Cold water surfers need tough, heat-trapping protection when they hit the water – and that’s exactly what Finisterre’s Nieuwland wetsuit for women (£360) is designed to do.
What’s more, this suit uses yulex, a sustainably-sourced rubber, rather than neoprene, which is petroleum-based and is not great news for the environment. From 2021, all of Finisterre’s wetsuits have been created with yulex instead of neoprene – could this sustainable option be the best wetsuit for tough winter waters?
Finisterre Nieuwland 5mm Hooded Wetsuit review: design and performance
Finisterre Women’s Nieuwland 5mm Hooded Wetsuit review: Specs
Sizes available: 6S-14
Wetsuit thickness: 5mm
Main material: yulex rubber
Neoprene is great as a warm wetsuit material for swimmers and surfers heading out in cold conditions, but this petroleum-based fabric is far less kind on the planet. Luckily, there’s a new material on the block that wetsuit makers are now using to create cosy seasonal suits – yulex rubber. This renewable, plant-based rubber is more sustainable than neoprene, but it’s still flexible, durable and has heat-holding properties, so it’s ideal for winter waters. Finisterre is one of the few brands swapping neoprene for yulex in their wetsuit designs, and their entire surf collection is now made from this material, which has an 80% smaller carbon footprint than neoprene.
This is a chest zip rather than a back zip wetsuit – chest zip suits allow more flexibility and are more watertight, but they are notoriously harder to get into. The thickness of the material used to make a steamer (a wetsuit with full arms and legs) indicates which season it’ll work for, and the Nieuwland’s 5.5mm chest and back panel and 4.5mm arms and legs (the yulex is thinner in these areas to offer a better range of movement) should keep you warm in the bitterest British weather. I found the Nieuwland kept me snug for hours in 9°C Cornish water, with noticeably reduced flushing (this is when cold water enters your suit and flushes away the warm water next to your skin) than my usual winter suit. The well-designed hood really helps stop brain freeze, and keeps you comfortable in the water for longer.
It's also priced similarly to the upper end of women’s winter wetsuits, and is more affordable than the only other 5mm yulex-based wetsuit on the market, Patagonia’s R4.
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Finisterre Women’s Nieuwland 5mm Hooded Wetsuit review: Fit
Once I’d zipped up Finisterre’s 5mm wetsuit and hit the waves, I liked the fit – it’s figure-hugging without being too restrictive on the waist, hips and legs, and the length of the sleeves and ankles fit my 5’7 frame nicely. The Nieuwland is a tad snug around the shoulders – if you have wide shoulders or are a muscly gym fan, you’re likely to find this suit restricts your paddling. In general though, the yulex feels good against the skin and the close fit trapped in warm water without impeding my range of movement. The chest is easy to zip up and the hood is a delight – it pulls on and off easily and adds welcome warmth without any restriction. A toggle lets you get a custom fit around the head and neck and a flexible peak protects eyes from sun.
Getting into this suit, however, is a bit of a different story. I’d expect any thick winter wetsuit, especially a chest-zip design, to take a while to pull on, but Finisterre’s is unusually tough to get on, to the point where I was wrestling with the size 12 suit I tested in an ungainly manner on the beach and also needed help freeing my arms after a surf session. It may be that after only trying the suit on four times it hasn’t had time to loosen up, or it may be that the sizing is a tad on the small side. Finisterre reckon their suits become more flexible after 10-15 wears, but there isn’t much leeway to size up if you do need to - while there are good options for petite women, starting from a size 6 and with Short (S) and Tall (T) sizes available, the suit only goes up to a 14 (although this is true of many wetsuit brands). Finisterre’s summer-weight wetsuits do go up to 16.
Finisterre Women’s Nieuwland 5mm Hooded Wetsuit review: Alternatives to consider
More of a summer surfer or after something for surf trips abroad? Try Finisterre’s eye-catching Long Jane suit (£150). Still sticking to yulex, needessentials stock a women’s 4/3mm yulex suit for £259. Or if you’re after a winter steamer and need something more affordable, C-Skins’ hoodless 5mm Surflite wetsuit is £165.
Finisterre Women’s Nieuwland 5mm Hooded Wetsuit review: verdict
Finisterre’s Nieuwland isn’t a wetsuit that’ll work for everyone - if you’re a fair-weather surfer, there are thinner, more flexible and – frankly – easier to put on suits on the market. And if you can’t afford to invest in yulex for your first winter suit, you’ll find more affordable 5mm options made with neoprene available. But if you’re a dedicated cold-water surfer looking for a great quality and reliably warm suit with a brilliant hood, this could be the wetsuit for you. Plus, the chance to choose yulex over neoprene lets surfers make a more sustainable and planet-friendly investment.