Today, more kids than ever are swimming, skimming, boogie boarding, and surfing in cold water. The wetsuit brands have noticed and are offering more styles and thicknesses to keep the youth warm. Gone are the days of poorly-fitting kids’ suits made from cheap materials. Youth wetsuits are now properly tailored for a great fit for both boys and girls and use all the same materials and production methods as adult wetsuits. We’ve reviewed all the different models in the shop, polled the groms, and came up with this definitive list of the 6 best youth wetsuits of 2023.
- O’Neill – Youth Epic Wetsuit – $174.95+
- Buell – Youth RB2 Wetsuit – $235.95+
- Billabong – Youth Absolute Wetsuit – $189.95+
- Vissla – Youth Seven Seas Wetsuit – $229.95+
- O’Neill – Youth Hyperfreak Wetsuit – $259.95+
- Rip Curl – Youth Dawn Patrol Wetsuit – $229.95
Youth Wetsuit FAQ
Why are youth wetsuits important?
Getting the correct thickness and size for kids is critical to keep them safe and comfortable in the ocean. Wetsuits help them stay warm in cold temperatures, shield their skin from the sun’s UV rays, add buoyancy, and in general, provide another layer of protection.
How do I size a kid’s wetsuit?
Youth wetsuit sizing is unique as it’s based on their age instead of standard sizes like small, medium, large, etc. So generally, most 10-year-olds will fit nicely into a size 10 wetsuit. If they’ve hit a growth spurt or are filling out, they could be a 12. On the flip side, if they’re light for their age, they could be an 8. These measurements are just averages, so it’s always best to double-check the size chart listed just above the available sizes to confirm.
Is there a strategy for buying kids’ wetsuits?
Yes, it’s best to buy on a curve. Buy the wetsuit on the lower end of the size chart so the suit will be slightly oversized on them at first, but they’ll be able to grow through it. Kids grow fast. Clothes, sporting equipment, and everything else require multiple purchases as they develop. Fortunately, youth wetsuits today are built to last and can survive a few generations of hand-me-downs. That being said, if a hand-me-down is too big or worn out, it won’t work properly to keep you warm. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s best to pick up a new suit to be sure.
With those questions answered, let’s jump into a quick review of our best youth suits for 2023.
O’Neill Youth Epic – $174.95+
This is the classic youth wetsuit and our best-selling youth suit by a country mile. The Epic has sustained popularity for so long because it’s a simple suit done right. Built with Ultraflex neoprene that’s comfortable and super flexible, the Epic is easy for kids to get in and out of. It’s also plenty warm and more durable than an old truck. We’ve always sold so many of these because they’re able to withstand multiple rounds of being a “hand me down.”
Beyond the Epic’s longevity, it’s an easy suit for kids to get in and out of and has the best back zipper of any youth wetsuit. The Epic comes in a bunch of different colors and is a no-brainer for any up-and-coming surfer.
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O’Neill Youth Epic 3/2 Back Zip Wetsuit – $174.95
O’Neill Youth Epic 4/3 Back Zip Wetsuit – $199.95
O’Neill Youth Girls Epic 4/3 Back Zip Wetsuit – $189.95
Buell Youth RB2 – $235.95+
“Favorite from a Wetsuit Vet”
Buell has been making serious waves recently, and their youth wetsuits are perfect examples of why they’ve earned so much recognition. They are built to last and do it with style. The Ninja neoprene flexes and retains heat like a suit twice its price, and Sizzle Seam Weld over glued and blind stitched seams for total warmth.
The Youth RB2 is tough and holds up strong, so if you need a hooded suit to survive a few rounds of hand-me-down in the PNW or East Coast Winters, this is our pick. It’s also one of the rare hooded 6mm options available in youth sizing.
*For kids surfing warmer waters, Buell makes a 4/3mm back zip called the RBZ.
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Buell Youth RB2 5/4 Hooded Chest Zip Wetsuit – $235.95
Buell Youth RB2 6/5/4 Hooded Chest Zip Wetsuit – $285.95
Billabong Youth Absolute – $189.95+
“High Tech Graphene Liner”
Billabong doesn’t cut any corners with the Youth Absolute. Packed full of many of the high-tech features found in the adult model, the Absolute retains an affordable price tag. Most notable is the famous graphene liner that warms up quickly and keeps your grom toasty no matter the temperature. The kid’s model also boasts eco-friendly materials like partially recycled superlight neoprene.
We stock the 5/4 hooded and 4/3 back zip models, so there’s an option for the cold water groms. As one of the best bangs for your buck, you can’t go wrong with the Billabong Absolute.
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Billabong Youth Absolute 4/3 Back Zip Wetsuit – $189.95
Billabong Youth Absolute 5/4 Hooded Chest Zip Wetsuit – $229.95
Vissla Youth Seven Seas – $229.95
“Look good, feel good”
Looking for the perfect suit that does a little bit of everything? Check out the Vissla Youth Seven Seas. It’s packed with all the high-end features needed for any cold water grom to stay comfortable in the water. You’ll notice it’s also got some pretty rad labeling on the left arm and chest.
The Youth Seven Seas is an exact mini-me of the adult model: stretchy neoprene, comfortable thermal brain fuzz interior liner, and internal taping for warmth and durability. Additionally, chest and back smoothie skin panels create a wind blocker on the suit, which is sure to keep your child stoked during the chilly winter season.
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Vissla Youth Seven Seas 5/4/3 Hooded Chest Zip Wetsuit – $229.95
O’Neill Youth Hyperfreak – $259.95+
“The Cream of the Crop”
If you want to spoil the grom in your life, the O’Neill Youth Hyperfreak is thee most flexible youth wetsuit available. Even though it’s about a third less than the adult version, the youth Hyperfreak hasn’t been watered down at all. O’Neill has taken all the great features and materials from the beloved Hyperfreak series and packed ‘em into this youth version.
That means there’s the famous TechnoButter 3 neoprene in the body and the top-tier TB3X neoprene in the paddling zone (arms and shoulders) for unrestricted mobility. The seams are all triple glued and blindstitched with TB3X tape internally for warmth, and there’s a solid hood to boot. Insanely flexible, lightweight, and comfortable fit make this the best youth wetsuit on the market.
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O’Neill Youth Hyperfreak 3/2+ Chest Zip Wetsuit – $259.95
O’Neill Youth Hyperfreak 4/3+ Chest Zip Wetsuit – $279.95
O’Neill Youth Hyperfreak 5/4+ Hooded Chest Zip Wetsuit – $299.95
Rip Curl Youth Dawn Patrol – $229.95
Without a doubt, the Dawn Patrol has been a best seller for years in both the adult and grom models. Rip Curl hasn’t made any changes to this suit in the past few years, which is a testament to the reputation of the Dawn Patrol.
Trusty E5 neoprene packs in warmth and comfort while holding up to the wear and tear of a pounding beach break. Robust internal taping is placed at the high-stress areas, which adds durability to the suit. In addition, glued and blind stitched seams round out the key features. Look no further than the Dawn Patrol for one of the best value suits on the market.
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Rip Curl Youth Dawn Patrol 5/4 Hooded Chest Zip Wetsuit – $229.95
Getting a quality kid’s suit is a good investment and can pay for itself if you have a few kids it can cycle through. All the wetsuits featured are built for the brutal wear and tear kids put on their gear. Additionally, properly rinse the suit with fresh water after each use to extend its life and warmth over the years.
If you have any questions about these suits, sizing, or anything else, feel free to give us a call at 1-888-546-6176, leave a comment below or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya in the water!
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