Winter Warmth

25 . 10 . 15

​For the past couple of years, our friends over the hill at Finisterre have been working on developing a wetsuit designed specifically for surfing in cold water environments.  

Where a lot of winter wetsuits simply rely on using thicker neoprene to qualify them for use in colder water, the guys at Finisterre (and founder Tom, specifically, who has led the charge on their wetsuit programme) have worked with Mat D’Ascoli (formerly of Xcel) to design a wetsuit built around the needs of surfers who surf in harsh environments at higher latitudes.  They’ve developed a 4mm non-hooded and 5mm hooded wetsuit with a range of unique features, the most visible of which include larger pull-loops on the zip to make them easier to use with cold, gloved hands; pull loops at the bottom of each calf to make getting the wetsuit over your ankles easier; a double thickness panel in the lower back to protect and maintain core warmth; PU tension bands to improve the seal around the wrist, and 50% wider tape on all seams to reduce water penetration and provide a better bonding surface and increase longevity.

One of the most groundbreaking things that they’ve done, however, is run a tester programme to refine the wetsuit before launching it onto the market.  Last autumn and winter Finisterre sent wetsuits out to 300 surfers around the British Isles, Ireland and further afield, asking each one of them to really put the suit through the mill: surf in it as much as possible, wear it hard, treat it as you treat your normal wetsuit and if that means leaving it out on the washing line when a sub-zero night is forecast or stamping it into the gravel of the carpark in a hurry to get it off in the cold, depths of winter, then so be it.  They wanted as much feedback, good and bad, about every element of the suit from as large and broad a sample group as possible to allow them to make refinements to the wetsuit’s design before they go into full production.  The tester programme came to an end in May of this year, and feedback has been collected, reviewed, and used to improve the suit.

Both James and Mat were honoured to be asked to take part in the tester programme, and spent the late winter and early spring putting the 4mm non-hooded suit through their paces here in Cornwall.  They found the Finisterre wetsuit to be warm and flexible – the two primary requirements for a winter wetsuit.  Whilst the suit can be a bit of a struggle to get in and out of, the fit is nice and snug which makes it warmer and the use of more flexible neoprene around the upper body makes paddling easy.  The diagonal neck entry reduces the risk of flushing, something that Mat was thankful for as he spends half of his time in the sea not surfing but instead floating around up to his neck in the impact zone shooting photos, which can be a cold old task.  James and Mat surfed, bodysurfed and swam in the Finisterre suit, using the tester programme as a good excuse to get in the sea as much as possible.

If you’re in the market for a new wetsuit as autumn starts to show signs of turning into winter and the temperature begins to drop, or if you’re dreaming of a surf trip to Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Iceland, Norway or anywhere else on the cold to frigid temperature scale, then definitely check out the Finisterre wetsuits.  You can read more about the wetsuits, and order one, over on Finisterre’s website.


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