Volcom Modulator 5/4/3 Hooded Wetsuit Review

Volcom Modulator Header

Volcom has been on the surf scene for decades. With their iconic house on the Northshore of Oahu, star-studded list of team riders, and jaw-dropping edits over the years it’s undeniable their influence on the industry. Volcom Stone Presents Psychic Migrations. This year they decided to finally enter the full suit fray and released their Modulator line. Wading into the increasingly crowded field of bargain-priced wetsuits with premium features, how does the new neoprene on the rack stack up to the competition?

First impressions of the suit are simple but stylish. No overly-flashy branding or unique design that will make you stand out in the line-up. Just a couple of classic Stone logos and a Volcom wordmark. I personally dig the low-key look.

The Suit

Volcom Modulator Chest Zip

Neoprene and Liner

Trying the 5/4/3 Modulator on, the quality of the limestone-based neoprene is immediately noticeable. It’s got an incredible buttery feel and it dries super quick. The liner isn’t my favorite and there are more plush liners on the market, but it is light and it doesn't make the suit feel too stiff. It also does its job well, keeping me toasty warm in Oregon’s icy 48°F water.

The shoulder panels are designed in a way that the suit does not feel bulky or cumbersome once it is fully saturated. The overall flexibility is superb and, like all great wetsuits, it felt like a second skin in the water. I wasn’t reminded of the constant and terrible reality of having to wear a 5mm wetsuit to surf while in the Modulator and avoiding existential dread is always a good thing.

Volcom Modulator Interior Lining


Now fit is everything, and the suit is definitely cut for a skinnier body type. I am 6’5, 190 lbs, and reviewing size Large Tall. I wear an LT in most other brands, but after a couple of days of testing, I found that I prefer the XLT. If you are in-between sizes, I would recommend sizing up.

The hood fits well on my slightly larger head and the chin gusset, while not my favorite feature in a hood, is fine and didn’t bother me while surfing. The Modulator’s chest entry and gaskets form a great seal, even over booties, so no sudden flushing when duck diving or during the unfortunate, but inevitable, wipeout. In fact, one thing of note is how tight the wrist and ankle openings are when trying on the suit for the first time. This might shy away some neoprene virgins, those lucky folk, but after the first couple of sessions, they relaxed a bit and still kept a great seal.

Volcom Modulator Frontside

Seams and Durability

The entire Modulator line has double-blind stitched and fully taped seams. I haven’t felt any leakage from the seams in the testing that I have done so far. The long-term durability of the 5/4/3 seems high and Volcom backs up its workmanship with a one-year warranty from the date of purchase.

The 5/4/3 hooded Modulator has a suspicious lack of smoothskin when compared to the competition, but this is a feature I am glad that Volcom left out. Most coldwater surfers are finding out that a smoothskin panel is usually the first thing to fail, especially when placed on the chest. The added wind resistance that smoothskin provides does not seem worth it unless you are kiting or live in a particularly windy climate.

Volcom Modulator Leg

Final Thoughts

Compared to other wetsuits of this caliber and price, such as the Vissla Seven Seas, Buell RB2, and Rip Curl Dawn Patrol, the Volcom Modulator holds its own. It is an easy recommendation to any customer looking for a budget-priced yet high-quality wetsuit. It’s got everything you want and nothing you don’t, like a stiff and dorky bill on the hood. Everyone here at the shop that has had the chance to try the Modulator has been stoked about it, and I am excited to see how Volcom’s wetsuit line evolves in the future. Snag one before they are gone! Good neoprene moves quickly these days.

If you have any questions about the Volcom Modulator or need sizing help, feel free to leave a comment, give us a call at 1-888-546-6176, or shoot an email to support@cleanlinesurf.com. Enjoy the water!

The Modulator is also available in 4/3mm hooded and 4/3mm non-hooded models.