Santa’s List: Best Wetsuits of 2013

Photo credit: Wonderlane

Got a hole? A tear at the seams? Feeling a little chillier than you have in years past? Sad to say, you can only pee in something, rinse it off and hang it from its neck in the beaming sun so many times before it goes kaput. It’s time you do yourself a favor and buy a new wetsuit – or go ahead and put it on your Christmas list.

Between the R2, R3, E-Bomb, G-Bomb, Flash Bomb, Psycho, Pyscho 3, Superfreak and Psychofreak and so many other slasher-esque names for wetsuit models, it’s nearly impossible to know which suit is the best for your needs. And with water temperatures declining rapidly toward ice-cream headache status, you’d better act quickly.

Check out this wetsuit guide for the stretchiest, warmest, fastest-drying suits on the market this season.


The O’Neill company was started by Jack O’Neill in 1952, and in the world of surfing – more experience means better equipment. By 1980, O’Neill was an international surf company, and their wetsuits remain some of the most durable, comfortable and functional in the industry.

Psychofreak with Techno Butter

Photo credit: Chris Zielecki
Photo credit: Chris Zielecki

It’s time to start buttering up your mom and dad for the TechnoButter. It may sound like the makings of a midnight rave in Amsterdam, but the Psychofreak with TechnoButter is quite possibly the best wetsuit you can buy.

If you’ve been sporting a wetsuit from a few years ago, you’ll be blown away by how far wetsuits have come. This suit is guaranteed to be lighter, warmer and faster-drying than your previous suit. Best of all, you can buy a 4.5/3.5 millimeter suit that paddles like a 3/2 millimeter one. And well, the 3/2 millimeter will make you feel like you’re naked.

Women’s Psycho 3

TechnoButter technology is available for women in the O’Neill Psycho 3 model suit. The XDS-Air Firewall lining in the chest and back will keep your core cozy in frigid water, and the Double Super Seam Weld eliminates those tears that happened in the shoulders and armpits of your old suit. A flexible, warm, durable suit that dries quickly for women? It’s about time.

Rip Curl

Rip Curl has risen to the top as one of the world’s best surf companies, and their specialty is undoubtedly wetsuits. Whether you’re in need of a 1 mil top, a 4/3 to keep you warm for the next five winter surf seasons or a simple pair of booties, you can rely on the Rip Curl brand to pull through and stand by their product. In fact, if you tear a hole in your suit for any reason, you can send it to them for free repair – again and again and again. Trust me.

Flash Bomb Plus Chest Zip

Available in 4/3 millimeter and 3/2 millimeter models, the Flash Bomb Plus is Rip Curl’s pride and joy. If you’re into the chest zip models, you’ll definitely prefer this one over the Psychofreak and vice versa. The new E4 technology means the neoprene is lighter than ever (even last year’s model doesn’t compare). The seams are stitchless and taped, so you’ll never have the same problem you’ve had with your old neon green suit from 1995.

The Flash Bomb Plus’ steep price ($519.99 for the 4/3 mil) might make you wince, so opt for the E-Bomb if you’re on a tighter budget. You’ll still get the new E4 technology and chest zip design, but you’ll notice a drastically lower price for a few less perks.

Women’s Flash Bomb

Photo credit: mag3737
Photo credit: mag3737

It can be tough to find a chest-zip suit for women, so you’ll be happy to know Rip Curl has made one suitable for the bustier sex. They’ve finally made us a wetsuit as top-quality as the men’s and with the same name and features too. The E4 flash lining is warmer than ever, and the E4 taped seams prevent tears around the chest.

In need of a budget suit? Check out the Rip Curl Dawn Patrol for men and women. They’ve recently updated this suit with the E4 neoprene, and it’s a comfortable fraction of the price of the Flash Bomb.


The Xcel brand started in 1982 as a Hawaiian wetsuit brand. It’s since become one of the top wetsuit companies in the surfing industry. In 2007, 2008 and 2010, they won the “Wetsuit of the Year” award presented by the Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association. If you’ve stuck to the brands you know until now, it’s time you test out a brand new Xcel and see what all the hype is about.

Drylock 3/2 and 4/3

The Xcel Drylock 3/2 millimeter and 4/3 millimeter suits are the equivalent of the Flash Bomb Plus and Psychofreak, but even better, the Xcel version is slightly lower in price. The waterproof drylock zip ensures you won’t get those ice cold trickles of water down your back, and the TD3 Th3rmodry technology is as light, soft and flexible as neoprene can get. That is, of course, until next year.

Women’s Infiniti X2 3/2 and 4/3

Unfortunately, Xcel doesn’t make a suit equivalent to their men’s Drylock series for women. This is where you may be better off going for the women’s Flash Bomb or Psycho if you need a truly top-of-the line suit that you’ll use as much as your guy friends.

Although, Xcel does offer the Infiniti X2, which is a pretty darn good suit – it just doesn’t have that same insanely flexible TD3 technology as the men’s Drylock. The neck entry keeps water out better than most women’s back-zip suits, the seams are sealed properly and the quick-dry lining is more than handy. You certainly won’t be disappointed with this suit, but you may be a little jealous of your brother’s Drylock.

Where do I get one?

Don’t forget to check out my article on the best sites for finding surf gear on the cheap. Whiskey Militia holds wetsuit sales roughly once a week that can help you score a top-of-the-line suit for half the MSRP. Ebay is also a great place to pick up brand new suits for crazy deals. Keep your eyes peeled, shop around, and don’t forget to ask Santa.

Author: Courtney McCaffrey

I'm an adventure travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C., Mexico and around the world. This site is named after my grandma’s talk radio show “Bits of Life,” which allowed her to talk about whatever the heck she wanted to talk about, and people loved it.

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