With the Cold Water Classic just finishing (congrats Taj) we thought it was a perfect time to throw up our initial review of O’Neill’s Psycho 1 3/2 winter wetsuit. But before we do we would be remiss to not take a nod to a company that has been a staple in the surfing for 60 years. Way back in 1952 Jack O’Neill was questioned about his wetsuit invention. He responded with one of the most exquisitely simple answers – “I just wanted to surf longer.”
Here’s a sweet video on O’Neill’s 60 Years
Ok, onto the Psycho 1. The first thing we noticed when we opened the box and picked up the suit was how thin and light it is. Scary light. I quickly spun the suit around to make sure there wasn’t a hole in it or a panel missing. The good news is there was nothing missing; the better news is O’Neill has married a new technology with a manufacturing process that eliminates weight.
The technology is called Technobutter and it’s O’Neill’s own exclusive neoprene formula. How it breaks down: O’Neill takes a regular piece of neoprene and punches a ton of holes in it (think honeycomb). Then they laminate a .5mm piece of neoprene on both sides this trapping air inside the suit. Then they laminate the jersey to that. So what you get is a layer of air inside the suit that acts as insulation. The air replaces neoprene making it lighter–20% lighter than standard neoprene according to O’Neill.
Another big point of difference is the large panels of neoprene. O’Neill explains that the more seams a wetsuit has the less stretch it has. Seams restrict. The good news for the manufacturer is that they are more efficient with usage and wetsuits cost less to make. The bad news for the wearer is less stretch. They turned this paradigm on its head with this suit and have large panels of neoprene and when you are out in the water with it you notice it. This wetsuit is so easy to paddle in its crazy. My old wetsuit is 4 years old and paddling around in this was a big surprise. What a difference (bye bye crusty old suit, you are going to the Goodwill).
Oh and before I forget Technobutter comes with a nice little extra. It doesn’t absorb as much water as regular neoprene – O’Neill claims 30% less (BONUS). Which means you aren’t carrying extra water when you surf. Less water absorption also means it’ll dry faster. I did notice walking up to the car that the suit had already started to dry…but like any person who spends hard earned cash on suits I still had to take it home, rinse it off and let it hang (shaded) so I don’t destroy the neoprene.This will be a fun suit to test against the others in dry time… for sure.
O’Neill was the only wetsuit company to send us a traditional back zip wetsuit. I was really surprised. Everyone talks about how the front zip does a better job keeping warm in. Why would O’Neill send a back zip? Um, reason #5,898,934… their patent number on the Z.E.N. Zip Closure. This enclosure attaches to the back zip panel creating a barrier to stop any water that does come in from going inside the entire suit. The water that goes in is then ejected via a small drain hole in the back. Warmth secured.
We were stoked to try the suit and were very happy to see how the suit delivered on many of the features O’Neill promised. Excited to see how it stacks up against the other suits in Solspot’s 2012 Winter Wetsuit Review.