Beginner Surf Gear

How to Choose the Best Wetsuit Top?

wetsuit top buyers guide

The wetsuit top is useful for a variety of surf conditions. From warm tropical waters all the way through to cold and icy waters. That is why the wetsuit top is one of the most versatile wetsuit accessories and the first choice of surfers around the world.

Surfers wear a wetsuit top in warmer warmers mainly for one of three reasons. First, for protection from the sun. Second, to protect their chest from getting a rash from the wax on their surfboard and from any other impacts the board may inflict.

Furthermore, cracked ribs are quite a common injury in surfing and a wetsuit top can help protect against this. Therefore, a 1mm top (most commonly used in tropical waters) can also provide a little bit of extra warmth. This is helpful if the water is a bit colder than anticipated or if there is a cold breeze blowing.

It is also the perfect choice if you want to team it up with a hood to provide that extra layer of warmth in colder water. Because this type of top will usually be a 2mm or 3mm sleeveless top.

In this wetsuit top buyers guide, we cover all the different types of wetsuit tops available and explain the surf conditions they are most suitable for.

0.5mm Wetsuit Top

The 0.5mm top is used more as a rash vest than as an actual neoprene garment. Consequently, it will protect you from collisions with your board of a sharp reef.

O’Neill Men’s Wet Suit Top – Hyperfreak 0.5mm Long Sleeve

The HyperFreak wetsuit top features O’Neill’s exclusive Technobutter 2 neoprene. This is a lighter and more buttery neoprene which accounts for 30% less water absorption. So, if you’re looking for a technical rash vest, this is a great pick.

O'neill Hyperfreak 0.5mm wetsuit top

1mm Wetsuit Top

The 1mm top is ideal for tropical waters. Most surfers wear a 1mm wetsuit top to protect themselves from a sharp reef, cold winds, and contact with their surfboard. Additionally, they also wear it for added buoyancy if they’re going to be in a big swell where several waves hold downs are common.

There are many different 1mm wetsuit tops available, each with its own distinctive features. Below, we mention a few of the most popular.

O’Neill Men’s O’Riginal2 1mm Back Wetsuit Jackets

This top comes with Ultraflex Smooth Skin rubberized panels at the chest and back. That is why it can protect you against harsh winds and physical contact with sharp reefs and rocks. Additionally, they also have smooth flatlock seams and Seamless paddle zones at the shoulders and underarms.

O'neill 1mm wetsuit top

There is partial back zipper entry (the zip runs halfway up) as well as an internal boardshorts connector loop which comes in very handy in rougher waters.

O’Neill Wetsuit Top – Women’s Bahia 1mm Front Zip Jacket

A great 1mm women’s top by O’Neill. The O’Neill Bahia is in a new look for a new generation of ocean athletes that want to bring beauty, personality, and confidence into the water. Therefore, it is the perfect combination of chic styling and complete function makes Bahia a unique wetsuit line for the style-conscious and performance-driven athlete.

1.5mm Wetsuit Top

1.5mm wetsuit tops are trending for exactly the same reason as 1mm wetsuit tops. They are of better quality. Therefore, one gets a little more extra warmth with the 1.5mm top.

XCEL Wetsuit top – Men’s Collection Axis 2/1 Long Sleeve

xcel 1.5mm wetsuit top

This wetsuit top is made from eco-limestone neoprene. The body and upper sleeve sections are 2mm thick. Similarly, the rest of the suit is 1mm which on average makes it 1.5mm. It also has an adjustable elasticated waistband which allows one to tweak how tight it fits around their waist.

O’Neill Men’s Reactor2  1.5mm Long Sleeve Top

O'neill reactor 1.5mm

Made with O’Neill’s UltraFlex neoprene this top is super soft and flexible. Additionally, the seamless paddle zones as well as flatlock stitching which allow for high durability. It also has a boardshorts connector!

O’Neill Men’s Reactor2 1.5mm Short Sleeve Top

O'neill reactor short sleeve

Hyperflex Men’s Voodoo 1.5mm Pullover

This wetsuit top is made from Atomic Foam Super Stretch Neoprene and is the top choice for many reasons. Firstly, it comes in several colors and size options. Second, the low-profile flat lock seams throughout will feel smooth and prevent rashes and chafing. You can attach the board shorts to the waist loop and appreciate the SPF 50+ protection from the sun.

hyperflex wetsuit top

Lemorecn – 1.5mm Wetsuit Top Women’s Collection

This women’s top has the potential to keep you warm in the coldest conditions and is suitable for most water sports. Spot-taped seams at stress points and flatlock stitching provide a smooth interior and exterior surface to ensure maximum comfort and durability.

Lemorerecn womens 1.5mm wetsuit top

2mm Wetsuit Top

The 2mm top is designed for slightly cooler tropical waters (18-20 Celsius or 65-70 Fahrenheit) and for surfers who are looking for more serious protection from the elements and abrasive reefs.

O’Neill Men’s Reactor2 2mm Pull-Over Vest

Perfect for the serious surfer looking for warmth and protection combined with paddling freedom. Furthermore, it can also be used underneath a full wetsuit for added warmth in exceptionally cold waters.

o'neill 2mm pull over vest

The O’Neill Mens Wetsuit Top – Hyperfreak 2mm

Hyperfreak’s techno butter 2 makes every wetsuit in this line feel so soft and smooth. It’s hard to find another wetsuit company which can rival this. This a perfect top to wear down at your local break when the water gets a little too warm in the summer for your 3:2 wetsuit.

o'neill hyperfreak 2mm wetsuit top

O’Neill Men’s Superlite Wetsuit Jacket 2mm

This top is an all-time favourite for surf and paddle sports enthusiasts the world over. It has easy access with a front zip. Additionally a turtle neck collar for added warmth from the wind is the cherry on top.

o'neill superlite wetsuit top

Lemorecn Wetsuit top Women’s 2mm Collection

This top is made of 2mm thick high-stretch neoprene. It’s made with premium lightweight neoprene with more air cells that prevents water from coming in and out. Therefore it increases warmth to weight ratio.

lermorecn womens 2mm wetsuit top

3mm Wetsuit Top

The 3mm top is not hugely popular as for most surfers that are looking for extra warmth, they would rather buy a 3:2 wetsuit. There are however occasions which call for such a top. A good example may be someone supping or foil boarding in cold water that may not need a full wetsuit.

Lemorecn 3mm

A firm favourite for the ocean sports enthusiast, this top offers up extra warmth and durability that thinner tops simply cannot offer. It’s designed to keep you warm in the coldest of watersports conditions whether it be surfing, diving, paddleboarding, kayaking, or kiteboarding.

lemorecn 3mm wetsuit top

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