The Furnace Absolute X has been one of the most popular entry-level wetsuits at the shop for years. Packing in some quality features at an affordable price, the Furnace Absolute X is well worth checking out for any surfer on a budget or just looking to get the most value for their cash. The new 2020 version of this model has some notable changes to it. The spec sheet and product photos alone don’t really do it justice, so we’ve gone ahead and created this in-depth review.
Since its introduction, the Furnace Absolute X pretty much immediately, became one of our best-selling hooded wetsuits. What makes this model so appealing is that Billabong is able to build this wetsuit with mid-range features like seam welds and premium liners, at a price most surfers can afford. It seems like every year, Billabong uses slightly better materials on this model, but for 2020, this suit has been seriously improved.
The first of these new features is a “Graphene Liner”. Graphene is a material that Billabong has been integrating into the liners of their best, high-end wetsuits. Historically, Graphene has been used by tech companies for hardware but since Billabong discovered it’s strength and warmth properties, they’ve brought it over to the wetsuit world.
This black and purple liner is found throughout Billabong’s $400+ wetsuits. For the Furnace Absolute X, they’ve stuck it where it really counts, the chest, back and hood. These panels provide extra warmth and are pretty darn comfortable too. The rest of the suit on the inside looks like it came from Willy Wonka’s factory with a full purple lining. There’s nothing mentioned specifically about it in the product details, but it seems like both this graphene liner and the purple lining dry quicker than your average suit.
Billabong has been tweaking their rubber over the past couple years and for 2020 has a new neoprene formula they’re using for this suit called “Superlight Foam”. Superlight foam is actually made partially from upcycled car tires. This is really interesting as this material is not only eco-friendly but also has a lower level of water absorption, keeping the suit lighter and warmer in the water. To be honest, environmentally-friendly rubber doesn’t have the best track record with regards to flexibility but somehow Billabong nailed it with this batch. This rubber is as-flexible, if not more so, than the other wetsuits in the $200-300 price range.
Seams & Stitching
Another one of the more impressive features of the Furnace Absolute X is that it has welded seams. Welded seams are the neoprene-glue like tape that you see on suits around the $300-500 range. This material protects the seam by helping to distribute stress, while simultaneously preventing water from entering through the stitching. This twofold advantage is why welded seams have become so popular on premium wetsuits. The Furnace Absolute X is the most affordable suit with this feature at the shop.
If you flip the Furnace Absolute X inside-out, you can see the seams are all glued and blind-stitched with some internal taping around the knees, the panels of Graphene and key stress areas like the wrists and ankles.
Fit & Durability
Fit-wise, I think it’s pretty true to size and well proportioned. However, it’s worth mentioning the cuffs on the wrists and ankles aren’t tapered too much. This makes the Furnace Absolute X extra easy to get on and off, but it can be more prone to flushing if you get really worked. The hood for 2020, has also been redesigned to be more size correct and comfortable than the narrow, and tight cut of Billabong’s hoods in years past.
Finally, as for the durability, we’ve found this to be a durable suit and it’s one that we rarely see come back to the shop for warranty repairs.
The Final Verdict
Bottom line, this is one of the best suits in its price range. Anyone looking for a dependable workhorse suit on a budget or a backup suit should check out the Furnace Absolute X.
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