Stand up paddle boarding adds a new dimension to traditional surfing, reinventing a classic sport and, some would argue, making it more exciting. In 2013, it was named as America’s most popular outdoor sport among first-time participants, and it continues to draw in curious oceanic sportspeople today.
For SUP novices, finding the right wetsuit can be a challenge, which is why we’ve prepared this article. In it, we’re going to be presenting you with some of the best SUP wetsuits on the market and giving you some tips to help you find the one for you.
SUP Wetsuit Reviews
O’Neill Youth Epic
O’Neill’s wetsuits have long been favored by stand up paddle boarders, particularly its Epic range. The O’Neill Youth Epic is intended for juvenile stand up paddle boarders and so should be high on your shopping list if you’re searching for the wetsuit that is going to make your child fall in love with the sport.
The Epic is the gem of O’Neill’s wetsuit range and so the brand spared no expense in the manufacturing of its youth edition. The O’Neill design team crafted this wetsuit using 100% superstretch neoprene construction. This gives the wetsuit superior flexibility and allows the wearer to maneuver his or her body in whatever manner is necessary.
This wetsuit also features a chafe-free adjustable neck, allowing your child to spend long periods of time in the water without risk of irritating their skin. Meanwhile, an integrated key pocket eradicates the risk of your son or daughter misplacing the keys to their locker.
- Ideal Value Driven Wetsuit; Perfect For Surfing, Diving, Paddle Sports, Lake Activities, And Beach Days
- Backzip System Provides Easy Entry And Exit With A Water Tight Seal
- Ultra Stretch Neoprene: Incredibly Soft Premium Material Has Superior Feel, Flexibility, And Elevates Performance
- Seams Are Blind Stitched And Triple Glued (GBS); Keeping Water Out And Increases Durability Of The Product
- Wind-Resistant FluidFlex Firewall Panels Provide Extra Insulation And Protection Against The Cold
Juvenile SUP wetsuits are not all that difficult to find. Finding a juvenile SUP wetsuit you can trust, however, is not quite so easy. This is because most wetsuit manufacturers primarily cater to adults and so lack the expertise needed to craft a truly impressive youth alternative.
When designing the Youth Epic, however, O’Neill made sure to exercise the same caution and dedication it did when producing its adult counterpart, so your child can enter the water in a wetsuit as impeccably crafted as your own.
One of the major perks of the O’Neill Youth Epic, and the O’Neill Epic in general, comes in the form of its sealed seams. These sealed seams virtually eradicate the risk of cold water seeping into the suit, making for a consistently comfortable SUP experience, no matter how much time your child spends in the water.
The O’Neill Youth Epic is a truly impressive wetsuit, with some declaring it to be the very best youth wetsuit on the market. If you want to gift it to your child, however, you should be prepared to drop some serious cash. As a consequence of the many features of the suit and the reputation of its manufacturer, the O’Neill Youth Epic will set you back close to $150.
This may not seem like a lot of money to the avid stand up paddle boarder who can be certain they are going to use the suit for years to come, but it may push the financial limits of parents who can’t guarantee their child will still fit into the suit six months down the line.
Although O’Neill manufactures much of its equipment in the United States, it is important to note that the brand often outsources such jobs to Asian countries, where production costs are cheaper and factory errors often go unnoticed.
- Chafe-free adjustable neck
- Integrated key pocket
- Multiple colors available
- Wearer will likely outgrow it
- US manufacturing not guaranteed
Stohlquist WaterWare Storm John
Okay, now that we’ve examined a juvenile wetsuit, we can move on to a couple of SUP wetsuits designed with adult stand up paddle boarders in mind. First up is the Storm John from Stohlquist, a popular choice among stand up paddle boarders who don’t mind spending a little extra to get a truly impressive wetsuit. A long john wetsuit, this is a great choice for you if you live in, or are traveling to, a warm part of the world with waters that do not reflect the high air temperature.
The Stohlquist WaterWare Storm John comes loaded with features to set it apart from lesser SUP wetsuits, among them flatlock stitched seams. Flatlock stitching is a fixture of premium wetsuits and is beneficial as it allows for greater flexibility than some other stitching techniques commonly seen in SUP wetsuits. Flatlock stitching also renders wetsuits more durable, so if you foresee yourself hitting the waves on a regular basis, the Stohlquist WaterWare may be the way to go. The flexibility this wetsuit provides is furthered by its long john design.
