The BEST of the BEST surfing wetsuit and gear reviewed so far :

  • Review : Wetsuit boots ATAN MISTRAL 3mm and MISTRAL HOT 6,5mm +

    They look the same so only one picture will do for both models. Please check the website and use a traduction plugin for all the tech infos on the latex / limestone neoprene surf booties. The 3mm are cozy for me till 13°C water temperature. Lower than that go with the 6,5mm. in a 11°C water temp session for two hours, my feet were HOT like if I was at home in a nice pair of fur lined boots! NO BULLSHIT.They claim the overall feel is barefoot like. That’s verified. It’s incredible and almost like if you don’t feel them.Super Read More
  • Review : Isurus Alpha-Elite 434 Mens Wetsuit - 2016 +

    Don’t make the mistake I did of trying your isurus wetsuit at home, you’ll sweat and it will become a battle. Do it outside when it’s cold, it will be easier and it will glide on your skin to take it’s shape. In fact you realise it when checking the isurus video on youtube showing how to put on a wetsuit, the guy is outside…When I finally put the wetsuit on for my first session on this 0°C morning, it was just perfect, no hassle.That review is not based on the 3 first sessions to allow the suit / material to Read More
  • Review : Isurus Wetsuits I-Elite 232 - 2015 +

    First review after 30+ session for 4 months in water ranging from 18°C to 12°C. Advertised for these temperatures 54°F (12°C) to 61°F (16°C) : It's true. Neoprene thickness advertised 2/3/2 is true: we are talking real rubber thickness here. (not rubber + lining thickness bullshit).Wore it in the morning by a windy 10°C and water at 13°C : no cold at all even after 2 hours surf. I have very little fat, was active and wearing gloves, hood and booties. At 18°C obviously without anything I was a bit too hot...In the morning, with a 3°C outside temperature and a 12°C Water Read More
  • Review : Seventhwave wetsuit MAX COMP 1.5mm Mens Ti FL ZB Steamer +

    Real 1.5mm thick yamamoto rubber #39. Killer rubber. Add to that the ultra thin jersey lining.The lining is not that silky smooth nylon you can be used to with every manufacturer nowadays. It’s more of an heavy duty type of jersey. Probably more resistant but not as nice on the skin. The suit is all you can expect globally from a custom yamamoto wetsuit so I will only comment in the little flaws.This was a custom suit, (you can also order general sizes). The wetsuit had to be sent back to seventhwave for some minor change in the collar. It Read More
  • Review : Matuse Shabo Glove 2.5mm - 2014 +

    They fit snug at first and fit good after 3 sessions.The lengh of the fingers is a tiny bit short, I wear a size L and they are aprox 0.8mm shorter than the o'neill Psycho 1.5mm in size L. My middle finger is aprox 9.4cm. The first session you feel and think you choose the wrong size. I don't know if that's why I got a tiny bit hole in the glue at the end of a fingertip after only 5 sessions of 2 hours.The yamamoto Neoprene do not soak Up Water.They do not inflate with water when paddling, they Read More
  • Review : Isurus SCS/Zicronium Removable Thermo insulated Yamamoto neoprene wetsuit hood +

    Sizing is good, I’m a 54cm and got a M that fits great. Size M should fit aproximatly like a 52 / 58cm range...Wore it on top of the wetsuit. Comfort is top notch, even wih surfears earplugs on. The fluffy lining is super comfy. The neoprene is just unbielievable. Supergooey exterior with a never seen before feel to it. It stretches but the material doesn’t behave like it want’s badly to get back to it’s original state. It can stay smoothly stretched and this is great in the water when you’re looking right or left for extended periods of time. Read More
  • Review : SurfEars earplugs +

    I'm using those new to the market ear plugs, they look better and are better than the rest. Especially compared to the Doc's proplugs, that are really unbearable for me, unless your ear is so bad you don't have a choice. I've had a 20+ sessions with those, I'm still experimenting with sizes, and i'm currently using the Small size, used the medium and didn't change much apart from the difficulty to put them in, so hey i'm staying with the Small for now. You hear better than anything else out there, but let's be honest what they claim isn't Read More

    This is some badass suf bag. This is the swiss army knife of surf bags. Multiple pockets of all sorts (easy access straped neoprene / ziped net / wax compartment...) Multiple handling straps , 4 on the bag and some removable backpack straps and messenger strap. Small hidden changing mat of 50 x 50 centimeters (half a regular changing mat). Removable wetsuit bag that seems waterproof because of the inner silicone like lining, but I did not use it as I store my wetty in my Northcore C-mat. Heavy duty nylon. The base is made of heavy duty rubber so it does not Read More
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Wetsuit : Neoprene basics - The practical guide to decode the bullshit

This is my take on wetsuit technology, way of doing things and why they’re bad.

Simple non techy write up so you can understand what’s going on behind the scene of the wetsuit material world, including the uprising of new technology materials and new terminology.

cellbillquickneillcurl and other more unknown manufacturers from the windsurf and kite world use the standard chinese neoprene of different types, thickenesses and properties, they almost all use the same general kind of neoprene of different grades for lower or high ends. The only one (to my knowledge) to use something a bit different, great and weird (in my opinion) altogether is o’neill with their technobutter 2 neoprene, touch it, stretch it, it’s really different from the rest of the pack. The psychofreak using that neoprene is reviewed on this site.

You’ll see a lot of emerging or less known brands advertising limestone neoprene in their construction that is made from a rock and not from petroleum. It is more eco friendly and certainly have better properties and advantages for surfing than the regular neoprene, especially the widely renowned highest end of limestone, the one made from a japanese company named yamamoto.

