Xcel Winter Wetsuit Guide 2019/20: Reubyn Ash Meets the Range

British surfer Reubyn Ash tries the Xcel Hooded Infiniti 2019
Xcel’s new range of winter wetsuits arrived at Surfdome’s door the other day, and 2019/20 looks like a vintage winter for Xcel rubber. Every model is a minor miracle of wetsuit engineering, and we’ve got ’em all in stock.
Overwhelmed by choice? Or by a barrage of indecipherable wetsuit jargon? Not to worry. Xcel team rider and Cornish hero Reubyn Ash, who recently dropped by Xcel HQ to pick up his winter order, is here to talk you through the options in our Xcel wetsuit guide for winter 19/20.
Reubyn grew up surfing in Bude, turned pro in his teens, and has been safely ensconced in the uppermost echelon of Euro shreddery for well over a decade, amassing countless British and European titles among them along the way. So it’s fair to say that he’s spent a healthy percentage of his life wrapped in rubber, and has a good idea of what he likes and dislikes in the wetsuit department.
But first, a quick run-through of the technology that makes Xcel’s wetsuits the warmest, most sophisticated winter wetsuits on the market – including a couple of rad new features.
 

THE TECH

Xcel_wetsuits_Tech_Channel Flex

CHANNEL FLEX LOGONEW! The most significant addition to this year’s range. This lightweight, hydrophobic, gridded textile is insanely stretchy, and because of its water-repellant properties it remains wonderfully silken and light when wet. The result is a markedly freer surfing experience. Channel Flex is similar in look and feel to O’Neill’s celebrated TechnoButter neoprene, but strikes a more even balance in the trade-off between warmth and flex. It’s featured throughout the Drylock X, Infiniti LTD, and Comp X; and in the upper body of the Drylock and Infiniti.

 

Xcel's new metallic wetsuit lining, Radiant Rebound

Radiant Rebound Logo

NEW! Xcel’s new lining is based around a metallic layer under the textile, which functions as a kind of barrier. “Metallic” may not sound particularly cosy, but in fact Radiant Rebound is the softest of the Xcel linings; the plush composition of the fabric feels lovely and snug against the skin. The metallic layer is responsible for the rebound effect – it prevents the cold from penetrating the suit from without, and meanwhile reflects your the heat generated by your body straight back at you, keeping it safely contained within. Radiant Rebound is featured in the Infinti LTD (from the chest down) and Infiniti (chest and back panels only).

 
Xcel's Celliant Black lining, featuring smart fibres that increase bloodflow to the muscles

Still Xcel’s premium thermal lining, Celliant Black is a harder-working version of its predecessor, Thermo Dry Celliant. Not only does it generate heat (see below) but it’s also able to retain it, thanks to the updated combination of minerals in the textile. Celliant Black comes in two varieties, neither of which, confusingly, is entirely black: high pile (cream and black) and jacquard (the red stuff). As the carpet enthusiasts among you know, high pile basically means the fabric is composed of taller fibres and looser loops, so is softer and more fleece-like. The high pile variety also contains hollow fibres, which do a better job of insulating heat. Both are featured in the Drylock and Drylock X models.

 

icon for Thermo Dry Celliant wetsuit lining

A “smart” or “responsive” textile, Thermo Dry Celliant works by increasing blood flow at the site of application. The active ingredient is Celliant, which is a brand in its own right and has been certified as a medical device by the US Food and Drug Administration. Every time you move, it recycles the heat generated by your body by converting it into infrared energy, which in turn dilates the blood vessels and produces a warming effect. Featured in the Comp X.

 
Xcel wetsuits tech Thermo Plush Lite lining

icon for thermo lite wetsuit liningA lightweight, pared-down version of Thermo Dry Celliant. Thermo Lite is also a heat-generating yarn, but keeps bulk to a minimum and retains excellent flex; it’s also significantly softer than TDC. Like the other linings in the Xcel range, it boasts quick-drying capabilities. Featured in the Infiniti (where it’s combined with Radiant Rebound), the Comp, and the Axis X.

