wetsuits make me sad

Gloves, booties, and hoods all make me cry a little bit inside.
I am back in Canada (Tofino and south island) now and the days of boardshorts are over. I have my old trashed xcel 5/4 and that gets me about as far as 30 mins of poor surfing before hypothermia sets in and I am forced to crawl back to warmth.

The water temperature here is 6-8 degrees when its stupid cold, close to 10 or 11 on average days and maybe 15 when the summer heats up.

I really hate wearing a wetsuit and I would like to go with a hooded 4/3 instead of a 5/4 if I can, and maybe pick up one of those quicksilver heated vests for the winter months.

so my question to you is what suit? I have been looking at the xcel drylocks and the new patagonia’s. curious if either is warm enough on it’s own for the water here, and which one I can surf in and not feel like Im fighting against a suit that is stealing all my power and energy.

what about the Ripcurl H-bomb? heard they are warm?

I'm from a temperate area but am cold in the wind and water always. I've gone to wearing a short sleeves and legs suit over the top of my favorite back zip suit with bat guard. Bat guard is great. The over suit needs to fit non snug or it is too restrictive, the increase in warmth is big, it works great for wind, splash, push thru and quick immersions but not so great for longer full immersions. Its an easy concept to test because the short suits are common used and inexpensive, cut off suits from your own used pile will be too snug but are good for a test. For a while I was wearing a shredded shorty with good results.

Cheesebread, I have the Xcel Infintiy Hooded 4/3 and wear it here about 3/4 of the year ( Xcel 5/4 in the winter), and its almost too warm in the summer. My buddy bought one of Patagonia's hooded 4/3s (R3?) and has been wearing it all winter. He says its plenty warm, but prefers the fit of his old Xcel. Think the water temps pretty similar between here and the island, and would guess that either suit along with good gloves, booties, and a heated vest would get you through most of the year.  Try em both on and see what you think.


Water temps where I am drop to 3 or 4 C during Feb and March, with 0 and even less
in really harsh Winters. I have surfed in water that was 28 degrees farenheit, and there was slush and ice chunks floating in the lineup. Conversely, our water typically hits 70F in Summer with peaks as high as 74 occasionally.

For water temps like yours, I would go with a hooded 5/4/3 and a 2 mil vest underneath. My biggest problem was always feet and hands. My core stays warm, but extremities get painful, easily. At my age, I no longer surf in water below 45F. 60/40 rule, more or less.

I have heard good things about the Patagonia suits. They cost more, but have a no fault guarantee as I understand it. You might ask among your local crew as to what they’re using these days.

I’m 61, transplanted from cool to colder latitudes  (yea it’s cold, but surf a bunch with either minimal or zero crowds).

For 50 F or below,  winter air, Excel 5/4 Drylock, 6/5/4 O’neil internal split toe Mutant boots (the best), and Cypher eated vest, which is a real difference maker.  I wear it under a 4/3 above 50F unless very cold winter air, and stay plenty warm…too warm to keep it on highest setting except for lull intervals…

worth every penny…fairly stretchy, however, so go down one size from normal.  Battery charge willl last 3-4 hours shuttling between low and high settings…

Where I surf the water is nowhere near as cold.  I do have one of the heated vests and it makes a difference for me.  I wear it under my 4/3.  I've worn it night surfing and wondered if the electrical current is maybe a shark attractant...?

I just got a Patagonia R3 (three mill throughout.)  The downside is cost, wool is scratchy, it doesn’t stretch very well, and the neck entry is almost impossible to get in and out of (did I mention it doesn’t stretch very well and if I could re-do, I’d get the back zip).

The up side is how well it is made.  Every seam is stitched and glued, not just glued and some rubber caulk spread over it.  The day I got it, I went in my pool, (unheated winter) to try it out.  The pool temp was 48 and I couldn’t tell.  It is so much warmer than my Oneill Psycho II 4/3, but much less comfortable (I need a rash guard). 

I’ll go back to the Oneill when the water warms up. But for now, I get stiffer from being too cold than I do from the Patagonia.

