(Sunday) 12.16.12

Solspot 2012 Winter Wetsuit Review – WINNERS

What a process! I’ve owned a bunch of wetsuits in my life, but have never had the pleasure of wearing so many suits over a couple months. Lots of learnings. Here’s a huge one – each manufacturer builds the fit of their suit differently. Some make their suits snug, others had extra material in critical joints.

While everyone claims lightest, stretchiest, warmest, etc. life is full of trade offs. Just like you can’t have a 500hp car that gets 50mpg, suit manufacturers have to make trade offs. The good news is nobody is making a crappy suit. Your challenge is to weigh what’s most important to you, then find the suit that fits the best.

Our goal when we started was to create the most objective wetsuit test possible. 80% of our test score is objective. All suits were put through the same tests. Yes, there is some degree of variability but we’ve done everything we can to eliminate or minimize variables. That said, we left 20% of a suits score up to the tester (me). We felt this was critical because you can’t really objectify things like “feel” and “comfort”. So you will see positives and negatives in the user review. These positives and negatives outline key takeaways and justify the user score.

My strong recommendation is to use this test as guide to narrow your search. Look at what’s most important to you then pick a few suits to try on. When you find one that feels better than the others – buy it. If you’ve had the same suit for a few years things have changed – a lot. Whatever suit you buy, make sure to get it at a mom and pop surf shop. Support the core people!

As mentioned above the goal was to be as objective as possible. To ensure transparency below is the judging criteria and at the bottom of the page is a PDF where you can download all the raw data. Testing methodology is © Solspot 2012, no stealing.


Part 1 – Value – 20% of total score. Take the lowest MSRP – that wetsuit gets a perfect score = 20. For every $25 standard deviation you lose 1 point.  Partial points were given.

Part 2 – Performance – 60% of total score. We measured: Weight (Dry & Wet), Dry Time, Arm & Leg Stretch, and Body Temperature while surfing. Top score in each category = 20 points, then 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13.

Part 3 – User Evaluation 20% of total score. User notes on how the wetsuit felt, things liked/disliked. Full wetsuit reviews are given in previous articles on Solspot.


Here are the winners of the individual categories:

Value (MSRP)O’Neill Psycho 1 – $309.95

Lightest Wetsuit DryO’Neill Psycho 1

Lightest Wetsuit After Soaked for 15 minsIsurus i-Elite

Dry TimeIsurus i-Elite

Arm StretchBody Glove Pr1me

Leg StretchBody Glove Pr1me

WarmthRip Curl Flashbomb Plus


User Evaluation:

Quiksilver Fuse Flex – Perfect 20 points

+ Ridiculously comfortable, especially in knees and elbows

+ Incredibly warm

+ Dries fast


Rip Curl Flashbomb Plus – Perfect 20 points

+ The warmest wetsuit tested

+ Inside dry’s right before your eyes

+ A wetsuit I keep going back to after testing ended


Isurus i-Elite – 19 points

+ The lightest suit in the water

+ Closed cell neoprene is legit, it works

+ Heat to weight ratio is incredible

- Too snug for my personal taste


Patagonia R2 – 17 points

+ Only suit to focus on environmental impact

+ Super comfortable

- The most expensive suit tested

- The heaviest suit when wet


Buell B1 – 17 points

+ Great combo of performance for the price

+ Fantastic return policy (you won’t need it)

- No place for me to stash my key

- Zipper was difficult to get closed


Body Glove Pr1me – 17 points

+ The most stretch in arms and legs

+ Material used in chest made suit very comfortable

- The lowest average internal temp of all suits

- Zipper had big internal sew point, felt awkward


O’Neill Psycho 1 – 17 points

+ The most affordable suit

+ One of the lightest suits dry or wet

- Wanted it to be warmer

- Not as comfortable as other suits in the neck

After all the number crunching and time in the water it was a very tight race. In fact, only 2 points separated first and second and there was a tie for second. Crazy how close the competition was! That said, we have a winner. Solspot’s 2012 Winter Wetsuit of the Year – O’Neill Psycho 1.  A great combination of overall value and performance.  Congratulations to the O’Neill wetsuit team.

2012 Solspot Winter Wetsuit Review DATA (CLICK HERE)

Performance Charts:

About the tester:

5’9” tall, 6’2” wingspan, 16” neck, 31” inseam, 34” waist, 180lbs. Surfs minimum 2x per week. 18 years surfing experience.


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  • Sam Pepke

    Thank you so much for this! I read all your reviews and am in the process of selecting a new suit. I found this extremely helpful. ~Sam Pepke

  • Tom

    Thank you , I have a isurus and its the best suit I’ve ever owned , fit and warmth is incredible and very light . Tom

  • TrojanEE

    Thanks, awesome analysis. One nitpick: it’s “dries”, not “dry’s”.

  • jraz

    no test on xcel?

    • BCS

      XCEL opted out of the test.

      • Alek

        I’ve used 2 xcels wetsuites for the last 1.5 years. drylock and power seam drylock and drylock 5mm booties. My biggest concern with xcel is durability. Slick Neoprene on back is cracking and leaking. Not fun to surf in 46f water. Booties also ripped around the heel area and where the velcro touches neoprene. I surf 4-5 times a week, dry my wetsuite in dark garage, but I don’t usually rinse it.

        • TomHouse

          just randomly going through wettie reviews online, saw this comment, and wanted to remind you that you absolutely have to rinse your suit with freshwater everytime. I never used to either, and had to buy new suits every fall. now i rinse every single session, inside and out, and the suits are as good as new 2 years into life. i still buy new suits every year b’c brand new is always better, but RINSE YOUR SUIT. Xcel user.

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