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What's with these super-stretchy, super-tight wetsuits?
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 18944

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in June, I wrote:
Don't mistake my silence for apathy. I'm reading the thread, using the suit on the water, considering all your comments, and trying to free up some time to respond to all of them collectively. ...

More to come, some of it useful to many folks wearing suits of any brand in this style.

The XLS was a joke despite being for people much taller and heavier than I. I went with the 2XL, with these specs:
2XL 6′0″-6′2″ 210-230 lbs 44.5-46.5″ 36.5-38.5″
(I'm almost half a foot shorter, 50-60 pounds lighter, same chest size, 34" waist, and it's STILL a real hassle to get on and off. HOWEVER, I have made a couple of simple changes that really help and should apply to most, maybe all, of this genre.

First, I attached a lanyard to the neck flap. It's a simple lightweight 1" wide ribbon wrapped around the flap and sewn to itself (touch your thumb and index finger tips together) to stay on the flap. It hangs down past my butt for easy access, and simply tucks into my suit after I pull the flap into place. BIG thumbs-up for this mod.

Before I put the suit on, I put on tight rash guard shirt and pants (or a one-piece dive skin). Their primary purpose is to make it easier to get into and out of wetsuits, and they really help, especially when you or your wetsuit is damp.

Those two improvements cut the hassle factor by at least 50%, IMO. I no longer feel (as) compelled to keep the suit on all day.

I really wanted to test this suit to see whether it meets my primary goal of replacing my old, worn, irreplaceable (in my size) Promotion neoprene Inversion drysuit with something lighter. Alas, Gorge westerlies all but shut off in August this year, leaving only a couple of short and truly crappy (dangerously gusty) days while the water and air were still too warm for a drysuit anyway. Looks like April now for a real comparison. (Not gonna drive 180 miles each way for unreliable easterlies just to test a suit.) I don't expect it will match the warmth of Promotion's Inversion dry suit, but those are no longer being made.

These simple changes were sufficiently encouraging that I couldn't pass up a good deal on a new Quicksilver top-of-the-line super-stretchy suit one notch thinner for when this suit is overkill. A well-fitting $340 near-dry for $60 just because it left the factory with some dirt on the arms that came off in the washing machine (yet another winner from 2nd Wind Hood River) was a no-brainer. And it doesn't even need the flap lanyard.
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jpf18



Joined: 13 Aug 2000
Posts: 258
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:59 pm    Post subject: Huh, was that June? Time flies Reply with quote

Since June I sailed that new skintight and then the ole semi-dry back to back to back a number of times. I must say this new stuff has grown on me. To the extend that I'll content now that the trusty ole semi-dry NP feels like wearing a burlap sack. Still not like sailing in trunks @Jeri or Cabarete, but the new suit is much more "transparent". Perhaps they should make them with tiger stripes or leopard dots, just for shiggles.
Extra points on the safety front though, there's always one or two of these days each season where I end up having to swim in a half a mile or so (Crissy, shrugs) - I spent considerably less energy in the new suit than fighting semi dries of years past, it was almost enjoyable
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gregnw44



Joined: 23 Jul 2008
Posts: 767
Location: Seattle, Wa

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you guys, who've been windsurfing in COLD weather and using wetsuits for a LONG time, noticed that these super soft stretchy suits are REALLY FRAGILE ?!?!?!

I've "always been" really careful getting in / out of wetsuits (no fingernails, and use proper technique suggested by all brands) but I'm shocked at all the little rips and tears that show up in the neoprene from the outset and after every use Sad
Some (but not all) of the damage seems like it might be related to where I have plastic buckles on my harnesses. But again, no change there cause I've used the same harnesses for over 20 years.

In the 90's and early 2000's I had wetsuits which looked brand new after 10 years of hard use. I would sell them to novices for cheap, just so they had something to use. But I couldn't sell any of these new ones, even after 2 years... cause they look horrible (and work horrible when water rushes in through all the openings).

Conclusion - I miss the durability of my old suits. And frankly, I "always thought" ALL my old suits fit well, and were soft, comfy and stretchy!

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dllee



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 4077
Location: East Bay

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Concur, just like most everything else, new stuff works better with less longtime value.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 18944

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Huh, was that June? Time flies Reply with quote

jpf18 wrote:
Since June I sailed that new skintight and then the ole semi-dry back to back to back a number of times. I must say this new stuff has grown on me. To the extend that I'll content now that the trusty ole semi-dry NP feels like wearing a burlap sack.

