The RipCurl Flash Bomb 5/4 Wetsuit
By guest reviewer, John G.
Summer surfing in Northern California is pretty cold. Water temperatures here rarely go above the mid-50s. That being said, in the winter, when waves tend to be the best, the water is even chillier. Typically between the high 40s and low 50s.
During this season, I have really come to prefer a 5/4 wetsuit to beat the cold. These numbers refer to thickness. A 5/4 means that the wetsuit is 5mm thick in critical areas such as the torso and 4mm (or less) in less critical areas.
Like putting on a heavy jacket in winter, these thicker suits tend to keep you warmer in the water. All that warmth comes at a cost, however. Thick suits also decrease your mobility. The extra material makes the suit stiff and that stiffness causes resistance and strain as you move your arms around. Thus, the key is finding a wetsuit that is warm enough to keep you comfortable but not so thick that it is difficult to move in.
Enter, the Rip Curl F-Bomb 5/4/3. Of the winter wetsuits I have owned, this one is hands-down the best in balancing these 2 critical needs - warmth and mobility. The suit is as warm as any I have ever owned. Much of this can be attributed to the excellent tailoring. The suit fits like a glove. Tight but not constricting which prevents cold water from flushing through.
At the same time, it is exceptionally stretchy. Of the various brands, I have found Rip Curl to be the best in "stretchiness." This suit is no exception. The arm and shoulder areas are made of very stretchy material, which makes this 5/4 much easier to move around in. While paddling on my surfboard, the suit feels as flexible as some of the (thinner) 4/3's I have owned with the added bonus of it being much warmer.
For these reasons I have been extremely pleased with the Rip Curl F-Bomb. It dries fast, is made of a comfortable wool material on the inside and appears to be durable (though time will tell on that..). So far I can honestly say it is the best suit I have ever owned and I may have been permanently converted to the Rip Curl brand.
In terms of cost, this wetsuit isn't exactly cheap. Though it is not as expensive as some of the very high end and specialty wetsuits on the market, it is on the higher end of the suits marketed to surfers. Thus, it would probably not make sense for someone who will only wear it once or twice a year. But if you use your wetsuit frequently, you will probably want a wetsuit that is at least in the same price 'neighborhood' and within that market segment, the F-Bomb is pretty tough to beat.
- E4 Flash Lining
- E4 Tape
- Chest Zip
- Drainage System
- Stash Pocket
- 100% E4 Stitchless Double Taped Seams
- E4 Neoprene
- Lock Slide Design
- Hydro-loc Collar
This wetsuit is very warm but with great flexibility unlike most 5/4 suits. It fits perfectly - tight but not constricting - and has the right amount of stretch to it.
This suit is not cheap so if you are buying a wetsuit that you don't plan to use very often, this isn't the one for you.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Great wetsuit for winter months - keeps you nice and warm without having to worry about not being able to move around in it. On the pricy end but definitely worth it if you surf a lot and want to do so year round without getting cold.