All wetsuits do not offer the same level of warmth and performance so it was great to find a suit that provided both this winter
This winter I was wearing a Quiksilver Highline Plus steamer. Wanting to make sure I was as warm as possible I tried something I've never before tried and in fact had warned mates against. I took on a 4/3mm and it was great.
Before I give you the run down on the Quiksilver Highline 4/3mm here's a bit of background.
I've had a Quiksilver steamer previously and had found the seams had leaked from day one. Within a few months the outer liquid sealing started peeling off giving the suit a tatty appearance. This suit was replaced under warranty and when identical symptoms appeared on the second suit I passed it on to a mate not bothering to go through the warranty hassle of having no suit to surf in a second time.
The Quiksilver 2mm Long Sleeve Springsuit, fully sealed with smoothie is an exceptionally good suit. Great to surf in and long wearing. The Quiksilver Neo Goo booties are also great. Despite a bad Quiksilver steamer experience both these products kept me open to Quiskilver
There were 3 reasons I tried Quiksilver again.
First their long sleeve sealed springsuit with smoothie is an exceptional suit. Only 2mm it provides unmatched mid-season warmth, flexibility, surfing performance and comfort. You can surf well into the change of season in it.
One of these suits lasted 3 seasons and was still going strong when I handed it on to a mate. I'd gone through several of these suits so despite the poor experience with the steamer I'd not fully shut the door on Quik. Also the Quiksilver Neo Goo booties are great, see below.
Second, a mate got the role of manager at a Quiksilver store and offered me a great price. I took up his offer for the latest Springsuit so had a direct opportunity to go for the steamer. Thanks Sam.
Third, I'd not found an alternative. No other steamer I'd tried had lived up to either the hype or the basic expectation of what a steamer should do, that is, giving good surfing and keeping you warm when it's cold. So I was open.
ION on the left and C-Skins wetsuits on the right. Coming from Europe there was an expectation these suits would have a handle on the cold. C-Skins the warmer and better of the two
I'v gone through a few wetsuits.
Rip Curl wasn't an option as the Rip Curl sizing across it's range is short in the body. This means the fit length from the base of your neck to crotch is less than other suits, even in their Tall sizes. In the Rip Curl suits the neoprene was constantly stretched across my lower back making an empty space that got super cold super quick.
This would happen regardless of the great sounding features in the suit such as the high tech quick dry fleece, sealing, and e-bomb neoprene. Like they say, getting the size right is more important that all the tech features, but they're good to have on top.
I'd tried lesser known brands from colder climes in hope of a solution.
ION, a European brand looked promising with flexi neoprene, fleece, and internal tape and external liquid sealing. However the steamer had a strange cut to the front panel under the chest zip. Every time you duck-dived or a wave washed over the nose of your board while paddling water would flush the entire front of the suit. The paddle- out with this constant wash of cold water would chill your chest and body by the time you go out the back.
Overall the neoprene, for what you'd think they'd use in cold European water, was okay when paddling around but wasn't that warm and you'd quickly lose heat when sitting waiting for waves.
C-Skins, also from Europe, offered a more robust, heavy duty feeling suit. Their 2mm steamer offered a thicker air-fused neoprene that was light and warm. The upper body though was not so flexible so the suit gave tiring paddling. This may have been due to external liquid sealing on the arms that's not usually used in this high flex location.
Trying C-Skins top end 3/2mm Hotwired suit was a funny experience. I jump off rocks for most winter surfing so don't get any water in my suit a lot of the time. The Hotwired was super well sealed and no water got in at all. While the upper body was warm I found that my lower body in the water started to chill, turning cold and stiff within about 20 minutes. This was despite a comprehensive fleece covering torso to knees.
Talking to the shop of purchase the thought was that with no water inside the suit the fleece hadn't been able to activate, ie heating the layer of water between the suit and your body, and so had conducted the cold water temperature almost directly to the skin.
I didn't have a chance to test this out as my lower body had got so uncomfortable, getting stiff and unsurfable, I'd already passed the suit on to a mate.
