Ion Onyx Select 3/2 Wetsuit Review

Does semi dry equal fully stoked? Find out...

It’d been a little while since we got our hand on a piece of Ion rubber for review. At that time, we reviewed the Onyx semi-dry, a basic 3/2 at a very affordable price point.

Knowing that Ion can deliver decent spec in a value wetsuit, this time, we stepped up to the top range and reviewed a top line suit from Ion, the Onyx Select 3/2 semi-dry, aimed at the most dedicated of cool water shredders.

At €459, it would want to be.

Would their haute de gamme wetsuit stand up to the scrutiny of SE’s discerning, at times diva-ish rubber reviewers? There was only one way to find out.

The thing is, the 3/2mm semi dry is a bit too warm for summer, by most normal interpretations of the word in most civilised western democracies.

How could we properly test the 3/2 in the height of the school summer hols?

Would we need to tag along with one of Chris Burkard’s North Pole surf trips just to avoid our tester overheating? If not, would ‘death by exhaustion’ even be covered by our insurance?

As luck would have it, our worries were completely unfounded. Fortunately, one of our most eloquent rubber enthusiasts is based deep in Cornwall, where summer is very much a relative term.

This year, it was more like a very distant relative term. That relative you haven’t seen for a while, that you’d almost forgotten existed (like that uncle that has been blacklisted since he got stuck into the port straight after breakfast Christmas Day 2011 and made remarks about that low cut top being worn by… oh never mind).

Photography and review by Ed Blomfield

The fleecy interior of this suit is cosier than a sleeping cat’s belly. During a dozen or so long sessions along the north coast of Cornwall I never once felt a chill, even in the cooler waters of Sennen. To be honest, this thing is almost too warm for a summer suit, and might even have rendered my 4/3 redundant for autumn/spring surf.

Entry via the chest zip is quick and easy, though the rubberized neck gaiter is a little stiffer to pull over than some other suits. All that rubber on the chest and back does, however, repel even the strongest of sea breezes – just be careful when yanking it on and off since it’s easier to nick a hole in than standard neoprene.

The chunky zip feels pleasurably old school, like you’re donning a vintage dive suit. – I just cannot see this thing breaking. That said, it requires substantial force to pull the neck flap close enough to connect the zip, which puts pressure on nearby seams.

Once on, the Ion Onyx Select feels noticeably more substantial than a typical 3/2. Perhaps because of the thermal lining, it feels reassuringly thick and warm on the walk down to the shore, and yet it remains super stretchy, with nicely articulated knee pads. I personally found it quite tight across the front of the shoulders at first, but this has already eased up after a few surfs.

In the sea there is basically zero flushing even in the fiercest closeouts, and when it comes to taking the thing off, don’t be surprised to find it feels barely damp on the inside – they’re not lying when they call this a “semi dry” wetsuit.

In summary, the suit packs all the very latest top end spec you’d expect in 2017, when parting with this much cash.

Given that the warmth of the onyx Select Semi Dry means it would be suitable for most Europe-based surfers — even the British — any time from Easter right through until Advent (or in webcast terms, Bells to Pipe) then suddenly your investment seems much more reasonable.

our advice, if you are spending this much on a wetsuit though, is to look after it. Fresh water rinses, rounded hanger in the shade, no frantic yanking it on/off… all that sensible stuff. And whatever you do, don’t leave it in the carpark in your haste to get to Gregg’s for a greasy, puff pastry-coated post shred debrief.


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