“Hang on a sec, haven’t we reviewed ION wetsuits before?” I can hear you scream.
The answer is yes, I had that pleasure myself and we did such a thorough job that the guys at ION invited us back to give our verdict on the same model but a year down the line. They wanted us to note the improvements they have made (if any) and review the all new ION ONYX AMP 4/3 2019.
If you would like to know what we thought of last years model, here is the link to that article .
If you are happy for me to sum up then I can just say that the 2018 model was packed with features both bizarre and unique that all seemed to work. The one place it let us down was warmth and thats kind of a big deal..
A quick history of ION
Being born to the windsurf/kitesurf scene early in 2004, ION has survived from making innovative and durable products. Their foray into the surfing wetsuit world is a little more recent and has been full of experimentation from one year to the next. Some features worked, some not so much.
Bastian, the world’s most stoked surfer and all round nice guy (mainly because he keeps sending me wetsuits) sent me the same model as last year. He said they wanted us to note the changes they had made from the feedback they had received. We just happen to love that kind of discourse here, it’s like music to our ears and clean lines for our soul.
“Send it over Basti”, we said. We would put a priority one on the suit and test the heck out of it straight away.
That, my fellow surfers, was now quite some time ago. Due in part to the ‘most wave starved’ summer of our combined recollection, abnormal water temperatures and a host of injuries, we have not made good on our ‘speedy’ pledge. Fear not though, slow and steady wins the race.
This is a well made suit, it looks nice, it has all the bells and whistles and more importantly (and weirdly) it ‘feels’ nice. Like, really nice.
The first thing I did was look for all the ‘crazy’ features that where on the 2018 wetsuit as I loved them. I saw the return of the ‘Ninja Knee’ but there was no ‘Anti Stink’ treatment advertised. I had also gone for the ‘black and marble’ colour as apposed to the seaweed green of the year before. They had also sent me the chest zip option instead of the zip free chest entry that was on the 2018 model.
With mixed feelings about the omission of some features and light anticipation about the performance of this years Onyx AMP I slapped some -boards in the van and headed to the beach.
Testing & Results
- Putting the ION OYNX AMP 4/3 on was a but more of a struggle, I found. The only thing I compare it to was wresting with a rubber clone that wants the exact opposite of you. Most suits are harder to get on that first time so we can forgive them this.
The fist thing that I noticed, standing the breezy. cold car park was the instant warmth, I instinctively looked down to see if this suit had a 'wind-stopper panel' but it did not. The wetsuit also felt thinner, which was weird.
The only thing I struggled with was the zip. Nothing actually wrong with it except that it was a bit fiddly and small.
- Surfing with ION ONYX AMP 4/3 was full of the same joy as the previous years suit, it is flexible, watertight and still of course had that awesome 'ninja knee' feature I loved so much from the 2018 suit. As I have said previously, we are not big on 'features' unless the really work and this really did.
To be honest, the best thing you can say about surfing in a wetsuit is that if you don't think about the suit, if you forget you are wearing it, then that is the best result you can hope for. This was certainly the case for the OYNX AMP. If I had to be anal about it, I could report a little bit of a rub on the back of my neck.
Getting the suit off after surfing was soooo much easier than getting it on and I only struggled a bit with the tiny zip.
Ongoing testing and Conclusion
I have been using this suit a lot and I have to admit that it is a solid suit. ION have solved the main huge problem that they had. It is now warm, and I do mean warm. It feels thinner and is warmer.
I loved that they kept the Ninja Knee that just an awesome feature. A small piece of extra flex neoprene over the top of the knee-pad that actually translates into an amazing amount more freedom or the feeling of it.
The suit did not get much easier to put on (weirdly) but if that is why I remain warm, it's a price that I am happy to pay.
The zip... I hate the zip... for a few extra bucks surely there could a bigger more comprehensive zip that we can find on other brands.
The colour. I know it's not important really but, I loved the seaweed green of 2018 which they still do offer. If you want to be picked out in the lineup go for that. If you want to blend in go for this colour.
To sum up: ION have done an amazing job in making this more of a 'grown ups' wetsuit that just works. Aside from the zip, this is a really good wetsuit from every angle. (golf clap)
Lastly (and this surprised me), given the choice I would still reach for the 2018 suit. It just felt more fun, more out there and wacky. Maybe that's just me being a twat (fool) but I always have fun with that suit on, always had a smile on my face.
Thanks to ION for letting us try out these suits and congrats on a cracking job. Looking forward to the 2020 ION amp 4/3. What will they do next?