Rated 2 out of 5 by Aquamarines Fantastic idea, poorly executed
Reviewing two sizes (L + XL)
First, what an amazingly great idea: A hybrid solution that uses a wetsuit design model for the chest, torso and neck PLUS + a drysuit design model for the arms. The titanium technology for max warmth allows for a thinner more maneuverable substrate. Very very cool. In theory, this should give you a good snug fit to keep water out at the wrists, neck and waist?so that the drysuit-like arms and shoulders can do their job with ample room to maneuver freely. Perfect for paddling. Could even be a great surfing top.
Unfortunately, serious sizing and design flaws render the jacket useless for me...
(1) Minor flaw... the zipper tab is on the female (left) side. Most male zippers have a tab on the right. Again, minor issue, and I could absolutely live with this small annoyance if everything else was up to par.
(2) Major flaw... the neck not only does not make a good seal, it isn't designed to make a good seal. While the neru-style opening might give you fashion kudos on the catwalk, it has no zipper, velcro or elastic-like closure. The neck is going to be wide open, plain and simple. A lot of water will get in no matter what.
(3) Sizing/ proportion flaws... Overall, in order for this jacket to actually work the way it is supposed to, the wearer would need to have a freakishly proportioned body type. Huge neck, tiny shoulders, narrow chest, thin/ small arms. Quite unlike most paddlers I know. As for me, I am 5'8", 165 lbs, and typically take a large in wetsuits because I have a slightly above average shoulders + chest size for my 5'8" height, wearing around a 43-44" chest. My neck size is average for my size at about 15 1/2".
Trying both the large (L) and extra large (XL) sizes, I ran into the same problems, understanding that a wetsuit should fit snugly, but not strangle...
(a) Neck opening was way too large--besides not having any sort of complete closure in the design anyway. Water will pour in. If you're in cold water, this is the deal killer. On the large (L), I measured about 18" at the base of the neck where the zipper ends. Wow, really? That's just huge.
(b) Shoulders and arms fit way too narrow/ tight. Unless you have very slender arms with very little muscle, you will find the drysuit arms extremely restrictive and tight. That's not what you want as a paddler needing max mobility, nor is it how drysuits are supposed to fit.
(c) Chest was very tight on the large (L); the extra-large (XL) chest was snug, but not suffocating.
(d) Overall torso length actually was fine (L or XL) albeit a tiny bit long for my slightly below average 5'8" height; not a deal killer, I'm used to this.
In summary, I would love to love this jacket. The idea is fantastic. And with a few improvements it could actually BE fantastic. Keep me posted LL Bean.
July 19, 2014