Darn, I love these things! Spotted them in the Billabong shop, and was like, these are coooool. They're part of Billabong's Surf Capsule range, and are officially known as Skinny Sea Legs, or just flipping lekker leggings in plain English.
They're 1mm neoprene, so are perfect for keeping the chill off, as well as giving you some protection from the reef if you're surfing somewhere tropical. Always nice to know when you're paddling over the lip on a late take off that you can land on ya butt no probs cos you aren't gonna donate any skin to the reef. Get rag-dolled with confidence!
Another plus is that they keep the sun off your legs, which is a bonus when you're putting in some long summer sessions. Avoid getting sunburnt, and the other more gnarly things that happen from too much sun exposure.
Bought mine just before heading over to Indo for 5 weeks, and was so stoked that I had. They turned out to be the best things ever to surf in day in and day out. Incredibly comfy, cos only 1mm neoprene - so stretchy you could happily do yoga in 'em.
Didn't feel too warm in them at all. A couple of the girls I was surfing with were like "aren't you hot in those?" Nup, not at all. Also, felt so much safer knowing that I could get bounced along the reef and not get cut too shreds. Funny how a 1mm wettie legging can impart a sense of invincibility! Quite a few times I wished I had a neoprene top as well! Coral heads don't look so mean if you know they can't eat you.
So nice not to have the hassle of putting sunscreen on your legs. Really annoying when it rubs off your legs and onto your board and you slip slide all over the place. The little bit of padding on your hip bones from the neoprene is a bonus, cos no longer get the lil bruises that inevitably come from hours and hours and day upon day lying on your board. My hip bones are normally bruised black by the end of a trip, and this time no probs at all.
Skinny Sea Legs have a mid-rise cut, which means good coverage on your back - you won't get caught out with that burnt stripe across your lower back where boardies normally end and your rashie starts. Consider going one size smaller than you think you might need as they do have a good amount of stretch. Same as normal wettie sizing I guess, you always want it to be a wee bit tight when you try it on on the shop cos once it's wet it stretches.
They fit well in the waist meaning no water sneaks in and gives you the jello-leg look. Snug ankle seams means no flush up that way either. There's a small key pocket inside the bottom of your left leg.
The denim print is really realistic. Complete with zipper detail and some pseudo rips. Lost count of the number of peeps that asked me why I was surfing in my jeans! Cos yip, they look exactly like jeans. You'd probably get away with wearing them on a casual night out!
One of the ou's I met worked at a surf shop in Aus and said they'd even sold a few pairs to guys. Ok, that's a bit sketchy! Although, having said that, don't see why guys wouldn't want to benefit from the full leg sun protection as well?
If you're looking for something to surf in during summer, or to take on that tropical surf trip, Billabong's Skinny Sea Legs should be at the top of your shopping list. Love mine! Gonna buy some more for sure!
Say hello to Isurus - California designed compression wetsuits made from 100% Yamamoto rubber. Welcome to wettie heaven. Took the plunge and dropped a chunk of change on an I-Elite 434 last week, and couldn't be happier that I did.
You get what you pay for, and Isurus delivers. Super warm, super light, and a 4/3 that feels like you're hardly wearing a wetsuit. Worth every cent if you're after a high-end technical suit which let's you think you're surfing in boardies, well, almost.
I love a good wettie. And am an absolute sucker for Japanese rubber. And nothing is more gooey buttery than Yamamoto neoprene. So buttery you wanna spread it on your toast. It's the Ferrari of the wettie world. Fell deeply in love with the stuff ever since buying a Matuse wetsuit years ago, and been on the lookout for wetsuits that are made from it ever since. So when Twiggy brought the brand over to SA at the end of last year I knew it wouldn't be too long before I succumbed.
Let's start with the basics. If you like high-end wetties you'll have heard about Yamamoto neoprene - made from limestone mined in Japan, instead of petroleum. It is lighter yet warmer than other standard neoprene, thanks to it's closed cell structure. This means it repels water instead of schlurping it in - which is what makes open-cell suits get heavier and colder as your surf goes on. So closed cell is the go. The suit is super light to start with, and barely changes weight once it's wet. Almost the same weight wet and dry. Lightest 4/3 I have ever owned.