With no sleeves to worry about, you’ll be able to maneuver your arms without fabric resistance. A series of U-shaped cuff openings makes this one of the easiest wetsuits to put on and take off, so you won’t lose any valuable stand up paddle boarding minutes fumbling around in the changing room. Similarly, non-corrosive YKK zippers hold this wetsuit in place, so you won’t have to worry about it shifting or coming loose once you have donned and fastened it.
- 3mm Standard neoprene
- Flat-lock seams for comfort and maximum durability
- Relief zipper with elastic zipper lock on both men's & women's models
- Integrated SupraTex knees and seat for added durability and abrasion resistance
- U-shaped cuff openings for easier donning/doffing
When designing the Storm John, Stohlquist WaterWare fitted the wetsuit with Supratex knees, which reduce the risk of wear and tear in the most commonly flexed areas of the suit. An integrated Supratex seat further reduces the risk of abrasion bringing the wetsuit to an early demise.
Although the aforementioned U-shaped cuff openings of this wetsuit make it easy to put on and take off, it can still be a pain in the neck to remove the suit should you have to use the toilet in the middle of a stand up paddle boarding session. Stohlquist WaterWare understands this, which is why it fitted its Storm John wetsuit with a relief zipper, eliminating the need for completely removing the suit should nature call.
Much like the O’Neill Youth Epic, the Stohlquist WaterWare Storm John will set you back a bit more than some other SUP wetsuits owing to its many features and its manufacturer’s history of excellence.
Although it is not quite as expensive as its O’Neill counterpart, you should be prepared to drop upwards of $100, should you wish to add it to your stand up paddle boarding arsenal. It is also important to note that this wetsuit, like many wetsuits, runs small. Because of this, if you are unable to try the suit on before purchasing it, you should go a size up if such a model is available.
- Relief zipper
- U-shaped cuff openings
- Non-corrosive YKK zippers
- Runs small
- Only available in one color
Dark Lighting Lonely Fish Women’s
If you’re hoping to keep costs down during your search for an SUP wetsuit, you should consider this offering from Dark Lighting. A popular choice among stand up paddle boarding novices, the Dark Lighting Lonely Fish Women’s boasts a plethora of features, the most noteworthy of which you’ll find listed below.
If you’re a woman with any previous wetsuit experience, you are likely aware that finding a wetsuit designed exclusively for the female body can be a bit of a challenge. As we mentioned earlier, many wetsuit manufacturers cater primarily to adults and pay little attention to their juvenile wetsuits.
To make matters worse, many of these same wetsuit manufacturers focus primarily on their male consumers and pay little attention to their female wetsuits, oftentimes haphazardly altering their male wetsuits to include a baggy chest and loose hips.
Unsurprisingly, such alterations do not a good SUP wetsuit make. Thankfully, Dark Lighting designed the Lonely Fish Women’s wetsuit with female stand up paddle boarders in mind, ensuring the suit clings comfortably to the female body.
To further the comfort of this wetsuit, Dark Lighting manufactured it from premium-quality neoprene. Neoprene is a particularly flexible material and so will facilitate the easy maneuvering of the arms and legs of the Lonely Fish Women’s wearer.
- Premium CR Neoprene Wetsuit for Women | 90% Neoprene, 10% stretch nylon,Thick and keeping warm
- 3/2 mm Full Suit Design | Suitable for suggested water temperatures 55 - 65 °F +
- Fashion & Functional| Keep warm and keep free in multi water sport in not so cold condition
- Tight Fitting! | If you are taller and stronger than the others OR if you are new for diving and not want a tight feeling, please choose one size larger
- Dark Lightning 100% Satisfaction: 30 days unconditional return/refund, 24 hours service. Additional 6 months warranty if any quality issue, please contact us by AMZ mail system
Despite being a full wetsuit, the Dark Lighting Lonely Fish Women’s is a great choice for stand up paddle boarding sessions under a hot sun. With UPF 50+ protection, this wetsuit virtually eradicates the risk of sunburn and heatstroke which often comes along with water activities in hot weather.
