It struck me as a little bizarre, one cold windy morning in the Atlantic, just how much my new plain black wetsuit seemed to be turning heads.
I’d had the Ripcurl Heat Seeker for about 3 weeks and decided to give it a whirl without reading into what makes it special. This way I got the chance to try and work out if it really is the game changer the headline literature claims.
I’ve been testing the 4/3 version almost every day during the latest run of swells that have kicked off Europe’s winter in style and I’ve never had a wetsuit illicit more questions.
‘Is that the heat seeker?’ one lineup acquaintance asked… ‘Yes’
‘You must be super warm?’ asked another, who I like a little better than the first but probably wouldn’t go for a beer with. ‘Yes’
‘Are you 4 degrees warmer when you move?’ enquired a third, who’s not quite my surf nemesis, but an often-in-my-way sort of guy. ‘Quite possibly, yes.’
It’s safe to say there is a fair amount of hype around this suit and even though it’s plain black it’s distinctive panels and styling has got normal people talking and the eagle-eyed rubber geeks asking.
‘It is the best suit I have worn for a long time – super comfy and next level warm.’
The hype around this wetsuit is real. It is notably warmer and super comfy (Rip Curl has always fitted me very well). Over the last few weeks the 4/3 has been a little too warm and I am confident that it is going to get me through a whole winter in Cornwall! Thus the energy flex panelling must be doing something… A hard one to officially prove based on the fact that the more you move the warmer you will become anyway. Naturally, the concept behind energy flex panelling (generating heat from flex/movement) inspires weird runs around car parks, eccentric stretching and plenty of pre-surf squats in a quest to prove the technology to nearby cold-water enthusiasts. Whichever way to look at it you end up warmer!
Fit / Comfort
When this wetsuit is dry it is like slipping into your softest pyjamas. The entrance is simple to navigate and when it’s closed the seal is strong resulting in little to no leakage. It is hard to find a fault in this area.
With the name Heat Seeker you would expect this suit to be warm and it lives up to its name. Getting through a winter season in Cornwall in a 4/3 would be a dream and a big tick in the flexibility box too. That said, there will be some that really feel the cold and would not dream of a winter wrapped in anything less than 5/4, still, at this thickness, I still believe that it will be competing as one of the comfiest suits out their (not necessarily the flexiest). For me it is the stand out of the energy flex technology and allows me to shave 1mm of rubber!
At close to the £500 mark Rip Curl is putting its hand up and saying that this is one of the best wetsuits on the market. Having worn this suit for the last couple of weeks I understand the hype and would not judge anyone for digging a little deeper into their pockets to stretch to this top end wetsuit. You can definitely put a value on being warmer and comfier during a crisp surf this European winter. The only thing that is yet to be proved in my eyes is how long will it last. At this price you would be wanting more than just one winter (with Rip Curls 12 month warranty perhaps this is not a problem).
This head turning wetsuit lives up to the hype. It is using new technology that is seemingly working even if only to justify a few more pre-surf karate kicks. The flexibility is noticeable at all thicknesses but it could be a real game-changer if the 4/3 can stand up to the coldest days this winter. I did wear it at the Bristol wave on a day where I was told the water was 5 degrees and again it passed with flying colours!
I am giving this wetsuit a very worthy 9/10 – Only losing 1 point on the basis that its longevity is unproven with it being a new kid on the block!
Right now, we’re offering you the chance to win a brand new Ripcurl Heatseeker. All you have to do is head over to our Instagram, and follow the instructions on this post!