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I have heard many good things about Xcel wetsuits, but I have never worn their wetsuits. After all these years of surfing I have finally used an Xcel wetsuit; so what was it like? I started to use the wetsuit at the end of May and the water temperature here in Cornwall was a freezing 12c. The unseasonably cold waters would be a great test environment for the Xcel Xflex wetsuit.
The Xcel Xflex is a mid-range wetsuit which is designed to be ultra-lightweight and flexible. I tested the 3/2mm version of this wetsuit which retails at £180.00. The first thing I noticed when I picked up the wetsuit was how light it was, despite featuring rubbery panels on the front and back of the wetsuit. In terms of flexibility the X Flex features 100% ultra-stretch neoprene throughout the wetsuit. When wearing the wetsuit it felt very comfortable, unrestrictive and due to the lightness of the wetsuit gave a sense of not wearing a wetsuit at all. I guess Xcel named this wetsuit the Xflex for a reason, because it’s stupidly flexible. Getting in and out of the wetsuit was really easy. Even if I had two broken arms I think I could get in and out of this wetsuit with ease.
All the seams throughout the wetsuit are double glued and blind stitched, there’s no seam taping. The lack of seam taping may bother some people, but I think discarding the taping increases the flexibility of the wetsuit. As the seams are doubled glued and blind stitched this should ensure that the seams are durable. Glued and blind stitched wetsuits are notorious for leaking around the crotch area over time. This is because this area of the wetsuit receives a lot of stress from putting on and taking off the wetsuit. Xcel have fortunately critically taped the crotch area to ensure these seams don’t leak over time.
The X Flex incorporates a closed chest zip system, which means the zipper is already attached. This means there’s no fiddling around with the zip to fasten it up.
One thing that did impress me when using the X Flex was how watertight the wetsuit was. Its ability to keep water out and minimise flush was really impressive. Keeping cold water at bay was achieved by the well-designed zipper, over the head collar and inner collar of the wetsuit. The inner collar was a snug fit around the neck, coupled with the hover the head collar delivered a great water barrier.
Inside the front and back rubbery panels is what Xcel call their Carbon Thermo barrier. This lightweight fleecy material is made with carbon which is meant to be environmentally friendly, lightweight and deliver better thermal properties. However, the wetsuit in 12c water didn’t keep me warm compared to some other wetsuit I was testing at the same point. In fact I was rather cold after about an hour. No we are in July and the water is now 15c the wetsuit performs well in the warmth department and I have no issues with the wetsuit keeping me warm. I guess this wetsuit isn’t designed for ultimate warmth and is geared towards being as lightweight and as flexible as possible.
I really liked this wetsuit and if you want a wetsuit which is ultra-lightweight and super flexible then this is the wetsuit for you. The X Flex reminds me of the Rip Curl E Bomb, which is also geared towards being super flexible and light weight rather than being the warmest wetsuit on the market. If you are prone to cold, or want to use this wetsuit until the end of October, or beginning of November I wouldn’t buy it. I would invest in something else like the Drylock, or Infinity these models seem to be designed with ultimate warmth in mind.
Thanks to Transsurf Surf Shop for donating the wetsuit.
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