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(The Gear Loop) - Although the sun has finally decided to make an appearance and the temptation to jump in the sea is strong, water temperatures around the UK rarely get above 15-20°C (fresh water may get warmer) even in the summer, meaning a good wetsuit is vital if you want to spend any time enjoying a water sport without getting the chills.

We’ve already covered the best winter wetsuits for cold water surfing, but thankfully, the slightly warmer summer water temperatures mean you’ll get away with much thinner rubber, which is generally easier to get on, easier to paddle around in and easier to get off afterwards.

The best spring/summer wetsuits are generally fashioned from around 3mm of rubber around the vital organs, although some of those with more advanced technology can get away with as little as just 2mm, while still retaining some serious warmth.

Lightweight, flexible and incredibly comfortable to wear all day, these thinner spring/summer suits are generally a joy to surf, stand-up paddle board, kite surf and even swim in during the warmer months.

We’ve selected some of our favourites from top surf and water sports brands, all of which have been perfecting the art of the wetsuit for decades and as a result, feature the cutting-edge in rubber technology, warmth-enhancing linings and clever elements that improve the longevity of your suit.

The best spring/summer wetsuits 2022

QuiksilverThe best spring summer wetsuits 2022 product photo 7

Quiksilver Highline 3/2mm Chest Zip

For

  • Ultra-lightweight
  • WarmFlight thermal lining
  • Stylish design

Against

  • Too warm on hot days
  • Larger sizes hard to get hold of
  • Very expensive 

This premium wetsuit from Quiksilver packs a lot of technology into something designed for warmer, summer surfs and water sports.

What makes it so special? Well, there’s a WarmFlight thermal fleece lining on the body and upper legs that helps retain body heat. Plus, the High Lite neoprene rubber used is incredibly light and flexible.

The lower legs and arm panels benefit from a WarmFlight thermal fleece lining and a Hydrolock external seam seal means there isn’t any room for unwanted water to leak in. The internal seams are glued and blind stitched for the ultimate in comfort and protection from frigid waters.

Designed for water between 11°C - 14°C, this sits bang in the middle of the springtime UK waters sweet spot, keeping its wearer warmer for much longer, without the bulk of thick rubber.

The addition of some neat styling and reinforced knee pads for added protection go some way to justify the lofty price tag.

£260 from Quiksilver

VolcomThe best spring summer wetsuits 2022 product photo 5

Volcom Modulator 2/2mm Chest Zip

For

  • Slick styling
  • Rapid-dry thermal lining
  • Easy access front zip

Against

  • Not great for cold days
  • Not the best for the environment

Ultra-smart, simple and brilliantly lightweight, the Volcom Modulator is perfect for warmer spring/summer conditions. Fashioned from soft four-way stretch, limestone-based neoprene, it’s really easy to get on and feels great in the water.

A quick-dry thermal lining helps to keep things warm inside and also means it’s ready to rock again after a few hours left out in the sunshine. All seams are glued, taped and blind stitched for maximum strength and seal, while that fleece lining is comfortable against the skin.

Like the Quiksilver Highline, it doesn’t come cheap, but the technology used here ensures it will last a few surf seasons and will remain warm enough to use even in those colder shoulder seasons.

£245 from Volcom

C-SkinsThe best spring summer wetsuits 2022 product photo 1

C-Skins Element 3/2 Steamer

For

  • Great value
  • Seamless paddle zones
  • Reinforced chest and back

Against

  • Lacks lining
  • Back-entry not the easiest 

For those dipping a metaphorical and physical toe in the water, C-Skins offers a great, low cost solution that’s designed to keep sea folk warm without breaking the bank.

The Element range is arguably its entry-level offering and features the brand’s Xtend neoprene that, in this case, measures 3mm in thickness around the vital organs and just 2mm in the arms and legs for added stretch.

There’s a tough Mesh Skin on the chest and back for added robustness, Dura Flex kneepads and a Super Seal Glideskin collar to ensure the suit doesn’t rub in sensitive places when worn over extended periods.

