Stab Magazine | Wintermission 2.0: Fourteen Of The Latest Wetsuits Candidly Reviewed

'Wildcard - The Moana Jones-Wong Story' Premieres December 6


Wintermission 2.0: Fourteen Of The Latest Wetsuits Candidly Reviewed

In a South Coast changeroom.

style // Apr 27, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

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.


20190308 IMG 0482

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. 


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.

20190309 IMG 0996

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.  

20190308 IMG 0363

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.

20190309 IMG 9515

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.

20190308 IMG 0525

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 spins, like a fan on one speed,” was a line from one of Lewie’s jangly numbers.


Billabong 3×2 Furnace Pro Series Chest Zip
O’Neill Hyperfreak Fuze 3mm
Rip Curl Flashbomb Heat Seeker 3×2 Zip Free
Xcel 3×2 Comp X TDC
Hurley Advantage Plus 3×2
Adelio Connor 3×2
Patagonia R1 Yulex Front Zip
NCHE 3×2 Chest Zip


The multifunctional surf craft.


Billabong 3×2 Salty Daze Chest Zip
O’Neill Superfreak Fuze 3×2
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3×2 Chest Zip
Xcel 3×2 Comp X TDC
Hurley Advantage Plus 3×2
Patagonia R1 Yulex Front Zip

20190308 IMG 9798 2

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. 


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

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Watch: Torrey Meister’s Gunslinging SEOTY Entry

"Bull-riding is such a great warmup for surfing big waves."

Dec 6, 2022

Guess Who Else Just Got Invited To The Vans Pipe Masters

3 more withdrawals, and 3 more exciting replacements.

Dec 6, 2022


‘Buying Double Cheeseburgers, Acting Like He’s Hit Some Sections Today’

RAGE 400 drops ft Noz, Chun, Creed, Vinny, Jel, Wado + others!

Dec 5, 2022

What’s Happening To Orange County’s Sand, And Is It Worsening The Waves At Lowers?

Read this to upgrade your understanding of your local beach break and coastal environment.

Dec 5, 2022

Here Are The 15 People Who Qualified For The 2023 CT

After seven events and much groveling, 10 men and 5 women will officially be CT…

Dec 3, 2022

An Ode To Aussie Chick Pros From The Nineties 

A celebration of stoicism, resilience, grit, core lordship, and unconditional love.

Dec 3, 2022

Update: John John Flushes Everyone Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl

And the CT qualifications for 2023 are set.

Dec 3, 2022


Riaru Ito Is Cooler Than His Cucumber Garden

Meet our passion pick for the Vans Pipe Masters.

Dec 2, 2022

5 New Surfers Confirmed For The Vans Pipe Masters

Who's out, who's in?

Dec 2, 2022

Unlocked: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Dec 2, 2022

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 4

The energy drinks are here. They’ve got millions of dollars, and they want your head.

Dec 2, 2022

‘Saturn’ Orbits Into Southern California

Quiksilver's newest film made landfall in Encinitas, and we were there to document the occasion.

Dec 1, 2022

The Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Returns In 2023

Can anyone beat John Florence and Carissa Moore in a three-week window?

Dec 1, 2022

What Will Airs Look Like In 10 Years?

The final installment of our editorial exploration into the nuances of airborne surfing.

Dec 1, 2022


Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters?

Sophie Bell will have a steep learning curve in Hawaii.

Nov 30, 2022

After Years Of Tragic Shark Attacks, Surf Competition Returns To Reunion Island — And A CT Event Could Follow

"We compete at J-Bay and Margarets where there's the same problem." -Johanne Defay

Nov 30, 2022


Sharing Tubes And Hummus In The Middle East’s Surfing Jewel: Israel

No Contest does Tel Aviv!

Nov 29, 2022


Joao Chianca Wants A Pipeline Rematch With JJF

And ain't afraid to ride more foam to do it in the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 29, 2022