On the hunt for a comfortable, warm winter wetsuit? The entry-level 5/4/3 Animal Amp, £120, promises flexibility and strength in the face of the freezing sea. And it’s got nice purple arms.
Cold weather surfing: The Amp pulls on like a dream – no need for the deeply uncool little dance I usually find myself performing when trying to squeeze myself in to a wetsuit. This is definitely one of the most flexible wetsuits I’ve ever worn, moulding well to the body and staying snug whilst allowing you plenty of freedeom to move quickly and grab a wave. I’m still working on my less-than-amazing pop-up technique and an unrestrictive suit is a big help when it comes to finding your feet first time. The wetsuit promises ‘power paddle zones’ and ergonomic seams to limit resistance and there’s definitely plenty of give under your arms when you’re paddling furiously for a wave. I love the tough, bouncy kneepads too. Aesthetically it’s a lovely suit – a pop of purple adds colour without being blinding bright. Some of the glued seams do look a little messy but they deliver in functionality. The only downside I’ve found to the Amp are slightly wide cuffs on the wrists and ankles – thicker reinforced cuffs would make a big difference to keeping the sea at bay.
Sea swims: After shivering all winter in my ancient wetsuit it was a joy to wear the Amp for plunges into the Cornish sea in February and stay cosy. Pairing the Amp with neoprene gloves and boots and a decent rash vest meant the freezing water held no fear and I could spend the day paddling about with curious seals with no fuss.
Verdict: At £120 this is fantastic value for a all-rounder winter suit, ideal if you’re getting into surfing in the UK or planning some sub-zero wild swims. If you’re in need of a serious 5/4/3 suit for long exposure to cold (surfing in Iceland, anyone?) the Animal Aeon front zip 5/4/3 suit, £220, might suit you better for £220.
For more info on wetsuit thicknesses and how they relate to different temperatures check out this great guide from Evo.