 
 

THE SUITS

Drylock X

Surfer Reubyn Ash models the Xcel Drylock X winter wetsuit, one of the warmest wetsuits in the world

XCEL Drylock X Split suitReubyn says: “This has got to be the warmest suit on the market. I do find it a little stiff, although this is completely understandable due to the thick Celliant Black Lining that runs through the chest and down the legs. It also has stitch-free powerseams that minimises the water leaking in. Once you are in you the suit locks tight against your body and there is very little water movement inside the suit. If you feel the cold or are surfing in colder waters like Scotland then this is the suit for you!”

 

Available in:

5/4mm
5/4mm Hooded


 
 

Drylock

Surfer Reubyn Ash models the Xcel Infiniti LTD wetsuit
XCEL Drylock split suit with wetsuit lining
Reubyn says: “There’s always a bit of a compromise between stretch and warmth in a wetsuit and the Drylock range is the best there is for extremely cold conditions. The standard Drylock is my favourite for cold, windy mornings, as you have the warmth from the thermal properties included in the Celliant Black lining but there is still a good amount of stretch.”
 

Available in:

4/3mm
4/3mm Hooded
5/4mm
5/4mm Hooded
6/5mm Hooded
6/5mm Hooded


 
 

Infiniti LTD

Surfer Reubyn Ash models the Xcel Infiniti LTD wetsuit
XCEL Infiniti LTD split suit with wetsuit lining
Reubyn says: “This is a new suit in the line which has the same silhouette as the Comp X with all the new tech packed in – a full Channel Flex outer and the new Radiant Rebound lining. There is a metal sheet inside the material which rebounds the heat much like those silver sheets you see ambulance drivers wrap around casualties. I am looking forward to testing this suit in the water for sure!”
 

Available in:

4/3mm
5/4mm


 
 

Infiniti

Surfer Reubyn Ash models the Xcel Infiniti wetsuit

XCEL Infiniti split suit with wetsuit lining
Reubyn says: “This is a classic Xcel suit and I’ve had loads of these over the years. The Infiniti offers everything you can expect from a premium wetsuit – great fit, comfort and durability. The smooth skin chest panel offers better wind protection than the Comp suits. The Infiniti is a long-lasting workhorse that has been upgraded with Radiant Rebound and Channel Flex Upper body.”
 

Available in:

4/3mm
4/3mm Hooded
5/4mm
5/4mm Hooded
6/5mm Hooded

 
 

Comp X

Surfer Reubyn Ash models the Xcel Comp X

Xcel Comp X split suit with wetsuit liningReubyn says: “The Comp X 4.5/3.5 Hooded is my go-to winter suit for everyday surfing. The stretch is so great that you feel free to move without feeling restricted. The TDC lining isn’t as soft as Thermo Lite but you can definitely feel the warmth benefits. It has now been updated with a full Channel Flex outer which I am looking forward to testing in the water.”

 

Available in:

4/3mm
4.5/3.5mm Hooded
5/4mm
5.5/4.5mm Hooded

 
 

Comp

Surfer Reubyn Ash models the Xcel Comp winter wetsuit
Xcel Comp split suit with wetsuit liningReubyn says: “I often grab Comp suits in the summer because they are so easy to jump in and out of when I am coaching for my surf school and I love the bright colours and stretch. This year it has been upgraded with one-piece panels on the front and back which increases the range of motion, making an already great suit even better!”
 

Available in:

4/3mm


 

Axis X

Surfer Reubyn Ash models the Xcel Axis X wetsuit
Xcel Axis X split suit with wetsuit lining
Reubyn says: This is a real step up from the Axis – the Thermo Lite lining is so soft, it feels like a premium suit! My personal favourite is the hooded version. I am all about integrated hoods on winter suits, extra warmth is an obvious bonus and you get less water flushing through the suit. I also feel more protected from the cold wind and water battering my surfer’s ear.”
 

Available in:

5/4mm
5/4mm Hooded


 

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British surfer Reubyn Ash in the barrel, North Cornwall. Photo by Symages Photography
Snug fit: Reubyn and his Hooded Comp X, somewhere in Cornwall. Photo: Symages Photography

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