(words by Jim Edmondson)
Did you know that, just in the United Kingdom alone, 350 tonnes of wetsuit rubber ends up in landfill every year? Globally, that is closer to 12,000 tonnes of wetsuit rubber. Or, if you need to imagine a more visual representation, it’s equivalent to 66 Boeing 747 jumbo jets.
That doesn’t account for the hundreds of tonnes of wetsuit rubber in sheds and lofts.
As surfers, we are massively connected with the sea and our environment. But our two biggest tools (wetsuits and surfboards) leave hefty carbon footprints. (Read our journal posts on eco boards and offsetting)
Luckily, two brands who have sustainability at their core, Finisterre and Patagonia, are doing something about the wetsuits.
Recently I was lucky enough to surf at the KS wave ranch (check it out here) and tested the Finisterre Nieuwland 3e wetsuit.
To start with, the interior fabric is made from 100% recycled polyester and the exterior is made from 88% recycled polyester. That in itself is pretty awesome.
But what is really amazing is the main body of the suit is made from 85% Yulex Rubber. For those that don’t know “Yulex Pure™ is the world’s first high performing, non-sensitizing, 100% plant-based, ultra-pure natural rubber that is FSC® certified, sustainably sourced and certified - now that is cool.
Read what Finisterre say about how they created the Nieuwland in their wonderful blog the Broadcast
The Nieuwland has all the features that you would expect from a premium brand, but these are the little bits that are worth pointing out. It seems Finisterre are too humble to point out all the intricate details themselves, but someone has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to make these little details work. These little details, that Finisterre put into all their products are what makes them a ‘love brand’ with their loyal consumers; and possibly why, in their recent crowdfunding raise, they achieved £41.M in less than 12 hours.
We loved this simple but yet surprisingly effective cuff sealer. On the cuffs, there is a small rectangle of thick black ‘hardish’ shiny rubber. This simple rectangle keeps the cuffs tight and reduces some of the flushing all wetsuit manufacturers are looking to avoid.
The zip is more than just heavy-duty, it feels solid. Over the years I have retired wetsuits due to zips failing. This is the Yorkie of zips. With a great solid webbing and popper to ensure it stays put.
The black shiny rubber is back again on the inside of the collar. Again simple and effective.
First off, the fit is snug. Finisterre do say that it loosens slightly after 10 to 15 surfs. but I quite like the fit. The rubber they use over the shoulders is super super stretchy. I surfed all day at the ranch, and for 2 hours at San Francisco the next day, and it was the most freedom I have had in a wetsuit to date. It’s not as good as a pair of boardy’s, but it’s the closest I think your shoulders will find in a wetsuit.
The water temp was 15C at the ranch and 13C at San Fran and I wasn’t cold once.
Getting the suit on is fine, it’s a little awkward around the feet with the super stretch rubber on the legs.
My only negative is getting the suit off, which is one of the trickiest suits I have used to get off. But this is a result of it being so warm. Part of the reason it is so warm is down to the design around the entry. The suit is a neck entry with a front zip. This gives the bonus of being a wetsuit that gives you the confidence of not getting flushed with cold water after a heavy slam or being caught on the inside. However, the downside is that the Nieuwland is more difficult than most to get out of. In my opinion, this is a small price to pay to stay warm in the surf and to have so much mobility.
To sum up performance, it feels as soft as butter, no flush and you need a little practice to get out of it (or a friend to help).
(Note after 7 surfs the suit became a load easier to get out of)
Amazing things that’s what. Recycling wetsuits
Read all about it here
We should be reviewing the Patagonia sustainable suit in the next 6 months and will update the links here.