(Tuesday) 1.14.14

Winter Wetsuit Review – O’Neill’s Pyrotech 3/2

The returning champ is up next. Last year O’Neill provided us the Psycho 1 suit to test, their entry model and it was a very well rounded suit – affordably priced, light and a decently fast dry time. This year we got the upgrade – Pyrotech.

Pyrotech is a new line from O’Neill that has many of their best innovations in a suit that is just under $400. As we’ve gone through several suits this year you’ve probably noticed a trend.  Warmer, Lighter, Stretchier. Nothing different here. O’Neill has a slew of innovations working in concert to create the flexibility we want with the heat we need. When you visit their website it can get a bit overwhelming. There are a ton of individually named technologies and systems. We will do our best to break it down for you and give our thoughts on them.

Key pieces that make the suit warm:

O’Neill focuses on the chest and back panels with their Firewall Insulation. This is the cornerstone of extra warmth. Outside the suit are slick-skin panels, inside that layer is a layer of material with a bunch of holes punched in it. These holes trap warm air as exits the body and act as an insulator. The innermost layer is labeled “TechnoButter Air Insulated Firewall” but my suspicion is that label is for the entire system – not just the innermost layer. The last thing I’ll mention about the chest and back panels are the seals. They are glued on the inside and sealed on the outside to lock in the heat.

So what else is in the suit to keep you warm? From the top down:

-       Slick skin neck seal to keep suit tight and limit water entry

-       F.U.Z.E. Zip Closure System – the zipper has extra neoprene barrier between you and any water that tries to get in. Plus there are exit points in the chest and back for any water that creeps in

-       Super Seal Cuffs – glued strips in the cuffs that are more narrow for a water tight seal (wrists and arms)

Key pieces that make the suit flexible:

TechnoButter. Large panels of TechnoButter – plain and simple. This is O’Neill’s top neoprene and they claim it is “the most advanced Super Stretch neoprene on the market” a very bold claim. I’m still working out what it means and how to test it but I can tell you after surfing with it the stuff is crazy flexible. I can’t wait to test out the stretch in our mathematical part of the test. I suspect it’ll be one of the top performing suits. Another part of making this suit so flexible are the big panels of material. Fewer seems and larger panels allow the suit to stretch more.

During my testing the thing that stood out the most was the flexibility and stretch of the suit. My shoulders never felt tight or restricted. It’s not just a little more flexible. The way the suit is constructed there seems to be extra flex in the shoulders that really paid dividends during a long session. I felt like I was paddling just as hard on my last few waves as I was on the first few waves.

If I could tweak one thing on the suit I would work on the seams and seals. This suit is stitched and then sealed on the outside. O’Neill has their own Superseam Weld on their higher end suits which is bonded not stitched. If that tech was applied here I think it would make the suit both warmer and more flexible.

MSRP: $379.95

Check out the video O’Neill put together for ya.


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  • benr

    The problem with Oneil suits are the seams they put just above the knees on the inside of the thigh, After a couple of hours that seam rubs you raw.

    • BCS

      I can’t speak to this on all their suits. With the Pyrotech that was not an issue. If you love their suits and are worried about this I would suggest trying on before purchasing – $380 is no small purchase.

    • Alex

      I’ve own a Pyscho II about 4 years ago and current own a Pyrotech. I haven’t had the problem with the seams above the knee. Which model did you have? Maybe it was a bad batch?

  • Kirby

    since Jack’s family sold all but the 3 Santa Cruz stores, its no longer the same O’Neill that I grew up with wearing.

    I bought my 11 yr old daughter a 4/3 Epic for Christmas. She has worn it about a dozen times. It gets rinsed when she gets out of the water and again as soon as gets home, then hung up to dry. 3 months into it and the seams are falling apart. Of course the surf shop simply says send it to ONeill, not our problem, only to have Oneill say it is at least 4 weeks to get it back from their repair center in Mexico. They only do the paperwork in National City these days.

    If you buy ONeill, only buy from the 3 family owned stores in Santa Cruz. Their suits are designed by different people and they have much more oversight with the production of the suits they sell.The ones you buy online or from your local surf shop are the product of the Dutch company that bought the name. Stay away from those.

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