Best Wetsuits 2020: O'Neill Psycho Tech Back-zip - Stab Mag

How Surfers Get Paid will drop at 6pm on Friday September 30

O'Neill Psycho Tech Back-zip. All Photos by Katie Rodriguez

Best Wetsuits 2020: O’Neill Psycho Tech Back-zip

To zip, or not to zip.

hardware // Dec 27, 2020
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 2 minutes

See the complete 2020 Best Wetsuits test here.

When’s the last time you owned a back-zip wetsuit? Unless you’re a bona fide purist or real trendy cat, chances are it’s not in the past decade. 

Before testing O’Neill’s Psycho Tech 3/2, I think it had been a good 15 years since I’d done the awkward reach-around shimmy in search of the zipper string. Which made me wonder: did chest-zips become so ubiquitous because they’re easier to use? Was it due to some genuine performance benefit? Or were they just a shiny new toy that we all had to have, resulting in an industry-wide shift?

I tested the Psycho Tech Back-zip in some pretty brutal conditions. The wind was blowing sideways at 30 mph, the surf was overhead and hideous. I basically spent two hours trying to stay in position and find the odd gem, which was an unsuccessful endeavor. But I did learn a lot about this suit in the process.

Windy conditions during the testing of O'neill Psycho Tech Back-zip wetsuit.
Can’t tell if actually windy, or Fu Wax is just that sticky.

My main takeaway was that the back-zip has no inherent flaws when it came to mobility. Despite the rigid structure down your spine, paddling is not affected in the slightest. Probably because the spine is a natural anchor point of the body, and the zipper just mimics this. 

However, there was one major downside to the overall structure of the back-zip—it creates a pressure point where the zipper naturally rests. And when you’re paddling for two hours straight, you really start to feel the bulge pressing against your neck. It’s…not the most comfortable.

On the other hand, the Psycho Tech suit itself is of the highest quality. Soft, warm, and supple rubber made me feel properly cocooned in the brutal weather. For me, it just would have been better as a chest-zip (or no-zip).

Official Scorecard
Warmth: 40/50
Comfort: 30/50
Bonus: 5 for nostalgia 
Total: 75/100

O’Neill Psycho Tech Back-zip ($459.95)

Up close with O'Neill's Psycho Tech Back-zip wetsuit.
Spinal design on the back of the O'Neill Pyscho Tech Back-zip wetsuit.

O’Neill Psycho Tech Back-zip ($459.95)


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Leandro Dora: Pro Surfer, Businessman, Punk Rock Festival Organizer, Spiritual Mentor, And World Title Winning Surf Coach 

Meet one of the most beloved and effective individuals in the athlete's zone.

Sep 29, 2022


You’re Gonna Click On A New Oscar Langburne Video

Style that can't be denied.

Sep 29, 2022

Long Read: An Angel At My Table

From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…

Sep 28, 2022


Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance

A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.

Sep 28, 2022

Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight

Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.

Sep 28, 2022

Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?

Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…

Sep 27, 2022

Donald Brink and Matt Biolos Win Mick Fanning’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test

And we had a party in Oceanside to celebrate.

Sep 26, 2022

Kanoa Igarashi and Kirra Pinkerton Answer Call Of Duty, Win Medals Of Honor In 2022 ISA World Games

Teams Japan, USA, and France move into Victor’s Village.

Sep 26, 2022

The Best Euro Surf Trips That Mightn’t Be On Your Radar

Want to know which less-trodden nation offers the most potential?

Sep 26, 2022

Former CT Surfer Chris Davidson Passes Away At Age 45

A radical life tragically ends outside a bar in New South Wales.

Sep 25, 2022

Where You Should Be In Europe Right Now

An overview of the region's greatest hits.

Sep 25, 2022

The Team Ukraine Interview

“There are mines near the shore, and already a lot of people have died…so it’s…

Sep 24, 2022

Mormaii Founder Raided By Brazilian Feds On Suspicion Of Plotting Against Democracy

Curiously, he's the second surf brand founder to become entangled in a political scandal of…

Sep 24, 2022

The Electric Acid Surfboard Test With Mick Fanning, Episode 4

There are three boards left. Which one is Mick taking home?

Sep 23, 2022

Watch: Tresha

The Bella Kenworthy Edit.

Sep 22, 2022

Photos: Welcome To Vans Stab High Indonesia, Presented By Monster Energy

Welcome to Lakey Peak. Now do airs.

Sep 22, 2022


Taro Watanabe Is The Love Child Of Your Favorite 80’s Surfers

Watch his new edit 'Sonic Youth' now.

Sep 22, 2022

The Four-Finned, Carbon-Wrapped, Vacuum-Bagged Board That Won The 2022 World Title 

The minds behind Sharp Eye and Dark Arts break down Filipe's winning plank.

Sep 22, 2022