Time for a new wetsuit
I have loads of wetsuits – I’ve lost count of how many. There’s at least:
- 2x C-Skins winter suits
- 1x Rhino short sleeve summer suit
- 1x O’Neill shortie
- 1x Excel 3/2mm Spring/Autumn suit
- 1x Snugg 4/3mm Spring/Autumn suit
- 1x Blue Seventy Reaction swimming wetsuit
- 1x TYR Hurricane swimming wetsuit
- 1x wetsuit shorts and vest for kayaking
All of these are looking a little worse for wear. The two C-skins winter suits are over 12 years old and have been used many, many times. There was a time when I kept a record of their use, but gave up counting after they had been used over 300 times each! They are still going strong though. They don’t have any holes in them but the neoprene isn’t as flexible as it used to be and some of the lining is a little frayed here and there. The summer suits do have a few little splits at the seams and the necks are both worn through but as they are used in the summer they are more for sun protection than warmth so I’ve been putting up with them.
The Spring / Autumn suits though are both at the end of their lives. I got them for free as hand-me-downs from a friend (Leigh) so I can’t complain as they were pretty well worn when I got them. However, they are very useful suits for this time of the year, and to be honest are usually the suit of choice for a Welsh summer as well. Also, being thinner and not as warm as a winter suit they are ideal for surf-skiing. Being thinner and more flexible they are easier to paddle in. I also generate a fair bit of heat from the sheer physical effort of surf-skiing and don’t plan to spend too much time in the water so don’t really need too much insulation, even in the middle of winter. I therefore decided to treat myself to a nice new, fairly flexible 3/2mm suit. The plan was to use it for surf-ski training in colder conditions and to use it for surfing / windsurfing when things were a little warmer.
I shopped around a little but without too much money to spend couldn’t afford the top of the range super-flexible suits. I did find what looked like a nice Typhoon TX2 suit though. It was reduced from £159 to £127, they had it in my size. What’s more the bright lime green shoulders took my fancy too – There’s no harm in being visible when out at sea.
I ordered one and it soon arrived. I tried it on for size and struggled a fair bit to get in through the neck entry system. Plenty of my older suits have neck entry systems, but this one has a zip that only fully releases on one side. I know I have fairly broad shoulders but I’m fairly adept at getting in and out of wetsuits so shouldn’t really struggle this much. Getting it off wasn’t much easier either. Once on it fitted perfectly and was nice and comfortable out in the water. It wasn’t the warmest suit but it was fairly flexible and I soon forgot about it once paddling.
Unfortunately, the second time I went to use it I noticed that the neoprene had ripped at one side where the chest zip attaches.
No doubt partly caused by the difficult entry and exit from the suit but even so, not really what you expect from a brand new suit. As I said earlier, I’ve had loads of wetsuits in my time, some of which have lasted for well over 300 uses. A wetsuit that only lasts a single use isn’t really fit for purpose. I contacted the retailer and they contacted Typhoon. The good news is that Typhoon have agreed to cover the wetsuit under warranty and want the faulty one back for inspection. I was expecting an argument as that’s the way these things normally go, but the retailer (Wetsuit Outlet) have sorted it out for me and the manufacturer (Typhoon) agreed to refund under warranty so I can’t ask for more than that.
It does mean I’m back to square one trying to decide which suit to buy and don’t have any extra money to spend on a top of the range one. Mind you, I think this time I’ll go for one with a chest zip that opens on both sides. It does seem that the better suits all have the single side zips though. Maybe with a more flexible neoprene the single side chest zip entry would be OK, but I think on a more budget suit there just isn’t enough give around the neck with this design and it puts undue stress on the neoprene as you get into and out of it.
I think maybe I’ll go for either the Mystic Star 3/2.