O’neill Boost Drysuit: First Impressions

OK, the audio quality is GoPro horrible, forgive me for that part. I’ll likely subtitle it in the very near future. Read the review below if you can’t handle the audio.

O’neill Boost Drysuit: First Impressions

Today I took my O’neill Boost Dry Suit for it’s inaugural dip. I am a stand up paddle boarder in Portland, Oregon. Winters get chilly but not unreasonably, deathly cold; the water does though! This winter the Willamette River dipped to 38 degrees fahrenheit while the outside air temperature hovered about the same, so it was time to step up the I-choose-life-and-SUP-in-the-winter game. Until today I have used two different size wetsuits to get me through the chill, a 4/3mm O’neill Mutant for cold days or river paddles where I was assured to take a lot of spills; also a 2 mm Promotion farmer john with an optional 2mm zip up jacket for chilly workout days without a lot of risk of constant spills. Regardless of the wetsuit thickness, they are a big pain in the butt most times and generally overkill until you fall in. I can go two months sometimes without taking a plunge so I’ve instead got a very snug rubber sweat maker making me smell oh so amazing after my workout. It’s safe to say the neoprene wetsuits will be reserved for SUP surf excursions only after today.
Getting in the O’neill Boost Drysuit

O'neill Boost Drysuit

O’neill Boost Drysuit: It’s changed my winter SUP experience for the better! And better and better.

It’s not tricky to get into the drysuit because the zipper opening is quite large. There are a couple of things I figured out along the way that will help smooth it out though. First, the neck seal. When you’re about to push your head through the head hole (I can’t get the thought of being born out of my head when I get to this part), press the crown of your head up to the hole and then crumble the neoprene neck piece into a little turtleneck with your hands. With the crumbled neck piece in your clenched fists, push your head through. This method beats the feeling you’re going to suffocate while pushing your face through the 6” of non-breathable neoprene (read: you can’t breathe). Secondly, the suspender pieces on the inside. Yes, there’s suspender straps on the inside. I recommend loosely sizing them ahead of time, keeping them locked and then slipping your arms under them. Otherwise it’s a big pain in the butt to try to latch these things over your shoulders and locked. Lastly, the zipper. Mine is REALLY stiff. I wad up as much of the sleeve as I can in my hand, pull it tight, then firmly pull the zipper in the opposite direction. Halfway across my back I switch grips and do the same until the zipper is completely closed. It is also essential you use the wax provided with the suit on the zipper. It not only helps the zipper ‘action’ but it also helps ensure a seal and prevents corrosion over time.
The Experience
I’ll start by saying I am impressed. The only moisture against my skin was my own perspiration for an entire hour which did include two dips into mid-40’s water. So it essentially did everything I demanded of it: Keep me dry and safe. Mission accomplished. I was out there paddling wondering how useful this suit would be as a snowboarding suit! Not only did I stay completely dry in the suit, I was comfortable, which is light years beyond my neoprene wetsuits in wet and chilly water. They aren’t uncomfortable, they just aren’t dry-comfortable. Plus, it was roomy enough for me to be flexible, which is essential to stand up paddleboarding! I easily paddled in the suit with next to no resistance from the suit and I also shuffled up and down the board with no suit resistance. I can’t say that about skin tight wetsuits!
The Pros:
  • Fits to size.
    • I am nearly 6’ tall and 206 pounds and the XL fits perfectly.
  • Waterproof
  • Plenty of room
  • Seals appear to be holding
  • Easy on/off
The Cons
  • Zipper can be TOUGH to open and close. (It requires wax which is included with the suit)
  • Internal suspender straps and buckles a little awkward
  • Black is hard to see on a rescue mission (hello orange spray paint!)
There’s a few drysuits on the market and most of them have an entry level price around $800. The O’neill Boost with a price of $395 (US) was an attractive reason to check it out, and I’m glad I did. It works as promised, you are certainly sealed inside and you’re staying dry. It’s not hard to imagine it’s black material for the sake of absorbing what heat it can on bitter cold days, but try finding a black torso on a rescue mission. I will be spray painting my suit so I can be spotted on the river. Overall though, I am impressed with this suit and thrilled to have purchased it, it’s going to be a staple in the winters for my year round SUP paddling needs!