Stab Magazine | Confessions Of A Recently-Converted Wetsuit Lover
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Confessions Of A Recently-Converted Wetsuit Lover

Why should a low-performance surfer buy a high-performance wetsuit?

hardware // Aug 21, 2020
Words by Esther Hershkovits
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Wetsuits have always been personally synonymous with inconvenience and discomfort. 

For anyone who grew up in a non-surfing family in a place with cold water and notoriously harsh winters, this might be a familiar story. You only used wetsuits when you absolutely could no longer reasonably tolerate the water without one. 

Once I started surfing, I did everything I could to avoid using a wetsuit. I took all my free time and income to travel to warm waters. They were the only thing I did not like about my scattered surf attempts as a teenager—that sometimes already-damp, smelly, sandy, ill-fitting slab of rubber. 

When I decided to relocate exclusively so I could surf every day, I went to Costa Rica because I knew I would never have to wear a wetsuit.

When COVID hit, and I was faced with the reality that I would have to return home to New York City in early March, I was devastated. Surfing had become an essential part of a lifestyle that I had never enjoyed as a part of my life in New York before. How would I find that feeling? It was still snowing for fuck’s sake, and beaches were closing across the world.

Thankfully, the beaches in Rockaway, Queens remained open for surfing, and the NYC shutdown cut the drive time from Manhattan down to 35 minutes.

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Beauty knows many faces. For New Yorkers, a 1000% reduction in traffic is more gorgeous than a Tuscan sunset.

Photography

Business Insider

So (after isolation, post-travel) I headed back to locked-down NYC to go surfing. Amid all the other obstacles–COVID, traffic, cold weather, inconsistent waves–the final hurdle was biting the bullet to drop the money on something I did not want to use at all: a wetsuit. The water temperature at the time was hovering around 40 Fahrenheit. 

I did all the research and even though there were more budget-friendly options, the rave reviews of Rip Curl G-Bomb suits and claims of how comfortable and stretchy they are convinced me it would be worth the extra coin. I ordered a Rip Curl G-Bomb 4/3. 

At the risk of sounding sycophantic, it was a transformative experience. It was so much more than not terrible; it was super comfortable. 

“It feels like full-body leggings,” I told my friend who had urged me to get one after listening to me whine about not wanting to surf in my old suit that managed to fit like a neoprene trash bag and straightjacket at the same time. 

Unlike anything I’ve tried before, the Rip Curl rubber is so stretchy like spandex and the lining is soft on your skin. I started out with a hood, gloves, and boots but quickly took off the hood and gloves because I was so cozy in the suit. Once we hit June I was comfortable for multi-hour sessions with no boots (60F water temp).

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The author, in her newly natural habitat.

Photography

Maria Riley @lifeofrileynyc

We wound up getting some fun waves throughout the spring in NY. Since I was able to finally experience cold water surfing without the buzzkill of a low-quality wetsuit, I fell in love with the waves and surf community in my hometown. But I was still itching to ditch it once the water warmed up. 

Then, I got the opportunity to test and do a review of Rip Curl’s Limited E-Bomb E7—designed over the past three years by Rip Curl’s development team with feedback from World Champions Mick Fanning, Gabriel Medina, and Tyler Wright. According to Rip Curl, the E7 neoprene has 25% more stretch and is 10% lighter. I didn’t get a scale and a ruler out to confirm these claims, but you can immediately tell that the design excels in both categories. 

This is my review of the E7 3/2: at this point, it’s August in the city–it’s humid as hell, the water is warm (70 F), and you definitely don’t need a wetsuit. It’s also mostly flat with shark attacks and sightings up and down the coast. But I am still surfing in my E7 because it doesn’t feel like an inconvenience, but rather a luxury comfort.

There’s basically one main seam in the suit that goes around your waist, freeing your upper body up for paddling. Meanwhile, your more static and submerged (thus colder) lower-half is thermo-lined for warmth. 

The rubber is so soft and the inside doesn’t get itchy or sticky when you warm up like other suits I’ve used—and I wore it for a four-hour session in 80F air temp. It fits like a second skin without being constrictive in the arms and chest or loose in the stomach (the most common problems with the fit of women’s wetsuits). Still, you can slip in and out of it without jumping around, which is a huge bonus if you’re changing on the street in an urban area and want to avoid comments from amused civilians.

It also doesn’t pinch or chafe your skin anywhere (even if you skate in it soaking wet to where you parked your car on a busy weekend). But my favorite part of the E7 concept is that Rip Curl created a sleek unisex style for their top athletes, bringing the men’s and women’s teams together for one campaign in the name of elite performance. 

This suit changed my opinion on wetsuits from only-when-absolutely-necessary to whenever possible. As I am now stuck in the U.S. just like everyone else, I look forward to many more wetsuit sessions until we can travel again, and to a lifetime of surf travel not limited by the temperature.

Check the Rip Curl E-Bomb E7 here. 

 

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Tyler Wright, A1 test pilot of the Women’s E7.

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