About six months ago I wrote a review article on a needessentials 4/3 wetsuit that I have. It is now 10 months old and I have been using the same suit all winter and thought we would report to you guys on how it has fared.
A Quick Catch Up : As needessentials are a new(ish) company, with a kind of new idea which I kind of liked the sound of, I thought I would get our hands on one of their suits and see how they actually felt to put on, and try and provide some real feedback. You can read the full review here if you are interested.
I have had a fair amount of people contacting me, asking us about sizing and how the wetsuit was wearing or lasting, so I thought it might be an idea to write this follow up article and report on the durability, flex, warmth and features after 10 months use.
Let me start by telling you that I am not the sort of person who looks after his wetsuits. I get changed in sandy carparks without showers, I only wash me suit out twice a year, if lucky, and consistently leave it out in the sun for days at a time. In short I am a wetsuit's worst nightmare. I am the ultimate durability test.
I will say that I had no real expectations about the longevity of the needessentials suit, I have been using the suit for about 10 months, and have not really given it any thought. It has done the job throughout one of the best and most consistent winters for waves in Portugal in memory. It has clocked up a lot of hours in the water. I try and surf everyday if possible and say that I would average maybe 4/5 sessions a week.
Lets break this down and answer the most common questions that I have been asked both in person and digitally:
Warmth: The suit is on the warmer side of normal. I have the 4/3 with the 'wind-stopper' neoprene back panel and if you are surfing on a sunny day you can get very warm. Also there is absolutely no flushing at all or leaking so the suit has remained 100% effective after 10 months from a warmth perspective.
Flex & Weight: This is the second most popular question that people have for us. Is it heavy and is it flexible? The simple answer is that it is not as flexible as a top of the range Rip Curl and not as light. However, after 10 months use, it is still the same shape and has not overstretched itself as the high performance suits have a habit of doing. We have noticed no difference in performance.
Sizing: For us the sizing is the same as a Rip Curl Size chart.I come up as a large in Rip Curl and also in the needessentials suit. I am also a large in O'Neil & Excel suits if that helps anyone. I am 185cms tall and 88kg.
Durability: For this I have used a comparison as I believe this may interest you. I also have a Vissla suit that I bought under similar pretenses as the needessentials one. I wanted a suit that was just going to work. I did not want it to cost a lot of money, or have any fancy features, names or colours. I believe both suits have had about the same amount of water time. Below is a photo of the two side by side.
As you can see the Vissla suit, that was actually 40 euro more expensive, has fared considerably worse. We did like the way the Vissla felt and it was a good suit but as you can see, the needessentials is in almost new condition, no contest.
Image : I included this section because what I found surprised me. I thought that having a no tag suit that was just 'Ninja Black' would make us less noticeable and more under the radar. As it happens the opposite is true and I feel now very proud of the 'non-conforming', 'no tags' wetsuit. It feels kind of minimalist in a world of bright colours and slogans. Just keeping things very simple.
Anything Annoying?: Yes, there is always something. The suit that we got from needessentials was an earlyish model on which they forgot to put anywhere a place to store or tie a key. I contacted them and they had a solution of tying the key to the zip adjuster but I found it would flick me in the face so now I hide the key (no, not on the tyre of the car). This will not effect anyone with a car made after 1990 and has to stash their key anyway. Also we believe that needessentials will be addressing this in their next winter delivery and will have a key-loop on all their wetsuits.
Conclusion: I am a fan, a massive fan. My wife is a huge fan too and I have already lined her up for the (new) women's model for her birthday ( I know, lucky hey). If you just want a wetsuit that works, is warm and is built with durability in mind then this is for you. They do also look and feel great on.
If you have any questions, fire them in the comments below and we will do our best to answer.