphene. Turns out Graphene is an excellent conductor of heat, so this new purple and black linear is noticeably warmer than most liners and also feels really light. The Furnace Comp uses this material throughout the core of the body and the hood.
The rest of the Furnace Ultra is equally impressive as this new liner and uses all of Billabong’s best materials. The suit is built with Billabong’s Smart Foam Neoprene which is their top of the line most flexible rubber and it’s now outfitted with their new Airlite jersey around the foam. The best part is that this Smart Foam neoprene not only feels great but is environmentally-friendly as it’s made from up-cycled car tires.
This suit is also unique in the way that it is cut, as it has minimal paneling. Larger panels of neoprene equal more flex throughout the entire suit and less seam related issues. Speaking of the seams, they’re all sealed with an external weld over the stitching for extra warmth and longevity.
This suit has only been out for a few months now, but the reviews and feedback we’ve gotten on it warrant it’s inclusion on this list.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With an industry-first graphene liner, environmentally friendly construction and top shelf materials, this is the best suit Billabong has released to date.
O’Neill Hyperfreak 5/4+mm
The Hyperfreak series has been around for years as a mid-level option from O’Neill. However it didn’t take long for surfers to realize that the Hyperfreak is actually the best value dollar for dollar in the O’Neill line and it quickly became one of our most popular wetsuits. Now for 2019, the Hyperfreak is available for the first time as a hooded 5/4+mm.
What does the “+” mean?
When designing the Hyperfreak, O’Neill skewed their cut to the thicker side. For example, the 5/4mm+ version, in reality, runs closer to a 5.5/4.5 than a 5/4mm suit.
The Hyperfreak notably uses the same ultra-flexible, Techno Butter 3 neoprene found on the Psycho Tech and the rest of O’Neill’s most expensive suits. This material is truly the most flexible rubber out there and this feature alone would make this suit worth it. The rubber in the arms and shoulders of this suit are covered with an external jersey of O’Neill’s new Techno Butter 3X. This outside jersey material has almost a corduroy appearance to it and it’s been designed to be even lighter and more stretchy than the rest of the suit to keep as much flexibility as possible in the upper body.
The seams are all triple glued and blindstitched with O’Neill’s TBX3 Tape over all the stitching on the inside. This is a new tape from O’Neill and it’s the lightest, most flexible batch they’ve ever made. There’s no fluid seam or smooth skin panels on the Hyperfreak, like there is on the Psycho Tech but that just helps to keep the weight and price tag low on this suit. For more a more in-depth look, check out our full review.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Hyperfreak is a simple, streamlined version of O’Neill’s best suits. By using O’Neill’s top materials and passing on some of the extra bells and whistles, the Hyperfreak is the most high performance suit in it’s price range.
Hotline Ultra Hot Combo 5/4mm
“Most Durable and Easiest Entry”
A Northwest Favorite, the Hotline Ultra Hot Combo has been a staple suit for cold water surfing since the 90’s. The Ultra Hot Combo uses a unique extra wide chest zip system that allows surfers the easiest possible entry and exit out of any chest zip suit. This is particularly well suited for surfers with prior injury who otherwise struggle putting on a chest zip suit.
Handmade in Santa Cruz, the Ultra Hot Combo features super stretchy neoprene that is comparable in flexibility to most high end suits. The seams are double glued and blind stitched and internally taped throughout the suit as well. The tape in particular is extra thick and helps make the Ultra Hot Combo one of the warmest suits available, almost rivaling the Patagonia R4. However, when it comes to durability, nothing not even the R4 can touch the Ultra Hot Combo. This is the one suit that we regularly see customers consistently surfing in for 3 or 4 years. We’ve even seen a few extreme cases where 10+ year old Ultra Hot Combos come into the shop looking like they’ve only had a few sessions in them.
Hotline doesn’t market as much as some of the other brands, but they’re an excellent core company whose products speak for themselves. Their sizing is pretty different from all the other wetsuit manufacturers so we recommend you consult their size chart or give us a call before ordering. Hotline suits are a perfect option for bigger guys too, as their size run can accommodate surfers up to 280 lbs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Highly recommended for it’s warmth, durability and ease of entry. Great wetsuit for frigid waters!
So there you have it, those are the 6 best hooded cold water wetsuits out right now.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us in the comments section below or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach us Monday through Friday toll free at 1-888-546-6176 if you would like to talk to us directly.
Now go surf!