One of the earliest surf brands to gain major success, O'Neill began life in a San Francisco garage during the 1950s. Its founder, Jack O'Neill, is credited by many with inventing the modern wetsuit, and while T-shirts, bikinis and boardshorts may be the mainstay of his brand today, wetsuit development remains a key part of the company's DNA, and it still makes some of the best wetsuits on the market.
First launched in 2014, O'Neill's Hyperfreak wetsuits come in a range of thicknesses and styles, from 2mm spring suits right through to 5/4 hooded full suits. Apart perhaps for the balmiest summer days, full length wetsuits are generally the best option for chilly UK waters. The 5/4+ (more accurately 5/4.5mm) Hyperfreak we're looking at here is a great option for wearing all winter long. The 4/3 version is well suited for late spring to early summer, while the 3/2 Hyperfreak will keep you warm through the summer months and into early autumn. Read on for our full O'Neill Hyperfreak 5/4+ wetsuit review.
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O'Neill Hyperfreak 5/4+ wetsuit review: specs
- Thicknesses: 3/2, 4/3, 5/4/, 5/4+
- Available sizes: XS, S, ST, MS, M, MT, LS, L, LT, XL, XXL
- Construction: Aqua Alpha solvent-free neoprene
- Seams: Glued, blindstitched and taped
O'Neill Hyperfreak 5/4+ wetsuit review: performance
Wetsuits, particularly thicker varieties, can feel restrictive if the tightly fitting neoprene prevents natural movements – especially when paddling. O'Neill Hyperfreaks have a reputation for being the stretchiest wetsuits around and despite the 5/4+ model being slightly thicker than most winter wetties, it still manages to feel light and supple. O'Neill's Technobutter 3X branded neoprene is relatively soft to the touch and is incredibly flexible which also makes far easiest to get on and off than most front-zip wetsuits.
There is a flipside to the Hyperfreak's flexibility and comfort levels though and that they don't tend to last as long as wetties built with more conventional neoprene. While we've experienced longevity issues with earlier Hyperfreaks breaking down prematurely, the 20/21 season 5/4+ model tested here is made from sterner stuff. After a full winter's use, all the seams are completely intact and leak-free. Some minor damage has occurred around the knees when the wetsuit has been pulled on while still wet. This is likely from fingertips digging into the soft neoprene, so take extra care while donning should you decide to shell out for a Hyperfreak.
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O'Neill Hyperfreak 5/4+ wetsuit review: gallery
O'Neill Hyperfreak 5/4+ wetsuit review: verdict
This is undoubtedly the most flexible and most comfortable wetsuit we've ever worn. The 5/4+ version is superbly warm and doesn't feel anywhere near as restrictive as comparable winter wetsuits. It dries quicker than most rival wetties and is lighter than most of them too. O'Neill's Technobutter neoprene is not quite as tough as the conventional variety, so extra care must be taken. Given the Hyperfreak's high level of flex, you might find that going a size down from your usual wetsuit is the way to go, but try before you buy whenever possible.