As you’d expect of a full suit that costs less than £100, it’s lacking a little in innovative quick-drying and thermal technologies, but it covers the basics well and will be a great option for those just starting out this spring/summer.

£95 from C-Skins

PatagoniaThe best spring summer wetsuits 2022 product photo 2

Patagonia R1 Yulex Front Zip

For

  • More eco-conscious Yulex rubber
  • Comfy lining
  • Externally sealed seams

Against

  • Basic styling
  • Not very stretchy
  • Overly expensive

Patagonia made a commitment to the environment a long time a go and as such, swapped all of its traditional neoprene rubber (not good for the environment) out for 85 per cent Yulex natural rubber (a plant-based alternative).

Early Yulex suits were bulky, not particularly comfortable and lacking in the required stretch for physically demanding water sports, but things have moved on at pace.

All of Patagonia’s 2022 suits feature new linings that help increase stretch and this 3/2.5mm suit is the perfect thickness for cold spring days and chillier summer mornings, providing some serious warmth without the additional bulk.

The suits don’t come cheap but they scream quality, with an asymmetrical front-zip with replaceable, corrosion-proof Salmi zipper to provide a better seal and to extend the suit’s lifespan. This is backed up by Supratex kneepads and cuffs, for added stretch and further robustness-enhancing properties.

It’s an investment - and still not the lightest/most comfortable suit we’ve tested - but it’s a great way of breaking the cycle of neoprene and the environmental impact of its production.

£340 from Patagonia

VisslaThe best spring summer wetsuits 2022 product photo 6

Vissla High Seas 2/2mm Chest Zip

For

  • Short-sleeved for ultimate freedom of movement
  • Stretchy as hell
  • Super comfortable

Against

  • Suitable for warmer days (17 - 20°C water)
  • Tight around mid-arms

We’ve always been fans of Vissla spring/summer suits here at The Gear Loop, purely because they are some of the most comfortable and stretchiest out there. The company calls it "Ridiculous Rubber" and we’d have to agree, as the suit feels as close to going for a surf in your birthday suit as it’s possible to get.

That said, there’s still a clever and comfortable fleece lining for additional warmth, as well as triple glued and blind stitched seams for a surprising amount of robustness, given how stretchy the suit is.

Alas, it’s lacking sleeves - which is great for perfecting the farmer’s tan but not so good for staying warm in colder water - meaning this is the suit for hot summer’s days in the UK or for packing when heading off to sunnier European climes. 

€235 from Vissla

McKinnon/PatagoniaThe best spring summer wetsuits 2022 lifestyle photo 7

What to look for in a spring/summer wetsuit

Thickness of rubber

Most spring/summer wetsuits will hover around the 3mm or 2mm mark, with some combining those thicknesses to create warmer areas for protecting vital organs and thinner sections to improve paddling and freedom of movement.

Anything less than 2mm is typically a short suit (often lacking arms and legs) and is only really designed for warmer seas and conditions. We rarely experience those in the UK, making it an expensive investment for the few scorching days we experience. Plus, a full suit will tend to last you longer, as it extends into colder seasons.

Linings and features

Look for those suits with fleece or warmth-enhancing linings, as they can generally get away with using a much thinner gauge of rubber (for increased movement) without sacrificing the warming properties.

A quick drying suit is also a fantastic option, as there’s nothing worse than sliding into soggy rubber on the second surf session of the day. Some of today’s suits can dry in a matter of hours if the weather conditions are right. 

Front or rear entry?

Front entry or chest-zip suits and generally more expensive, but are much easier to get in and out of, while simultaneously protecting the wearer from flushing, where water enters via the rear or neck of the suit.

Back-entry or rear-zip suits are more commonplace, particularly in the lower end of the budget spectrum, but are often a faff to get on and off, requiring some level of contorting to reach the zip in the first place. 

Writing by Leon Poultney.