So, we have the usual chinese neoprene and different limestone neoprene sources.

I won’t start with the inside tech of each limestone rubber sources and I don’t know everything so that would be pointless. They are also good at keeping secrets so having some real info is pretty much impossible.

That's what I'll be covering as standard chinese neoprene ain't interesting anymore and everything has already been said, we have 3 big sources for limestone neoprene:
- Chinese limestone based neoprene. The cheapest limestone.
- Japanese limestone neoprene.
- Yamamoto Japanese limestone neoprene.

The yamamoto is probably the best one, mostly used in advanced and high end wetsuits for triathletes, swimmers or surfers. Their material is supposedly not cheap and therefore, the wetsuits made with it aren’t.
Yamamoto uses numbers to categorise their product. #39 beeing the one mostly used by wetsuit makers for surfing allowing superb performance with some durability. They recently introduced their latest #40 rubber that should replace #39 in a near future as it's stretchier.

You will find lot of brands using limestone but only a couple of them are specifically sourced from yamamoto.

Wetsuit brands advertise clearly their use of limestone, japanese limestone, or japanese yamamoto limestone.
Janga, carapace, Feral, NEEDSessentials, seventhwave, Zion, Adelio, Nine Plus, Sen No Sen, Matuse and Isurus are limestone based wetsuits ( this is not an complete list of all manufacturers). I've had the oportunity to own and check carefully Matuse, Needs, Nine Plus, Seventhwave, Isurus, Janga and Zion.

The only way to compare some yamamoto limestone with some chinese or other japanese sourced ilimestone, would be to compare 2 identical suits. Impossible in reality.

Let's focus on what's really important in choosing a wetsuit.

Remember that the number one function of a suit is to keep you warm and material is not the only thing at play here.

Fit and panel junctions are the two others most important thing on a suit.

The fit:

It’s the number one thing that will keep you warm. No looseness and water entry from neck flush, ankles or wrists. Some 3mm chinese neoprene wetsuit that fits you perfectly will keep you warmer than a yamamoto 4mm that is too loose or not apropriatly engineered for your body type. Sizing is critical.

if the wetsuit fit is loose in some areas water will come in, if water comes in you’ll get cold.

Panel junction:

if the wetsuit is only stiched, that water that can come in when the fit ain’t right will continue coming in at times, well to be honest when it’s only stitched even with a custom wetsuit perfectly fitted, you’ll get that fresh feeling from the water along the stitching.

Cold water wetsuits need at least to be glued, and nowadays they add a glued taping or some kind of welded seems along the junction of the panels, inside or both inside and outside.

I’ll put those aspects in order of importance : Fit, seams, neoprene type, lining type, neoprene thickness, panel construction and then, after that, you get everything comfort related.

Now the biggest trick, the biggest con in the wetsuit industry : the inside lining of wetsuits, the one supposed to add warmth.

Using the best rubber has no sense with a stiff or thick lining.

quikbillcurlcell and others use a thick lining so they use a thinner neoprene. Don’t get fooled, nothing is warmer than the rubber. Some of their 4mm is around 2.5mm rubber and 1.5mm combinned inner and outer lining!
3mm neoprene + 1mm inside lining won’t be warmer than a 4mm rubber neoprene that has just a finish lining, it just won’t.

A finish lining, as I call it is an ultra thin lining glued on the rubber just to protect it or so the wetsuit can be put on.

Lining is cheaper than rubber and it probably allows them to compensate the lack of stretch of their neoprene at 4mm.

The thicker the neoprene, the stiffer.
This is even more true with cheap neoprene. This is why they use fluffy « warm » lining.

It’s even worst than that because the lining soaks up water so it adds a huge wet weight, take a look at solspot 2012 raw data tests (more info on their website):

solspot weight wetsuit data 2012

Yes, you can realise that the only suits in this lineup using yamamoto, the Isurus I-Elite wetsuit is lighter than the rest, dry and wet, and it only soaks 1kg of water, while the competition can soak up to 5kg of water with the Patagonia Wetsuit and I beleive it’s merino lining. Merino lining, what an aberration!
This was in 2012, so things changed a bit since then, patagonia changed everything and are now using yulex material.

The reality and the effects of lining did not change a bit though.

The other thing with lining is that it doesn’t dry as quick as impermeable rubber, especially the yamamoto rubber that is 98% impermeable.
Nuff said.

Don’t be naive, nowadays, you don’t judge a good neoprene only because it’s silky smooth or stretches really good anymore. If you think that, they tricked you.

You see an error here? please enlighten me and others in the comments section.

I guess your next question is: what should I buy then?

If you are on a budget : 150 to 250$ - You can get some chinese limestone neoprene at that price.
As I said, fit is your number one focus, so you have to find the right suit for your body type. Needsessentials could be an option, they use some fluffy lining though but still a good option.

If your budget is higher : 250 to 450$ - You can get some Yamamoto rubber at that price
This is tricky, If the fit is right for you, I'll probably try to grab a bargain on an old matuse as they have regular sales or maybe some Isurus on sale, I could also check Feral that also uses Yamamoto rubber. All those do not use lining in their 4/3.

If your Budget is on the higher range: 450 to 600$

You have plenty of options, again think fit, I could go for a custom carapace premium yamamoto, Nine Plus (if it fitted me) or Isurus (that fit me quite well). If you want something super durable given the price tag, I would go with a custom seventhwave MAX, the lining they use is durable.