I'm in the enviable position of acquiring two new wetsuits in the same number of weeks after Tim Heyland from Tiki very kindly gave me one of their brand new zepha suits to try.
It's a reassuringly warm looking 6/5/4 suit with a full time hood, super stretchy double lined neoprene, chest entry and liquid sealed seams. Tiki have ditched the warming packs from their old top of the line suit and moved production to the same factory that makes the top of the range o'neill suits. On the hanger it looks the business with subtle logos, mostly black with red shoulders and although obviously thick, the rubber has plenty of give to it.
As you might expect with a six mil suit, trying it on dry it feels a little restrictive and claustrophobically warm but the chest entry and exit is easy enough for this style of suit.
Once you're in the water, all thoughts of being stuck in the equivalent of a rubber straitjacket disappear. I can honestly say that i didn't notice the extra thickness on the torso or legs compared to the 5/4 xcel i'm sporting in the photo above. It's also a revelation how much more comfortable a full time hood is compared to wearing a separate one giving a much more comfortable and free feeling around the neck and much less tension in my neck muscles post surf.
Paddling wise, the neoprene is so supple there's no feeling that you are losing mobility by being warm and nor did it feel cumbersome to surf in. Warmth wise, which is the important thing i guess, i can confirm that it's bloody good! The seams are watertight and even after an hour of duckdiving 3 foot beachbreak i had dry hair under the hood! I admit i've not exhaustedly tested it but i know a man who has and if it's kept Cotty warm taking cold, heavy, irish water on the head at prowlers and eileens, then i'm sure my first impression is right.
Winter hasn't been too cold here this year, the water is not as cold as it can get but i'm really confident that i'd stay toasty warm in the depths of midwinter with this suit. Much as i was impressed by the nineplus hasu suit i have, this is the one i'll be grabbing for the dawn patrol for the next few weeks at least!
In other news, the love for Tim Mason is flowing freely and several kind folks have donated stuff to auction and contribute funds to the timmy mason trust. thomas campbell collectibles here and a stretch f4 quad, bag and fins here. Please support them if you can....