Have you looked at the Hotline suits I think Long Beach Surf shop in Tofino is still one of the only distributors. I used to know one of the dealers out of Vancouver so i could get mine at about half the price. I can try and look up the number ( has been a year or two but might be able to find it) if your interested give me a shout.

better have a few bucks in the checking accoutn for the Fbomb - like $1000…

Whereas Hotline has always made bomb proof wetsuits, the rubber they used was always much stiffer then the competition…if they have gone to newer generation, more supple rubber, would certainly be worth a test fit…

Ditto what Everysurfer says. Everyone I've talked to say the Chouinard suits are quite warm but the neck entry is a no go. Helped peel many off of friends. The cost for a lot of guys is prohibitive though. Longevity will tell the tale. I still love a custom suit from Aleeda and half the cost of Patagonia.

Said it before - excel 6/5/4, 7mil O’neil boots, 5mil O’neil gloves.  

Problem is, according to most folk I talk to here in Oregon, I’m some kind of annomolly 'cuz I don’t notice a difference between a 6/5/4, and a 4/3, when it comes to how it feels. Hell, other than how it feels for paddling, I don’t feel any difference when I’m up and riding in my thick “seal skin,” than how I felt in trunks, when I get back from the tropics.  And, just this morning I was thinking about how many times my “seal skin” provided a decent level of protection after hard contact with my board, or the rocks/muscles/barnecals/urchins.

Good luck with the quest.


No on the patagonia suit.  They make great alpine and back country ski gear though.

so you all think no to a 4/3 with a heated vest?

I had a shitty 5/4/3 all winter last year and I never had any problems

As someone on the other coast of canada (where the water has been 2C/35F for the last two months) in the winter I wear the Matuse Tumo 5/4/3 and the cypher heated vest. 8mm Xcel boots and 5mm split finger drylock gloves. I throw some wool socks on under my boots when it's really cold.


I know this company has been posted before and talked about a bit…their tech now looks totally different…if I were surfing in the type of temps you’re in I might just give it a go if the 5/4 is really not cutting it.

Have the R3.  Love it.  Yah, it’s not as flexible in the water, but it was much easier to get on for me than the Xcel suits.  The wool makes it super-easy to slide the suit on, where rubber suits are really tacky - especially when wet.


Tried on the Drylock 5/4 and 4/3, but didn’t want a 5mm and couldn’t get the 4mm over my shoulders without serious effort.  Wanted to go with the cheaper, more flexible suits too, but just couldn’t justify it, given the compromise the R3 provided.  I hate rubber, and the less of it I need to keep warm the better.  I’m no pro, either, and flexibilty is a secondary concern.  


Water temps were in the high 40s around here the last time I checked. 

My experience with a Patagonia R3 was fairly negative…I like the Patagonia business model, but the suits are not great and they are super overpriced. Had one that wore out in a year of 2-3 days/week of use.  I don’t mean I wore through the knees from pushing on my board like I usually do, but it wore out on the chest, under the arm pits, the zipper seems opened up to create small holes/tears, etc.  Patagonia in SC told me it would be a warranty repair but the “bad cop” down in Ventura said…“dude, that suit is so old, that’s just wear and tear”.  I say BS…I never had a suit wear out that quickly - even ones I abused back when I was a kid and surfed every day, rode my bike to the beach in them, left them out in the sun to dry, etc.  On the plus side, my new Oneill Psycho Freak is sweet.  Guess Patagonia should stick to climbing gear and hemp wallets. Good luck with your suit quest.

Hi cheesy


Water temperatures are very similar where I surf - I gor myself a 6mm excel - super toasty and reasonably flexible. The only negative is the ridiculously tight ankle and wrist seals that make getting in and out a bit of a trial.

I live in England. The water at the moment is about 9C deg.


I like Xcels and Wests off-the-peg and have heard good things about Patagonias and Axxes, too. At the moment I alternate beween a 4/3 West Lotus and a 5/3 Lotus zipfree Airo, depending on which one is drier! I don’t bother with built-in hoods or vests under either.


I have to say though, fit will always win hands down over techy bells and whistles - baggy bits and/or thin parts where a suit is over stretched are not good and no super tech feature will overcome that.

I’ve had great-fitting mid range suits that have been far warmer than some badly fitting top-of-the range suits. I always, always go for separate hoods and lids as well as I find the hoods attached to off-the-peg suts are always either too big (billabong) or too small (O’neill)


Custom is king. A custom yamamoto is even better (if you can afford it!)