Seasons Change and So Do You
By Brianne Chavez
Summer is coming to end and we are fast approaching wetsuit season. Finding that perfect suit may seem like a daunting task, with so many styles and brands to choose from. Here, at South Coast, we offer a variety of different brands, ensuring that you will find the best fit at a price you can afford. O’Neill offers a wide range of suits that work for surfers at all levels. By highlighting the key features of each suit, I hope to give you a better understanding of them. So, when you go shopping for your new suit this season, you will already have an idea of what you want.
Beginning with the entry-level wetsuits, we have the Hammer. This suit is great for beginners because it’s a great bargain. This season’s Hammer features O’Neill’s exclusive high-stretch neoprene, Fluid Flex. Fluid Flex is a new category of high stretch neoprene that is extremely soft and lightweight. This suit is 100% Fluid Flex with Kevlar kneepads and TFX Torso Flex. The TFX Torso Flex is an element that places the stretchiest neoprene in the lower back panel to increase flexibility.
The Hammer also features the blackout zipper, flat lock stitching, strategically placed seam lines, and an unfinished neck to ensure comfort while surfing.
The Epic is the next step up in the O’Neill line. The Epic features glued and blind stitching, which keeps out more water while providing the lightest, most flexible seam construction available. The Epic is made with Ultra Flex DS in the shoulders and legs. The Ultra Flex DS has a new outer jersey that is more resistant to snags. It is also very flexible and lightweight. Like the Hammer, this suit has a blackout zipper. The blackout zipper is an overlapping zipper that keeps out water. If you hold it up to the light you should not see light through the zipper, hence the name “blackout zipper”. To provide comfort, the Epic has no seem in the underarms and features a fully taped crotch area.
The next step up is the Heat. The Heat has fluid seam welds, meaning the seams are water proof. Oneill has put these seams in at the ankles and wrists to minimize water entry, making this suit 100% sealed. It also includes an external key pocket, a code red zipper, smooth skin in the front and back, and firewall in the front. The code red zipper is an overlapped zipper coated with urethane, which further reduces water entry. The firewall in the chest is polypro. What this does is disperses the water when it hits your chest, allowing your body to heat it up faster. The neck on the Heat is super seal. This kind of neck is adjustable and unfinished, so you don’t get a lot of chaffing. Oneill used their Fluid Flex neoprene in the rear, with no seams, to ensure ultimate comfort.
For colder climates, O’Neill offers a Psycho series. The Psycho series includes the Psycho 1, the Psycho 2, and the Psycho Freak. All of these come with O’Neill’s Zen Zip feature. The Zen Zip is basically a floating zipper to provide maximum flexibility when paddling. What O’Neill has done is put an extra barrier between the zipper and your skin, allowing the zipper to move as you move. They also feature the D-Tox kneepad, which is a flexible kneepad, made for durability. All are made with minimal seams, an exterior key pocket, and fluid seam welds on the ankles and wrists. The Psycho 1 is made with 100% Ultraflex DS. The Psycho 2 is made with 100% Ultraflex XDS. Ultraflex XDS is the top of the line neoprene. It is the most flexible, insulating neoprene on the market. The Psycho Freak has XDS-Air Firewall in the torso and upper legs, and XDS-Air neoprene in the shoulders and lower legs. The XDS-Air has more holes in the neoprene to trap more air, thus providing more insulation. The Psycho 1 has exterior fluid seam welds, while the Psycho 2 and Psycho Freak have both interior and exterior fluid seam welds. The Psycho 1 and 2 come with smooth skin on the front and back, with firewall on the front and ultra flex on the back. If you’re looking for an insanely warm suit, Oneill has provided the Psycho series to keep you warm in those chilly environments.
All of the suits mentioned thus far feature a back zip. If you don’t like the back zip, O’Neill offers one suit that is a chest zip. This suit is the Mutant. The Mutant comes with an interchangeable hood. To help ensure that water does not come in through the chest zip, they have overlapped neoprene under the chest zip to trap water and drain it out through a drainage hole. The Mutant has external fluid seam weld on the seams, ankles, and wrist. It is made with Ultraflex XDS, firewall on the chest, and smooth skin on the back. The Mutant also has Kevlar kneepads, a glideskin neck finish, and external key pocket. With the special feature of the chest zip, the Mutant is an ultra comfortable, durable suit.
Having covered all the men’s suit, let’s take a look at what’s out there for women and juniors. For women’s suits, there are the Dlux and Hailo. The Dlux has all the features of the Heat, but specialized for a woman’s body. For colder conditions, the features of the Psycho 1 are available in the Hailo. Available for juniors, there is the Epic, Mutant, and Reactor. The Reactor is a great suit for the price. It is flatlock stitched, made with Fluidflex neoprene, has a super seal neck, and strategic seamless paddle zones.