The seasons they are a-changing and if you’re lucky enough to live in warmer climes, you’re soon going to need a bit of extra rubber to compliment your boardies. Ditto if you live somewhere frigid and are planning a winter escape to some warm-water Mecca. Even G-Land gets a bit of chill during those marathon sessions, and the extra layer of rubber literally doesn’t hurt when it comes to getting bounced off tropical reefs.
With this in mind, we reviewed two different thermal vest options from the Quiksilver range. First off, what are the criteria you look for in a thermal vest? Our take is warmth, comfort, flexibility and cost.
Enter the Quiksilver Syncro 1.5mm Long Sleeve Vest – RRP R999
Technically this is the ‘mid-range’ vest from Quik and features their 100% hyperstretch neoprene with flatlock seams. The details are relatively standard and its cut to fit a regular Joe, but what sets this vest apart is the short lower-backzip for easy entry. In other words, no WWE moves while grappling with your vest wrapped around your head in the carpark trying to get it off.
Warmth wise, we found the Syncro perfect for shrugging off a chilly wind and the fit is great. No biting under the arms and the neckline was tight enough to prevent water flushing down without being constricting. There was a bit of creepage with the bottom of the vest riding up the back every now and then, but we don’t know a vest that doesn’t creep up when you get totalled or receive a lip to the head. Like most thermals, there is a loop to secure the vest to your baggies and stop this, but that usually means the choice between a bit of creep or a full blown wedgie. Both reviewers chose to leave it unsecured.
Wedgies aside, perhaps one of the most annoying things about a thermal vest is when it balloons with water around the waistline, but there was none of this with the Syncro thanks to the efficient cut and design on the sleeves, neck and waist. On the downside (if you can call it that), the Syncro neoprene is not super supple like some of Quik’s top-of-the range materials, but its still sufficiently comy, has ample flex and did the job just fine as far as both reviewers were concerned.
The Quiksilver Ignite 2mm Long Sleeve Vest – RRP R1099
The immediate difference between the Ignite and the Synchro was warmth – the Ignite is noticeably warmer, to the point where one reviewer was uncomfortably hot during a few sessions. We’re guessing this is thanks to the slightly thicker and superior Fibrelite neoprene, as well as the fact that the Ingite comes with glued and blindstiched seams.
This means the panels are glued together and then stitched across the outside of the neoprene, only penetrating halfway through the material. The result: it’s pretty tough for any water to seep through, whereas the flatlock seams in the Synchro go all the way through the neoprene and intentionally allow some water seepage.
In terms of comfort, the fibrelite neoprene is super supple and the cut for the Ignite is very lekker – it features minimal panels, which means a more snug fit. One reviewer absolutely loved this, but the other complained that the fit was a little too snug and bit in under the arms and made him feel constricted. Even though both reviewers usually wear a medium, this outlined the importance of making sure it’s the right fit for you before buying a wetsuit or thermal vest.
The Ignite neck features a ‘glide skin neck seal’ which is basically a film of ultra-smooth neoprene. Like the Synchro, the fit around the neck was very comfy with no pesky flushing or ballooning around the waist, and overall the Ignite had even less creepage than the Syncro. It could be because the waistband is not elasticised, but don’t quote us on that. In terms of neck-chafe, there was none to speak of. On the downside, the super-snug fit made it a bit tougher to get off for one reviewer, but hey, that’s why it keeps you so warm.
The verdict: to be honest there’s not a hell of a lot separating these two suits in terms of relative quality and they both score very high overall. With only 100 bucks difference in price, we’d be inclined to recommend basing your choice more on how warm you want to be. If you are a KZN surfer who doesn’t like a lot of rubber, the Ignite would probably be enough to see you through most of winter. If you’re looking for a year-round thermal to wear at home or in the tropics for those days when boardies just don’t cut it, you can’t go wrong with the Syncro.
ABOUT THE ZAG REVIEW:
The Zag Review is an independent editorial feature on surfing hard goods, ranging the full spectrum from boards and wetsuits to tide watches and travel bags. None of the reviews are paid for by advertisers or part of an advertising deal, and we retain the right to give honest, critical feedback that is in the interest of our readers. The product is reviewed by Zag staff and everyday surfers who rip, not pros who are paid to endorse the goods. We test the gear for a minimum period of two weeks (and a month for boards) to give you comprehensive feedback for the surfing layman. We know that surfboards are not a “one size fits all solution” and different surfers prefer different aspects on a board according to how they surf, even if they are the same weight and height. In the case of surfboard reviews, we’ve made sure to seek feedback from at least three different surfers to get well-rounded input.
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