needessentials are not trying to re-invent the wheel, they simply make wetsuits, which just happen to be very, very good. I have had one for close to two years now and can hand on heart say that it is the best, and I do mean best, wetsuit I have ever owned.
A confession: I have already written twice about these suits and, in the interests of explaining what the reason for this new text is, I would like to reveal that we test everything to death here at Surf Bunker. All the hardware is subject to ongoing testing. So this is a two year, yes two year, durability review of the needessentials 4/3.
If you would like to read the first two reviews, check out the first here and then the ten month old review here.
Onward then and a little background about my personal attention to wetsuit care. I have none, I normally go through wetsuits like a centipede goes through shoes, regardless of brand and price. I don’t look after them at all, my wife constantly wails at me about the smell of them in the car, sand covered and never washed out, they just don’t normally last. I AM the ultimate test for a wetsuit.
Let’s refresh you on what I thought of the needessentials suit to start with and we can see what has changed in two years. This is not the perfect suit for everyone, there are always compromises in every design, it is just that this one fits my ‘needs’ the best (see what I did there).
Warmth for a 4/3
New – This thing was toasty, with the windstopper panel only applied to the rear, over the kidneys, the offshore wind (when waiting for waves) just glanced off, there was no flushing at all and the seals around neck, ankle and wrist cuffs were excellent. This was probably the warmest 4/3 I have used. I am comparing this to most leading brands (can’t mention them as the Surf Bunker legal department is not yet up and running).
Two Years Old – Amazingly, none of the seams have gone, perished or even look like they are going to falter, the overall warmth is pretty much unchanged. The only real signs of wear are in the kneepads which let a little water through when first getting into the water. This is a pretty normal thing for me as I have been told I have more knobbly knees than a donkey. There are no flushes around neck and cuffs either. Impressive.
New – This was probably the biggest hole I could have picked in the needessentials suit to begin with, it was a very much ‘middle of the road’ as far as stretch went. Neither was it super stiff and non stretchy or was it mega ultra stretch as some of the bigger brands are producing at the moment. I do have refer you here to my previous comment about compromises and not being able to have everything.
Two Years Old – I can notice no or little change in flex which is also quite amazing as you would expect the neoprene to degrade over time and eventually the suit would not ‘ping back’ into shape. The fact that needessentials went for a ‘middle of the road’ stretch to start with may have turned out to be a good thing.
New - The suit has a minimalist ‘ninja black’ theme with nothing at all anywhere on the suit to suggest who made it. No logos, swing tags or any marks at all. All you get is black (which my wife tells me is slimming).
Two Years Old – The second most amazing thing about this suit is that it looks kind of almost new and as needessentials don’t update colours or logos, it kind of could be new from the outside. You don’t feel like you are ‘unfashionable’ wearing last year’s model. Extremely impressive both in design and aesthetic durability.
Zip – You might think it weird to get excited about a zip, I have had my fair share (as previously stated) of top brand wetsuits and the chest zips have always broken. Sure you can fix them but it’s just a hassle. Not only does the needessentials suit have the best and biggest anti corrosion zip I have ever seen, but it is still working as well as it did the first time I used it.
Inside lining – the warmer inside (kind of fluffy lining) shows no sights of wear at all, it is ‘as new’ if you ignore the odour.
Key Loop – I’ve got one of the early models without a defined place to attach my van key (I have an old van that means I can take the key in the water) which is something that they later rectified. I have to say it still drives me nuts to this day.
Two Year Review Conclusion
To sum up, if you want a suit that is going to last a long time, and you don’t mind it being all black with no uber high performance stretch then buy a needessentials wettie, they really have outdone themselves as far as durability goes. I would not have thought that after 2 years I would still be using this as my ‘daily driver’.
I know that need don’t like to hang their hat on their price, their ethos is that they make a good suit period not just a good cheap suit. We do however have to mention that a 4/3 today from needessentials would cost you 195 euros. I know, it’s astounding. If I am honest I would pay quite a lot more for this wetsuit but shhh, let’s not let them know that.
Extremely impressive work from the ‘new kids on the block’ and a true benchmark by which to judge all other brands.