Product Test: The Rip Curl F-Bomb
Putting one of Rip Curl’s warmest suits to the test in the frigid waters of New England.
One day I’m surfing in boardies on the North Shore of Oahu, the next en-route to Massachusetts to visit the future in laws for the holidays. While far from an ideal surf location, I had to get a session in on Christmas Day yet the only issue (besides snow, over indulgence, and water temps in the 40s) was that I didn’t have nearly enough rubber to brave the waters of Gloucester, New England (which, on a side note, is America’s oldest seaport). A call to Rip Curl‘s Dylan Slater took care of the situation and soon enough I was geared up with a 5/4/3 millimeter F-Bomb fullsuit with a built in hood (also available in 6/5/4mm), 5mm lobster-claw style gloves (fitting for an area that’s famous for it’s crustaceans), and 5mm F-Bomb Hidden Split Toe booties.
Waking up in the morning to a landscape covered in snow and ice, I thought to myself, “What the hell are you doing?” but it was too late to pull the ripcord as my pre-arranged ride was honking in the driveway. Time to sack up.
“So, do we change in the car?” I asked my buddy Tyler after we decided on surfing Long Beach in Gloucester. “Only if it’s really cold…get out of the car you puss,” was his reply. Sliding easily into the F-Bomb with the old “plastic-bag-over-the-foot” trick I was ready to go, the only problem was I couldn’t get the sleeve to roll back so I could get the gloves under them—in hindsight I should’ve put the gloves on first, then slid my arms through the wetsuit via the plastic bag trick. Live and learn. Finally decked out in all the rubber and with only my face exposed to the elements, it was time to shred.
Wading into the water, I didn’t feel any water seeping into the suit. In fact, it was only after duckdiving did I realize how cold the water was. My first wave was a nice little right and I was able to pop up pretty easy, which was kind of a concern of mine before paddling out. After riding it out almost all the way to the beach, I hopped off and began paddling back out. At this point, I felt like I was gonna start sweating—the suit was that warm.
We surfed for another two hours, trading off waves with just a few other bros until I felt my core body temperature dropping and decided we’d had enough. This was the part I was dreading—changing in the ice-covered parking lot.
After unzipping the chest zip, I had to ask my buddy for help as I couldn’t get the suit off by myself—which is my only complaint—but I’m pretty sure this is an issue that’s not exclusive to Rip Curl and could probably be fixed with a few yoga classes on my end.
It’s good to know that in this day and age, surfers can rip anywhere, and in any water temperature. Thanks to Rip Curl for the loaner, and trust me, if a SoCal kid who’s deathly afraid of cold water can stay warm in the 5/4/3 F-Bomb, anyone can.—Justin Cote
Rip Curl F-Bomb stats:
Thickness: 5/4/3 millimeter with Rip Curl’s “Fireskin” a sweater-like lining that, while a bit heavier, ensures maximum warmth. As well, the F-Bomb has taped and glued seams, seamless underarms and shoulders, and a convenient and easily accessed stash pocket for your keys on the lower leg.
Warranty: One year on all seams and taping, 3 years on stitching.
Cost: MSRP for the 5/4mm fullsuit is $420 ($430 for the 6/5mm), which seems like a pretty good value for all the rubber you get. The 5mm booties will run you $70 and the F-Bomb 3 finger gloves $50.
For more info on Rip Curl products go to www.ripcurl.com