Float Like A Butterfly, Armor Like John Florence - Stab Mag

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Float Like A Butterfly, Armor Like John Florence

A cream impact vest that troubleshoots every big wave pain point.

elsewhere // Feb 15, 2000
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The consequences of not having your equipment in order in big surf is similarly… big. 

As such, functionality > form is the calculus most Daves perform when selecting gear. Tried and tested please – I’ll save the alternative stuff for cross-stepping at the Bu/Pass/Noosa etc. 

Florence has just announced the release of a new impact suit – the one he used winter-long on the Rock, most notably at the Eddie Aikau. It’s slick, modular and crafted from premium Japanese neoprene. However, the most compelling testimony is that multiple big-wave surfers with wetsuit sponsors have been paying full pop to get their hands on one – coloring in that cute little red flag with texter, which is criminal.

This has very much been a baby of John’s that he’s worked on with Florence’s Head of Innovation + Sustainability, Bruce Moore (who jumped ship from the same role at Hurley). Last season, the pair were responsible for the release of the striking Florence 3/2 full suit (among other things), that scientifically concluded most wetsuit-makers ignore basic (thermal and flex) data with regards to their distribution of rubber

It is part of their mission to build utilitarian equipment vs useless lifestyle apparel with ‘snake oil’ marketing. 

Here are Bruce’s words below re: the impact suit:

John was involved with every step of the way. Given the environment the product is used in, there is a delicate balance of protection and performance to achieve the optimum results. What we learned from that development project is how diverse big waves are, and each individual wave has a specific set of criteria. We actually landed on two designs to meet John’s needs. For waves like Waimea and outer reefs, we lean toward protection. For waves like Pipeline, we tune the product more toward performance. We also learned a lot from John’s test pilots like Matt Meola and Jamie Mitchel. Not only does the wave require a certain set of criteria, but each individual has a specific set of proportions and product needs. A design might work great for one person, and not necessarily the same for the other.

Based on these learnings, we embarked on a new design with our partners in Japan. After numerous prototypes, we came up with a modular idea that can be tuned to the type of wave and individual. All of the Impact panels can be removed for more performance and flexibility, or added when protection is the most important priority. Not only can the panels be added or removed, but they can be placed in various positions depending on the user’s proportions and personal taste. The final prototype was validated in the 2022 – 2023 Eddie Aikau Invitational | Waimea where John placed second.”

The suits will be made to order by hand via their website, and take between 6-8 weeks to hit your doorstep. They will be priced similarly to their previous impact suits that are currently sold out.

A no-brainer really.


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