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(Sunday) 2.8.15

Body Glove Vapor Red Cell

Welcome to the 2014 Winter Wetsuit review. Usually these reviews start in November or December but the water was so warm we couldn’t get accurate data. Now that the water temp has stayed in the low 60’s we can test away.

First up is Body Glove’s New Vapor X Red Cell 3/2 Slant Zip. MSRP: $479.95

Suit Tech:

This is Body Glove’s top of the line wetsuit, employing their top tier technologies inside and out. Let’s start on the inside and with the namesake – Red Cell.

The idea behind Red Cell is beautifully simple. Capture infrared rays emitted from both; the sun and body and reflect the energy inward to keep you warmer.  To do this Body Glove uses a specialized yarn comprised of a thermally, receptive polymer that absorbs emitted infrared rays and transfers this energy as heat back to the body. The visual below sort of explains it. It starts on the chest, wraps to the back and extends all the way down to your ankles. The only places without Red Cell lining are the arms, shoulders and neck. My guess is these areas are Evo-Flex for added flexibility… so you can climb in and out of the suit easily, yet retain solid paddle flexibility.

Internally the suit is bonded together with Body Glove’s Liquid Weld seams. The seams are not a tape but rather a liquid polymer that is “vulcanized to ensure the seam is impenetrable.” I had to look up what that meant – vulcanizing is the process of curing rubber or rubber like materials via- heat & pressure. The net effect is a seam that is tightly bonded with no edge to release or fray.

Outside the suit the seams are a combination of blind stitch and Body Glove’s Evoflex Microbead Sealant. The vast majority of the suit being Evoflex – only neck and external key storage using stitching. Evoflex is “80% less in volume” and features a higher degree of elongation & adhesion when compared to previous versions.

A very unique piece to Body Glove’s wetsuit is the insertion of an “X” in the back panel. Most suit manufacturers work to eliminate as many seams as possible. The thought being – large panels of super-stretch neoprene make the suit most flexible. In Body Glove’s case they intentionally place an X panel to increase flexibility of the suit. This will be exciting to test against conventional suits in our stretch testing.

Surf Test 1:

The first surf test was 105 minutes long (6am-8:45am) in 1-3ft small but playful surf. Air temp was 53.1 at the start, water temp was 64, and end air temp was 63. There were light offshore winds about 5 mph.

Right out the gate I was really happy with the suit feel. The suit was snug on calves, thighs, chest and back. The only area that was a little loose was the neck and top of shoulders. The Red Cell internal lining is soft and kept me warm – which was awesome. I was a bit nervous there was no slick skin on the outside and that the light wind would cut through the suit and bring a chill, not the case at all. The internal lining acted as a great insulator and I never felt cold the entire session.

Early on I did notice a little water seeping in at the neck, but once the suit was thoroughly soaked that stopped. Throughout my session I noticed great flexibility and the extra neoprene at the top of the suit made paddling even that much easier.

I was also impressed that the cuffs and ankles had little to zero water seeping in. most suits employ some seal (internal or external) to combat water leaking in. This suit does not have any extra seal and there were really no issues with water coming in. Granted, the surf was small, but I intentionally took a couple headers with hands out just to test it.

Surf Test 2: (with booties)

This surf test started in pre-dawn. In the water at 6am, out at 8am and the sun didn’t rise until 6:30. Also, there was some light cloud cover so I would call it a partly sunny day. The surf was really fun. It wasn’t super big 2-4′, but really peaky and lines for days. Air temp was 53.1 at the start 60.0 at finish, water temp 60.0 and breezy 5-10mph but mostly on the light side. Meaning occasionally it would get a decent gust but mostly mellow. Most importantly the water had dropped 4 degrees between test 1 and 2.

Since this was my second test and the water temp has dropped in the weeks between swells I decided that all second tests would utilize booties (same booties for all tests).

Man, I love putting on this suit. The second it goes on it is comfy and warm. The inner linings of wetsuits have gotten so good nowadays it really makes for a pleasant surf. The stretch on this suit is solid too. I can feel it in my pre-surf stretch of arms, legs, and back. The suit feels like it was built for paddling. I think it may have something to do with the extra rubber in the shoulders/neck. Whatever it is, I like it.

I had one of those really really fun sessions. The ones where you always seem to be in the right place. After catching a wave, paddling out to the lineup another prefect shoulder would start rolling in and the guys on the outside were out of position so I was able to snag the edge and get back-to-back-to-back rides several times. Maybe it was just luck, but I never felt like I was fighting the suit to get more speed to get into position.

The water had cooled off and although the temperature readings reflected cooler internal temps I never felt cold. There were other suits in the test that read warmer temps but felt colder. I know it’s unquantifiable, but felt it important to share. The only place water seepage was really noticeable was in the neck and primarily during duck dives. I noticed if I looked downward water would run down the back of my neck. In contrast if I kept my shoulders shrugged and neck tight there was way less water coming in.

Conclusions

One of the top suits this year for sure. This will be a suit I wear all the time, even after the testing period ends. I think I have even sold a couple to guys I see in the water.

Stay tuned for the next suit review. Once all reviews are posted we will also post all data points for comparison and name our Winter Wetsuit Winner for the year.

 

 


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