The Surprising O’Neill Hyperfreak Wetsuit
This is a review I never in a million years would have expected to write.
If you know me at all, or have followed my posts here on the Mullet, you know I have always bemoaned the advent of neoprene season. I have struggled with loving the winter conditions because of the need to struggle in and out of wetsuits and neoprene booties. Especially the booties. And while I will always prefer to be barefoot and in board shorts, I have found a wetsuit that I am actually EXCITED to wear!!!
Did you feel the earth move, or was that a rift in the time/space continuum???
For a couple of years,I have heard about a couple of “boutique” custom wetsuit makers whose products have been life changing for some NorCal surfers I know. When I tried to get a hold of one, not only were they expensive but also hard to come by. All sold out. So, I managed through our North Carolina winters where you need a 3/2mm suit for early fall and late spring, and a 4/3mm for most of the winter. I have a hard to fit shape – small waist but larger hips and I’m 5’4”…so something – no matter if I chose women’s or men’s sizes usually didn’t fit right. Legs too long, shoulders too big – the later leading to the lack of a good sea around the neck, leading to flushing or flooding. In “warmer” conditions, that wasn’t always a bad thing, since it would cool me off. But on the colder days, it’s not great.
Then there’s the whole issue of getting a thicker 4/3 mm suit on and off. I timed it once. 20 minutes on, nearly 30 off, including the booties. And that’s even with a polypro top/tights and Wetsox combo on as a “lubricating” base layer. (It’s always easier to get neoprene on and off if you wear tights and a compression top underneath – plus it can add warmth. That’s a tip I learned from my scuba diving days.) The worst part of the whole process is always after the session when you are wet and you start to feel the cold of the air temp. You want that rubber all the way off so you can get into warm and dry cozy clothes as soon as possible! The thinner 3/2 mm suit is always easier to manage. But the 4/3 mm and beyond is just a bitch. You can pull muscles contorting your way out. Some people feel chest zip suits are easier to get in and out of but I’ve always found back zip suits to be easier to don and doff.
I need a new suit this year. My go-to Hyperflex Voodoo option was no longer available. Then I saw the video for the O’Neill Hyperfreak suit. The first thing that caught my attention:
But how do you get into it??
I had to watch the video on how to do that.
Now, this is hard to explain, so maybe you just click on the link and see for yourself. But, there’s kind of a yoke that you pull over your head, after you get your arms in the sleeves and it makes the seal. That means — wait for it — the neck does not gap!!! No flushing!!!
But wait, there’s more!
O’Neill claims the Hyperfreak is its lightest and stretchiest suit. Making it feel like you are surfing naked. Really. Watch the video when the suit was first released. They say that. How, how, how could that be true??
I am here to tell you it is.
Well, maybe not the surfing naked part – because I have no idea what that feels like and given my history with coming into contact with the pointy ends of fins, I don’t intend to try it. But what I can tell you is that this 4/3mm wetsuit feels amazing! It is super stretchy, which makes getting it on a breeze, and off as well, once you figure out how that yoke/shoulder piece works. It is extremely lightweight – it fees no heavier than my .5mm dive skin. The range of motion in it is fantastic. With that in mind, it makes a great choice for paddlers who need a wetsuit for activities like sup surfing, or possibly surf ski or outrigger paddling when you expect to be in the water, ie surfing. And, because of the lack of any sort of hardware on the chest, this would be a great option for prone paddlers as well.
This is the first wetsuit of this thickness I have ever put on that didn’t make me feel like the Michelin Man.
The key to all of this is apparently O’Neill’s pre-stretched Technobutter 3 neoprene. Not only is it stretchy, it is 20 percent lighter than regular neoprene and 30 percent less water absorbing, which means it will dry faster as well as not feel heavy in the water. Here are the rest of the specs from O’Neill’s website:
- Zipless Entry over a 360° Barrier with Drain Holes and Cinch Cord creates a water tight seal with ease of entry and exit.
- O’Neill’s exclusive Technobutter 3, maximum strength, hydrophobic neoprene with featherlight ENVY foam rubber core. Ultimate warmth and comfort. Built to last.
- O’Neill’s exclusive Technobutter 3x pre-stretched neoprene with featherlight ENVY foam rubber core.
- Technobutter 3x Fully Taped Seams, the lightest, stretchiest neoprene seam tape ever. 0.5MM split-neoprene applied to triple glued seams with water-based glue to keep you dry and loose.
- 360° Barrier with Drain Holes
- Double Seal Collar
- Chest/Lower Body: Technobutter 3
- Back/Arms/Shoulders: Technobutter 3X
- External Key Pocket with Loop
And the warmth factor is definitely there.
The Hyperfreak does come in a 3/2mm option and a 5/4 mm as well.
There are cheaper suits on the market – the 4/3mm Hyperfreak has a $299 MSRP – but the extra clams are well worth it and will definitely make it easier for me to #lovetheconditions when they call for neoprene.