O’SHEA STEALTH 5/4/3 WETSUIT REVIEW
The name O’Shea will be familiar to all those windsurfers growing up in the early 80s. Farrel O’Shea rose to fame as one of the UK’s most radical wave sailors of the period. Nowadays Farrel owns and runs one of the most successful watersports companies in the UK. Manufacturing their own range of clothing, accessories, surfboards, SUPs and wetsuits (amongst other things), O’Shea have a salt-water pedigree that’s unrivalled. Intrigued by the brands flagship winter wetsuit, the Stealth, we decided to get our grubby mitts on one and put it in the ring with Jack Frost and his wave mates during an icy cold snap – this time for use in sit on top kayaking form.
O’Shea wetsuits are manufactured completely from CR neoprene, the highest spec neoprene on the market; a calcium carbonate derivative that’s limestone and not petrochemical based. The brand boasts that it’s the most flexible and highest insulation value neoprene per thickness that’s available on the market today. A super anatomical cut compliments the package along with 35 years of wetsuit research and design thrown into the mix to help produce the best products available.
Straight out of the box and the Stealth definitely looks like a nifty bit of kit. Superbly engineered – the taped, glued and stitched seams look the business. Robust kneepads, Titanium reinforced chest area, thermal insulated core and a pullover frontal zip membrane add to the high-end features of the suit. The cuffs and ankle areas appear to be snug fitting, which should eliminate unnecessary water flush. Overall, the Stealth has fantastic aesthetics with the O’Shea logo emblazoned across the chest and right shoulder area. You’re sure to stand out from the crowd in this wetty.
SUITED AND BOOTED
The Stealth is a streamline, secure and close fit. Get the size right and the suit literally feels sprayed on. With no baggy sections but enough flex in the key areas (behind the knees and elbows) to allow unrestricted movement, you can see the Stealth has had care and attention applied during the design process. As observed when unwrapping the suit, the ankle, wrist and neck areas create excellent seals that eliminate unwanted water flush during wipeouts. The Stealth was tested during some freezing days on the south coast of England. As low as air temperatures were, standing on the beach was no issue with little heat being lost through evaporation – even though the suit is actually double lined rather than a slick, single lined suit. Traditionally slick suits have been better at retaining heat for sports with fewer submersions – think kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Wetsuit technology though has improved significantly meaning that a double lined suit is fine for all of your watersport’s needs nowadays.
ON THE WATER
For the purposes of this review, we were heading out into the waves. With this in mind there weren’t any extra clothing layers used. If paddling on the flat then it may be an idea to wear a windcheater as this will ensure you keep the wind chill at bay for longer. After a few minutes paddling it became apparent just how warm the Stealth actually is. Even though air and water temperatures were logging single figures, it was actually a joy to get a dunking and cool off slightly! Floating around after wiping out was actually fun with the Stealth providing a fantastic barrier against the cold. The critical areas around the neck, ankles and wrists did their job extremely well with no cold flushes of seawater – even after going through the rinse cycle a few times. Used with a good quality neoprene hood or beanie, a decent pair of gloves and some 5mm booties, your winter paddling sessions needn’t be put on hold ever again because of the cold. It’s worth noting that you can purchase the Stealth with attached hood if this is your preference.
The Stealth is a great option for those in the market for a winter wetsuit. You have your slightly more recognisable and obvious brands, but sometimes sticking with what you know isn’t always the best option. For a slightly different style that will inevitably garner interest from other likeminded individuals, the Stealth is a brilliant choice. The only downside encountered (and this really is a very small point) was that the Stealth is a mission to shed due to it being such a snug fit. After a little contortionist trickery you’ll be back in your normal clothes quick smart – and let’s be honest, you’d rather have a great fitting suit on the water than a saggy bag!
RRP – £229 – For more info on the Stealth and the complete O’Shea range of wetsuits, check out osheasurf.com/wetsuits.html.