| REVIEW: Rip Curl Flashbomb...

Yesterday i have finally decided to get a serious wetsuit after some very interesting discussions with our local surfer guru Igor Goni. I already own an Ocean Rodeo Soul drysuit but it is not the most practical piece of equipment for surfing, especially when you need to swim a lot after your board.  I had narrowed down my search on three 2016 winter specific models; the Rip Curl Flashbomb,  the O'Neill Heat and the Patagonia R4. Although the only one i could find around here and try was the 1st one, a big thank to the guys at La Boutique Sharks for their patience and help.
Also, i needed a good break from my intense weekend workload, the temperature was perfect today at about 4ºC (39.2 F) and the sun was definitely screaming for a test ride! My neighbour and surf partner Patrick was available for some camera work (and safety). We walked to the closest shore on the St-Laurent river. That's the beauty of living 2mn from the water in Verdun :)
Now about the infamous Rip Curl Flash Bomb Hooded Chest Zip 5.5/4, it is one of the warmest, lightest winter wetsuit designed for frigid waters and it has won many Awards (3x SIMA). Guess that's exactly what i need around here.
The exterior is made out of their E4 neoprene, a very stretchy material, especially considering this thickness, they use different panels to allow for better movement (4 way back stretch, contour legs, mesh skin...etc.) and reliable stitch-less seams everywhere but the arms (Aquaban plus liquid tape, E4 + tape). This all sound like good marketing terms to say that they know how to make a good wetsuit, and the result is quite impressive.
The greatest thing must be their E4 Flash Dry Lining, it is extremely warm and insulates all the vital areas of your body, this also explains why at only 5.5mm it does the same job as a classic 7mm neoprene. They advertise it as being the fastest drying wetsuit on the market and even though i can not prove it, there are a lot of reviews/posts online to support that statement.
I live in a small semi-basement apartment with poor lighting and small windows, my other suits take a long time to dry and this one was definitely the 1st one to be ready for the next session. My Xcel Drylock 7mm booties were still soaked the day after in comparison. 
The water was pretty cold but i really did not feel it, in fact, when i took off the wetsuit, which demands some effort (more of that later), it was damp from all my sweat.
  • CONS:
- It's difficult to see any major problems with this suit to be honest but one of the main inconvenience comes from its Chestzip Entry system. There is a very tight front closure system and the very first time to try to get in, it will take ALL of your energy, no kidding. Fortunately it gets better with time and i find it easier to put it on/off now. When you're used to a back or front zip then this is going to be a big change :) the positive thing though, is that once you're inside, it's very comfy and feels like there are no zip parts at all.
- It allows you to surf in difficult conditions but unlike the summer suits, you wouldn't want to let yourself "leak" in this one, which means going back to shore for a little break or make sure you've done it before your session, this is where my drysuit and its relief zipper get an advantage :) Rip curl please add a pipi-zip!
- Like any of the high end and heavier wetsuits it is also a bit more expensive (~ $500 CAD), still it's cheap in comparison to an equivalent drysuit in terms of quality, and when it comes to protecting your life in the river i'd say they are worth the investment.
  • PROS:
- Efficiency; it does what it says by keeping you warm, allow you to move quite well, seems durable and dries very rapidly. 
- Design; it looks great, the panels are well placed to allow for your arms and legs to move well, it doesn't feel too bulky. It's definitely designed for surfing.
- I wish i had tried the 3 brand models aforementioned but hey, shit happens and i don't regret this buy. Apparently Rip Curl fits most body types when O'Neill favors thinner silhouettes, at 1.78m and about 83kgs this one fits me like a second skin but you should always try one on before buying, we all have different curves right!
#RipCurl #RiverSUP #winterSUP #astralfootwear

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