How many of us remember our first wetsuit? For some, traditional surf wetsuits hadn’t even been invented when they learnt to surf; their sessions limited to how long they could battle it out in the cold before succumbing to hyperthermia. Others made do with dive suits – beaver flaps and all. Those more fortunate might have had an old Zero or Reef T, which helped them catch a few extra waves back in the day.
Whichever of these groups you were a part of, you would have noticed a drastic improvement in suit design and material composition in the last few years – unless you are a grom and have come straight into the good stuff. Gone are the old traditional stitched-alone suits with standard neoprene and sectional-panelled arms, legs and torso. Suits these days are judged by how fast they can dry, how much welding went into the liquid seams, and what environmentally ‘green’ carpet lines the inside. So how does the Reef Diamond Pro 4:3 stand up to the Zag review? We surfed, surfed again and surfed some more in the cold Cape (while we should have been on deadline) to give you our final call.
We took a look at some of the major selling points of the Diamond Pro and give you our thoughts:
REEF DIAMOND PRO 4:3 – RRP R2800.00
If it’s warmth you’re after, then chest zip neck entries are the way to go these days – so the Diamond Pro ticks the first box. They seem to keep out more water than the traditional back zips, as well as offering more flexibility and comfort. Another bonus is the reduced neck rash they offer, which is a big plus for those corporate office meetings. No one wants to have to explain those weird rash marks on your neck to non-surfing colleagues. That being said, chest zips are a bit trickier to get into and out of, so you’ll still have some explaining to do when you’re spotted having a solo wrestling match in the carpark.
SEAMLESS SHOULDERS & UNDERARMS
Every extra stitch your suit has adds strain and reduces flexibility, so seamless is good. We found this helped loads at spots with longer paddles, like point breaks and big wave spots.
At first inspection we weren’t convinced with the legitimacy of the super-light neoprene rubber used – our initial thoughts were that it will never keep out the cold as well as some of the thicker (warmer?) wetsuits that Zag has used in the past. Surprisingly, the suit was warmer than expected, and is definitely very light both off and on, which is an obvious plus. Lighter rubber means lighter surfing.
DIAMOND PILE FLEX JERSEY
The new push internally these days is to have jerseys or ‘carpets’ lining the neoprene. The only problem with these ‘carpets’, much like any land-based equivalent, is that if you wee on it, then it doesn’t smell so lekker down the line. Not that we all stood on the suit and did our bit for the test, but so far it remains odourless. Perhaps the answer lies in its quick drying properties. After a thorough rinse it dries quickly and is good to go for the next session. Interestingly, we also found that the majority of the jersey was still dry after a two hour surf, even after four weeks of testing. While each brand offers their own unique formula of organic or eco-friendly materials, the Diamond Pile Flex jersey also offers a titanium lining, which adds another element of warmth to the suit.
Another advancement in wetsuit technology is welded seams, which seal two panels together with the use of latex or nylon tape. Old school wetsuits would let in generous amounts of water through the seams, but thankfully some clever surf scientist came up with latex seals, nylon stretched tape and ‘welded seams’, which the Diamond Pro offers. Very little to no water can get inside the suit, which is a big bonus around the Cape when it drops to single figures celsius and the waves are firing!
SUPRA-TEX KNEE PADS
One of the highlights of this suit, for us, must be the supra-tex knee pads. Of all the features the Reef Diamond Pro offered, one of our reviewers felt this was the most noticeable element. They’re undoubtedly one of the most flexible knee pads on the market, and are very light – a knee pad without the feeling of one. This was especially noticeable when caught on the inside on a big day down the beach and faced with walls of whitewater to duckdive.
Due to the critical nature of some of the Zag reviewers, one of the first things we look for when doing an independent review is something that didn’t tickle our fancy, or we think can be improved upon. But as one reviewer put it, “There really wasn’t anything negative I could find with the wetsuit. It’s incredibly comfortable, warm and flexible.” For pricepoint versus quality, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find better.
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.
Contact us here if there is a particular product you’d like to see reviewed and we will do our best to make it happen.