The 5 Best Summer Wetsuits [2021 Edition]

by Chris Smith

Check this guide to the best summer wetsuits for 2021. We’ve got the shorties, steamers and eco suits that we think are the bee’s knees this season.

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

Temp check. What’s that? 62+. Wahoo. It’s 3/2 time. As May turns to June in the Northern Hemisphere and the H2O begins to crank up the heat (or the opposite down south), surfers everywhere are preparing to cut the thickness of those suits. It’s a joyous day when it happens, adding more flex to your paddles and more freedom to the surf experience. We love it.

But what are the best summer wetsuits for this year? Which wetsuit brands are making waves in the market? Who’s got the hottest new eco neoprene or the most light-weight Yulex rubber cuffs? We’re here to help with that. This guide runs through a couple of what we think are the creme-de-la-creme of the current summer steamer offering. There’s something for a whole host of riders, recommended by our in-house team who are, in all honesty, just happy to be finally surfing warmer waters.

This guide to summer wetsuits is just one part of our ultimate wetsuits guide

But first…what exactly is a summer wetsuit?

Best summer wetsuits

The truth is that summer wetsuits aren’t all that different to winter suits. Basically it’s all about the thickness of the neoprene or natural rubber that’s used in the suit construction. Suits for cold-water surfing tend to have at least 5mm to them. Fall and spring suits compromise with 4mm. Summer suits all start at a thickness of 3mm. That might not seem like much but it makes a whole load of difference to the weight and the flex of the product, so you’ll be surfing better and for longer.

Generally speaking, summer suits should be used in waters with temperatures of 16-22 degrees. The hotter the water, the more you’re likely to be able to switch to a shorty (a type of summer suit that has no arms/legs). If it’s your first time buying a suit for the warmer months, we’d stay stick to a 3/2mm full suit – that’s the standard across the board and offers the most versatility overall.

A quick-jump guide to the best summer wetsuits for 2021

Vissla 7 Seas 3​/2 Full Chest Zip Wetsuit – *our top pick*

Highlights

  • Very stretchy neoprene
  • Seems lighter than other 3/2s
  • Chest entry and good body contours

There’s a constant debate going on at The Surf Atlas as to who wins out when it comes to the top overall wetsuit brand. Two big names are always up there – Xcel (more on them later!) and Vissla. Let’s put it this way: This OC-based outfitter out of Aliso Viejo has a very loyal following and we can see why. They basically make fantastic suits, all of the time.

More than that, when it comes to neoprene for the warmer months of the year, we think they’re a trick ahead of the pack. Vissla’s  Japanese limestone-based material is air-bubble light and feels, at least to us, just a little more flexy than other stuff at the same price point.

That might be down to the manufacturing principle – Vissla try to offer “everything you need in a wetsuit and nothing you don’t”. Or, it could be the Super Stretch infusion in the outers and the Brain Fuzz thermal lining, which is thinner but just as toasty as most competitors.

More generally speaking, the 7 Seas has established itself as one of the go-to midrange options on the market today. At just a touch over $200 apiece, you can spend a whole load more on gear if you’d like. But we’d ask why bother? You’re getting all the bells and whistles in a steamer that looks pretty slick and fantastic here.

XCEL 2mm Comp Wetsuit

Highlights

  • 2mm all over makes it good for warmer destinations
  • Great durability
  • Aesthetic suit design

Best for? High performance surfing in places that get very hot.

Remember we mentioned the two big names of wetsuit making today? Well…here’s the other contender. Some of us simply won’t surf in anything other than an Xcel. Once you get a feel for the unique form of their tech-heavy suits, it can seem like nothing else will do. That’s certainly where our surf writer Tom Lacmundy is right about now. He says “the Xcel Comp is the pinnacle of summer surf suits and it’s been my choice on the French Atlantic coast from May to August virtually every season for the last three years”.

Big words. But they come backed up by some nifty technology, which is precisely what you’d expect of the top-of-the-range suit from the Xcel flagship. You’ve got the Thermolite linings, which harness body heat to get the inside membranes of the suit nice and toasty, nice and fast. On top of that, there’s trademark Xcel Japanese Limestone, which we don’t find quite as light as Vissla’s but is probably a touch more durable.

How its put together is the real key of the Xcel, though. This is one beautiful aesthetic suit, with a single front panel that helps to maximize your range of movement. There’s also blind-stitched seams throughout and a lovely, silky-feel Glide Skin Collar that’s a godsend for anyone (AKA me!) who’s prone to neck rashes after long sessions.

Another main reason the Comp reigns highly on our list of the best summer wetsuits for 2021 is that it’s 2mm all over. It’s thinner and lighter than its 3/2 compadres, so it’s a great choice for the warmer summer destinations that still require neoprene – Portugal, Spain, Baja.

