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(Sunday) 12.29.13

2014 Wetsuit Test Begins

Team Solspot is back with its annual Winter Wetsuit Test. The ONLY WETSUIT TEST that combines actual science, math and a user experience to determine who’s tops in the water. So save that holiday cash for a couple weeks while we break down this seasons top suits.

We’ll start with the user experience and after all reviews are up we’ll post all math and data then crown a champ.

 

First up is Rip Curl’s Flashbomb Plus E4. I’ve told my friends it’s the Cadillac of wetsuits. Performance + Luxury.  Here we go.

 

Let’s start inside out. Flashbomb’s namesake is the innermost layer of lining – Flash Lining. There are two different layers of Flash Lining. The layer that touches your skin is soft and pillowy. Like being wrapped in a soft blanket. From a comfort perspective this is the most voluptuous suit out there. But it’s not just about comfort, the suit also has another layer inside that wicks water away right before your eyes.  *Important to note – Flash lining is not 100% of the interior. The material is strategically removed from the shoulders and arms to allow for added flexibility. Shoulders & Arms = typical dry time

Holding the inside seam together is Rip Curl’s new E4+ tape, their stretchiest tape ever. The good news is they are focused on flexibility even here because rigid tape restricts stretch.

Moving to the outside seam.  It has liquid tape for a maximum seal. So this suit has no real stitches. This is an excellent attribute. Stitches place tiny holes in a suit and they can and likely will leak. I can’t say this suit has none because there are 4 stitches 1 in each arm at the wrist and 1 in each ankle. They have no impact on suit performance.

On the outside the suit does have two major areas of slick skin – chest and back. These large areas offer protection from wind – LOVE THIS. Oh, they heat up quickly in the sun too – EXTRA LOVE. During test session 1 the air was cold (44 degrees) and breezy (5-6mph) and it was pre-dawn so it was dark. The slick skin provided large areas of protection. I could notice a significant difference between my arms and chest/back. Then for comparison I took the suit out for a different test session when it was sunny and no breeze. The slick skin heated right up and I even got warm walking back to the car – air was only 57 degrees.

Keeping water out are nice tight seams at ankle and wrist – no leakage which is really nice. The neck is snug but not restricting. There is consistent contact between the suit and your neck to reduce leakage on duck dives and head first wipeouts.

 

Should you get water in through the neck on said wipeout there are 3 holes in the front and 3 in the back to let water escape.  This is a proven tech we’ve seen before and its great to get that chilly water off the body as quickly as possible.

 

Last thing to talk about is the chest zip. Good news it’s relatively easy to get in and out of. But if there was one thing I could change on the suit I would make a tweak here. The zipper is difficult to close. Many other zippers pull down and are already ready to zip. This suit is not. You must put the suit on 100% then connect the zipper and pull closed – just the way you would zip up a jacket. I’ve found this difficult in the dark or with cold hands because you have to pull it away from your chest and face so you can get everything lined up nicely. It took a couple tries pretty much every time, but once closed that puppy is locked and loaded and ready for surf.

MSRP: $499.99

And now, here’s a sexy video that Rip Curl put together for you to see the suit first hand.

 

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  • RK

    the zippers on ripcurl wetsuits are cheap and donot last, difficult to close especially as the suit ages.they tend to be pricey for one season max


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