The air pockets in the Yamamoto Aerodome neoprene keep you warmer cos self generated body heat is stored within the closed cell material. Yamamoto neoprene is the stuff used in over 90% of the high end tri-athletes wetsuits because of its superior weight to warmth ratio - ie thinner suit that keeps you warmer. Trust the tri ou's - cos they need the optimal warmth/flexibility ratio to allow 'em to perform at their peak.
The suit is lined with stuff called Heat Fibre Core membrane. Which is a slick soft covering, not the furry jersey you get it other top end suits. This keeps things really light, whilst still keeping you toasty. Wind chill is dealt with by the Yamamoto SCS Nano Skin coated shoulder and back panels, which increase solar heat absorption and provide some serious wind protection.
So far the coldest water I've surfed in it with has been 16C, combined with a howling west, and it handled that like a champ. No doubt it'll handle colder than that without a prob. It's rated for 11C and upwards.
Not only were triathlete's the inspiration behind Isurus's choice of rubber, but they also inspired the actual design of the suits in a big way. Tri-athletes worked out you need form fitting suits that stretch where you need it, yet still fit tight in the right places. The anatomical design includes a one-piece panel from the hip all the way to the elbow joint. I went and had a look at all my other suits, and the underarm panel generally terminates anywhere between the bottom of the rib cage to the waist area, so the Isurus definitely has a unique pattern.
This design ensures unrestricted flexibility and maximum paddling power. Zero resistance to paddling, seriously. Most amazing feeling to reach forward on your paddle stroke and feel....nothing. No resistance, no pull, no nothing. Like you paddling in a rashie, not a wettie.
The whole anatomical design thing that goes a long way to helping you stay in the water longer cos you aren't getting tired just fighting against your suit. Don't forget the majority of your surf sesh is paddling, not surfing. So it makes sense to have a wetsuit that has taken that into account.
Compression technology used in high performance sports gear was incorporated into the suit design as well. The seams are specifically placed to provide muscular support.
What's interesting is that the rubber isn't crazy stretchy like some of the suits these days. Like the one's where you grab the wrist and just yank the arm until it's like double the length of your own arm. It makes sense cos basically your arm doesn't ever need to stretch to twice it's own length so no reason your wettie has to do that! And the more stretch it has the more prone the neoprene is to breaking down. So the Isurus rubber is stretchy enough for sure, combined with the excellent cut of the suit, means you don't need the hyper crazy stretch.
The chevrons on the arms are referred to as the Forward Propulsion System, and are meant to improve your power output per stroke. Gimmicky? Probably. But they certainly don't do anything negative and look pretty cool.
The suits is glued, blindstitched and taped. Now to be honest I have only bought liquid seal seamed suits for ages, as love the totally waterproof seal they provide (before they crack and die - which is inevitable). So it was with a good degree of trepidation that I decided to try the Isurus GBS/taped set-up. Turns out I needn't have worried. The Isurus comes with some pretty rad looking tape - otherwise known as Yamamoto Titanium SCS silver taping. Which their website says is the lightest, most flexible water repellent tape available.
I did feel the teeniest bit of water seepage through the seams on the calves as I walked into the water - which you don't feel on a liquid seam sealed suit. But it was fractional. And after 5 more steps into the surf you didn't even notice it anymore. I felt nothing coming through the seams on the rest of the suit.
GETTING IN & OUT
I have never owned a chest entry suit that is this easy to get into. Normally chest entries involve all sorts of wiggling and contorted yoga poses. Not with the I-Elite, This thing just slides straight on. So easy it's ridiculous. It's actually easier to get into than my back zip suits!
Before buying the suit I'd done plenty googling about it, and lotsa peeps had said how tricky it was to get into to start with, and felt a bit tight the first few surfs then fitted like a glove after that once it'd molded to your shape. Might felt super comfy from the get go, and was so easy to get into.
Once you're in you just yank the neck panel over your head and fasten the chest zip. My best experience with a chest zip to date. Cos often the zipping it up part also entails a bit of a struggle, but not so with the Isurus. Nice chunky easy to use zip. There's a lil toggle on the shoulder where you can pull the shoulder seam tighter if you want.
Probably one of the best fitting suits I've ever owned. Gonna say the the sizing might run a tad small, as I am usually an XS in guys suits (Billabong and O'Neill) or a 16 in Boys suits. I took a Small in the I-Elite. I didn't actually try on an XS cos the guys couriered the suit down to me to try on as no-one stocks them in PE, and they didn't have an XS in stock at the time. The Small fitted me perfectly.
