If you live in Southern California or farther south, you’ve probably never put on a 5/4 wetsuit. It’s a rare occasion when you need all that neoprene down here. But cold-water surfing has seen a renaissance in the last few years, and a lot of great waves have been discovered in places where the water temp rarely gets above 60 degrees. If you want to surf those waves, you’re going to need a 5/4 with a hood, and a lot of our friends up north recommend the O’Neill Mutant 5/4 Fullsuit.
What’s great about the O’Neill Mutant 5/4 is that the hood detaches for those days when the air temp is way warmer than the water temp and your head can stay warm out of the water—a not-uncommon occurrence in, say the Pacific Northwest. When the air is cooler, the hood zips to the wetsuit and can be cinched down to cover everything but your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you throw in some O’Neill gloves and booties, every part of you will stay warm.
If you haven’t worn a 5/4 before, you might notice that the wetsuit will be a bit tight around your Adam’s apple. This is normal. If a wetsuit’s going to keep water from dumping in whenever you duck dive, it’s going to have to be tight around the neck. You get used to it, though.
Another added bonus with the O’Neill wetsuits is their durability. We’ve heard from folks who’ve used their wetsuit regularly through four or five seasons—and when you’re surfing in those colder areas, sometimes it involves hiking through muddy forests in your wetsuit and stuffing it in a backpack for long periods of time. It’s not exactly the recommended way to treat a wetsuit, but the O’Neill Mutant 5/4 handles the abuse.
We should also mention the warranty. One of the reasons we love O’Neill and love carrying their products is their great warranty service. If you encounter a problem with one of their wetsuits in the first year, just send it to them and they’ll fix it for you at no charge. O’Neill makes a quality wetsuit to begin with, and if there’s any minor issue in the first issue they’ll repair it without any hassle. So if you plan on scoring some waves in a chillier area to the north (or the far, far south), we recommend picking up an O’Neill Mutant 5/4 before you go.