As the wave rushes under your board, salt sprays your face. The sun is shining, the waves are ripping, and on your face the biggest smile. You are in your happy place, and best of all you aren’t causing any damage to the ocean. Or are you? If you look down and you are wearing a wetsuit then the harsh reality is that you are most likely damaging the very ocean you love and enjoy.
Unfortunately, the impact that traditional petroleum-based wetsuits have on the environment is not widely known by watersports enthusiasts. But have no fear the Turtl Project is here to share with you our top 5 picks for the best eco friendly wetsuits of 2023.
Our team works tirelessly to try and provide you with the best quality, most affordable sustainable wetsuit on the market. However, we understand that there are a lot of factors when considering a new wetsuit. So as members of the ocean loving community we ask that if you don’t like our wetsuit please consider any other petroleum free alternative when making your next purchase. For your convenience we did some of our own research and present to you our favorite petroleum free wetsuits of 2023!
Why buy a sustainable wetsuit?
Traditional wetsuits are made of neoprene. Neoprene is a petrochemical-derived fabric that is excavated through deep sea mining rigs that releases huge amounts of CO2 into the ocean and atmosphere. On top of that petroleum based neoprene is not biodegradable and at the end of its life span sits in landfills releasing harmful chemicals into the soil and directly into wildlife. Read our article on the toxicity of neoprene to learn more! As regular ocean enjoyers it is up to us to ensure we have the smallest impact possible to ensure we keep our playground healthy.
Features of sustainable wetsuits:
There are two types of petroleum-free rubber alternatives
Derived from trees, this material has a much lower carbon footprint and keeps you warm for longer than traditional wetsuits. However natural rubber is more rigid, less durable and usually results in a more expensive price tag.
Limestone neoprene is a material that does not use nor finance the global oil production and feels very similar to a regular neoprene. Its increased comfort, durability and affordability makes it a great option for sustainable water enthusiast who don't want to break the bank and take care of the ocean.
Recycled PET Lining
Until now, because of the very specific properties needed to ensure that wetsuits protect you under water, traditional wetsuit have only had the option of making inner linings from nylon or simply more petroleum rubber. But there is good news! Some wetsuit manufacturers started making linings by repurposing PET plastics into recycled PET lining giving single use plastics, like plastic water bottles, a second life protecting you in the water.
Avoid wetsuits that use harmful adhesives that seep into the ocean such as Aquaseal NEO. Instead look for wetsuits that use alternatives like stitching to reduce the product’s carbon footprint and improve its durability.
2) Efficient Manufacturing
Look for manufacturing lines that maximize the amount of reusable limestone or natural rubber in a batch, so as to reduce the amount discarded into landfills.
Prioritize wetsuits assembled and manufactured through processes that do not dump harmful byproducts into ecosystems and use energy resources responsibly.
What to consider when buying a wetsuit?
We ranked our 5 favorite petroleum-free wetsuits according to their Price, Durability, Impact, and Comfort.
Smart buyer's are always looking to get the best bang for their buck.
Make purchasing decisions that don't harm the environment we love, enjoy and want to protect. Every wetsuit on this list fulfills this requirement.
The products you purchase should last, not just for our wallet's sake but for the ocean's as well.
It's important to feel comfortable in the ocean to ensure you get the most out of each session.
If you have questions about how a wetsuit should fit you feel free to read our other articles:
Top 5 Eco Friendly Wetsuits
|Turtl Project - Galapagos||5 ($287)||4||5||5||19|
|Vissla - 7 Seas||5 ($240)||3||4||5||17|
|Patagonia - R3 Yulex||2 ($519)||5||4||3||14|
|Matuse - Dante||3 ($350)||2||5||4||14|
|Picture - Equation||3 ($350)||3||2||3||11|
1) Turtl Project - Galapagos 3/2 Zipperless
Yes, we might be a little biased, but with good reason! Our wetsuit checks every necessary feature while providing excellent durability, comfort, and minimum environmental impact in a lightweight package. Learn more about what makes the Galapagos so special!
Price: (5/5) $287
Galapagos manages to deliver every feature on the list and more for an affordable price, and to top it off we've made it sustainable.
Using a combination of recycled and limestone-based materials, the Galapagos is one of the most environmentally friendly wetsuits you can get. The zipperless technology removes plastic from the wetsuit and allows it to be completely recycled. Turtl Project chose to use vegan friendly threads and rely on Bluesign certified suppliers only, making every single part of the manufacturing ethical and sustainable. These choices avoid adding pollutant adhesives to the ocean without having to sacrifice durability. Leftover limestone rubber is used to create additional items such as the Re-Wallet to ensure not an inch of rubber goes to waste.