If you are wanting to try out the suit it might be worth getting them to send you your normal size and one up, then you can just send the one you don't take back to them.
Neck fitted nice and securely and I didn't get any flushing through it at all. Admittedly the surf lately has been really small, so no serious duck dives or thrashings yet. Seals on the ankles and wrists stop flush. The only time I did get some flush up the one leg was when I screwed up a cuttie and somehow managed to go feet first into the wave at high speed.
Can't comment on this yet cos only had the suit a week. But it certainly looks like a suit you'll have to look after properly. The buttery gooey neoprene wants extra love and care. So if you hard on your suits then this ain't for you. This one you treat like a king - you use a changing mat (don't go stomping it all over the rough tar as you take it off), peel it off nicely instead of the usual stand on the leg with your other foot as you yank it out, and you rinse it after every surf, and then hang it to dry by folding it in half over a hanger. If you love it properly then you should expect at least 2 winters from it, maybe more.
Seems like there are quite a crew of guys in Northern Cali and Southern Aus that swear by these suits, and they're getting good wear outta them in harsh conditions. With guys saying 2 to 3 seasons is the norm. So let's see how this goes. I look after my suits really well, so I expect them to last. If they don't, I don't buy them again. Easy.
SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
If you want one of the best wetties money can buy, then absolutely. It's light, warm, and ridiculously comfortable. But you'll have to look after it nicely to keep it happy. Because you're going to be dropping some serious coin. My I-Elite 434 cost me R4500. For that price I expect to get at least 2 years outta it for it to be good value. So holding thumbs that it's as durable as it is awesome. Cos if it is, then it's a slam dunk. And once you've worn top-end Yamamoto rubber you'll be hooked for life. Be warned.
WHERE TO BUY
Unless you live in Cape Town, where the Isurus agents Mike Schlebach and Twiggy Baker are located, you're gonna have to drop em a mail and get em to courier a suit to you (which they do at their cost). You can get hold of them via their FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Isurus-South-Africa/532403376905106 or shoot Mike an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Ran into Brett Hoppe in the line-up a few days after getting my suit and was raving to him about it. Musta tweaked his interest cos he ordered an I-Elite 232 the next day...and has this to say about it after his first few surfs:
"This thing is on another level. The cut is great, warmth 10/10 and the lightness is ridiculous. The claimed compression tech? Maybe it’s just in my mind but I swear it seems to work! I have had plenty wetsuits in my time, and after a few sessions in this I can conclusively say it's a great suit – super stoked!!"
Brett got an I-Elite 232 (R4000)
I love wetsuits. Own a lot of them. More wetties than shoes. Cos who likes getting into a wet wettie? And staying warm wins. And being comfy and warm wins more. Suits currently in my PE winter rotation include a few O'Neill Psycho 3's and a Billabong Solution SGX. Great suits too.
Yoh, I love my Surf Capsule!
Ladies - your prayers are answered. Finally we get some chick's surfwear made for fashion and function, instead of just fashion. Fashion is great - but not all of us still have the bean-pole legs and the perky butts of youth! Up til now I've had to resort to guy's wetties and boardies cos the girl's stuff is just nowhere near as functional, so am uber-stoked to at last be able to surf in something made for surfing girls instead of boys!
It's taken a while, but the ou's in the design department have finally worked out that girls actually surf and don't just loll about the beach all day. Which means we now get some beautiful wetties that work.
One of the big drivers for more functional surf wear is Rasta's lady, Lauren Hill. She's been giving Billabong lotsa feedback during the development of the Surf Capsule, and is one super styling logger. We shared a solo session with her and Rasta in the Maldives last year, and she was trying a whole lot of different Surf Capsules out. So every hour she'd pop off back to the boat, change into another suit to give it a test-drive, or rather, test-surf.
Got chatting to her about them and she was just frothing on how great they were.....so first thing I did when I got back was find out from the Bong peeps when they'd be hitting our shores. Soon as they arrived in SA I dashed off to the shop to grab one.
Turns out they were all so kiff I couldn't decide which one to get, so with true chick logic I bought three. However, buying spring suits in winter means you unfortunately don't get to surf 'em. So they sat in the cupboard until our recent trip to Indo.
I nearly didn't even take one with, thinking "why would I need rubber in Indo?" Shew, just as well I did. A thin layer of neoprene can be your best friend in the tropics for many reasons.
