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Five wetsuits tested & reviewed for the new year

 

 

 

Product Reviews

Rip Curl, Body Glove, Patagonia, Xcel and O’Neill suits tested

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 29 December, 2014 - The one theme we found this season when looking at new suits from five manufacturers was new materials. Since it was discovered that air is warmer and more efficient than water in keeping in your body heat, manufacturers have launched a heap of new neoprenes designed to pocket air against your body.

Rip Curl is the most popular with their flash-dry lining, while other brands have their own versions. Xcel has gone a step further with their Thermo Dry Celiant insulation that redirects infra-red body heat back into your skin. 

When shopping for a suit always rely on your local shop to provide fit and wear advice. They see a lot of suits come through each season and know which ones have a positive feedback and which ones are prone to being sent back for repair.

Patagonia Yulex
This suit comes in a front-zip style that is outlined with Nexkin. The outer collar has both the Yulex rubber technology and the Nexkin stitched together. On the inside of the collar the seam is sealed and lined with high-stretch recycled polyester. The chest-zip flap is easy to pull over, but finding the zipper and getting it to zip right away is a little challenging because the zipper is the same color as the suit making it harder to see.  The chest zip entry is easy to get on, but a little tough to get off. Stretching the material over the shoulder for pulling the suit off is difficult, but with a little soap it should slip right off

The suit is definitely made for warmth. If you live in an area where having the extra edge on warmth is highly desirable, than this suit is for you. The suit molds to your body nicely making it a flexible, comfortable fit. The suit feels a little heavier when comparing to other suits, but will be worth the trading for warmth if you don’t mind taking on a little extra weight.

Overall the suit is designed and constructed of some of the best technology out there. The suit is by far one of the warmest 3.2s I’ve tried on. The overall design of the suit makes for a stellar comfortable fit. A couple drawbacks to keep in mind is the difficulty getting out of the suit and the added weight. Keep in mind that by buying Patagonia’s Yulex technology you are helping to change the world by steering away from petroleum with your consumer choices. 
Read the full review

Body Glove Topaz
Overall the Body Glove Topaz scores high points for fit, warmth, and performance. The neoprene is flexible and light as well as insulated and warm. The suit is well put together and there are no unfinished seams or haphazard sewing. Design-wise the Topaz scores excellent for ease of entry and an overall female friendly fit.

Other features to the warmth status of this suit is the microbead sealant designed to control the flow of water so that it dispenses evenly across the surface of the suit, like water off a duck’s back. In addition to the microbead technology, the suit is sealed with a rubber lining that Body Glove calls liquidweld seams. The micro micro bead sealant combined with the liquidweld seam lining the inside of the suit really make for a nice warm sealed fit.
This suit comes in the chest zip option and is really easy to get on and off. Some chest zips can be really tight and harder for women to pull on over curvy contours, but this chest zip entry is fitted nicely for a woman’s shape.
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Xcel TDC Drylock
Positives were that during our sessions water beaded off the outer neoprene shell. Most neoprenes do this the first few surfs, but this was some good, solid hydrophobic water-beading action.

The TDC material stays surprisingly light when wet. It’s a plushy material, so it looks like it would absorb heaps of water. When taking the suit out of the rinse bucket it was still very light overall. Some suits soak up water like sponges. 

The feel of the TDC against your skin takes some getting used to. Not as scratchy as a wool-lined suit and not as clammy as straight-up traditional neoprene, the TDC felt a bit like a new piece of clothing that hasn’t gone through a wash cycle yet.

Flexibility was great for a 4/3. Although the suit looks heavy and solid, it is quite stretchy. I attribute this to the TDC and Xcel’s seams and construction. Xcel uses a smaller outer seam liquid weld, it’s about 1/4” as opposed to 1/2”, which allows for more stretch than the previous generations of liquid welds. 
Read the full review
 

 


Rip Curl Zip-free Flash Bomb
Getting into a suit without a zipper is not as hard as you might think. I was skeptical, but the material is stretchy enough that putting this suit on is about as difficult as putting on a majority of the front-zip wetsuits out there. A back zip wetsuit will always remain the the easiest to get into.

To secure the suit and keep the water out, the pull string on the shoulder tightens up nicely and the tab to lock it is simple. However, be careful not to tighten it too much as that will restrict paddling as we found out. But a quick adjustment of the pull-tab fixed that problem. Also, for testing sake we left the pull string unsecured for a couple sets and it still didn’t flush. So I can safely say the suit doesn’t flush - which was my main concern.

The suit is priced at the mid-to-high-end of wetsuits ($399). Fewer components mean there are fewer things to go awry with the suit. The suit is warmer than other 4/3 suits we tried and because it is more flexible than many other high-end wetsuits we've tried, we’d recommend the Rip Curl Flash Bomb Zip Free.
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O’Neill Psycho 3
When holding the Psycho 3 it’s obvious that this year’s model weighs less than other suits on the market of comparable thickness, in this case a 4/3 mil.

Overall we were most impressed with the TechnoButter 2. It is light, warm and flexible. While other wetsuit players have adopted plushy, fleecy inside neoprene, TechnoButter 2 still feels like traditional neoprene, only lighter, stretchier.

It does dry faster than traditional neoprene but not as fast as the quick-drying suits on the market. To bring you up to speed, a few years ago wetsuit makers discovered that a body heating air within a wetsuit expends less energy and stays warmer than a body heating solely water and dense neoprene, thus the current flood of plushy and air-injected neoprene on the market.

The TechnoButter 2 claims of being more water resistant are believable as it took several duck-dives and spills to get the inside of the Psycho 3 to feel wet.
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Author: 
Bryan Dickerson
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