Materials & Design
To design the best wetsuit, we focused exclusively on features that help you surf better and longer.
Neoprene: Our suits are 100 percent Yamamoto Japanese rubber (#39 and #40) — the highest grade neoprene available. It’s not just water impermeable; it’s also light, warm, flexible, and durable.
Cut: We minimize the number of seams for comfort and for a perfect fit. Our wetsuit has seven panels — half the number of most high-end suits. And because the seams are strategically positioned (located in areas where the least amount of stretching or compression occurs), our wetsuits experience less leakage over time and better flexibility.
Construction: Our wetsuit is glued and blindstitched then taped in areas of high-stress with Yamamoto SCS tape — 0.5-mm neoprene with a smooth, gold finish.
Environmental Impact: FERAL wetsuits are constructed of limestone-based neoprene, as opposed to the traditional wetsuit industry’s petroleum-based standard. How much less environmental impact limestone-based rubber has over petroleum-based rubber is still unclear, but a longer-lasting wetsuit is good for your bank account and carbon footprint alike.
Above: Yamamoto #39 neoprene and FERAL jersey material at 5X magnification
We prototyped and tested a range of materials and designs until we knew what to say no to, and why.
The air-bubble neoprene: Super warm and light, right? Nope! Since Yamamoto rubber is already 99.7% water impermeable, the insulation provided by air bubbles is insignificant. Plus, air-bubble neoprene is actually a three-sheet sandwich of rubber held together with glue. Since glue is neither light nor stretchy, the result is actually a heavier, less stretchy wetsuit. And finally, stitching through air bubbles delivers a weaker hold than stitching through a single sheet of standard neoprene, and we want to produce a suit that lasts seasons — not sessions.
Fuzzy linings: Yes, they keep you warmer, especially if you’re wearing a low-grade-rubber wetsuit. But a 0.5-mm-thick lining adds the equivalent warmth of a 0.1-mm-thick layer of neoprene, with substantial additional weight. And most are made of polypropylene, which traps and absorbs a bunch of water. Learn more about how wetsuits really keep you warm here.
Smoothy (aka smooth skin): Smoothy neoprene keeps you warmer by decreasing the rate of evaporation on the exterior of your wetsuit (convective cooling). But most surfers sit low enough in the water that the smoothy on the chest and back isn’t even exposed to the air, and sitting is when you actually get cold. If your wetsuit doesn’t absorb much water to begin with, the benefit of having 15% of the suit made of smoothy is essentially zero. And — here’s the rub — it’s also less durable and prone to both cracking and UV degradation.