The Best Value Winter Wetsuit: What About the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas?

7 Seas 4/3 Back-Zip Full Wetsuit
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You may have seen the Vissla 7 Seas 5/4 Hooded featured in our 10 Best Winter Wetsuits in 2022. The 5/4 is a fantastic wetsuit and rated very highly in our comprehensive guide. It led me to thinking, what is the best value winter wetsuit?

Since the article was published a friend of mine who runs a surf shop reached out to give me the heads up on the feedback he’s been getting on the 4/3 Back Zip version of the 7 Seas. Rumour has it the 4/3 has been worn in some pretty hostile conditions, keeping European surfers warm and mobile during frigid winter sessions. Apparently several riders were raving about how they had replaced their thicker wetsuits with the scaled down 4/3!

Most impressively these claims were made about a wetsuit that you can currently buy for almost half the price of other premium wetsuits on the market, and almost $100 less than the 5/4.

If it really does everything that Vissla claim, at $259.95, it might just be the best value winter wetsuit you can buy.

Ok, let’s just straighten one thing out, I know you can buy wetsuits for less than 260 bucks. But cheap doesn’t always represent good value. The reason I was so intrigued by the Vissla 7 Seas is because I know from reviewing the 5/4 just how good the quality of Vissla wetsuits really are.

Editors Note: Vissla are presenting some fantastic deals at the moment, with the Back Zip and Chest Zip options both available for the fantastic price mentioned. However the surf industry is still plagued by Covid induced supply chain issues, meaning that availability of certain products is highly limited. We therefore opted for the Back Zip version of the 4/3 7 Seas due to it being available in the most popular sizes at the time this article was written.

What’s the difference between the 5/4 and the 4/3?

The numbers that are usually included in the name of a wetsuit represent the thickness of the material used when constructing the suit in milimetres (mm).

The first number usually refers to the thickness of the body panels, while the second smaller number refers to the thickness of the legs and arms. Occasionally you will see one number, which means that particular wetsuit has body, arms, and legs all the same thickness.

What are the benefits of a thinner wetsuit?

Theres a pretty simple rule of thumb. A thicker wetsuit is usually warmer than a thinner wetsuit, but a thinner wetsuit is usually more flexible and mobile than a thicker wetsuit.

Although we all want to remain toasty warm when the water temperature drops, we also look for the freedom of movement to be able to surf our best.

In recent years the top end wetsuits have become even warmer, allowing surfers to shave 0.5 or 1mm off of their chosen thickness. These suits are fantastic but generally carry hefty price tags, often making them unaffordable for a lot of us.

Usually, the top-end, premium suits will have superior flex properties than the budget models.

Surfd – The 10 Best Winter Wetsuits in 2022

Is it possible that the 4/3 is the answer to an age old conundrum. Where can I find a warm, flexible and comfortable winter wetsuit that doesn’t cost the earth, and even more importantly lasts longer than one season?

I’m too long in the tooth to instantly believe anything I’m told, not least when it concerns staying warm during winter surfs and I expressed as much to the person spinning me the yarn about the 4/3.

So confident was my friend that lo and behold, three days later I had a brand spanking new 4/3 7 Seas Back Zip in my hands, with the simple instructions to “give it my best shot.” He also said I could pay him for it if I liked it, or simply hand it back!

First impressions

The first thing I noticed when handling the 4/3 was it felt just as high quality as the 5/4 Hooded I previously reviewed. The 100% super stretch Japanese limestone neoprene feels light and stretchy, while the Fever Fibre lining that adorns the area of the wetsuit adjacent to your “core” feels almost like premium fleece.

A quick tug at the seams showed the triple glueing and blind-stitching process creates what appears to be a bomb proof seal. It was very reassuring to see that Vissla have applied their Neo 2.0 Tape to the seams. This stuff is fantastic as it not only seals against water ingress but also maintains the flexibility of the wetsuit!

The really noticeable difference between this wetsuit and the thicker version I reviewed for the Winter Wetsuit Guide, was the weight. The 4/3 construction, and lack of hood, definitely makes this version considerably lighter than its big brother.

First time wearing the Vissla 4/3

This wetsuit is very, very easy to put on. I have a feeling that the Eco Fibre Stretch Lining on the arms and legs is partly to do with this as it almost seems to slide over the skin (even when I had repeat sessions, with a wet wetsuit it was still pretty easy to climb into).

I instantly felt snug and warm and could really notice the chest and back panels working their magic.

If I have one criticism of the dry-land fit, it would be that the neck/shoulder area felt a touch tight, however the suit I had was a MT and I felt the fit would either loosen slightly after a few surfs (which it did) or, if not upsizing to L would solve this.

Our water temperature is currently around 50°F. According to the specification sheet this is very much at the lower end of the 4/3s temperature range. Historically I would be wearing a 5/4 with booties, gloves and a hood at this time of year.

For my first session the waves were 4-5ft and clean, with a chilly Easterly wind making the 48°F day seem even colder.

The first time I really noticed the added flexibility and decreased weight the 4/3 offers, was during my quick Wave Ki warmup on the sand. The rotational moves felt so much easier than they do in my 5/4.

This 100% translated to the water. Not only did I feel free and mobile when paddling, I also found rotating into cutbacks and carves felt just that bit less forced.

