We live in a golden age of wetsuits. Your shallow pockets have only a measley $180 to spend? That’ll still buy you a super-stretchy budget suit that’s ten times better than the brittle, leathery rubber suits that would have been the best thing around 15 years ago. Got $600 for a new suit? Well, now, right this way to the VIP lounge, and here, enjoy this glass of champagne, and hey, have you heard the miracles of the latest NASA-inspired bits of luxurious tech that’ll keep you toasty and snug while night-surfing under the Northern Lights?
But the wetsuit arms race that bloats wetsuits full of shiny new additions each season has made them more expensive, and sometimes overly complicated. Thermamax™ or Pyroflex™ or Stretchomatic 1000™ — which one is right for me? Confused? Crave simplicity?
Meet Feral Wetsuits. They’ve got a whole different, refreshing strategy. No fancy add-ons. No marketing. And the most interesting part— they’re only sold online as a direct-to-consumer wetsuit, so relatively speaking, they’re cheap.
It’s an idea that’s taking flight all over the Internet. You can buy direct-to-consumer mattresses online now, sight unseen. Cars too. Free shipping, flexible returns policies, and friendly, easy-to-use websites are changing the online buying game. Why not wetsuits?
Feral Wetsuits is a decidedly 21st century business. Because they’ve ditched a brick-and-mortar presence, there’s no retail markup, so they can sell suits online for far less than they’d be if they were hanging in the racks of a surf shop. The suit ships for free, you try it on; if it doesn’t fit, you send it back and try again. Simple, easy. Feral makes one suit, in two thicknesses—3/2 and a 4/3—even further simplifying the process. About $400 for either one (the 3/2 is a little cheaper). Comparable Yamamoto neoprene suits are as much as $200 more.
Feral suits are made from limestone-based Japanese Yamamoto neoprene—the good good—which naturally repels water. This keeps them simple. No fuzzy liners. No smooth-skin rubber in the chest and back. Noticeably fewer panels. Taping only on the most high-stress seams. No garish logos. Simple construction means a shockingly light and absurdly comfortable suit.
They’re perfectly warm, as I can attest after a few Northern California winter surfs. The Yamamoto is a bit less stretchy than traditional neoprene, so I found the Feral suit a little more difficult to pull on. But because there are fewer seams, it felt fluid and endlessly elastic while surfing. It was the only suit I’ve ever worn that felt like one continuous piece of rubber. Will it last? No idea. Yamamoto neoprene is more durable than traditional neoprene, and the fewer panels mean fewer seams and fewer places for the suit to break down. So it sure seems like it.
Are there warmer suits out there? Sure. Flexier? Possibly, though I kinda doubt it. But for the price, the quality, the sheer simplicity, and the ease of the buying experience, Feral’s really onto something here.