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I’m a sucker for gadgets, life wouldn’t be the same without them. Such gizmos as smart phones and tablets can really enrich our everyday life. When I first saw Rip Curl were launching a battery powered wetsuit, I thought I would love to try one out. However, the £800 price tag put me off ever owning this gadget. So it’s lucky I have been given one to test out. I have been testing this wetsuit since the beginning of this winter season and here’s my review.
How does it work?
The H-Bomb is powered by two lithium ion batteries which fully charge in about 3-4 hours . The batteries give power to carbon fibre elements which are located in the back of the wetsuit, underneath a polypro lining. It’s these elements which conduct the heat, and warm organs such as the kidneys which help to pump blood around the body. This warm blood is then pumped to your extremities such as your arms, hands, legs and feet.
Located on the side of the wetsuit is a switch which allows the user to set the desired temperature range, this can be set to low, medium and boost.
The heat generated within the wetsuit allows you to also wear a thinner wetsuit in cold waters. I tested the 3/2mm in waters ranging from 9-12c, these sorts of water temperatures normally demand a 4/3mm or 5mm wetsuit. Each charge can last anywhere up to 3 hours depending on which temperature setting is used.
What’s the wetsuit like?
The H Bomb is basically an E Bomb with added polypro where the heating elements are, the seams are double silicon sealed on both sides. The wetsuit is really comfortable and due to wearing a 3/2mm you get the extra flexibility of a summer wetsuit. The batteries didn’t feel intrusive, or dig into my back, i didn’t even notice they were there. The batteries simply are connected and fit into two little zipped pouches in the kidney area.
The battery pack includes a voltage metre which tells you if the batteries are fully charged. When factoring in the weight of the heating element and the batteries, there’s no weight reduction in wearing the 3/2mm H Bomb compared to a conventional 5mm wetsuit.
Does it work?
At the beginning of the winter season the H Bomb faired pretty well, it kept me nice and warm in waters of around 12c. However, as the water decreased in temperature the novelty of wearing a battery powered wetsuit wore off pretty quickly. When I was surfing water of 9c, and factor in wind chill, the wetsuit didn’t keep me warm. My body and legs were fine, but my arms were feeling the biting effects of wind chill. I put this down to the wetsuit only having 2mm neoprene on the arms. It seems the wind just pierces through to the thin neoprene and resulted in me being extremely cold. If Rip Curl had used 3mm neoprene on the arms the wetsuit, it would have kept the wind chill at bay. The H Bomb is now retailing for around £350, but I wouldn’t even pay this amount for this wetsuit as the whole concept is flawed. You can buy a 4/3mm version of the wetsuit which I feel would have been a better investment, but wearing a 4/3mm wetsuit would have kept me warm without the heated element.
I wouldn’t recommend the 3/2mm version of this wetsuit if you are going to use it in waters below 12c. There’s no point in having a battery powered wetsuit which doesn’t keep you warm. However, the 4/3mm may well be the way to go, but this includes a built in hood which i wouldn’t use. Another down side is if you forget to charge your batteries, or forget to take them with you, surfing unless you have a spare wetsuit.
|Value for Money|