I agree on the burlap sack comparison, and that's a big reason I tried the new models. HOWEVER, the difference between semi- and real-drysuits is HUGE for me even at 50 degrees water temp. That cold spinal tap I get w/semis shocks my whole body; at 35 degrees it's intolerable. Actual DRYsuits are FAR warmer to me than any semi I've ever tried, and I've tried many of the (e.g., manufacturers used to send me suits to try out in the winter, and we had literally heaps of them for testing during the other three seasons.) I suspect I'll still prefer my heavy, deliberately loose-fitting Promotion bearskin bag in April and November. And I'll still be cursing loudly for the several minutes it takes to get the damned ankle seals off my feet. That, or I'll get used to wearing split-toed Wetsox under my booties and just slip the ankle seals off like silk PJs.

I've never torn a suit that actually FIT with my fingers. i.e., I just don't (er, didn't) buy suits that tight and I heed the warnings not to just grab a handful of neoprene and pull. These stretchy suits, even WAY oversized, require pulling, but that's what the dive skins or rash guards are for.
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U2U2U2



Joined: 06 Jul 2001
Posts: 4950
Location: Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania. Colorado

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dllee wrote:
Concur, just like most everything else, new stuff works better with less longtime value.


Especially hand grenades

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gregnw44



Joined: 23 Jul 2008
Posts: 767
Location: Seattle, Wa

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dllee wrote:
Concur, just like most everything else, new stuff works better with less longtime value.


Well yeah but that's the thing... as I was saying... for me, the new wetsuits don't work any better. They're not more comfy or warmer... they're just more fragile... which I really dislike Sad

I hear what others are saying - that they "do think" new neoprene is more comfy than the top-of-the-line neoprene that was used 20 years ago... and that's fine.

But that's not my experience. And I am sailing in the same lake in the same weather that I always have... doing the same things.
I am not any warmer or more comfortable in a 2018 wetsuit... than I was in a 2008 or 1998 or 1988 windsurfing wetsuit, that was top quality at that time.

The only other interesting thing, is, that good top quality windsurf wetsuits... have not become WAY more expensive... than they used to be. And this seems very strange to me Smile
(Frankly, I'd be happy to pay more for a wetsuit that held up better.)

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Last edited by gregnw44 on Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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dllee



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 4077
Location: East Bay

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or maybe our bodies are changing as is our standards. Cool
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gregnw44



Joined: 23 Jul 2008
Posts: 767
Location: Seattle, Wa

PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dllee wrote:
Or maybe our bodies are changing as is our standards. Cool


Nope - my standards are the same for windsurfing wetsuits now, as they were in '88.
My height and weight (6'2" & 195 lbs) are the same now, as in '88.

However I am easier on wetsuits now, than I was in '88. Cause I'm not as reckless or careless. I know more than I did in '88 about what wears out wetsuits.

Yet, new neoprene still looks like crap in 2 years now.
However my '98 wetsuit still looked brand new (and felt brand new) in 2008.

Anyway... I'm not looking for answers or explanations from anyone. Was just making a comment Smile

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GURGLETROUSERS



Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 2272

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely agree Greg! I've been in the North Sea all, and every winter since 1973. (Surfing then summers only till 1973.) From my own experience wetsuit neoprene reached it's zenith in the early 1990's with the introduction of Japanese Yamamoto top grade double lined high density 7mm winter use neoprene.

I had my winter suits made from this superb neoprene by a diving company friend, to my own spec (7mm all over with front zip and hood attached) and the original suit lasted me a full 8 winters of cold winter windsurfing, with no loss of insulating power. (Denser neoprene does not stretch or tin out easily.) By having it made to measure it fitted over a 3mm shorty with thermal Damart vest beneath. The replacement suit was identical and lasted just as long.

The only reason it had to be replaced was because after 8 winters of use it had become too tight. Despite claims to the contrary, thick denser neoprene DOES eventually 'shrink', or compact.

That company is no longer in business, and she is now, sadly, in a home suffering from severe dimensia. So for the last few years I've had to buy ordinary so called Winter ( a big laugh what some call genuine winter suits) wet suits, the best of which I've found to be C Skins 6mm hood attached, and I'on similar, both semi dry with small front zips. But as you say Greg, two winters use and they die on you! Non durability guaranteed!

To those who claim denser thicker neoprene is too restrictive I can only say, they are no where near so restrictive as being blue and numb with cold, and all you need is to grow a set of muscles! Cool But hey, some will still believe the blurb, and stick to super stretchy instantly tearable smooth skin. (Great for the wet suit makers.)
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