XCEL 3​/2 Infiniti Wetsuit

Highlights

  • Official Wetsuit of the Year
  • Lots of features that keep the vast majority of surfers happy
  • Channel Flex is great for surfers who paddle and turn a lot

Best for? Shortboarders who love to move and paddle.

When we dragged on the Xcel Infiniti winter suit this past cold season, we felt like yelling, “ah – they’ve done it again”. We later found out that the long-running range had garnered the prestigious Wetsuit Of The Year accolade at the Surf Industry Manufacturers Awards. At least we know we’re not alone in falling in love with this particular neoprene…

The Infiniti is a sort of sit-between that runs alongside the Comp and the Comp X suits that form the higher end of the range from Xcel. However, it’s a bit more of an all-rounder than those performance models in our opinion. One industry Mag even described it as the “Golf GTI” of suits. The reason? There’s lots of focus on what the everyman surfer wants. Strong thermal features meet loads of flex.

You’re sure to feel comfy thanks to the Channel Flex addition. It’s a crosshatch woven fabric that brings lots of fibres at different angles against each other. The result? A very bendy wetsuit surface that will fold that way for your next duck dive; this way for that drop-in on Waikiki. Radiant Rebound – a metal-like interior lining – is another thing that works almost without you noticing, but it does add considerable warmth on the key panels.

Sisstrevolution 3​/2 7 Seas Print Back Zip Wetsuit – Women’s

Highlights

  • Fantastically fitted suits
  • Glideskin neck entry to reduce rubbing
  • Looks great

Best for? Sisstrevolution make the best summer wetsuits for women right now in our opinion.

If the Xcel Infiniti has been hitting the headlines for its SIMA award and that’s one special suit, it makes sense to see what it beat in the final. Cue relatively-new-to-the-market Sisstrevolution. An offshoot of Vissla and based out of sunny California, they’re in a good place to create some seriously groundbreaking stuff. And that’s precisely what they’ve done…

The Sisstrevolution 3​/2 7 Seas is a gorgeous all-rounder of a summer suit for women. It adds curved body fits to panels of soft limestone neoprene that’s eco-friendly and very stretchy. There’s Glideskin on the neck for extra comfort around high-contact zones. And you’ll definitely feel the protection from the Supratex knee pads, which are very well hidden in the body of the suit.

The Sisstrevolution suits also look fantastic. The 7 Seas version is available in plain, slick black, or there’s a floral panel version with something to look at on the uppers. Choose that if you want to stand out.

XCEL Axis 2mm Short Sleeve Springsuit

Highlights

  • Best pick for hot weather
  • Uber flexy
  • No front zips for the bodyboarders

Best for? Shorties like the Xcel Axis are the best summer wetsuits for the hotter destinations where the sun gets scorching!

Sometimes when things get super hot in August and September, you need even less coverage than you might of thought. These are the days we dream of, when the surf sunscreen is scrawled over the skin and the rays are beating down. AKA – shorty time.

A shorty is essentially everything you get in a standard summer suit, only the arms or the legs have been lopped off. Nope, it’s not down to an unfortunate factory mishap. It’s to help with heat management in the hotter destinations – places like Portugal, Morocco and Mexico – where the ocean still calls for neoprene but the mercury likes to soar.

As shorties go, we simply can’t shake our love for the Xcel Axis. It’s got the look of more of a tri suit or diver’s suit, but there’s mega flex to it and the whole thing comes in at sub-$100. We also like that it’s back zip to keep things flat on front for the foamers, and that it has the trademark Performance Stretch Neoprene from Xcel – stretchier than a rubber band that stuff!

Billabong Men’s 3/2 Absolute Chest Zip Wetsuit

$189.95

Highlights

  • Graphene-coated yarn to increase warmth
  • Affordability
  • Great entry-level suit

Best for? Your first ever summer wetsuit

If you’re watching the dollars and cents but still want in on the action when it comes to the best summer wetsuits for 2021, we really don’t think there’s much scope to go wrong on the Billabong Absolute range. A long-time fav among this global brand’s steamer range, this is sorta’ entry-level with frills.

Okay, so the price point isn’t going to beat a $100 second hander, but you will feel the benefit from the graphene-coated threads on the main front and back panels. That will trap in the warmth and means the suit lasts longer into fall, and can even be a doozy for spring surfing. It’s versatility like that that will keep you out in the water practicing pops and turns longer than your pals.

We also find Billabong suits to have a generally all-round standard fit. They are tight (we wear medium-tall but are probably more towards the medium side of the scale) and come in like a glove if you’re a skinny surfer (ya, we need to eat some more Danishes). That’s all linked up with lovely Superflex neotape seams that bring good internal comfort and stretch.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

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