MDNS SURF - How to choose your surf wetsuit?

Our expert advice on surf wetsuits

Choosing your perfect wetsuit can be somewhat challenging. Within this article we help you understand the fundamentals of choosing your surf wetsuit whether you are a complete beginner or advanced surfer. Here’s our top tips! 

One water temperature, one surf wetsuit thickness

The thickness of a surf wetsuit is the most important criteria to consider. This choice will depend on the temperature of the water, your ability to resist the cold but also the environment in which you evolve. The conditions of practice play a determining role in the selection of a surf wetsuit and particularly on the thickness. However, we all have a different feeling towards the nature elements which will also influence your final choice. Some feel the cold…others don’t.

With a subtle mix between heat and flexibility, we advise you to find the right compromise between these two parameters to enjoy a comfortable surf session. Indeed, the surf wetsuit in question must provide protection against the cold without restricting your freedom of movement.

Generally, the greater the thickness - the warmer the surf wetsuit will be. On the contrary, the less flexible the surf wetsuit – the more your movements are restricted in the water. The thickness of the neoprene is determined in millimeters using 3 or 2 numbers: the first number corresponds to the thickest part of the wetsuit which is normally on the torso and back and the second number corresponds to the thinnest part of the wetsuit which is normally on the legs and arms. MDNS Surf recommends the following:

  • The 5/4 or 5/4/3 thickness of a full surf wetsuit, mainly intended for cold waters below 12°C, offers an effective protection against the cold in winter.
  • The 4/3 thickness of a full surf wetsuit is the perfect year-round balance source and provides freedom of movement for fresh waters between 12°C and 17°C.
  • The 3/2 thickness, available in different types of surf wetsuits, guarantees superior comfort thanks to its softer neoprene which is excellent for temperate waters between 17°C and 20°C.
  • The 2/2 thickness is nicer in summer, for warm waters over 20°C, thanks to the ease of movement provided by the shorty for example, the ultimate summer surf wetsuit.


Below 12°C 5/4 or 5/4/3
Between 12°C and 17°C 4/3
Between 17°C and 20°C 3/2
Over 20°C 2/2


These different surf wetsuit thicknesses offered are highly dependant on the conditions of which each user is surfing.


The differences in the closures of a surf wetsuit

Another important criteria to remember are the closures that allow you to put on and take off your wetsuit. In total, we count 3 existing closures systems for the construction of a surf wetsuit, each one with its strong and weak points that we will cover below: Back Zip, Front Zip / Chest Zip and Zip Free.

Easy to put on and take off, the Back Zip construction is based on a closure along the spine, ideal for surfing. However, this type of surf wetsuit can limit the rider's freedom of movement, especially in the back, due to the lack of stretch in this area.

The Front Zip / Chest Zip construction is based on a zip located at the front of the chest that opens on one side only that restrics water entry. Indeed, its watertight property guarantees it to play its thermal role and to ensure a high protection. On the other hand, this surf wetsuit requires a little more effort to put it on and take off due to its slight lack of flexibility on entry.

The Zip Free construction does not have a closure which makes it complex to put it on, but it offers a total freedom of movement. High performance and light in weight, this type of model provides an absolute comfort thanks to its elasticity. Despite its flexibility, this very flexible neoprene impacts the longevity of the surf wetsuit's life because it is complicated to keep the same technical properties with such a stretchy and therefore fragile material that relaxes sessions after sessions. Nevertheless, its construction slows down the water entries thanks to its sealing.


The size choice for a surf wetsuit

Finding the right surf wetsuit size can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re just starting out but it is essential to find the right wetsuit. All brands on the market have specific sizes and cuts according to the manufacture of their products, which are usually listed in a size chart. That's why it's important to look at each of them.

In order to find your perfect fit, MDNS Surf has chosen to offer sizes to meet your requirements more accurately. You can, at any time, consult our size guides designed by our teams in our article "How to choose your surf wetsuit size?". To choose your size, it's essential to take your measurements as a reference to find the perfect wetsuit.

Beyond the fashion aspect, it is important to keep in mind that it’s essential that the wetsuit is watertight, otherwise water may circulate inside the wetsuit and affect its thermal properties. To avoid this major inconvenience, the wetsuit must be completely fitted to your body to prevent the formation of possible folds leading to leakage of the water entries. Trying a new and dry surf wetsuit can make you feel slightly cramped, which is completely normal. Indeed, neoprene is a material that needs to be in contact with water to gain flex. Don't worry, your wetsuit will gain in flexibility and comfort after several surfing sessions. However, it is not recommended to take a wetsuit that is too big or too small because in both cases, it can affect the quality of your paddle. Too small, you will feel too tight which will make it difficult to move properly in the water. Too big, your wetsuit will be too loose, which will let a huge quantity of water inside it and which will make you lose thermal insulation and therefore body heat. The advice of MDNS Surf teams is to find the size that allows you to move freely without preventing you from doing sports movements. The idea is to be comfortable without feeling suffocated in your wetsuit.


As you can see, finding the right equipment for a session is not easy. Between your needs, your level as well as the environment and the conditions of practice, it's a purchase that deserves reflection in order to weigh up the pros and cons according to your needs. Your choice will also be determined by your budget allocated to the purchase of a surf wetsuit. In perpetual innovation, the market of the neoprene wetsuit is full of technologies allowing to design products with high quality materials. It is therefore advised to consider these characteristics in the selection of your wetsuit in order to improve your abilities. In all cases, remember that the priority of a neoprene wetsuit is to protect you from the cold. MDNS Surf makes you discover the world of surfing with its products only dedicated to this sport from the « boardsport culture ».

If you have any question, please contact our surfing professionals by e-mail at the following address: who will be happy to share their expertise on surf wetsuit with you. If you liked this article, don't hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter to follow our surfing news and to join us on social media to explore our universe and share good surfing sessions around the world!


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MDNS Surf Team