Dark Lighting utilized flatlock stitching in the production of this wetsuit, making for increased flexibility and reducing the risk of it falling apart after only a couple of uses. Of course, it is impossible to guarantee no malfunctions will occur, which is why Dark Lighting backs each purchase of its Lonely Fish Women’s wetsuit with a 30-day unconditional refund and service 24 hours a day.
Selling for less than $60, the Dark Lighting Lonely Fish Women’s is one of the most affordable wetsuits on the market today and should be high on your list if you are a stand up paddle boarding novice and aren’t quite prepared to spend upwards of $100 on a wetsuit intended for more avid fans of the sport.
Unlike the two products which preceded it, the Lonely Fish Women’s wetsuit is not the product of a particularly well-known brand. Very few avid stand up paddle boarders are familiar with Dark Lighting, and the brand doesn’t seem to have a very strong web presence outside of its Amazon listings, so curious consumers will have a hard time finding information about this suit and its manufacturer, which may make obtaining a repair or refund a challenge.
Sizing for this wetsuit seems to be all over the place. Some Dark Lighting consumers have reported purchasing their usual size and experiencing a perfect fit, while others have claimed it runs large or small, so choosing your size may be a bit of a gamble.
- 30-day unconditional refund
- Flatlock stitching
- Lesser-known manufacturer
- Odd sizing
- Zipper is difficult to reach
Seavenger is one of the most popular manufacturers of SUP wetsuits among novices and veterans alike, so a Seavenger wetsuit is a safe bet regardless of your level of experience. Among the many wetsuits Seavenger has produced in the years that have elapsed since it first opened its doors, few are more suited to stand up paddle boarding than the Odyssey.
In designing the Odyssey, Seavenger took a number of steps to ensure its superiority and durability compared to other SUP wetsuits in its price range. For example, this wetsuit boasts a number of anti-abrasion panels which combat the wear and tear that typically comes along with long or frequent sessions of stand up paddle boarding.
These anti-abrasion panels can be found on the knees and shoulders, where rips commonly present themselves in lesser suits. Along with its anti-abrasion panels, the Seavenger Odyssey boasts anti-irritation construction, which it achieves through flatlock stitched seams. These seams lay flat, making for a thinner suit and reducing chafing.
- HIGH QUALITY FABRIC — 3mm neoprene wetsuit material is ideal for warm to temperate waters.
- WEAR WITH BCD — Tough shoulder and knee pads add extra strength for surfing or wearing a BCD.
- PREVENTS CHAFING — Flat-lock stitching is soft and comfortable enough for all-day wear.
- SUPER STRETCHY — High-flex neoprene panels in the knee and armpit maximize movement in the water.
- EASY ON AND OFF — Extra long leash and a sturdy, bulky zipper makes it easy to slip in and out of.
Full wetsuits often fall down when it comes to flexibility, which is why you may be skeptical about the Seavenger Odyssey. However, Seavenger designed this wetsuit to provide maximum maneuverability despite its long sleeves. It achieves this through a super-stretch design which utilizes elastic side panels, as well as similar panels around the armpits, knees, and crotch.
This wetsuit promises simplified donning and doffing and, thanks to its extra-long zipper leash, can be easily fastened. Once the suit has been entirely zipped up, the zipper is held in place by a double-tap hook and loop tie down tab for maximum protection.
Despite its many pros, there are a couple of notable flaws associated with the Seavenger Odyssey. For example, this wetsuit tends to run small, which has resulted in more than one Seavenger customer having to return it in favor of a larger model.
To avoid such a situation, we suggest you go a size up from what you would usually purchase right off the bat. Some who have purchased this wetsuit for stand up paddle boarding in cold water have voiced their regret, so you should only consider it if you are going to be wearing it in medium to warm water.
- Easy donning and doffing
- Super-stretch design
- Extra-long zipper leash
- Runs small
- Not suitable for cold water
- Tight neck
Aunua Men’s Shorty Wetsuit
If you find a full wetsuit too restrictive and would like something that allows you to move around a little more freely, you should consider going with a shorty wetsuit. A shorty wetsuit features no sleeves and legs that end at the knee, so you’ll be able to move around naturally. This offering from Aunua is one such wetsuit and is among the finest shorty wetsuits you’re going to find for less than $100.
