Winter Rubber Pt 1: Feral Wetsuits
When Jack O’Neill introduced the wetsuit in 1952 he could not have imagined how modern surf media would roll out Zoolander-esque editorial ads of seasonal wetsuit models from multiple brands. Each year companies provide high quality pictures of dudes dressed in tight black body suits with carefully curated lines of why you should buy their product. All of this leaves you with nothing, not even a hint of which ones have the best key stash pocket. When Fall comes, brands roll out “innovations” steeped in technical marketing nomenclature - O’Neill’s ‘TechnoButter’, Rip Curl’s ‘E-Bomb’, Body Glove’s ‘Vapor X’ etc.- but every few seasons true breakthroughs are made. Intuitive cuts, non-restricting closures, and top shelf neoprene combine to make the best suit for your winter. Seams can be glued, flatlocked, taped, liquid taped, or all of the above depending on the amount you are willing to spend for that warm fuzzy feeling. It comes down to durability, flexibility, and warmth, which combined will bring you the most bang for your buck.
Price: Need Essentials has officially won the race to the bottom of the rubber market. Their no frills, lean margin approach has more than transformed the wetsuit industry for the better. That same lack of price though converts to lack of product lifetime. On the other end the spectrum the Matuse Cato Multisport suit employs top of the line Yamamoto Limestone Geoprene into a mixed panel spring suit* for 600 bones. With proper post-session fresh water rinsing the Geoprene closed cell technology suit should last multiple seasons without losing warmth.
Flexibility:Traditional big house vendors like Rip Curl and Xcel have proprietary neoprene development in Taiwan. These brands have the ability to commit to large lots of custom neoprene laminates that they manipulate to have more stretch or trap more heat. E - Bomb and Comp Lite suits (Rip Curl and Xcel) can be found interchangeably on ant online or sidewalk blowout sale.
Warmth: Patagonia is easily the lead story in Wetsuit design and development again in the Winter of 2018 with their new Yulex Formula and suit. This 100% non-neoprene suit makes claims to 20% strides in stretch from previous generations of Patagonia rubber. Using unique combinations of MM increment and .5 MM increment paneling the Patagonia suit prioritizes warmth and eco-friendly practice against overall high-performance mobility.
Combined: This all brings us to the suit of choice this season and where we are going to send all our hard-earned cash; Feral Wetsuits. Feral wetsuits appears to have a simple business model: Direct to Consumer, Top of the line 100% Yamamoto neoprene packaged in the familiar front zip double layered shoulder pattern and fit. Before we get into it more in part 2 we can simply say nothing is better than 100% Yamamoto Neoprene. Warmer, Lighter, Smoother, Dry’s Faster… The guys at Feral have designed a logistical way to bring you the world most luxurious rubber at a fair price.