While surfboard and wetsuit manufacturing has traditionally used often toxic and nearly always non-recyclable petrochemical materials, a desire for greener surfing means that nowadays these harmful practices are slowly being replaced with less environmentally damaging substances and processes.
As a result, many wetsuit manufacturers have switched from petrochemical-based to limestone or natural rubber-based neoprene. Recycled materials are beginning to creep in too, though a wetsuit made from 100 per cent recycled materials is still a very rare thing – Billabong's Furnace Natural is the only one we're currently aware of.
- Buy Equation 3/2 FX (men's) from Picture Organic Clothing
- Buy Equation 3/2 FX (women's) from Picture Organic Clothing
The Equation from Picture Organic rightly also has decent eco-credentials. It's constructed using neoprene made from 30 per cent recycled tyres and 70 per cent limestone (extracted using sustainable energy sources) and a lining containing recycled fishing nets that is bonded to the neoprene using solvent-free glues. While limestone mining, even using more sustainable energy, is not exactly green, it's a far less environmentally damaging neoprene component than the fossil fuel-based alternative, particularly when combined with the Equation's impressive number of recycled materials.
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Picture Organic Equation 3/2 FZ wetsuit review: construction and performance
Equation 3/2 FZ wetsuit review: specs
Thicknesses: 4/3, 3/2
Available sizes: S, MS, M, MT, L, XL
Construction: solvent-free EicoPrene
Seams: glued, blindstitched and taped
The EicoPrene branded neoprene used on the arms and upper body feels remarkably similar to O'Neill's highly regarded Technobutter and is much softer to the touch than most other wetsuit materials. Like Technobutter, EicoPrene is super flexible too and allows for a totally natural, unrestricted feel when paddling. The lowers feel more like regular neoprene but are still highly flexible. A lightly fleeced, quick drying lining covers the inside of the wetsuit that adds extra comfort and warmth.
Every wetsuit panel is glued and blindstitched together, then taped on each interior seam for extra strength and to minimise chafing. The neckline has a smooth finish to give good skin adhesion which does a good job of preventing unwanted flushes when duckdiving.
The front zip remains attached at one end which avoids the sometimes fiddly process of doing up open-ended zips – which is particularly annoying when the waves are pumping!
We tested our 3/2 model in waters a little too chilly for a summer wetsuit. Nevertheless, on hot, sunny, windless days, it was enough to keep the cold of the water away for hours and will certainly provide enough warmth through the summer months.
Picture Organic Equation 3/2 FZ wetsuit review: verdict
Using less damaging production methods and materials does not necessarily mean sacrificing product performance and the Picture Organic Equation is a fantastic example of that. It's very flexible, warm and looks good too! However, just like O'Neill's Technobutter similarly soft, stretchy neoprene, it is less hardwearing than more conventional alternatives. Given how much flex there is in the neoprene, you may well want to go down a size from your usual wetsuit too.