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. Here, we look at O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3 F.U.Z.E. Chest-Zip Fullsuit.
Testing Location: Los Angeles, CA
Water Temperature: 55°F
Air Temperature: 62°FC
Warmth: 4.5 Stars
First thing’s first. This suit was tested in November in Los Angeles, California, where the water temperature during sessions hovered in the mid- to high- 50s. I’m well aware that many of you are (and will be) surfing in much colder waters. That said, the O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3 F.U.Z.E. Chest-Zip Fullsuit is an oven. I was totally and thoroughly comfortable. Sure, maybe a little overdressed, as I probably would have been fine in a 3/2, but the suit induced a level of heat I hadn’t felt in a suit for quite a while. I could feel warm spots develop where I was most active on my back and shoulders, and had to think twice about whether I really wanted to pee in this work of art. The Hyperfreak 4/3 F.U.Z.E. has fully-taped seams. They’re glued and blind-stitched. It’s an efficient suit, holding and warming water to keep you insulated, so I knew it would do the same with my pee. Which…I cannot lie, it did. I did a few self-induced flushes, though. It was the right thing to do.
Durability: 4 Stars
Updated January 15th. We have had an epic run of surf in California, so I’ve been using this suit several times a week for the last month and a half. While it’s still slightly early to make a call on durability, velcro from my booties when transporting the suit in and out of the car has tugged a few stray fibers on the arms, and I’m a little concerned about how it will wear in the long term. That said, the stitching, seams, and craftsmanship are apparent.
Comfort and Flexibility: 5 Stars
This is where the O’Neill Hyperfreak F.U.Z.E. shines. It’s where I start to understand the delta in price point between warm 4/3s that restrict mobility and top-of-the-line suits that integrate as much proprietary technology and attention to detail as possible. I’ve worn 4/3s that feel like straight jackets. This is not one of them. O’Neill’s wetsuit tech terms have always rung slightly extreme, but TechnoButter is the perfect term. I love the word butter. Try to use it out of the context of food wherever possible, because it’s got vivid associations. And, yes, this suit feels buttery.
I’m 5′ 7″ and about 162-ish pounds, and despite sizing charts, I’ve found that I’m mostly a true medium across the board. It fit nicely, and O’Neill has ensured that the extra millimeter of rubber that makes those paddles back up the point at Rincon when the current is cranking in the dead of winter more torturous, won’t be on account of the wetsuit. It’ll just be because you gotta get into paddle-shape.
Also, of serious importance: this suit is easy to get on and off. Minimizing that friction is a huge deal. It’s already cold out, so eliminating any torturous contortionist battle to suit up matters. Some suits require notably more effort to get on and off. Not the case with this supersuit, and that matters.
First, I like that the chest zip begins on the track. That’s a tiny detail, but other suits require pairing the zipper with the track to zip it up, and it’s a minor, but noticeable inconvenience. With this suit, just tug left, and it’s secure. Details. The HyperFreak F.U.Z.E.’s super light TechnoButter 3 and TB3X neoprene is good stuff. The suit also has an additional 0.5mm for added warmth. It dries quickly, and includes O’Neill’s Aqua Alpha Solvent Free Neoprene Lamination, which is an environmentally-friendly feature that alleges to exclude harmful solvent chemicals from its neoprene. It’s the same stuff Patagonia uses, so you can probably feel confident in it. It also uses water-based lamination glue that’s solvent free. The F.U.Z.E closure makes the suit look like you’re wearing a pin-striped turtle neck. My wife said I kinda looked like Steve Jobs in it. I’m not sure what to make of that.
This is a great wetsuit optimized for warmth without sacrificing performance. It’s light, and O’Neill has the right language to describe it: Technobutter.
I did feel a little water flush through the neck and chest on a few duck-dives, so I’m going to keep an eye on that. This wasn’t a problem at the water temperature that I tested, but if the water is in the 40s, this starts to become an issue. The tag also warns to keep away from velcro and that there are cosmetic variations in the material. I did notice one stray fiber on the arm after a few uses; I think it’s harmless, but will also keep an eye on that.
Overall: 4.5/5 Stars
I’d feel comfortable and confident calling this my winter suit. I’m rarely venturing into waters below 45 degrees, but I would confidently use the O’Neill Hyperfreak 4/3 F.U.Z.E. Chest Zip on the coldest days in Southern and Central California when it’s pumping, and I’d also take it lobster diving when I’m spending hours underwater trying to bring home dinner. I hadn’t used an O’Neill suit for far too long, and this was a nice reminder that O’Neill’s heritage and pride in its premium, top-dollar products are real. The brand makes great suits, and its trophy suit hits the mark.
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