The RipCurl Flash Bomb 5/4 Wetsuit
By guest reviewer, John G.
Summer surfing in Northern California is pretty cold. Water temperatures here rarely go above the mid-50s. That being said, in the winter, when waves tend to be the best, the water is even chillier. Typically between the high 40s and low 50s.
During this season, I have really come to prefer a 5/4 wetsuit to beat the cold. These numbers refer to thickness. A 5/4 means that the wetsuit is 5mm thick in critical areas such as the torso and 4mm (or less) in less critical areas.
Like putting on a heavy jacket in winter, these thicker suits tend to keep you warmer in the water. All that warmth comes at a cost, however. Thick suits also decrease your mobility. The extra material makes the suit stiff and that stiffness causes resistance and strain as you move your arms around. Thus, the key is finding a wetsuit that is warm enough to keep you comfortable but not so thick that it is difficult to move in.
Enter, the Rip Curl F-Bomb 5/4/3. Of the winter wetsuits I have owned, this one is hands-down the best in balancing these 2 critical needs - warmth and mobility. The suit is as warm as any I have ever owned. Much of this can be attributed to the excellent tailoring. The suit fits like a glove. Tight but not constricting which prevents cold water from flushing through.
At the same time, it is exceptionally stretchy. Of the various brands, I have found Rip Curl to be the best in "stretchiness." This suit is no exception. The arm and shoulder areas are made of very stretchy material, which makes this 5/4 much easier to move around in. While paddling on my surfboard, the suit feels as flexible as some of the (thinner) 4/3's I have owned with the added bonus of it being much warmer.
For these reasons I have been extremely pleased with the Rip Curl F-Bomb. It dries fast, is made of a comfortable wool material on the inside and appears to be durable (though time will tell on that..). So far I can honestly say it is the best suit I have ever owned and I may have been permanently converted to the Rip Curl brand.
In terms of cost, this wetsuit isn't exactly cheap. Though it is not as expensive as some of the very high end and specialty wetsuits on the market, it is on the higher end of the suits marketed to surfers. Thus, it would probably not make sense for someone who will only wear it once or twice a year. But if you use your wetsuit frequently, you will probably want a wetsuit that is at least in the same price 'neighborhood' and within that market segment, the F-Bomb is pretty tough to beat.
- E4 Flash Lining
- E4 Tape
- Chest Zip
- Drainage System
- Stash Pocket
- 100% E4 Stitchless Double Taped Seams
- E4 Neoprene
- Lock Slide Design
- Hydro-loc Collar
This wetsuit is very warm but with great flexibility unlike most 5/4 suits. It fits perfectly - tight but not constricting - and has the right amount of stretch to it.
This suit is not cheap so if you are buying a wetsuit that you don't plan to use very often, this isn't the one for you.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Great wetsuit for winter months - keeps you nice and warm without having to worry about not being able to move around in it. On the pricy end but definitely worth it if you surf a lot and want to do so year round without getting cold.
The Xcel Drylock Hood 2mm
2mm hood with Quick Dry Lining - an UltraStretch SmoothSkin double flap neck dam - face seal - adjustable elastic cord/cinch - Wind resistant Texture Skin outer hood and bill.
Like all Xcel products, this hood is durable and warm with its wind resistant skin and quick dry lining. It is probably the warmest we have ever tested. The bill is also perfect size; large enough to help block out the sun but not get in the way.
As good as that may be, it doesn't work well. First of all, the flap neck dam makes it extremely difficult to turn your neck. Since 90% of surfing requires turning your neck it poses a real problem. The hood is also not long enough in the neck making the flap neck dam seem pointless.
This hood is very warm which helps us here in NorCal and it is definitely durable. It has glue stitching and a perfectly sized bill. Its soft skintech is also a nice addition.
This hood is not long enough in the neck if you're a bigger guy/gal and it's weak on flexibility. The head hole allows for some flushing if you don't pull the cinch tie tight. Additionally, the texture skin outer hood creates a vacuum that can push into your ear which can be painful as when water does get in, it sits at the ears.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
This hood is great for warmth but if your not surfing somewhere freezing then you will want to go with a hood with more flexibility.
The Hurley Fusion 3/3 Men's Surf Boot
The Hurley Fusion 3/3 Men's Surf Booties is one of the longest lasting and most durable pair of booties that we've ever tested.
It's features are:
- Micro TPR sole: maximum board feel/ durability combination
- Split toe leash guard: flexibility of split toe with function of round toe.
- Arch Strap: enhanced fit and stability
- Heel Cup : added support from vulcanized tpr eliminates heel fit.
- Supratex abrasion panels:added durability in high abrasion areas
It's materials consist of:
- Upper: 3mm hollow fiber.
- Ankle: 3mm Exoflex
- 100% Nylon
The seams are glued; compression bonded; blind-stitched and vulcanized seam seal rubber.
As we said before, this is one of the longest lasting pair of booties we've ever tested. These booties are really durable. The design keeps water retention at the feet (aka. ballooning of the booties) to a minimum because of the velcro strap around the opening which is a great help when you're out in the surf. It's also one of the cheaper options of booties out there, going for $45 at Hurley.
The thick rubber makes it hard to feel the board under your feet. The grip is adequate but there is not as much grip as some of the other brands.
The Bottom Line:
Although this bootie doesn't give you the feeling that you're not wearing the, it does keep your feet warm for a long time making them a good choice for the surfer who's session time is cut short due to the cold. It's
We at WB Surf Lessons threw our very first Surf and Beach Party back in September. The goal was to get past and present surf students together in order to develop connections for surf buddies and to build a community. It was a great success and we had some really great match ups! This will definitely be the first of many surf parties to come. Can't wait until next year!
We're sad to say that today marked the last day that our friend, Simon, will be working with the WB Surf Lesson team.
Simon has been working with us all summer as our assistant photographer, social media assistant and puppy pal! He has been an awesome addition to our team and we are so sad to see him go!
Simon is off to Oregon on Wednesday for his freshman year at the University of Oregon. Though there won't be much surf in Eugen, OR, we hope that his experience working with WB Surf will be of some good use. If not, he can at least say he's a true Californian :)
Thank you, Simon, for all your hard work this summer! We could not have gotten through how busy we were without you and puppy Jade enjoyed the company on the beach :) We hope you'll come back and lend a hand next summer too - we'll get you in the water teaching with us too! Good luck in Oregon!
WB Surf Lessons was lucky enough to be able to watch the RipCurl Pro Search San Francisco back in 2011. We were up close and personal with some of our favorite surf pros and even got to meet Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith!