Best Women's Wetsuit Pants

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
355 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best women’s wetsuit pants

Last Updated September 2020

A one-piece wetsuit can restrict your range of motion and become uncomfortable after long periods of time. Wetsuit pants, which can be topped with a swimsuit, rashguard, or wetsuit vest or jacket, are an ideal alternative for enjoying water sports like windsurfing, surfing, or wakeboarding.

All women’s wetsuit pants can help you stay warm in the water, keep you more buoyant because of the air bubbles locked in the material, protect your lower body from hazards in the water, and offer UV protection as well. Wetsuit pants are usually made of neoprene for optimal durability and insulation, but different brands vary in thickness, waistband type, and whether the wetsuit pants include desirable features like knee panels, pockets, or extra flex for a closer fit.

If you’re gearing up for a summer of long days on the water but don’t want to hassle with a full-body wetsuit, read on to learn more about what sets different wetsuit pants apart, tips for wearing them, and common questions about them. We’ve included some of our top picks, too.

Take your time when putting on your wetsuit pants. Neoprene can be ripped or nicked by a fingernail or toenail if you try to tug the pants on too quickly.

Key considerations

Narrow your search for wetsuit pants by choosing a desired silhouette, the right type of neoprene for your needs, and the waistband type. 

Silhouette

Length: You’ll find women’s wetsuit pants available in shorts, capris, or long pants. While shorts are the easiest to remove and put on, they offer the least protection from the cold and so are best for warmer water. Long pants offer optimal protection but are harder to put on and take off. Capris end at mid-calf and strike a balance between the other two lengths.

Curves: While women’s wetsuit pants are created to accommodate the curves of a woman’s silhouette, all brands (and all bodies) are different. If you have lots of curves, choose wetsuit pants that offer inclusive sizing and stretch in the right places. These have side panels to comfortably accommodate your body in the calves, hips, stomach, and thighs with no gaps at the waist. Some women find that unisex-style pants offer a better fit for their body type.

Neoprene

Different types of neoprene offer unique advantages and disadvantages.

Nylon lining: Almost all women’s wetsuit pants are lined with nylon, which helps the neoprene maintain its integrity without cracking. It also allows the neoprene to glide more smoothly over your skin for easier removal when the material is wet. Neoprene with a thicker layer of nylon is a little easier to shimmy on and off.

Smooth skin: This type of neoprene has a slick, rubbery finish that helps lock in body heat. You’ll usually find smooth-skin neoprene in wetsuit pants made for colder water. The finish can make the fabric a little less breathable and noisy out of the water. Unfortunately, smooth-skin neoprene isn’t quite as durable and may tear more easily than other types of neoprene.

Air insulation: Some higher-end neoprene has a thin layer of air pockets that helps add extra warmth without adding much weight. If you regularly swim in cooler water, you might want to consider a neoprene wetsuit with air insulation.

Yulex: If sustainability is important to you when buying a pair of women’s wetsuit pants, consider choosing Yulex instead of neoprene. Yulex has similar properties that insulate skin while resisting water, but it is sustainably produced with a lower carbon footprint.

Waistband

The type of waistband on your wetsuit pants can significantly impact your comfort while wearing them. Waistbands vary in thickness, stretch, and closure type.

Thickness: In general, a thicker waistband is more comfortable since the larger surface area won’t cut into your stomach when you bend over. A thicker waistband can also help give you a smoother silhouette if you’re worried about tummy control.

Stretch: A stretchier waistband on an appropriately sized pair of wetsuit pants moves with you when you twist, bend, and crouch to help the pants stay close to your body instead of creating gaps that allow water inside. However, lower-quality elastic can wear out or lose its stretch over time.

Closure: Women’s wetsuit pants generally work more like maternity pants than jeans. Instead of a zipper or buttons, you’ll usually find a stretchy panel of material that’s meant to hug your waist. However, some options have a drawstring or cinch at the waist for a tighter fit if needed.

DID YOU KNOW?

Athletes often wear wetsuit pants and a vest instead of a full-body wetsuit to help prevent shoulder fatigue, which is caused by a combination of frequent arm and leg motions and a more restrictive suit.

Features

Knee and side panels

Knee and side panels in the neoprene offer more comfort, flexibility, and range of motion in your pants when you bend, kneel, or rotate. Knee panels may have extra padding to protect your knees as you kneel on your board in the water.

Pockets

Some brands include helpful zip pockets for keys or other small items. While these pockets aren’t waterproof, they can mean the difference between keeping an eagle eye on your beach bag on the shore and fully enjoying your day in the water.