Quiksilver Highline 4/3mm
The Quiksilver Highline Plus Steamer 4/3mm. A great winter experience. Packed with functional features, a key benefit is the main body fleece that extends from your chest to knee and is warm as soon as you put it on and stays warm
Back to Quiksilver.
With the Highline steamer, even with a good price, I was wary and wasn't going to try the exact same 3/2mm suit again.
Prioritising warmth, my thought process was the 4/3mm would have thicker neoprene so should be warmer. More importantly the thicker neoprene should stitch together better as the stitching had more material to hold onto and hold together. This would add additional warmth through better sealing and aid durability.
Quiksilver Highline internals. The plush fleece on the left gives great warmth as soon as you put the suit on, and stays warm while you're in the water for hours. The internal tape, shown middle, is long lasting keeping the seams sealed through all the tugging. The fleece on the right is used on the inside of the thinner arm neoprene and helps dispel wind-chill
Updated triple glued and blind sealed stitching sounded great -it should have addressed the sealing problem over the previous model. The external seam seal, called Hydrolock, also sounded like a new formula too. This addressed my previous issues of poor sealing.
My mate offered full warranty replacement, which was great, and standard. However I didn't want to be without my suit and not surfing if it needed warranty repair.
I'd warned my mates off 4/3mms as all the feedback I'd heard was that while they could be warm they were heavy and made your surfing cumbersome and slow. I didn't want to sacrifice any of my surfing performance.
The Highline is comfy. Pre dawn suit-up gets you immediately feeling good, the smoothie collar providing snug fit. The external liquid seal has been reliable and hasn't peeled like the previous suit. The triple glued and blind stitching works fantastic keeping water out through months of hard core surfing
What sealed the deal was on checking the specs of the Highline 4/3mm steamer on the Quiksilver website I noted that the Highline 3/2mm steamer was 1.18kg in weight and the 4/3mm was 1.34kg.
There was only 16 grams difference in weight between the 3/2mm and 4/3mm!
My experience with the suit has been fantastic.
The suit is warm as soon as you put it on and it stays warm, even when you get that first flush. I've been out for hours feeling good not noticing the temperature and realised my mates had been dropping out one by one due to the cold.
The fit is great too. The collar is smoothie so comfortable and snug, and the overall fit hugs your body. I'm a tall skinny guy, so go a MT size and the fit is perfect, especially in the lower back.
There was no water entry at all through the seams for the first 3 months of use and only the smallest amount is noticeable now, after being surfed hard through the whole season at least 6 days a week. The internal tape and external Hydrolock liquid seams show no sign of wear.
If you check the Quiksilver website all the features they mention do what they say. The only negative is that while the arms are flexible they might be a touch stiff paddling.
I recommend this suit. It is comfortable and I've had a great season of non-stop surfing and great waves through the coldest sessions.
This image gives you a pretty good idea of the design concept behind the Quiksilver Neo Goo 3mm booties. They lived up to it giving warm feet and great surfing
Quiksilver Neo Goo
A while ago I'd adopted booties. Most surfers don't seem to like them but I found them great. I've only used soft sole models and the first I tried were the Quiksilver Neo Goo 3mm.
In these my feet were warm and snug and they surf with great flexible traction. They lasted 2 good seasons with a repair needed on the rear in season 2. By season 3 the neoprene had perished in a few places and they had to be retired.
What made these booties so good was that the entire boot is dipped in liquid goo. It's all covered so there's no stitching holes or seams for any water to enter.
Rip Curl Rubber Soul
The Rip Curl Rubber Soul 2mm provided adequate performance. Surfing traction is good, but at 2mm they didn't provide ongoing warmth once in the water
This season I'd tried to get the Neo Goo's again but they're no longer available so searching around I found the Rip Curl Rubber Soul booties. These didn't come in 3mm though, which is crazy.
Going with the 2mm model, they were okay. They kept the external elements at bay in the winter run down to the beach, and my feet were at a lukewarm temperature, gradually cooling during the surf. I'd have preferred my feet to have been properly warm.
The Rubber Soul has a similar construction to the Neo Goo being fully dipped in goo. The top of the Rubber Soul, where your fingers grip the boot to get it on, did split within the first month.
That's it. Hope your find this information useful.