Durability is certainly one of the strengths of the Galapagos. Features like the abrasion-proof pads, zip free system, 3G2BS vegan sewing and of course, the high quality and durable use of Monolith Rubber make this wetsuit one of the most durable options on the market.
The use of Monolith Rubber makes the Galapagos 40% lighter than its competitors, with excellent flexibility, and zipper free this wetsuit provides the ultimate comfort session after session. The Galapagos has cinched feet, hands and neck which prevent water from rushing into the wetsuit giving the user the feeling of being dry for longer.
2) Vissla - 7 Seas 3/2 Chest Zip
Price: (5/5) $240
Vissla offers a great price but at the slight expense to its environmental impact as it is made of both limestone and nylon. Vissla's 7 seas wetsuits is a great alternative for people that want to take an environmental conscious route, without spending big bucks.
Made 80% with limestone neoprene and 20% nylon, Vissla provides less environmental impact than a regular wetsuit however it requires a chemical heavy manufacturing, marked by the "Proposition 65 Warning" on their product page. It is also a front-zip wetsuit which increases the wetsuits carbon footprint while also reducing is lifespan, meaning it ends up in the landfill quicker.
This suit's durability is the biggest flaw in its otherwise excellent design. In our experience, after moderate use the elastic cord on the collar cinch breaks off. Also, the design relies on zippers that compromise the durability and sustainability of the wetsuit.
The 7 Sea's comfort is not up for discussion. It feels very good in and out of the water. Its comfort is continuously mentioned across numerous reviews throughout different water sports gear websites.
3) Patagonia - R3® Yulex® Front-Zip
Price: (2/5) $519
Patagonia is a well-known brand, that does all sort of outdoors and sports equipment. They are a large corporation with many resources and luckily they invested some of those resources into crafting what is now the industry standard in eco-friendly wetsuits, making this the best option, if you can afford it of course.
The impact caused by the manufacturing of this product is very minimum. Patagonia developed a partnership with Yulex, where they provided a material made of natural rubber that performs similarly to regular neoprene. There is also another positive effect on using natural rubber, as it's produced from trees, which is a renewable resource.
This wetsuit has great durability. We would have given it a 5/5 if it weren't for the use of a front-zip and because some reviews mentioned experiencing fast wear in some regions. However, most report to have an excellent experience with the materials used (Yulex and natural rubber).
Despite affirming that their Yulex wetsuits performs at the same level as a petroleum based product, many users reviewed them as being stiffer, tighter and less flexible than other wetsuits they've used.
4) Matuse - Dante w/ Hydrasilk 4/3 V.3
Price: (3/5) $350
A mid range price for a great wetsuit. Matuse is a brand known for being extremely reliable and giving you a good value for your money.
This specific wetsuit contains a lot of materials that are active in delivering a sustainable alternative to regular neoprene suits. They use a limestone-based rubber as their main material, supported by pieces made of hydrasilk. It is a front-zip wetsuit however they use recycled plastics and minimize its use as much as possible. The problem is that Matuse still relies heavily on their other wetsuit lines, that don't bother having the same environmental responsibility, which makes this rank lower on our list.
Matuse wetsuits are some of the most durable wetsuits you can get. Just by looking at the design you can tell that they don't spend any time on gimmicks or extras. It's a simple and minimal design that is meant to be fault proof.
The Dante feels really light and has a great fit. The use of high quality materials also is noticeable when wearing it, giving it a silky-smooth feeling.
5) Picture - Organic Equation 4/3 Logo FZ
Price: (3/5) $350
Tied with Matuse, this is also a good option without spending a lot of money. Picture does all sorts of sport equipment, venturing outside of the water sports niche, but still manage to deliver expertise and a well thought-out designs for their suits.
Picture presents a sustainable option that uses 80% Ecoprene, 13% Recycled Nylon, 5% Nylon, and 2% Spandex. The majority of the wetsuit is made from materials technically considered sustainable. However their use of adhesive and plastic front zip lowered them on our list.
Even though the Equation is still a good option, it is apparent that it's not the most robust wetsuit you can get, especially in this price range. The glued, blind stitched and taped seams give this product decent durability, but not great.
The Equation has a very similar fit and design to the Dante Matuse, sharing a similar level of comfort, however with materials that are of inferior quality and a little less friendly to the environment.
Thank you for reading our review on these 5 wetsuits! Let us know if you have tried any of them and what you think! Comment below or reach out to us at email@example.com.