Thickness

Women’s wetsuit pants vary from a slim 0.5 millimeters thick to a denser 2 millimeters. If water temperatures are warm (68°F to 75°F), thinner wetsuit pants (0.5 or 1 millimeter) will do the trick and offer the most flexibility. However, if water temperatures are below 68°F, you’ll likely be more comfortable with thicker wetsuit pants (1.5 or 2 millimeters) to keep your core temperature up.

Noise

The noise that some neoprene pants make when the material rubs together out of the water is annoying to some customers. This noise can vary from a subtle swish to a somewhat loud squeak each time you take a step, depending on the wetsuit coating.

Color

Black is the standard color for both full-body wetsuits and wetsuit pants. However, you’ll find varying details like color stripes or patches. Some brands come in several color options like violet, blue, or fuschia. Black pants can help give you added warmth, since they’ll absorb heat from the sun, but more brightly colored pants can make you more visible in the water.

Size

Like jeans or pants, some wetsuit brands offer a wide range of sizes to fit a wide range of body types, while others are restricted to just a few sizes. Be sure to read the sizing guide and reviews carefully. Wetsuit pants are meant to fit snugly, but wetsuit pants that are too small will be uncomfortable and may restrict circulation.

EXPERT TIP

If you find it difficult to put on your wetsuit pants, try lightly coating your legs with a water-based lubricant. You can buy a special wetsuit lubricant, but you can also use cooking spray in a pinch.


Staff  | BestReviews

Women’s wetsuit pants prices

Inexpensive: You can find value-priced women’s wetsuit pants starting at around $20. These options are usually made out of lower-grade neoprene, but they still offer extra insulation, warmth, and buoyancy in the water. While these pants typically aren’t as durable, flexible, or warm as more expensive options, they are a great choice for beginners or people who use their wetsuit pants infrequently.

Mid-range: These women’s wetsuit pants cost between $30 and $50 and are typically made from higher-grade neoprene. Mid-priced options hold up better in colder water, may have additional insulated layers, and include knee and side panels for better flexibility and range of motion. These wetsuit pants offer more color choices and are usually more buoyant.

Expensive: These women’s wetsuit pants cost from $50 to $140. In this price range, you’ll get the highest grade of neoprene, a more sculpted fit, lots of stretch and flexibility, excellent insulation, and lots of extras like pockets and panels. Expensive women’s wetsuit pants are built to last, with durable construction and maximum comfort in mind.

DID YOU KNOW?

Wetsuit pants are typically infused with nitrogen bubbles for added buoyancy and insulation.

Tips

  • Rinse your wetsuit pants after each use. Rinse them in fresh, cool water to prevent bacterial growth that can cause unpleasant odors and break down the material.
  • Turn your wetsuit pants inside out. This will help them dry more quickly.
  • Choose the right size. Properly sized wetsuit pants feel a tiny bit too tight on land but relax about half a size in the water. If the wetsuit pants are too loose, they’ll allow too much water inside the material and won’t insulate you properly.
  • Rent instead of buy. If you need a wetsuit for just one event (like a triathlon), you can rent a quality wetsuit from a watersports outfitter or online wetsuit rental company.
Putting plastic bags over your feet can make it quicker and easier to pull on your wetsuit pants without tugging too hard.

FAQ

Q. What is the best way to launder my wetsuit pants?
A.
Do not use household detergents, since these products can damage neoprene and compromise the integrity of your wetsuit. It’s best to use a shampoo that’s made especially for wetsuits. Every few months, lather up your wetsuit pants with this special shampoo to remove residue and odors, then rinse and air-dry.
 

Q. How should I store my wetsuit pants during the off-season?
A.
If you won’t be using your wetsuit pants for a long period of time, store them in a cool, dry place where they won’t be exposed to direct sunlight. Drape your wetsuit pants over a wooden or plastic clothes hanger (metal can degrade neoprene) or lie them flat in a long bin. Folding your wetsuit pants can create creases in the neoprene that interfere with the wetsuit pants’ function.
 

Q. Will wetsuit pants keep my legs dry while I swim?
A.
It’s a common misconception that wetsuit pants or full-body wetsuits work by keeping your skin dry. Wetsuit pants actually work by holding a small amount of water between your skin and the neoprene material. Your body heat combined with the insulating effect of the neoprene keeps you warm. If you want something that will keep you completely dry in the water, you’ll need a drysuit

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn Llewellyn
    Bronwyn Llewellyn
    Editor
  • Ciera Pasturel
    Ciera Pasturel
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda Snowden
    Melinda Snowden
    Web Producer

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