The wetsuit top can be used in a variety of surf conditions. From warm tropical waters all the way through to cold and icy waters. It is for this reason that wetsuit top is the one of the most versatile wetsuit accessories and revered by surfers around the world.
The main reason surfers wear a wetsuit top in warmer warmers is mainly for one of three reasons. Firstly for protection from the sun. Secondly, to protect their chest from getting a rash from the wax on their surfboard and from any other impacts the board may inflict.
Cracked ribs are quite a common injury in surfing and a wetsuit top can help protect against this. Finally, 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 can also be worn in conjunction with a hood to provide that extra layer of warmth in colder water. 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 that will protect you from collisions with your board of a sharp reef.
O’Neill Men’s Hyperfreak 0.5mm Long Sleeve Top
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. If you’re looking for a technical rash vest, this is a great pick.
1mm Wetsuit Top
The 1mm top is ideal for tropical waters. Most surfers that wear a 1mm wetsuit top do so to protect themselves from a sharp reef, cold winds, contact with their surfboard, or they wear it for added buoyancy if they’re going to be in big swell where several wave hold downs are common.
There are many different 1mm wetsuit tops available, each with their own distinctive features. Below, we mention a few of the most popular.
O’Neill Men’s O’Riginal2 1mm Back Zip Jacket
This top comes with Ultraflex Smooth Skin rubberized panels at chest and back protect against harsh winds and physical contact with sharp reefs and rocks. It’s also got smooth flatlock seams and Seamless paddle zones at the shoulders and underarms.
There is partial back zipper entry (the zip runs halfway up) as well as an internal boardshort connector loop which comes in very handy in rougher waters.
O’Neill Womens Bahia 1mm Front Zip Jacket
A great 1mm women’s top by O’Neill. The O’Neill Bahia has been redesigned for a new generation of ocean athletes that want to bring beauty, personality, and confidence into the water. The 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 worn for exactly the same reason as 1mm wetsuit tops. Naturally one just gets a little more extra warmth with the 1.5mm top.
XCEL Mens Axis 2/1 Long Sleeve Wetsuit Top
This wetsuit top is made from eco limestone neoprene. The body and upper sleeve section are 2mm think and the rest of the suit is 1mm which on average makes it 1.5mm. It also has an adjustable elasticated waist band which allows one to tweak how tight it fits around their waist.
O’Neill Men’s Reactor2 1.5mm Long Sleeve Top
Made with O’Neill’s UltraFlex neoprene which makes this top super soft and flexible. There are also seamless paddle zones as well as flatlock stitching which allow for high durability. It also has a boardshort connector!
O’Neill Men’s Reactor2 1.5mm Short Sleeve Top
Hyperflex Men’s Voodoo 1.5mm Pullover
This wetsuit top is made from Atomic Foam Super Stretch Neoprene and comes in several colors and size options. Low-profile flat lock seams throughout will feel smooth and prevent rashes and chaffing. You can attach the board shorts to the waist loop and appreciate the SPF 50+ protection from the sun.
Lemorecn Women’s 1.5mm Wetsuit Top
This women’s top is designed 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.
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 having paddling freedom. This vest can also be used underneath a full wetsuit for added warmth in exceptionally cold waters.
The O’Neill Mens Hyperfreak 2mm Top
The Hyperfreak’s technobutter 2 makes every wetsuit in this line feel so soft and smooth. It’s hard to find a another wetsuit company which can rival this. This a perfect top to wear down at your local break when water get’s a little too warm in the summer for your 3:2 wetsuit.
O’Neill Men’s Superlite Jacket 2mm
This top is an all time favourite for surf and paddle sports enthusiasts the world over. It’s got easy access with a front zip an a turtle neck collar for added warmth from the wind.
Lemorecn Women’s 2mm Wetsuit Top
This top is made of 2mm thick high-stretch neoprene. It’s made with a premium lightweight neoprene with more air cells that prevents water from coming in and out. This increases warmth to weight ratio.
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.
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.