Have you ever heard of NCHE? I hadn’t until I got one of the company’s wetsuits in the mail to wear and urinate in and generally test. Full disclosure, I didn’t pay for this thing. But whether it’s free or not, I will, with no hesitation, write a poor review for a shitty product. That, however, is not the case here.
I have a gripe with wetsuits. They are horrible to wear, and anyone who tells you they’d prefer surfing in a suit to surfing in trunks is probably the type of person who eats pizza with a fork and knife or eats a KitKat bar without breaking it. They are inhuman psychopaths who are only imitating real human emotions, and you should never be alone in a room with them. That said, however, I do realize that wetsuits are a necessary evil, and I would rather be warm than cold. Thank you, Mr. O’Neill. You truly were a man of the people, and you created the most fantastic place to pee on yourself on earth.
Since I hate wetsuits but am aware that I need to wear them most of the time, I am on a constant search for a good one. One that doesn’t fall apart in a week. One that is soft and supple and flexible in all the right places. Dick suction? You can keep it, thank you very much. It’s a poorly kept secret that most of the big brands are all the exact same suits, manufactured in the same place by the same company. The only differences are a few little gimmicks and a different logo partnered with some kind of color scheme that looks like the ’80s drank glowsticks and vomited them out.
For the most part, you’re buying the same basic wetsuit, and as they go up in quality, they go up in price. Unfortunately, as they go up in price, they seem to generally go up in ugliness. The cheapest suits are, for the most part, the most plain—which, if you’re anything like me, you want. My kingdom for an all black, logoless wetsuit that won’t burst at the seams at the slightest hint of sun and won’t flush like a leaky toilet on duck dives. This is where NCHE comes in.
Jarrad Howse, the guy who used to surf on tour, Simon Barratt, who was Billabong’s marketing guy, and a fashion designer named Michael Eaton put their heads together to make something that should already exist in every surf shop on earth… but doesn’t. “NCHE has set about stripping their wetsuits of the needless: logos, gimmicks, heinous color schemes, and instead focusing on minimally designed, functional suits,” read an email I got. And it’s true. The suit they sent me, a 3/2 full, is exactly what I’ve been looking for: a wetsuit that’s actually well-made and also doesn’t burn the onlooker’s eyes. It is zipperless—a feature that I have never experienced the wonders of until now—and soft as a lamb. The inside is made from a plant-based lining composite of charcoal and bamboo that strangely, after a few days of wearing, pissing in, and not rinsing, does not smell like pee. And if you’re broke-ish, NCHE offers the customer the option of a payment plan where you pay in four installments.
Now, I have only had this wetsuit for a month, so I can’t properly speak to its durability. They do, however, use many of the same methods other manufacturers use in their high-end suits, like glued and blind stitching and taped internal seams. There are also fewer panels than your average wetsuit, which, of course, means less chance of a blowout that leaves your sensitive bits grinding into your wax.
NCHE makes wetsuits that work well and look good. It’s like they say: “You wouldn’t walk the street looking like a billboard, so why should you look like one in the surf?”