9 Non-Black Wetsuits You Should Buy On The Non-Black Market
A splash of color never hurt.
Any one remember Stab: The Fascism Issue?
Probably not. Definitely wouldn’t fly now, not really sure what the point was then. But one line stuck with me, presumably written by Derek Reilly, “Hey little Nazi, wear a black wetsuit and ride a white 6’2? I’ve got a book you’ll like, Mein Kampf!”
Well this is a bash-the-fash piece in wetsuit listicle form. A catalog of non-black wetsuits, not-paid for by the brands listed, chosen instead as they’re the suits currently warming the surf cockles of Stab employees littered around the globe.
So if you need a new suit, and maybe you’re in the midst of a mid-life crisis, here’s some top shelf runner. In any colour so long as it’s not black.
If you lived through the time when wetsuits looked like this, then you’re in for a hell of a shock when you pull on a Capsule Saturn. Because one of the few things in life that is truly irrefutable, is that wetsuit technology has boomed. This results in the Capsule 2.0 being so much softer, warmer, and more flexible than its original iteration that it’s not even with mentioning. You know you’ve come a long way when that contrast stitch is just for show.
When I think Xcel wetsuits, the iconic Darrick Doerner comes to mind — bouncing around in a rubber ducky over huge outer reef swells, armed to the teeth with an Xcel tube suit, fluoro zinc, and a huge brown spear strewn across the spongey bow. So it was with much delight that we discovered a throwback Xcel style in the Archie model, complete with the original font plastered across the chest. The Archie model’s scarce (as revealed by a quick lap of the globe via our friends at ExpressVPN), but if you’re after something a little more subtle, then Xcel’s got you covered for that too. Further props to Hawaii’s fav rubber brand for chucking Shaun Manners a few sheckels, suits, and stickers — gotta look out for the real ones.
Volcom Wetsuits used to be team-only gold dust, but since they’ve started the outward-facing wetsuit program, their visibility has been increasing in core lineups the world over. The Modulator 3/2 competes with the top-shelf offerings of longtime wetsuit brands and comes in a couple of contrasting shades, including ‘Cruzer Blue’. Which, as well as looking different yet understated, makes it far less likely for your buddy to shoot you in the arse, if, like Balaram Stack here, you like to spear in your rubber, as well as surf.
Japanese wetsuits: look amazing, smell even better. How on earth you get one outside of knocking on the door of some Miyagi-style wizard craftsman in some small Japanese fishing village and asking, no one knows. However, if you can navigate the ever confusing world of Japanese websites, then there’s no end of hip, functional, non-black, often bespoke rubber that you can get your mitts on. Breaker Out Wetsuits have something to do with Axxe Wetsuits, which seems also to be affiliated with Captains Helm, which seems to make baby carriers as well as wetsuits. Japanese surf brands operate differently, but Japanese rubber/technology is top drawer (check the entry system), and when it comes to alternate looks in the surf, these brands offer a fresh take.
If you’re one of those dress-every-day-like-you’re-going-to-Jimi-Hendrix’s-funeral types, then don’t fear, there’s some flair amongst the navy and olive droves. And that something is Janga, which I assumed was another hard to define Japanese brand collective, but turns out is actually based in Portugal. What Janga does offer, however, is high-grade Japanese Yamamoto is every bright shade and pattern known to man. Surfing’s long been populated with its share of eccentrics, often expressed in loud wetsuit form, so it’s comforting knowing their sartorial needs are still covered. If you can think it, it seems, Janga can make it.
There’s not much point in making your own gear and not blowing the marketing trumpet. Because the only magazine that can actually move march is Thrasher, the Stab x Feral joint is a labour of love, rather than a stack ‘em high watch ‘em fly. Meaning, we partnered with the Feral gang (not to be confused with the Mogrel Mob) because we like the cut of their Yamamoto rubber. The 2mm short sleeve suit is surf comfort at its finest, and ink-blue has always looked covert and awesome in the surf.
If you’re a small-batch, custom-fit kinda guy/gal, then 7till8 will deliver you a suit whose warmth and comfort is likely unmatched. Because, well, they’re able to create top-end Yamomoto Neoprene made precisely to your personal dimensions. As you’d imagine in a custom operation, 7till8 has a number of (non-black) shades to chose from, including the subtle yet sure-to-stand-out ‘Java’ (pictured), which is a sensible surf suit shade that hasn’t been explored enough. They hit the wallet a little heavier than a regular, sure, but “you get what you pay for” is cliché for a reason.
I love cities that have six joints next to each other all claiming to be the “oldest pub in…” — but in Santa Cruz, there’s no contention. It’s O’Neill. Their unwavering ethos of making great suits for surfing has led us up to this point, where their rubber’s still consistently at the pointy end of the market for value, design and performance. Jack’s extended lineage also knows a thing or two about making a suit look good in the surf, as encapsulated in the deft navy/black combo colour palette above.
Buell came on the scene as an honest throwback; just a surfer’s rubber brand with no desire to resemble a design studio in Copenhagen. Instead, fuelled on a burning (rubber) desire to make good suits, for all sorts, at a reasonable price. Which leads us to the RB1 Accelerator above. It’s got a touch of nostalgia with the flowery cursive (remember when all the brands used to do that on women’s suits?). The classic side panels are a nice way to add a splash of colour without doing anything crazy. And the tech features the best 2023 has to offer. Hard to fault.
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