This is a note I emailed to Ned over at Ocean Rodeo. I promised some feedback on the suit after a season in it because it helps all of us who choose to go down the road less traveled and make the switch, also he was plenty patient as my kids ripped the showroom apart. Here is the review as compared to my wetsuits that I recently tried again.
“Hey ned it’s been most of the season now and I’ve had plenty of sessions in the drysuit and I knew that I promised feedback. I also saw that there is a new generation of suit coming in the fall so my feedback might not be too useful.
Until recently, I was interested but not completely sold. Then I surfed my wetsuit on two occassions with a session in the dry between. Now I’m sold but know there is work to be done.
Hood-maybe the best in the business. The thiner hood keeps head compression to a minimum, I’m able to pull it on or off while lying prone and paddling. The thickness seems plenty. I lost the shock cord in the trim and now the hood flushes so I’m hunting for a replacement cord but otherwise, hands down the best hood ever.
cuffs- actually quite good but do get pushed up and/or flush into gloves when putting a hand into the face. Maybe a less flexible cuff layer sewn in?
back zip- hard to get the outer skin zipped over the drysuit and another zip in the back to add to the back zip in the underlayer the dryzip then this one. Both weight and inflexibility that negatively impacts the suit. Maybe a zipperless undergarment and the outer skin a chest zip to have the bulk distributed around. Also the chest zip would eliminate the need to have the “break” in the suit at the abdominal region and maybe eliminate the shoulder straps by just having the top come over at the chest zip.
ankle zips-no problems yet but the velcro is starting to wear and the zips have opened during wipeouts a couple times. I suspect that this might be an area that causes product breakdown sooner than we’d wish. ?may just be unnecessary and may just streamline the design and help bridge the gap with looks and image that it may take to sell a product like this to image concious surf culture. They do the trick though.
flex-while I can see that attention has been made to making sure that the paddle position is free from flex issues, the surfing position has been sacrificed. The suit is more free to paddle but lacks the ability to forward flex the spine and the upper back bulk does change the feel of arm movement when turning.
Skin - it is time consuming and a bit tough to get into and the skin does get hung up on the drysuit but the 2 parts is not a huge deal. I like that it’s compressing the suit. I bet it would be awesome with a next gen neoprene with more flex and since there is no reliance on this part for warmth why not get a material that absorbs even less water. Either a thinner neoprene or one of the hydrophobic ones. Maybe neoprene isn’t even the right material?
Surf public perception- I’ve had tons of questions from other surfers and friends. Luxurious is the most interesting comment. Consistently there is a major misconception about the bouyancy, I’m not sure it’s less, at least not in feel but that may be due to the added bouyancy of the skin. It’s certainly not more. The inability to flex forward at the upper back though makes duckdives a bit tougher. The packing effect we see in wetties, ie they suck after one season, is eliminated. But nobody knows that there is no packing effect to the suit. All the warmth is the layering so I figure the public would do well to know that the suit they bought will stay the same warmth for years (now the upfront cost seems not so bad if it lasts 2-3 times or more longer than the wettie that cost half as much. Repairability is not even thought about but suit outshines a wetsuit 10-1. We all rip our suits in a wash though the local muscle covered rocks.
So as I said Ned. 2 surfs back in the wetsuit has shown me clearly what I love and what needs a tweak. But the lack of bone chilling flushes into my suit, is something I’ll never miss. I’m pro surf dry and fully sold. Your team has the right idea for cold water surf and the fact that I can stay warm for a solid 3 hours in the water when it’s 8 degrees says something (only the one undergarment).
Hopefully something I’ve said will be helpful.