Wetsuit jackets are still quite a rare sight to see here in the UK. I’ve only seen them on rad folks in films or magazines, normally perched on the end of a log or blazing down the line with it unzipped, flapping in the wind like they’re Ozzie Wright. Being a surfer in Blighty the likely hood that we’ll get any days hot enough to surf in boardies AND actually have some waves on that same day is pretty slim, therefore our climate renders such an item somewhat unnecessary. This summer though I’ve some European trips lined up and a few hundred kilometres south of here there are plenty of hot beaches with lovely surfable waves. And this is where a wetsuit jacket may come into its own.
If you’ve had a sunny day at the beach with friends, family and waves you’ll know what a pain in the ass it its to climb back into a sandy wetsuit after your first surf. With a wetsuit jacket both guys and girls can stay in their swimmers or shorts all day, then when you want to snag a quick wave just slip on the jacket. No hoping around with a towel barely covering your privates, trying to climb back into a damp, sandy suit. Well thats my theory anyway.
The omnipresent surf brands that dominate the regular wetsuit market haven’t seemed to get on board (ouch no pun) with good neoprene zip up jackets (though you may find lots of nasty rash vests called ‘wetsuit jackets’, to be avoided) Anyway this is a good thing as it leaves the door open to more independent and niche surf brands to offer them. Companies like NinePlus, Chariots of the Sun, Seea and The Critical Slide Society all do them. I’m a fan of all those companies ethos, but having already owned and been pleased with TCSS goods it was an obvious choice to be biased towards their offering. If you’re unfamiliar with Critical you can read their whole bio here, but its safe to say if you’re a longboarder or into the whole retro / free surfing movement you’ll have seen their neat little logo dotted around.
Lets get to the goods, TCSS version is called the Jumbled Jacket and they do a few colour options from super lairy to Johnny Cash black, I opted for the in-between choice being the reluctant extrovert that I am. The smooth skin rubber that makes up the chest and back is the softest and smoothest I’ve encountered on any wetsuit before, the sleeves are super stretchy 2mm neoprene, with lovely neat glue lines. Fit wise I’d say its true to size, I’m normally MT in a wettie but I just needed a medium as my lanky legs aren’t in the equation.
As with all Critical goods the attention detail and quality is top end, you’ve got to remember these aren’t a cheap rashie, but you really can see where your extra scheckles go. Its the details like using an embrodered logo on the chest, contrasting coloured sleeves and the two tone coloured zipper. These kind of features won’t please their accountants but make all the difference between a generic unit shifter and something thats been made and designed with love.
Right so I’m all set for summer, I’ll give a wear and tear update as the trips progress but I’m holding high hopes for this to almost certainly make me surf better, look more attractive, improve my post surf anecdotes and make my hangovers feel better, I’ll keep you posted…