Welcome to The Inertia’s definitive wetsuit review where we test and rate some of the industry’s best rubber so you can feel informed before purchasing your winter skin. We used a five-star rating system to rank each of our suits’ features (which you can see below). Here, we look at the Dakine Cyclone Zip-Free 4/3, a top-of-the-line wetsuit made with cool/cold water performance in mind.
Testing Location: San Francisco, California
Average Water Temperature: 55-58°F
Average Air Temperature: 55-72°F
Warmth: 4.5 Stars
The suit is quite warm with a full-fleece lining and compression fit that provides less room for water to get in. I also tried it out with an attached hood. However, the suit is a 4/3 and as someone who runs cold there are going to be a couple days a year in the Bay Area that I’ll feel a bit chilly wearing it and probably reach for a thicker suit instead.
Durability: 4.5 Stars
So far no complaints, but let’s see in a few months. The seams do seem to be well constructed, with sturdy welded rubber seals on the outside and full taping on the inside.
Comfort and Flexibility: 5 Stars
This is where the suit really shines. This is one of the flexiest 4/3s I’ve encountered, and the aforementioned full-fleece lining is a treat. The suit is form fitting, not so much that it’s constrictive, but there’s not much extra material lying around, a plus for both looks and performance.
Strainer Panels on the ankles and wrists to let water escape. Due to the form-fitting design, no water gets back in.
Zip-free design makes for more comfortable paddling and does a great job of keeping water out.
Big fan of the hood construction. Instead of the normal circular face hole with a draw string there is a chin panel that makes for a less-constrictive fit that still keeps water out. However I do wish the visor was a bit wider to provide more sun protection. Like I said before, comfort and flex on this suit are some of the best I’ve experienced in a 4/3.
I don’t know if I’m sold on the zip-free design. Mostly because it hurts my hair to take it on and off, no matter how many different angles of entry I’ve tried, my long hair gets pulled. That being said, once on, I’ve noticed less water gets in, and the lack of a stiff zipper area on the chest makes for much more comfortable paddling.
Overall: 4.67/5 Stars
Dakine is relatively new to the wetsuit game, but damn this is one fine piece of rubber. The Dakine Cyclone gets top marks for flexy neoprene and a warm, cozy lining with innovative design with features to boot.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.