The obvious one is to keep you safe from the sun (tick #1 for the Surf Capsule). But then there're other advantages too - like no sore ribs - which you get pretty quick if you're paddling about in a T or bikini all day. Nothing worse than about a week into your trip and you can't even lie on your board cos your chest is so eina. So that problem solved. Tick #2 for the Surf Capsule.
Speaking of things that get eina from lying on your board.....hip bones! Mine stick out and get bruised so quickly if I'm in boardies all day. Enter the Surf Capsule - nice lil layer of rubber over the pointy bits, and bruises no more. Tick #3.
Staying on things eina. Reef, rocks, coral. All sorts of things just waiting to scrape some of your skin off if they get the chance. The Capsule came in handy when I was surfing some super shallow spots, where a wipe-out usually meant a skin donation. One particularly shallow possie saw me bouncing off the reef on my ass, and was only too happy to have some rubber padding there to collect the coral scrapes instead of my skin! (Tick #4)
After being in Indo for a while you get pretty used to the sticky hot weather. Which means when the temperature drops to say 24C, well - you feel freezing! Add in a bit of rain and wind chill factor, and you're only to glad to have a Surf Capsule to keep the chill off. Also used mine whilst diving in Indo - definitely need a suit when you're down there, but no reason to schlep into a full suit - the Surf Capsule does the job just fine.
So there you have it - five reasons why your Billabong Surf Capsule should accompany you on any holiday to the tropics - and of course any summer session at home.
Sizing seems to run true - I'm normally a size 8 in full wetsuits and took and 8 in the Surf Capsule. The fit is super comfy. Plenty of stretch thanks to the 2mm neoprene.
There are a variety of option available, but my preference was for the swimsuit with long arms. You get the choice of zip at the back or at the front, depending on which style you opt for.
Don't be nervous of the zippered front - as the zip doesn't poke you anywhere and you aren't aware of it at all. One comment I'd make is that maybe the zip on some of the styles could have been that wee bit longer, as the shorter zip can make it tricky to be able to pull the shoulders off yourself when getting outta the suit. But you'll get plenty offers of assistence if you're struggling with it in the car park!
Depending on the style, you can choose to go for perky butt, normal butt or the hide-my-ass option. Nice to see that they're not only catering for the nimble 20 something's!
Now if only each Surf Capsule came with a voucher for some free sunny weather and warm water, life would be good!
Ladies - should you buy one? Abso-bloody-lutely.
Billabong Surf Capsule's available at all Billabong stores.
For sure a super warm suit. Definitely no need for a 3/4 for P.E waters!! I'd say this suit is probably on par with the O`Neil Psycho 1, which Dave currently stocks. However, the Psycho 1 is slightly more expensive and comes with a back Zip instead a front zip entry.
At a retail price of R1800 this suit definitely has the best value for money in my opinion, and I've been very impressed what this wetsuit has to offer for the price.
It`s a great wetsuit, but all wetsuits (as we know) do not last a lifetime - especially if you surf almost everyday.
You can prolong the lifespan of your wetsuit by rinsing it in fresh water after your surf, and hanging it out of direct sunlight. It`s important that you hang your wetsuit by folding it in half through a hanger after you have rinsed it.
If you hang your wetsuit like you would a jacket when it`s wet, most of the water settles in the lower half of the wetsuit. This means the upper section tends to take a lot of strain during the drying process possibly eventually damaging it. Folding your wetsuit in half when you hang it, allows for equal distribution of weight thereby minimizing wear."
So there you have it - Jorg thinks the Gul Response rocks, and even throws in a clever tip to keep your wettie in shape for longer. Shot Jorg!
Surf Centre manager John Scheepers (aka Carpark John) has been raving about his new O'Neill Psycho 1 so much I decided to do a quick Gear Guide interview with him about the new love of his (wetsuit) life.
Sooo comfortable. And really, really light. Even when it's wet. If you feel the weight of it, it's a joke!
So why do you dig your O'Neill Psycho 1 so much?
It doesn't feel like I'm wearing a wetsuit. It's like surfing in boardshorts. There's absolutely no restriction when you paddle. And it's really warm. And soooo stretchy!
And the fit?
Such a snug fit, hey....like the skin on a sausage!
