As you might expect, hoods are the norm out here on the Oregon Coast. With water temperatures rarely making their way over the low 50’s, a hooded suit is a must. We spend a lot of time sweating it out in dressing rooms so that we can find the best fitting, most comfortable hooded wetsuit for our needs. While hooded suits had been somewhat bulky in the past, wetsuit technology has really come a long way in the last few years. Manufactures have found ways to make a hooded suit lighter, warmer, more flexible, and faster drying.
The new Fall 2014 collection has made its’ way into our hands and we’re ready to talk about it. Again this year, we are not going to into little details like logos and colors. We are getting down to the major reasons why these suits are the best cold water, hooded wetsuits ever made. So in no particular order, here are The 6 Best Hooded Chest Zip Wetsuits for frigid temperatures as the year turns from 2014 to 2015.
O’neill Pyrotech – Staff Pick!
This suit has quickly become our staff favorite. The stretch of O’neill’s Technobutter neoprene allows your suit to adhere to the contours of your body for a snug fit, but not be inhibiting at all. As a 5.5mm wetsuit, it is equally as warm, but 17% lighter than traditional neoprene with 30% less water absorption. The Technobutter-Air Firewall insulation chest panel keeps you toasty while the Single Fluid Seam Weld keeps the water out with critical internal taping.
Technobutter might not sound like the thing that you want to wrap around your body, but don’t knock it until you try it. It is unlike any other neoprene that has ever been made. It IS that good.
Also available this year is a 4/3 hooded option for those climates that might demand a hood, but where a 5mm suit is a bit toasty.
Patagonia R3/R4 – Toasty/Durability
Patagonia has made some changes to their Fall 2014 wetsuit line and they are really figuring out how to make the warmest and toughest, even toastier and more durable. For the newest R3 and R4 Hooded Chest Zip suits, they changed the internal construction to make it a little more flexible and lighter than the previous models.
Patagonia also changed the arms legs and hood to a faster-drying hydrophobic recycled polyester micro-grid thermal lining. The torso and upper leg areas went down to a mid-weight chlorine-free merino wool that is much thinner, and faster drying compared to the thick coating of wool that the suit used to have. To make all this happen and still be the warmest suit on the market, they beefed up the neoprene to 5.5mm (R4) in the torso/thighs and 4.5mm (R4) in the arms and legs. The R3 suit is now 4.5mm/3.5mm.
A lot of the features of this suit are tried and true. It is blind stitched, triple glued, and has 100% taped external and internal seems. Like everything else Patagonia does, they build their wetsuits right. No cold water is getting in, keeping you warm enough to forget about the weather.
Rip Curl Flash Bomb – 3x SIMA Award Winner – Fastest Drying
Rip Curl’s Flash Bomb has won the SIMA wetsuit of the year award for the last three years and is a go to choice for many cold water surfers. Previously offered in both a 6/5/4 and a 5/4 this year Rip Curl is offering a 5.5/4 which many will find is a happy middle ground for their winter wetsuit, easily handling temperatures into the 40’s. Besides the thickness change the biggest upgrade to this suit is the new Aquaban Plus external seal. This is a thinner, lighter, and more flexible seam seal that retains all the durability of the original thicker Aquaban seal. On top of that the E4 Flash Dry Lining makes this suit the fastest drying suit out there, dry to the touch in 15 minutes. Lastly these guys stand by their suits and offer one of the best warranties in the biz. Make no mistake this Flash Bomb is a contender for wetsuit of the year for the 4th consecutive year.
Quicksilver Cypher – Affordable 6mm Option
Quicksilver has stepped up their game in the cold water market with the new Cypher hooded wetsuit. Offering both a 6/5/4 and a 5/4/3, they are making a suit that is as warm as you need it, without breaking the bank. The neoprene in the Cypher is not your basic budget materials. Quicksilver redesigned the Cypher with “Dryoprene,” packed with air cells for lightweight warmth. It is Quicksilver’s fastest drying suit to date, while maintaining warmth and flexibility.
All in all, this is an affordable option to get into a cold water hooded suit. It’s not going to be the most flexible suit in the pond, but it will keep you warm and surfing.
O’neill Mutant – Most Versitile
Not much has changed with the O’neill Mutant 5/4mm because not much needs to. The Mutant features 100% Ultraflex DS neoprene. This is the same material that they use in the super popular Psycho II wetsuit, but with the rock-solid Mutant construction. With the Ultraflex DS neoprene and the option of two different neck enclosures the Mutant gets some major points in the flexibility department.
One of our best selling suits, the Mutant is super unique for its’ detachable hood enclosure, making it not only a great choice for a Winter suit, but also a perfect cold-water Summer suit. The interchangeable hood and neck seals mean that you reduce the chance of flushing, while maintaining the paddle flexibility that you don’t get from a back zip. (Also available in a 4/3 option).
Rip Curl E Bomb – Rugged 5.5/4.5mm Wetsuit on a Budget
The hood on this suit is a benchmark for hooded chest zip suits. Featuring their patented E4 Neoprene and E4+ tape, the E Bomb is an afordable option to get into a cold water hooded suit. It doesn’t have the thermal lining that the Flash Bomb features, but it is a solidly constructed suit that will keep you warm.
This is another great mid-level option for cold water. While it might not have all the bells and whistles, it is going to keep you paddling and is built super sturdy. Rip Curl also has an awesome warranty to ensure that you will surf this suit for as long as possible.
We live in a wonderful time. We can now wear wetsuits that keep us warm, dry and surfing cold water better than ever.
To check out our full selection of over 30 hooded wetsuits, click here.
For more information on wetsuits, sizing, and the right suit for you, feel free to use the Live Chat feature of our site, shoot us an email, or give us a call. Wetsuits is what we do.
The Cold Water Specialists from Cleanline Surf.