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READER POLL 2017
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Close READER POLL 2017
We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

Wintermission 2.0: Fourteen Of The Latest Wetsuits Candidly Reviewed

Equipped with the appropriate dress, winter is the undisputed greatest time of year.

It’s a time of abundant swell. When those with soft skin prefer to stay dry, unoccupied carparks and unmanned lineups are aplenty. The sun’s piercing qualities recede and the smell of neoprene coalesces with a hint of burning timber in the morning's crisp offshore breeze.

It is crucial that you have elemental insulation of sufficient quality in order to retain motivation when the alarm beckons you to trade your warm bed for cold water.

These days the suit market is saturated with a million different fabrics, stretch characteristics, entry systems and weight reduction techniques, each with their own patented tech terminology.  

Consumer choice is a perk of capitalism, it is also a daunting experience for those drowning in the modern neoprene market.

 

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Hills hoist and much neoprene.

All that hyper-furnace-extreme-stretch-max jargon means little to the 99%. Anyone not employed in surf brand marketing, simply looking for warmth and comfort, at a practical price, basically needs a translator service in order to understand what it is they’re trading their paycheques for.

Welcome back to Wintermission, Stab and SurfStitch’s annual wetsuit field test.

Fourteen suits, four test riders, and a South Coast backdrop.

Last year we hopped planes to Tasmania with its rugged landscape, reef, sand and dense untouched forest to test the year’s latest offerings. The beaches down that way were refreshingly unpopulated, ideal for our studies. We huddled around driftwood-fuelled beach fires and sipped James Boag between long days in and out of suits.

This time around it was rolling green hills, wedgy beachies and dusty trails that traversed blue gums and wild kangaroos to split-peak rock shelves. 

EMPTY

Cool air, don't care!

We’d traveled a handful of hours by road south of Sydney with our giant box of neoprene, hoods, booties, gloves, and a few cases of kombucha that were taking up space at Stab’s Bondi (of course!) HQ.

Was it bone-chillingly cold? No. It’s temperate Australia. Four mil suits are rarely relevant, even in the dead of winter.

It was, however, cold enough to warrant a layer over the limbs. Admittedly the gloves and hoods were overkill, but they did apply an icy veneer to our vision.

Once again we’d sought out a band of non-brand-loyal subjects to minimize bias.

Allow us to introduce.

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Mr Heazlewood, happily wrapped in Adelio rubber.

Reef Heazlewood

He’s the quiet 19-year-old who allows his penchant for super high aerials to do the talking for him. Having recently peeled off his Billabong stickers, Reef had a rare window to take part in our study. The boy has since signed with Havaianas Australia, (who saw what he did last Hawaii season?), then with Hurley on the Gold Coast (finishing second at the Red Bull Airborne). And now he's your Rip Curl Pro Bell Beach wildcard.  

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Mitch Crews and the quintessential Aussie suburban backyard.

Mitch Crews

Like Reef, we had to pull Mitch from his QS prep on the Central Coast to slip into a few suits. Stab adores Crewsey for his explosive surfing, handsome rig, tireless work ethic and the guarantee that regardless of the fruits of your travels, you know you’ll be laughing.

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Logging ain't all summery sand-bottom pointbreaks.

Ivy Thomas

Could Ivy be the Super Bank’s most gracious cross-stepping goofy-footer? We believe so. While it was an actual nightmare shipping Ivy and her nine-foot foam down from Coolangatta Airport, which didn’t exactly suit the first day’s punchy lefthand wedges, Ivy carried a grin throughout and turned the near-flat days into a logger’s paradise.

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Hit follow on @dunnis_daily_motivators, you'll understand.

Lewie Dunn

Check your sound levels, point and shoot. That was the approach we took with capturing Novacastrian and flatmate of Craig Anderson, Mr Lewie Dunn, during our time with him down south. When he didn’t have the entirety of the team on the floor starving for oxygen, he was in the water getting the clips to back it up (or writing songs about kombucha and Reef Heazlewood on his acoustic guitar). Lewie was our wildcard, the team underdog and he took on lead duties with poise.

On hand, we had suits from all the greats, Billabong, Rip Curl, O’Neill, Xcel, Patagonia, Hurley, Adelio, NCHE. Eight mens, six ladies.

Here’s the lineup: 

REEF SPINS2

"Reef spins, like a fan on one speed," was a line from one of Lewie's jangly numbers.

Mens

Billabong 3x2 Furnace Pro Series Chest Zip
O’Neill Hyperfreak Fuze 3mm
Rip Curl Flashbomb Heat Seeker 3x2 Zip Free
Xcel 3x2 Comp X TDC
Hurley Advantage Plus 3x2
Adelio Connor 3x2
Patagonia R1 Yulex Front Zip
NCHE 3x2 Chest Zip

IVY DRAGGING

The multifunctional surf craft.

Womens

Billabong 3x2 Salty Daze Chest Zip
O'Neill Superfreak Fuze 3x2
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3x2 Chest Zip
Xcel 3x2 Comp X TDC
Hurley Advantage Plus 3x2
Patagonia R1 Yulex Front Zip

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It wasn't as stone-cold serious as this image suggests...

Dumped out of the box and onto the bitumen at the trip’s first location, the winter wardrobe looked flavorsome, it wasn’t all black and dreary. There was color, bold features and strange wind-blocking arm panels that had Lewie throwing out calls for a Rip Curl Raptor revival.

While the fluoro days are (mostly) behind us, each season manufacturers still manage to keep their styles fresh. It’s all in the detail, the seams, the logos, the panel cuts, there’s something for even the most fastidious of suit shoppers.

Hands reached, they stretched, pulled and gripped, accompanied by a drone of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Superficially, favorites were picked, tags were ripped off and the first batch of Wintermission 2019’s neoprene skins went under the microscope.

Stay tuned to this frequency as we unpack our field test findings over the coming days.

Head to Surfstitch here. 

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