You don't need to mission to get it on and off cos the neoprene is so flexible. There's zero leakage through the neck because of the batwing collar that fits over your head. That can maybe feel a bit tight on the neck when you first put it on, but once you're in the water you don't notice it at all.
I've had maybe one little trickle of water down my neck, and that was after a hectic duckdive at Sards when I got totally smashed. But that's one of the reasons the O'Neill suits keep you so warm - no water gets into them at all. The neck, cuff and ankle seals are so effective.
Is the hype about the Technobutter material true?
Absolutely, that stuff is insane. The tag says "20% lighter & 30% less water absorption". No advertising gimmick at all - it is really light and weighs the same after your surf as before. Even after you've rinsed it out in the shower and it's soaking inside and out - still almost as light as when it's dry.
And turn-around time? How quick does it dry?
I reckon it's dry within an hour or so. Not bone dry, but definitely dry enough to easily use it for another surf.
Other things to like about the O'Neill Psycho 1?
The O'Neill warranties are really good. If there's an issue with your suit they'll sort it out quickly. That's important if you're spending decent money on a suit, you want to know there's good after sales service. I deal with customers who have the odd hassle with their suits and if it's an O'Neill it's always sorted out properly by them.
I think they're really reliable suits. You know you're getting good materials and good performance.
What's the damage to the piggy bank?
A 3/2 retails at R3400 and a 4/3 costs R3850
Where can you buy' em?
We stock the full range of O'Neill suits here at Surf Centre Humewood.
So there you have it....Carpark John gives the new O'Neill Psycho 1 a double thumbs up. Just ask him if you see him in the line-up, he'll convert you in no time.
How do you make the world's leading wetsuit better? Good question that. I'll go straight out and say I absolutely love super technical top-end wetsuits. I get cold lank easily, so am always willing to raid the piggy bank for suits that keep me real toasty and are super flexible.
My new Psycho 3 4/3 ticks all the boxes, and more. To start with it's a definite improvement on the the Psycho 2. So if you loved the Psycho 2 (which I did) then this is a no-brainer. It's lighter by 20% - so expect to soar higher on your airs! Me, I'll just soar higher on my kick-outs!
Light is good. Nothing worse than as your session extends you start to feel like your suit is weighing you down cos it's glugging in water. The Psycho 3 is made from some kiff new-age neoprene exclusive to O'Neill called Technobutter. Now lemme tell you, this Technobutter stuff rocks. It's super stretchy, lighter AND you get 30% less water absorption. Even better - it's some of the quickest drying neoprene in the market. Bonus not to have to climb into a dripping wet wettie for that 2nd session in a day.
Chuck in some fuzzy firewall material on the chest and lumbar regions, and you're in cold water heaven. Bring on the icebergs and the penguins and the gale force winds - you'll just laugh at em all. Seriously.
Another really noticable improvement in the Psycho 3 are the seams. The new Double Super Seam Weld are liquid sealed stichless seams which are 60% thinner and lighter than before. Now that's a biggie. This 60% reduction in width has resulted in more stretch in the seams, which is where the stretch is most restricted in all wetsuits.
So there we have it - one of the most flexible, lightest and technically advanced wetsuits to hit the market. Ah, but you ask - is all the marketing hype true? Let's see!
Definitely feels lighter than my old Psycho 2. The difference in seam width is obvious, with the Psycho 3 seams looking waaaay narrower. Always check for the key pocket - yip, it's there on the lower leg. Technobutter neoprene looks pretty rad too.
Fits like a glove. Super flexy - could go through all my yoga positions in it no probs! The only thing that felt different was that the Zen closure system - that piece you yank over you head, felt a bit tighter to get on than my Psycho 2. The neoprene used for it is actually much thinner & less bulky than on the 2, but it definitely required a bit more of a yank to get it over my head. Also noticeable is that once on it then felt a bit tighter round my neck. Something that might bug you out when you're trying it on in the shop, and go "ah, this neck thing is to tight, it ain't gonna work for me". Don't let that put you off, cos the minute you hit the water it seems to sort itself out and you don't notice any pressure around your neck at all once you're out in the surf.
The Test Drive
Luckily PE dished up some pretty chilly water (16C) to test drive the new suit - plus some howling west to add to the mix. Perfect testing conditions.
The first thing I look for is as I walk into the surf is do I feel any water creeping up my calves, and do I feel anything coming through the seams. Happy to report that I felt dry as a bone. Pop onto the board to paddle out - again, any water leaking in anywhere? Nup. Just cold flipping hands, that's all. So the seams and the wrist/ankle cuffs get full marks for doing their job.
