Review of the Body Glove Red Cell slant zip fullsuit 2mm priced at $449.99
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 November, 2017 - Infrared! Infrared! Infrared! The cold water battle cry from Body Glove is a special interior to their suits called Red Cell infrared insulation fabric. It’s not totally new, now going on it’s third or fourth year, but it's something must be working because the company is sticking with it and the public holds the Red Cell suits in high regard.
At its most basic, the Red Cell infrared insulation is a polyester resin material that redirects heat from your body, back into your skin and muscles.
Infrared performance and recovery sportswear is big business. There is an algae bloom of sporting clothes using this tech for pro athletes as well as average Joes and Janes with claims are that muscles are looser and energised from the material during strenuous periods.
You can’t see infrared light, but your body can absorb its heat. Products using infrared redirecting materials work on the principle that generated body heat which would normally exit and disappear is tapped for it’s infrared radiation. The infrared heat and light is then directed back into your body with the help of these space age materials (NASA even used infrared to grow plants in space).
Once this newly trapped vibrant energy gets directed back to the body, it’s more readily absorbed into muscles and deep tissues than standard heat. So the theory goes. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of science to point to what is the most effective combination and construction of these new materials when insulating wetsuits. Most of the research has been in the private sector and Sports Illustrated profiled UK sports brand Kymira about the tech this year.
Body Glove's interior Red Cell lining
Infrared thread typically contains titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide and aluminium oxide all blended into a polyester fibre. Once the fabric is created it can be puffed up, patterned into grooves and used as a wetsuit liner.
“The key feature first and foremost is the Red Cell fabric technology, as it doesn’t use a fibre-based material but rather a polyester resin which has the ability to absorb emitted infra-red light from your body,” said Body Glove Wetsuit designer John Federoff. “The balance between emitted and absorbed infrared rays has a critical effect on the human body’s ability to maintain a constant body temperature.”
In the case of Body Glove’s Red Cell slant zip 2mm full suit, the material looks unlike other interior wettie linings. It’s bright red and grooved into a deep hexagon pattern. Other infrared suit makers on the market, Quiksilver and Xcel, have gone with bright purple or wild tie dye patterns and colours to set the material apart in appearance from the standard fluffy polyester lining.
When we tested the suit, we found that the Red Cell material is comfortable and flexible and feels soft against the skin. We expected a scratchier or even stiffer material, but the Red Cell is extremely soft. Once wet it didn’t absorb copious amounts of water like a sponge, but stayed relatively light and dry.
The Red Cell material, combined with the suit’s cut and the inner taping architecture of the suit are really quite comfortable. We’d venture to say cozy. There’s a certain “soft flannel” feel to it that’s much nicer than the standard wet polyester or nylon lining on most neoprenes.
Body Glove's interior taping on the Red Cell
Beyond the infrared material use, the exterior of the suit uses what Body Glove calls Evo Dry, which is made, according to Federoff, by taking hollow cord yarn and weaving it into the jersey of the wetsuit. Body Glove says the material absorbs 30% less water than other materials.
We found the overall weight of the suit to be average for a 2/2mm but we were mesmerised by the water beading off of it. The process resembled a first-surf with a pair of hydrophobic board shorts. We duck dived, paddled, rode a few waves, wiped out and then finally after a few minutes the light grey color of the suit darkened from moisture.
At this time the interior of the suit was still minimally wet, much less so we think than it would’ve been in a traditional nylon lined neoprene interior.
We really liked the seams on this suit. They are a perfect blend of light and strong. Body Glove uses a basic, thin taped inner seam (their brand name is EvoFlex Tape). This taping is made of a highly elasticized liquid polymer to cover seams on the interior of the suit. They came up with a good formula here, as the interior tape is not too rubbery and feels comfortable against the skin. On some suits we’ve found that the inner-seam welds, if too stiff in material, can chafe as well as crack and peel. Body Gove’s EvoFlex also bonds quite well to the fluffier Red Cell material. Some suits on the market have had trouble with interior tape bonding to the plushy water-wicking interior linings.
On the exterior seams Body Glove uses a thin 1/8” wide, flexible liquid tape (brand name Microbead) instead of a traditional thick 1/2” wide band of liquid seal. The material here feels durable and flexible and it stretches more than some of the other outer seam material we’ve tested on other suits. But overall, exterior tape restricts a wetsuit’s stretch, so it’s a matter of preference. One thing for certain, outer liquid tape extends the life of a suit’s seams as it provides added durability to a part of the suit that undergoes heaps of strain each time the suit is used.
The floating slant-closure entry uses an opposite zipping direction. The zipper attaches at the open end, then zips close. The benefits here are that instead of having one side of the zipper anchored, and therefore narrowing the entry area of the wetsuit, the un-anchored zipper allows more of the neoprene to stretch and pull, therefore creating more space to climb into your suit. Once in, the two zipper pieces secure from the left side, then close right. There is a heavy duty nylon strap to keep the neoprene from pulling apart on the side of the entry system that gets all the pulling, tugging and general abuse. Super easy to get in and out and still closes securely.
The Body Glove Red Cell uses a super stretchy 2 mm neoprene through the shoulders for paddling. The cuffs and ankles have 1 1/2” of rubber to seal off the suit. The material is soft and pliable but tight enough so there was no “balloon leg” when we exited the water.
Other bells and whistles on the Body Glove Red Cell 2/2mm full suit include strategic drain holes, nano trite kneepads and a left shoulder big cinch and cord lock.
We have to congratulate Body Glove on boldly leaping into new technology with the Red Cell interior lining. It’s a great, big, expensive leap for the company, and we think they’re on the right path.
Overall the soft and well-insulating Red Cell material combined with top-end inner and outer seam construction and high overall comfort with no flushing during surfs make it a great suit. Given our testing method of merely examining the construction and materials of the suit and then surfing, but not running the Red Cell through a light-reflecting laser lab, we couldn’t verify the claimed benefits of infra-red lining being more efficient than other linings. But over all the suit was light, warm, well built and flexible.
In a nutshell the suit performs like a top-end wetsuit, utilizing all the best seams, constructions and materials available on the market plus some new innovations. The suit is a good choice for you if you don’t mind a higher price tag $440 but want the latest in technological advancements available on the wetsuit market. If you are a big fan on infrared thermal technology and use the sportswear from makers like Under Armour, Kymira and Absolute 360, then extending that love of infrared to your choice of wetsuits makes sense.