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This is technically my first wetsuit, not counting the hand me down that was falling apart and too large that I had when I was a teenager.
The salesperson recommended I get a rip curl because it had a different type of material or finishing on the chest that keeps you warmer because the wind isn't evaporating water. Not sure if this was a sales pitch, but worth considering.
Wow, thanks for all the chatter! Now I have the information I need. Thanks, folks!
jjm, I hae a new Rip Curl 1.5mm jacket (for other water sports). It's got a kind of "windproof" coating on the chest and part of the shoulders, and I imagine it's designed just to keep the wind off. I'll tell you that it's a real beauty. I haven't put much time in it yet, so I won't verify/dispel any idea of the usefulness of it. As you well know, the most important part of a wetsuit is that it fit you properly. I seem to be a walking O'Neill model, as all of their stuff fits me like a second skin. From my experience, if the O'Neill stuff suits your body shape, the Rip Curl will, too. I'm now thinking about a RipCurl 4/3 Firesuit. We'll see...
Most surfers in this part of the state wear a 4/3 and booties. Some add a hood and the occassional wimp will add gloves, too. I've found that I stay much warmer while kiting (not constantly immersed like when surfing), so the 4/3 suit I wear while surfing works just dandy while kiting on the coast. I do also wear booties, but that's protect my feet from the sharp nasties that are around the beaches and stuck in the Bay mud.
The 4/3 also works in the Bay for the early part of the season, but come summertime, the Bay does warm up into the mid 60's range. I've seen guys barebacking it, but I think one should play it conservatively and wear at least a shorty. If you breakdown or the wind dies off, you don't want to be swimming in 62 degree water for an hour or longer.
I live for the Rip Curl No Zip suit. It's a bit of a contortion act to get in and out of it, but it is so nice not having leaks come into the zipper. One thing to watch out for are the super stretchy surf suits like the Rip Curl Ultimate Elasto's. They're awesome while surfing, but the high speed water blasts of kiting can allow a lot of water into the suit. I had my sleeve blasted up to my elbow at one point. Kinda comical - water blasted the wrist cuff up to my elbow, then sealed off once the initial blast ended. What seemed like 10 gallons of water was trapped in my suit above my harness - Stay Puft Marshmellow man!!! I sucked in my gut a bit, and all the water flowed down into my booties. I don't wear the Elasto while kiting anymore.
What is the difference between a wetsuit and a semi dry suite? They cost the same, is ther any justification for one over the other?
And where do you get those suits? I went to all the stores in the bay area and found 1! I repeart, 1! wind wetsuite in size MT.
Is it really worth it? I have found over the years that despite the great fit, some of my wetsuits have taken so much energy out of me just to get them on that it's not worth it. I find it very frustrating and a good bit embarrassing that just putting on a wetsuit leaves me exhausted (and sometimes sore). I have found the zippered suits a G*dsend. I'll admit I found the Rip Curl No Zip curious (how can that be? how can it work?), but I'm afraid to take the plunge (so to speak) without a really glowing review of the benefits over the gymnastics.
How the heck do you enter that thing, anyway?
If you can't find em' in bay area, do a road trip to Santa Cruz. Many surf shops with massive selection. Wise Surfboards on Ocean Beach has tons of wetsuits - not to mention it's windy there today.
Buy a simple 4/3 wetsuit and go kiting. No zipper only works for small people: if you are over 175, forget it. No zipper is a problem if you pee in wetsuit....not that I do.
Good winds + waves, Zeev.
How does the Rip Curl No Zip work? Very simply, the left shoulder of the wetsuit has a stretchy opening at the base of the neck. You climb down into the suit through this opening, pull the suit up to around mid-chest, then push your arms into the sleeves and pull it up over your shoulders. This part is very similar to climbing into the back-opening of a zippered suit.
Now the contortioning begins. Since you climbed in through the left shoulder area of the suit, you now have to get the neck opening over your head and sealed around your neck. The material is strechy so it helps, but you still have to duck your head and pull the neck opening over your head. Once in place, there are elastic draw cords that seal up as tight as you can handle around the shoulder and neck.
Getting out after a tough surf session can be a chore, but it's basically the reverse of getting in. Once the neck opening is pulled over the top of your head, it's not much different than getting out of a zippered suit.
I bought a new one back about October for the winter surf season. for more than a few sessions, I'd get out fo the water and the inside of the suit was still dry in many places. I'd like to think that's because I'm such a good surfer that I don't get dunked all that often, but the reality is that the suit seals so well that water doesn't get in easily. As Gabe says - not good if you need to take a pee mid-session.
This is my 3rd No-Zip. My oldest has at least 250 surf sessions in it, and my last one has about 100 surf sessions and 75 kite sessions. They're pretty durable, and Rip Curl has a great repair warranty. My harness wore out the seams of my last suit around my waist. Rip Curl repaired it for free and even replaced the lower leg panel that was damaged from a fin cut without charging me.
But when all is said and done, if you're just looking to get on the water, go pick up a $150 old-style stiff zippered 4/3. Those worked for us for 20 years before all this fancy stuff came out.
Yeah, it's best to have a wetsuit you can "flush" by feigning a wipeout after a pee on the water. Or just bodydrag for a second or two while holding the neck open a little, then just pull it open at the ankle and viola!, a clean flush and you're good to go.
Can anyone provide a review of an O'Neill Psycho II? I've had two surfers highly recommend it, but it's serious bucks. Impressions?
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