9 best women’s wetsuits for every type of watersport
Whether you’re surfing, sea swimming or stand-up paddling, invest in one of these to keep your warm in the water
There has never been such a great selection of wetsuits for women doing all manner of watersports, from surfing and stand-up paddling to triathlon and open-water swimming.
The first thing you need to know about a wetsuit is the fit. This will be different for everyone, depending on body shape and brand, but your wetsuits needs to fit snugly in order to work.
If it’s baggy, you’ll lose the benefit of insulation and instead have a lot of cold salty water sloshing around inside your suit.
What else do you need to think about when choosing a wetsuit?
Primarily, what you’ll be using it for. Triathlon and open-water swimming wetsuits are more buoyant than surfing wetsuits, and the fabric can be thinner and less durable.
If you’re mostly going to be using your wetsuit in summer, you might want to consider a shorty or sleeveless wetsuit. These wetsuits are also good for stand-up paddling, too.
Here, we’ve included some warmer wetsuits for UK waters of about 15-20C and some for cold-water surfing too, when the water temperature drops to about 6-10C.
We tested each of these suits for comfort and performance during swimming and more vigorous sports on the sunny shores of Brighton beach.
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Zone3 women’s Advance triathlon wetsuit: £169, Zone 3
The Advance from Zone3, is a top-quality women’s triathlon wetsuit at an entry-level price. We found it great to swim fast in, and definitely felt like we were expending less energy than usual. There was enough flexibility on the shoulders for smooth arm strokes and the neck was comfy and not too high. We found the suit easy to get on and off, especially on the cuffs and ankles, which is of course important for speed in triathlon races.
This wetsuit would also be good for open-water swimming, with the bright turquoise sleeves making you nice and visible. Suitable for water temperatures above 17C; available in sizes XS-XL.
Alder Impact 3/2mm women’s wetsuit: £69.99, Ann’s Cottage
We really rate Alder wetsuits, as they’re great value relative to the rest of the market and they perform well. The Impact suit is a good choice for an entry-level wetsuit for British summers and warm autumn days.
It’s lightweight, flexible to paddle in, and easy enough to get on and off. The Impact could be used for all watersports, except for those wanting to go fast in triathlon and open-water swimming. Suitable for water temperatures 14-18C; available in sizes 8-18 and in a shorty version.
Picture Organic women’s Grace 2.2 wetsuit: £95.16, Alpine Trek
Shorty spring suits, such as the Grace 2.2 from Picture Organic, are good for surfing in warmer summer temperatures. But they also work well for stand-up paddling, especially if you want more flexibility in your legs, but also to have the warmth and protection of a wetsuit on top.
It wasn’t the easiest wetsuit to get on, even though the fabric was stretchy, but we loved the style and the lack of zips, which are omitted for environmental reasons. It’s also made from sustainable eicoprene rather than oil-based neoprene. Suitable for water temperatures 22-26C; available in sizes XS-L; also sold in black/palm print.
Roxy 1.5mm POP Surf Zipperless long Jane wetsuit: £110, Roxy
We loved the style of this Long Jane wetsuit. The lack of arm fabric made for easy paddling while surfing and swimming, but we did feel vulnerable to the cold when the air temperature dropped. The wetsuit was stretchy and really easy to get on and off. It’s not the thickest suit so more suited to summer in Europe and hot days in the UK, than the shoulder seasons. Suitable for water temperatures 21-23C; available in sizes 2-12; also sold in black.
Olaian women’s 2mm neoprene 500 stretch shorty wetsuit: £24.99, Decathlon
This is a great value shorty wetsuit from Decathlon’s own surfing brand, Olaian. It’s a good affordable choice for surfing, stand-up paddling or even doing your first few triathlons in warm but not tropical waters. Especially for those new to watersports who want to test out whether they’ll like it before splurging on more expensive kit.
It has a zip at the back and was stretchy enough to get on and off easily, though the fit wasn’t as snug as some of the other wetsuits on test, which would affect how well insulated you were after a while in the water. Suitable for water temperatures 22C and above; available in sizes XS-XL; also sold in black/grey/gold.
Xcel 4/3 women’s comp wetsuit: £195, Xcel
This is a high-performance wetsuit at a really decent price. It keeps you toasty all over, but the fabric is soft and lightweight, giving experienced surfers lots of flexibility for progressive, trick-based contest surfing.
It felt like a hard-wearing wetsuit that would stand up to frequent use, and we liked the extra protection on the knees for added durability. The front zip design made it easy to get on and off. Suitable for water temperatures 10-14C; available in sizes 2-12.
Finisterre Nieuwland 4 hooded cold water winter wetsuit: £227.50, Finisterre
The Nieuwland from Cornish surf brand Finisterre is a good choice cold-water wetsuit for year-round surfing in British waters. We liked the hood, which could be easily tightened, and the extra fabric around your back, which helps you retain heat for longer sessions.
It sealed nicely around the wrists to further keep heat in. The front design and stretch fabric made it easy to get on and off, though the best feature in that regard was the two special loops on the calves, which helped you pull the suit off quickly and easily. Suitable for water temperatures 8-14C; available in sizes 6-12.
Orca Sonar women’s triathlon wetsuit: £299, Orca
This brand has a great reputation for making triathlon wetsuits and the Sonar is no exception, especially for more serious tri racers or open-water swimmers. The Sonar felt really flexible in the upper body for fast arm strokes, but it also had strong buoyancy in the trunk and legs to help you maintain an efficient swim position in the water. The fabric was smooth to further reduce drag, and we found the wetsuit easy to get off for fast transitions. Suitable for water temperatures above 17C; available in sizes S-XL.
Patagonia women’s R4 Yulex front-zip hooded full wetsuit: £450, Patagonia
This is a premium wetsuit for hardy surfers who ride waves in waters just above zero. And it really does keep you incredibly warm, helped by the built-in hood. The R4 is comfy to wear and the front-zip and stretchy fabric makes it easier to get on and off than is often the case with thick wetsuits. As you’d expect from Patagonia, the wetsuit’s eco credentials are strong, as it’s made from Yulux, which is composed of natural rubber, rather than petroleum-derived neoprene. It’s also made using fair labour practices. Suitable for water temperatures 3-9C; available in sizes 4-12.
The verdict: Women’s wetsuits
We made the Zone3 advance wetsuit our top choice as it was a great value, high-quality triathlon suit, though for all-round watersports we would also recommend the Alder Impact. The Roxy zipperless long Jane wetsuit and Picture Organic Grace 2.2 wetsuit are both fun summer alternative choices too.
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