If you're serious about surfing, you want a custom wetsuit. It's easier to put on, paddle and surf in, and it keeps you warmer thanks to the fit. But most custom suits are made in Japan, take months to construct, and cost thousands of dollars. Then there's Carapace Wetsuits, a new Los Angeles-based company that is faster, more high-tech, and less expensive than its custom counterparts.
"The whole ordering process is remarkably easy," says Robert Lambert, co-founder of a group of surfing entrepreneurs called Silicon Beach LA, who has owned a Carapace suit for four months and surfed well over one hundred sessions in it. "I've got really broad shoulders and am in between traditional wetsuit sizes," Lambert says, "so I always had a hard time finding a wetsuit that fit properly and performed well."
The twelve measurements Carapace uses are the same as what any tailor would take: Height, weight and wingspan, neck, chest, waist, bicep, hips, thigh, wrist and ankle circumference along with torso, arm and leg length. Each of these measurements, either taken by your tailor or a buddy with a tape measure, is then entered into the site, followed by the thickness. The colder the water you surf in, the thicker your suit should be. Carapace offers everything from a 2-millimeter full suit, appropriate for water temps in the mid-high sixties to a hooded 5/4mm suit for water temps below fifty.
"We spent a year and half fine tuning algorithms in our software using twelve basic body measurements," says Alex Wang, Co-Founder of Carapace, "after we insert the individual's measurements into the CAD software, high precision lasers cut the neoprene patterns automatically and extremely efficiently." Thanks to this, Carapace is able to offer a custom fitting wetsuit made of the highest quality neoprene that costs the same as any high-end off-the-rack suit available.
"It is far and away the best wetsuit I've ever worn," says Lambert, "it's extremely durable, uses the highest quality materials available, and the best part is it fits me so well I don't even notice I'm wearing it."
[carapacewetsuits.com; from $390]