In fact… My “winter board” almost felt a bit buoyant…

I have to say I was as warm as toast! Not only was there minimal water ingress but I could also feel the chest and back panels were real areas of warmth. I would happily say that I was equally comfortable in the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas as I would have been in my 5mm suit. I have to also say that surfing was a more pleasurable experience in the lighter and more flexible wetsuit.

The fresh water test!

Just after receiving the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas I had the opportunity to visit the Wavegarden pool in the UK. Super fun little waves peel perfectly across the man-made lagoon and it’s always a fun day out. However it is also renowned for getting super cold in Winter! Being late December it was a case of facing the facts, the water was going to be absolutely bloody freezing.

What an opportunity to really test the 7 Seas 4/3! I had booked to surf the “turns setting” on the right, followed by the “barrel setting” on the left. Each session was an hour long and I had a couple of hours scheduled between sessions.

I threw the 7 Seas in my bag, along with my trusty 5mm and associated booties, gloves, and hood. Worst case scenario, if the 4/3 was too cold I could revert to the thicker wetsuit.

I wasn’t quite prepared for just how cold the pool was going to be!

Upon arrival we were told that the water was settled at a balmy 43°F. The first session was booked for 8:00am, so no chance of any sun to warm our backs either.

There’s no way I’m wearing a 4/3, I thought. This is 6mm territory!

But commitment to the cause overcame common sense and I suited up in the Vissla 4/3, put on my 5mm gloves, 5mm booties, and a 3mm hood. I then paddled out on a 6’6″ McCoy Nugget.

surfer wearing the best value winter wetsuit

Did I survive?

Well yes I did survive, clearly. I guess the real question is “was I warm?”

I don’t know that I’ve ever been truly warm in 40 something degree water. Thats the point where any flush or leaky seam feels like icy razor blades running down your back!

Was I comfortable?

Hand on heart, I was comfortable for the entire first session. In fact, my hands and feet became cold before the rest of my body.

I will confess to getting really quite cold changing after the surf, but that’s more to do with the outdoor changing facilities rather than the wetsuit.

Did I wear the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas for the second session on the left?

Yes I did, and although I wasn’t quite as comfortable as the first session, I was still perfectly fine.

This day out was a real testament to the build quality, and quality of materials used for the 4/3. The wetsuit dealt admirably with the very cold water, which definitely surprised me.

surfer wearing the best value winter wetsuit

Second time around

After the pool experience our ocean temperatures felt really quite pleasant, and the 4/3 has dealt with them admirably. I don’t think I will be troubled this winter whatsoever. After my first pool visit I had probably put in around a dozen or so ocean based surfs.

Just after New Years I headed back to the Wavegarden for a single session on the right. This time around the surf was scheduled for midday, on a bright sunny (albeit chilly) day.

I had every faith in the 4/3. However things were a little different this time.

I was comfortable for the first 45 minutes of the session, but I definitely felt the cold for the last quarter of an hour.

Clearly the wetsuit was brand new when I first visited the Wavegarden, the seams had not experienced any strain, and the material was stress free.

Following a heap of surfs, being wrapped in a towel and thrown in a bag, the suit had obviously degraded slightly, as is to be expected. Although this has not in any way affected surfing in the now 49°F ocean, it had changed the dynamics of surfing the wave pool to the point where I wouldn’t have endured a second session.

As you will see from the following short clip of my surf (shot on my GoPro Hero 9 Black Edition), I got a fair amount of flushes from the little head dips, but I didn’t experience too many icy needles.

The Verdict

Is the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas the best value winter wetsuit you can buy?

Put it this way. I handed over my hard earned cash and purchased the wetsuit, and I will happily wear it all winter.

Is it the best winter wetsuit I have ever worn?

In my opinion it does not rank alongside the Patagonia R4, or the Xcel Drylock X in terms of overall quality and feel. That being said it is not a million miles away in terms of design and manufacture. Nor does the 7 Seas carry a $549 or $560 price tag.

I would happily say the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas Back Zip is the best $260 winter wetsuit I have ever worn and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any one looking for a good budget option.

When the wetsuit is brand new it is more than capable of dealing with temperatures a fair bit colder than the recommended range. However, as it “breaks in” it becomes less capable in really cold water. That being said, I personally find the wetsuit to be more than comfortable slightly lower than the 51°F recommended limit, and certainly more than adequate for the coldest days we experience at home.

All in all, the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas is a fantastic wetsuit for the price and undoubtedly one of the best value winter wetsuits. It is exceptionally flexible compared to other products in this price range. It is also robust enough to last you multiple winters, if taken care of and not abused.

I really like the slightly minimalist design approach that Vissla have adopted for this model. Theres something in me that loves the black wetsuit + white board look.

Vissla is renowned as a company with a strong sustainability ethos. They continually adapt their practices in order to reduce impact. The 7 Seas winter wetsuit is no exception. Limestone Neoprene eliminates the use of petrochemicals. Eco Carbon Black is utilised throughout the manufacturing process and Dope Dyed Yarn reduces water consumption extensively. With an outstanding price tag of $259.95, and packed with premium materials, the Vissla 4/3 7 Seas Back Zip has to be one of the best value winter wetsuits on the market.
Best features
Excellent neoprene
Triple glued and blind-stitched seams
Good flexibility
Amazing price tag
Excellent warmth
Needs improvement
Slightly tight neck area for first few surfs
The ankle area does hold a fair bit of water
7 Seas 4/3 Back-Zip Full Wetsuit
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