Duck diving was great. The neck seals lank well, so I didn't once get any sort of flush running down my back. And man, we all know those duck dive flushes suck coconuts.
What really made me smile is that this suit feels, surfs and paddles like a 3/2, not a 4/3. What's not to like about that!!? It really felt like I was wearing my Psycho 1 3/2, but I was just way warmer obviously.
Put in a 2hr sesh in really crap conditions - not much surf, so lot's of sitting about waiting for waves in the icy wind. Finally got out cos was over the conditions, not cos I was cold in any way. Back to the sitting on the board waiting for waves bit - what's cool is that the drainhole is quite high up the back, so when you sitting you're not getting little dribbles of water sneaking in through it, which I've had happen in other suits.
Another thing I noticed was after my surf, when you pull the suit off, it's still really really dry inside, particularly the chest/lumbar region.
I'm in love with my new suit. It certainly delivers on all the marketing blurb. It's toasty, it's flexible, it's light, it dries quicker than my Psycho 2 (a lot quicker). Double whammy bonus is it feels like a 3/2. How happy am I? So happy that I now own TWO Psycho 3's. Chick logic, if you like it, buy more of it!!
Should you buy one? Hell yeah, if you get cold easily, and still want to be able to put in long winter sessions, then this is the suit for you. It's totally worth the bucks.
*Side note: This is the first women's wetsuit I've bought in about 10 years. I always buy men's XS, as have found that in the past the men's suits were far superior quality to the chicks suits. O'Neill haven't brought any men's XS's in to SA for a coupla years now, so I decided to take the plunge and buy the chicks version. Happy to report at last chick's suits seem to be made to the same standard as the guys. Dunno why we got shafted for so long. But O'Neill, listen up - bring in men's XS's - cos the little guys out there need to stay warm too!! Actually, they the peeps that need it MOST, as no self-insulation!!
Ok, I have to admit I'm a wetsuit snob. Not having much in the way of my own self-insulation I rely heavily on my suits to keep me warm and toasty. Up til now I've only ever bought top-of-the-range suits from O'Neill, Billabong and XCel. It was all about having the lightest, warmest, most flexible suit no matter what the price.
Then I saw the new ad for the Reef Diamond in the latest issue of the Bomb. You know - the one on the inside cover showing the ou in what looks like a G-String and fishnet stockings?? Couldn't let that go by without taking a prod at Reef - so I shot an email asking em for an interview about the porno suit! Grant from Reef got back to me pronto, and after reading what he had to say about the suit I have to admit I was interested. So I decided to drop some cash and buy myself one to try. Turns out if was a bloody good idea! Cos now I own an absolutely insane suit. Insanely good once you in it, that is :-) But more on that later....
Check out my detailed review below. No sales talk kak, just telling it like it is.
Straight out the box
Nice looking suit, and light as anything. Like really light. Which is cool for a 4:3. I always love to grab the arm of a new suit and give it a stretch to see how flexy it is, and this one has a good amount of give - which means you'll happily be able to do yoga in it if for some strange reason you like doing yoga in a wetsuit.
It's a chest zip suit which means you climb in via the neck (which is where the yoga bit comes into it). It's an interesting design with the zip being attached on the right chest, meaning you no missioning to try hook the start portion of the zip in like on some other chest zip suits. So it's like a zip on your jeans where you just pull it, not like the zip on your hoodie where you have to clip it together before you pull.
Reef stick to the traditional glued n blindstiched with tape approach cos they reckon it just lasts so much better than the liquid sealed seams. Everyone I spoke to about Reef agrees that their suits last really well, so I guess why change what works. Personally I like liquid sealed seams cos it means no water seeping in through the suit itself - so was interested to see how these compared. I was pleasantly surprised.
One hiccup - no key pocket! And no key string either. So hopefully when you buy the suit it comes with car insurance for when the ou's steal your cabby cos you gotto hide your key on the tyre!
Ok, here we have some yin and yang. It's pretty tricky to get into and out of this thing, but damn, once you in it...it's like neoprene heaven! So as the saying goes...the good things in life are worth working for!! I have to admit, the first time I opened up the neck it was "not a fook am I getting my ass in through there!" Because of the permanent attachment of the zipper to the chest on the right side, it means the neck opening isn't quite as stretchy as other neck entry suits. So, you do have to wiggle and waggle a bit to get yourself in there. The first coupla times I didn't manage to pull the shoulders on by myself, but I can manage solo now, although it entails quite a bit of squirming.
