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Wetsuit Review: Xcel Revolt 4/3 for the 2015 season

 

 

Product Reviews

Xcel Revolt gets a few upgrades for 2015 including more Thermo Dry Celliant

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 5 October, 2015 - To back the 2015 4/3 Revolt, Xcel put more TDC, or Thermo Dry Celliant, into this year’s model in both a heavier plush weave pattern (chest and back) and a low pile infrared print (core and legs). When Xcel launched TDC it was only available in such liberal portions in their top-end Drylock suits.

What does this mean to you, the end consumer? We’re not entirely sure. Marketing departments will tell you the material redirects infrared light back into your body while skeptical surf shop employees will tell you it’s just another plushy wetsuit weave. We tested the material to separate the hype from the heat. Let’s explore…

The official line is that TDC smart fibers recycle body heat into infrared energy. The benefits of this are: greater warmth, increased endurance, faster recovery and enhanced overall athletic performance.

“TDC is the warmest wetsuit lining ever in over thirty years of Xcel product development,” says Lance Varon, Xcel Design Director. “Comparing TDC to other materials, we could literally see and measure the significant increase in warmth.”


Xcel's TDC lining in the waist & legs (swirly low pile) and chest (wavy patterned high pile) 

 

How do they do this? A new synthetic fiber called Celliant which, as far as we can tell is only being used by Xcel, has some unique properties.

Celliant is a trademarked fiber currently used in bedding, home therapy, medical bandages, and veterinary products. It’s a synthetic polymer bi-component made from polyethylene terephthalate with optically active particles embedded into the core. 

Celliant has been shown to interact with electromagnetic infrared light produced by the human body to achieve increased oxygenation.

Much of a person's energy is radiated away from the body in the form of infrared light. Insulative materials like neoprene trap that light, what Celliant claims to do is redirect that light back to your body, something that no one ever worried about traditional neoprene doing.

“What’s also unique about TDC is that, since the Celliant mineral blend is embedded at the fiber level, TDC technology will never wear off or wash out, so its benefits last for the lifetime of the wetsuit,” added Varon.


Outer seams on the back knee of the Xcel Revolt

 

OK. Enough of the science lesson. Let’s share with you how the suit performed...

Verdict: It’s a very warm suit. After a few sessions I am still unable to tell if it’s the Thermo Dry Celliant redirecting my infrared body heat back into my muscles, or if it’s just another great new high-performance material. 

Positives included water beading off the outer neoprene shell. Most neoprenes do this the first few surfs, but this was some good, solid hydrophobic water-beading action that has lasted through several sessions.

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 light in weight. Some interior linings 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. On the Revolt suit there is not outer seam taping. Seams are taped on the inside but not on the outside. This helps the flexibility of the suit, but does allow some minor seepage.


Inner seam taping on the back knee of the Xcel Revolt along the TDC material

 

One thing that always sets Xcel suits apart is their inner taping material and method. They do this much better than some other companies. The tape fits flush agains both the neoprene and the fluffier TDC high pile chest as well as along the infrared print low pile material.

New for Xcel this year is the two-part SmoothSkin hem seal on the zipper flap's left open shoulder. Instead of a pull string to tighten the shoulder opening there are tonal printed graphics on the left shoulder directly underneath the hem, which forms a secure seal to keep water out. We like this design as it held up to multiple duck dives and wipeouts without flushing along the suit’s entry point.

Many suits are employing a magnetic zipper latch instead of a snap. Innovation points awarded here as it’s much easier to fasten than a snap mechanism that needs to be lined up perfectly in order to work. 

The Drylock wrist seals kept out water just fine without creating “balloon leg” when we exited the water. The suit did not flush anywhere and actually stayed feeling kinda dry on the inside.

The Revolt is Xcel’s mid-priced suit ($400) which scores lots of points in the warmth department. And it’s a good value. It’s not a high-end super stretch performance suit. Nor is it their top-of-the-line Drylock ($500) with outer seam seals. It’s more of a solid, daily driver - just very warm and basic. We’d recommend it for surfers wanting an economic cold-water suit.

Before buying a suit this year, take the below crash course in what makes a wetsuit flexible and warm. Yes, many other factors apply, but below you’ll find a basic primer to learn before heading into your local surf shop.

Consider conditions, just like when you pick a board for the conditions. Do you want more flexibility or more warmth or a happy place in between?  A suit with interior tape, exterior tape and a host of materials will make a suit warmer, but also (generally - and the industry is trying to find the perfect alchemy to remedy this) less flexible. That’s why a top-end suit with head-to-toe interior/exterior taping and super-charged lining material might feel stiffer than your less expensive backup suit. However that backup suit will not be as warm…. Read on.

 

NEOPRENE

Neoprene is amazing. At its most basic level it’s just rubber with little gas bubbles blown into it. By blowing more or fewer bubbles into the neoprene one can control things like warmth and flexibility. Each major wetsuit brand has its own top-shelf neoprene, which is to say their own secret recipe for warmth and flexibility. 

Neoprene interior-lining is the new frontier in performance as companies create innovative ways to insulate the interiors of wetsuits. The body heats air more easily than water, so most suits have some type of ‘fluffy’ interior neoprene for your core areas.

SEAMS

Wetsuit seams at the basic level are glued and blind stitched which, while strong, does allow some water to seep in through pinholes in the stitching. This is the type of seam you’ll find on your not-too-expensive suits or warm-water suits. 

The next level up is interior-taped wetsuit seams. This means the suits have flexible tape glued along the inside seams. This type of seam provides a good water barrier and plenty of flexibility. 

The top-shelf method for keeping water from seeping through the seams is having interior tape and exterior liquid tape. This pretty much means the suit’s seams are waterproof - at least while the integrity of the inner and outer tape material stays pliable and in tact. The only drawback is that heavy taping can decrease a suit’s flexibility.

FIT

Sadly this is the most overlooked component when purchasing a wetsuit. When we hear complaints from surfers about a particular suit that flushes or wears out prematurely in one place, most times it’s because the suit didn’t fit correctly in the first place. Extra strain placed on seams and materials due to an incorrect fit wear out that suit quicker than a proper fitting suit. To ensure your hard-earned money is spent well, take the time to try on several suits at your local surf shop and find the best fit. 

Author: 
Bryan Dickerson
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