Obviously, one of the major selling points of the Aunua Men’s Shorty Wetsuit is its shorty design, but it has a whole lot more to offer than that. For example, this wetsuit, like all great SUP wetsuits, features flatlock seams, which reduce chafing and increase the durability of the suit beyond what can normally be expected from wetsuits in its price range.
Furthermore, the Aunua Men’s Shorty Wetsuit naturally fits the male form, eliminating any need for adjustments on the part of the wearer. This reduces drag in the water and, as a result, will allow you to move through the ocean at a greater speed.
Because the Aunua Men’s Shorty Wetsuit is intended to be worn in warm water and equally warm weather, the Aunua design team took extra measures to ensure it is capable of withstanding the heat. This wetsuit provides UV protection superior to that provided by similarly priced shorty wetsuits, so you can be certain you won’t burn or overheat while wearing it.
Aunua also fitted this suit with an integrated key pocket to ensure your most valued possessions remain safe while you explore the ocean on your board. Meanwhile, its YKK back zip system makes for easy donning and doffing of the wetsuit.
The Aunua Men’s Shorty Wetsuit is one of the finest wetsuits in its price range, but it is not without its flaws. For example, this wetsuit, like so many wetsuits on the market, runs small. If you decide that this is the wetsuit for you, you should go a size up from what you normally wear. In fact, some Aunua customers have reported having to go up two sizes to get a comfortable fit.
It is also worth noting that a number of stand up paddle boarders who have purchased this wetsuit have complained about the seam which runs up the front of the suit. According to their reports, the seam can cause some discomfort in a particularly sensitive area.
- Integrated key pocket
- Reduced drag
- Runs small
- Only available in one color
- Uncomfortable front seam
The quality of the wetsuit you purchase directly influences the quality of your stand up paddle boarding experience. For that reason, we suggest you pay careful attention to the below buyer’s guide and the FAQ section. There you will find some useful tips to help you find the SUP wetsuit that is best suited to your needs.
As you are already aware if you paid attention to the first half of this article, there are a number of different types of wetsuits available. The most popular is, of course, the full wetsuit, which covers the torso, the arms, and the legs of the wearer.
Full wetsuits are most useful when worn in cold water, so you should definitely go with one if you envision yourself doing the majority of your stand up paddle boarding in a chilly part of the world. Long john wetsuits feature full legs but no sleeves, a design which can be advantageous as it allows for more natural movement of the arms.
A long john wetsuit should be high on your shopping list if you plan to indulge in stand up paddle boarding in warm weather but cold water, which you can expect from the average American summer. A short john or “shorty” wetsuit is the most logical choice when entering warm water, although some more reserved SUP novices may be put off by how revealing a shorty wetsuit can be.
If you’re searching for a wetsuit you can be certain will last for more than just a summer, you should seek out a model with flatlock seams. Flatlock stitching is the process of laying one sheet of neoprene on another and stitching through both, creating a stronger and more flexible seam.
Flatlock stitching holds the seam closer to the garment than many other methods of stitching, which reduces chafing and makes the wetsuit more comfortable to wear, so wetsuits that feature it are beneficial to those who spend long periods of time in the water.
SUP Wetsuit FAQs
Should I wear a wetsuit to paddle board?
This question is a matter of opinion, although you’ll find that most SUP veterans share the same opinion. That opinion is, of course, that you should wear a wetsuit to paddle board. Donning a high-quality wetsuit will keep your body at a consistent temperature throughout your time in the water, eliminating the risk of you being thrown off your game by water that is too hot or too cold.
Furthermore, a wetsuit will give you heightened buoyancy, allowing you to move through the water with greater speed than you would be capable of without one. Additionally, a wetsuit will protect your knees and elbows should you fall off your board and/or collide with a rock.
Do I need to wear a wetsuit to paddle board?
Okay, this one isn’t a matter of opinion. Technically, no, you don’t need a wetsuit to paddle board. There is nothing to stop you from grabbing a stand up paddle board and heading into the water clad only in a bikini or swimming trunks. That being said, doing so would be ill-advised and could very well lead to hypothermia, sunstroke, or injury.
