Next up is Rip Curl’s newest entry into the category a zipper free 3/2. MSRP $379.99
Last time we reviewed a Rip Curl suit we loved it. I called it the Cadillac of suits. The suit was comfy, warm, stretchy, dried fast…pretty much everything you would want in a suit. With the entry of a new version of the suit into the category we were excited to see what’s new, what’s changed, and what’s stayed the same.
So Rip Curl kept pretty much all the features we loved about the Flashbomb Plus and removed the one thing I didn’t love – the zipper. It may sound a bit ridiculous to tell you I didn’t love a zipper but the zipper was small and hard to latch. Sure, one you got it zipped it was great, but I always struggled in those pre dawn patrol sessions when it was dark out to latch the suit. Now you just slide into the suit, pull the neck over your head, tighten with a elastic drawstring and boom into the water.
Besides the zipper there’s another piece of tech that a Flashbomb and Flashbomb Plus differ in and that is the slick-skin. The slick skin contains extra internal layers – most noticeably a double titanium layer that makes the suit even warmer. if you are in an super cold place you may want to think about the upgrade. For those in SoCal I never got cold enough where I was struggling. Compare the $120 price difference and the $120 in my pocket kept me just warm enough J (Flashbomb Plus is $499).
So how’d it do?
The first sessions was one of those super fun 2-4’ days. Waves were clean, and there were lots of them to go around. I surfed for 120 mins and there were only a couple lulls the entire time. Plenty of fun rides, air was cool, sun was out and very light wind – if any 0-5 mph. Air was 58.0 when I got in (pre-dawn) and water was 62.0.
There are really two ways to keep you warm. Keep water out or warm water up once it’s in. This suit is the latter. As I walked into the ocean the suit started to let water in. Do not think of it like I was walking in with boardshorts. The suit is snug and the seals are solid, but it does need to reach equilibrium of water inside/outside. Once there, the suit starts to warm up and that warmer water does not readily escape either. Like I mentioned above the seals are solid so the warmer water will remain inside… when I got out after my session the calves and ankles were proof of it – there was a small pool of warm water I had to let out.
From a stretch standpoint this suit is great… AND I MEAN GREAT. The whole time I was paddling I noticed how flexible it felt. I was really happy with it and I felt solid after a 120 min surf where sometimes I feel a little gassed because of the extra effort to move around. Of course you can extrapolate the great stretch into the ability to catch more waves but I think you would need to stack up a bunch of sessions to start to see a noticeable difference. If this is your primary suit, then yeah, start counting.
One final note. I did notice some of the flash lining on my skin after I took the suit off. Almost like little dust bunnies on my chest and torso. They weren’t covering my body, but I would estimate 10-15 after a session. It will be something I watch for in test #2.
Session 2 (with booties).
Just like the other tests the difference in weather is noticeable. We have water temps dropping between 3-4 degrees and air temps dropping too. Add a little bit of wind to that equation and its flat out chilly (by Southern California standards). From a conditions standpoint it’s more of the same – 2-4’ fun, peaky conditions with plenty of waves out there. It hasn’t ever really gotten big during the test, but there have always been waves. Session #2 started pre-dawn, was 120 mins long, with a constant 5mph
Since I had tested the suit once I sorta knew what I was in for and I really wanted to test the neck. That’s where all Rip Curl’s innovation is, so let’s put it to the test. About 20 mins into my session I was warm and cozy so I paddled into the impact zone and waited for a couple sets to roll thru. My goal was to take 10 waves right on the head – duck dive right into the freshly made white wash. I kept expecting this zipperless wetsuit to flush cold ocean thru the neck, and chill me to the bone, but it didn’t. There was a little water coming in here and there but nothing of significance. Combo that with a super stretchy neoprene and I’m telling you this suit is solid. One of my favorites for sure.
After a couple hours I got out and took off the suit. Again, there were little pieces of flash lining all over my chest and torso – little lint balls stuck to my skin. We don’t do a durability test, we do initial quality and key performance measures so you will have to make your own judgment on what that means.
This suit was a favorite before and it remains in our top suits tested in 2015. The combination of comfort, flexibility, and warmth hit on many of the key measures we are looking for.
And now for some gratuitous surfing in wetsuit footage
Tags: 3/2, Rip Curl, Winter Wetsuit Review, Zip Free