Welcome to The Inertia’s definitive wetsuit review where we 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. Here, we look at the Body Glove Red Cell 5/4/3 Chest-Zip hooded wetsuit.
Testing Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Average Water Temperature: 47°F/8°C
Average Air Temperature: 45°F/7°C
Warmth: 5 Stars
There are a lot of wetsuit manufacturers out there that aren’t on the go-to list when it comes to water that’s actually cold. Body Glove is not one of them. It’s one of the most trusted brands for 4 mm or thicker, and it’s for good reason: their wetsuits are warm. The Red Cell 5/4/3 isn’t any different. Made for water temperatures from 46-53°F / 8-12°C, I tested this suit at the lower end of the scale, about 47°F/8°C. I surfed for three hours on a blustery afternoon and, as promised, I was not cold. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Red cell infrared interior insulation is not only extraordinarily soft, but it’s super warm as well. And it makes getting into the suit a breeze.
Durability: 4.5 Stars
In the past, Body Glove suits have always held up well for me. I’ve got a 2 mm short arm full hanging up that’s been in my Mexico rotation for almost three years, and despite the constant exposure to the sun, how rarely I rinse it after a session, and how often I leave it in a lump in the sand, it’s still in relatively good shape. The Red Cell 5/4/3 Chest-Zip hooded wetsuit uses a micro-bead exterior seam seal, seamless underarm paneling, and on overall minimal seam design. The fewer places a suit can tear, the better.
Comfort and Flexibility: 4 Stars
Despite its thickness, the Red Cell 5/4/3 is a relatively comfortable suit. For me (6’1, 185), a size large felt good in all places but one: across the back of the shoulders. I have broader shoulders and I’m used to a little bit of tightness in a wetsuit in that area, but that section of the suit felt particularly tight. Flexibility-wise, the neoprene stretches well when paddling and surfing in general. The pull tab on the hood is a little on the large side, as well, and I found myself feeling slightly annoyed with it.
The Red Cell insulation on the inside of this suit is fantastic. It’s super smooth, super silky, and thick enough that it makes you feel as though you’re wearing a fleecy onesie, like a little baby. Also, it continues into the hood, which is nice. While many wetsuit manufacturers seem to add a hood as an afterthought, Body Glove appears to have put as much thought into the hood as they did the rest of the suit.
At $499.99, Body Glove’s 5/4/3 is a great suit for a middle-of-the-road price. If it’s warmth you’re after, this suit is up there with the best of them.
Since the 5/4/3 felt a little tight in the back of the shoulders, it requires a little more work to escape from — especially if your arms and shoulders are gassed from a session that went a little too long.
Overall: 4.5/5 Stars
Body Glove’s Red Cell 5/4/3 Chest-Zip Hooded Wetsuit is built to stand up to the harshness of a Canadian winter. While it might lack a bit in the shoulder comfort area, it makes up for with an interior lining that feels great, a drying time that is up there with the best, and a price range that’s affordable.
Disclosure: The Inertia may receive a small commission if you make a purchase from the affiliate links included in this feature at no additional cost to you. Our goal is always to entertain, educate, and inspire, and we hope you find this feature useful.