If you’re hoping to save some money by not purchasing a wetsuit, it is important to keep in mind that the injuries that are avoidable when a wetsuit is worn can set you back hundreds of dollars in medical bills, so it is financially responsible and responsible in general to purchase a wetsuit. If you’re absolutely determined to keep costs down, there are a number of wetsuits listed above that can be purchased for less than $60, and others can be found online and in stores.
What should I wear paddle boarding?
Okay, so we’ve established that a wetsuit is advisable when paddle boarding, but what else should you don before you head into the water? Let’s begin with underwear, the most debated item of clothing among stand up paddle boarders. Yes, underwear should be worn beneath a wetsuit, but certain types of underwear are better than others.
You may be tempted to wear boarding shorts or swimming togs under your wetsuit, which is an understandable temptation, but one that must be resisted. Because they are long and loose, boarding shorts tend to bunch up when worn beneath a wetsuit, which can cause great discomfort for the wearer while simultaneously limiting their movement.
In extreme cases, wearing boarding shorts under a wetsuit can result in decompression sickness, so they are best avoided. For women, a swimsuit is ideal for wear under a wetsuit, but neoprene shorts can also be worn. For male stand up paddle boarders, Speedos are generally recommended for under-wetsuit-wear. We know not all guys are comfortable in Speedos, but they are ideal for use under a wetsuit as they won’t limit movement or bunch up.
Swimming hats and goggles are not needed in stand up paddle boarding, but those who wish to wear them can wear them in the confidence that no major risks are associated with doing so. Some SUP enthusiasts choose to wear sport shoes while indulging in the hobby, which ensures greater comfort when standing on the board while providing extra retention of warmth. However, SUP footwear may worsen one’s balance and will almost certainly make it more difficult to alternate between stances and perform tricks.
Paddle suit or drysuit?
Male stand up paddle boarders only have to choose between wearing a wetsuit or wearing a drysuit. For female stand up paddle boarders, however, there is also the option of wearing a paddle suit. Generally speaking, a paddle suit is more stylish than its alternatives, typically covering the arms and torso while leaving the legs bare.
Because they provide minimal coverage, paddle suits are ideal for warm weather and warm water but should be avoided in colder climates and, obviously, will not keep your body dry should you fall off your board.
A drysuit, on the other hand, provides full coverage and will keep your body more or less dry even if you become fully submerged in water. It is important to note, however, that drysuits are extremely unfashionable and often drag, minimizing speed and limiting movement as a result. While we advise all stand up paddle boarders, male or female, to go with a wetsuit over anything else, we rank paddle suits above drysuits.
How should I store my wetsuit?
If your wetsuit is to continue to perform to its highest possible standard, it is imperative that you properly store it between SUP outings. Before packing your wetsuit away, turn it inside out and wash it down in your shower or bathtub to rid it of any saltwater it may have retained.
Try to keep your tap on a cool setting while doing this as warm water can damage your wetsuit and will likely reduce its flexibility. Once you have done this, drape your wetsuit over an appropriate surface and leave it to dry naturally. When you are confident it is completely dry, turn it right side in and store it out of direct sunlight.
Hanging is preferable when it comes to wetsuit storage, so try to clear some space to hang it in your wardrobe. While folding your wetsuit and storing it in a drawer will not destroy it, it will cause it to lose its shape if it is left in such a position for an extended period of time, meaning it may be too baggy to provide adequate warmth retention when you finally wear it again.
It’s impossible to name any one wetsuit as the absolute best wetsuit for stand up paddle boarding on the market, which is why we urge you to choose the right one for you from the five models we have covered in this article. That being said, the most popular of the aforementioned SUP wetsuits is the Storm John from Stohlquist WaterWare.
While the Stohlquist WaterWare Storm John certainly isn’t the cheapest wetsuit available, its many features more than justify its price tag, with its Supratex knees being particularly useful. With Supratex panels located throughout the suit, it boasts a level of durability many other long john wetsuits cannot rival, meaning it may very well save you money in the long run.
If you would like to go with a less expensive wetsuit or would simply prefer a sleeved model, we suggest the Seavenger Odyssey. Despite its low price tag, the Seavenger Odyssey comes loaded with features, many of which you would expect to find on a more expensive model.
With its anti-abrasion panels, the Odyssey reduces the risk of wear and tear that is often seen in budget wetsuits while its flatlock stitching makes for a heightened level of comfort and flexibility even with its long sleeve design.