The neck part is also a bit tricky to pull over your head - again cos of it being attached on the right side at the chest. But soooo easy once you've got it over your head, just grab the zip and pull. No fumbling to try get the zipper hooked together. A small tab with a press-stud locks the zip in place once it's closed. You also have a stretch cord built into the left shoulder area to tighten up the neck seal area if you want to.
All the mission getting in is forgiven once you've got it on, cos man, this thing is laaank comfortable. As in definitely one of the most comfy suits I've ever worn. Super flexible, super stretchy. The absence of the back zip make such a big difference to your ability to bend and twist.
Ankle and wrist cuffs are snug without being too tight, so no water build up in the arms/legs when you get properly flushed. My ONeill's cuff's seal so well that no water escapes - meaning you sometimes end up looking like the Michelin Man after a good wipeout!!
The interior of the suit is a funky diamond-patterned furry material designed to keep you toasty. Does look a wee bit like fish net stockings tho....but provided you don't wear it inside out you should be fine!
Getting it off is another minor schlep, and it took about 4 surfs before I managed to get out by myself without having to get someone to help pull one of my shoulders off for me first. I'm sure it'll get easier as I get the hang of it (I hope!!) - but I have to be upfront about that fact that getting in and outta this suit isn't a simple process. And it isn't only me - I have asked a coupla other peeps that own the suit and they also admit to it being a bit challenging! But they all agree, once it's on - you're in love!
The performance test
I was worried I wouldn't have the opportunity to try this out til next winter. But then Seals very kindly dished up some 11C water, cold enough to freeze a penguin, and most definitely to shrink nuts into raisins.
And man, did this suit perform!! Far beyond my expectations. I could feel the icy water through my 3mm booties straight away, but no icy legs. No water seeping up through the ankle cuffs or through the seams either. Duckdived the first wave - hardly any water entry down the neck, and whilst my face and hands felt like they were going to fall off, my bod was perfectly warm. Took a few tumbles and no issues with water running down the neck or flushing up the arms/legs, it stayed pretty well sealed.
Did an hour-and-a-bit sesh and was still totally comfortable by the end - got out cos it I suck at lefts, not cos I was in any way chilly. A teeny, and I mean teeny, bit of water seeps through the seams here and there, but really nothing to worry about at all. And I was only aware of this on the 11C day - so might not have actually been water seeping through, but rather just being more aware of the water temp at the seam area's cos obviously the seam area isn't as warm as neoprene cos of the join.
I have had a further 3 surfs with it in water ranging between 11C-15C and it's hands down one of the warmest 4:3 suits I own. With the added advantage of being really light and really flexible. It honestly feels like a 3:2.
What impressed me was how light it stayed during the surf. Often suits can suck up a bit of water and get heavier whilst you're surfing, but the Diamond is just as light when you take it off after a surf as when you started. The new Japanese neoprene they're using in the suits these days rocks.
It dries pretty quick too. Left it in on a chair in the shade on our deck and was pretty dry within an hour. Might well have dried quicker than that - but I only went to check it after an hour.
I can see myself having a love/hate relationship with this suit. It's going to drive me nuts getting into and out of it, but it's a ridiculously amazing suit once you're in it. Whether or not the ballies will manage the wriggling in and out bit I'm not sure - but anyone under 40 should manage just fine (and if you're older than that without a boep or kak flexibility you'll be fine too!)
And at a recommended retail price of around R2800, it has to be one of the cheapest top-end 4:3's on the market. Add to this Reef's reputation for being built to last you should get quite a few seasons use out of it, which is important when you're dropping a chunk of change on a suit. No good if it craps out after one winter.
My final verdict - provided you don't have a spinal fusion or beer boep this is a slam dunk as a great winter suit (that'll also keep you warm at Seals in summer when the east blows it frigid!)
Buy it - and love it!!
Available at Surf Centre - just ask John
What's Gear Guide?
I hate shopping, but I LOVE buying surf stuff. So I'll be posting reviews of whatever new kit I lay my hands on. No sales talk fluff, just telling it like it is. If it rocks I'll say so. If it sucks I'll say so. Simple.