THE SUIT


Need Essentials have become the go-to company for people wanting a bargain suit that still works well. This suit is their Ultra-Premium Thermal option, which is pretty crazy considering it’s only $280 for a 3/2.

In reality, it’s more like a 3.5/2.5 suit if you look at their website specs. It’s got all the bells (but no whistles because you don’t need those) – liquid seams, thermal lining and stretch rubber. Will be interesting to see how it stacks up to the promise.

Premium Limestone Rubber



4-way mega-stretch 3mm limestone-based neoprene in the torso and upper legs. 2mm mega-stretch neoprene in the arms for flexibility.


Liquid Taped Seams



All Seams feature liquid flex seals externally as well as glued, taped and blind stitched seams.


Thermal Lining



Fast-drying polypropene thermal lining through the torso and upper legs for added warmth.

WHAT IT'S GOOD FOR


The Need Essentials Ultra-Premium Thermal Steamer is (a mouthful to say) the kind of suit thats good for someone who wants to stay warm in a durable wetsuit with some flex to it, yet still pay less than ten chocolate dicks.

If you’re looking for something more flexible, then Need’s $220 3/2 is more likely your go to. This version is their warmest in this thickness though, so if you want to get baked like a stoner pastry chef, drop your dime here.

Need Essentials Premium Thermal Review

THE IMPORTANT STUFF


FIT & COMFORT

The suit fits well. It’s cut in all the right proportions, is easy to get off and on and generally feels supple against the skin. Sensual even. I like the asymmetrical positioning of the zip which is on a greater angle than other suits I’ve tested. A neat touch which adds to comfort.

The liquid tape is noticeably more restrictive than the 3/2, non-liquid tape Need suit I tested last year(LINK). It was especially noticeable on the seam around the back of the knee. I’ll talk more about that in performance, but that loss of stretch does play into the comfort level. I’d give it an 7.5 out of 10 for this section.

PERFORMANCE

The liquid seams, and probably extra .5mm thickness of the rubber, make this wetsuit lower stretch performance compared with say the Billabong or Xcel suits I tested this year.

It is more forgiving than the Patagonia R2 however, which is the same chubbier thickness. If you’re talking car analogies, this is like a Commodore Wagon. Goes great when you put the foot down, but if you’re wanting Ferrari handling, go elsewhere. 7 out of 10 for this section.

WARMTH

Heat is where the Need Essentials Ultra-Premium Thermal Steamer shines. I overcooked the first surf I had in it, which was mid-morning and a fairly high work rate session. Sweated like a drug mule in a customs line. IT IS WARM.

I made sure I used it next during a cold dawn session with plenty of waiting between sets. Much more comfortable. I’d personally use this mid-winter in Victoria no worries. Probably not the best option for warmer states though. 8.5 out of 10 here.

VALUE

It’s hard to pick fault in the value of this suit. At $280 it’s half the price or less than other top-shelf varieties out there and is very, very warm. It does have half the warranty too though (6 months where other brands sit at 1 year and Patagonia is basically lifetime).

I will note that the thick liquid tape seams in this should significantly add to the long-term durability of the suit, which means it should well outlast any warranty concerns unless there’s a fault. 9 out of 10 for value on my end.

VERDICT


The Need Essentials Ultra-Premium Thermal Steamer is a bloody warm suit at an excellent price. The main drawback for me is the reduced flexibility with the liquid-taped seams. You really have to figure out what your most important quality is in a suit because those seams mean a longer lasting seal/warmth for what you give up in flex.

I’d break it down by water temp and say if you’re in Victoria or South Oz (12-16 degrees C), or are generally a sook when it comes to the cold, then lean toward this as a bargain option. If you’re WA, NSW, or QLD (18 degrees C +) then the $220 non-liquid tape Need suit might be a better version for you. Lower than 12 degrees, look towards the 4/3 wetsuits. And, if you’re wanting full Ferrari, look at options like the Rip Curl Heatseeker.

The other thing I’ll note here is that it was pretty rad to receive this suit in a compostable bag. After some reading on their site and a chat with their founder Ryan Scanlon, it’s clear that Need is working super hard on reducing environmental impact. They’re Bluesign Approved, don’t use any single-use plastic in their supply chain and are a paperless business where it comes to record keeping. Tip of the hat on that aspect.

Overall, The Need Essentials Ultra-Premium Thermal 3/2 Chest Zip Steamer is warm, sturdy and juuuuust stretchy enough to be a good suit at a great price.

Overall Rating

  • Very, very warm.
  • Great bang for your buck
  • Not as flexy as other options out there
  • 6 month warranty is less than full-price suits
Fit & Comfort 75.
Warmth 85.
Performance 70.
Value 90.
Buy Now

WHERE TO BUY

Pretty much only available online via Need Essentials direct, so if you’re keen on getting one head over to the site and get the card out. They’ve got regional setup sites so there should be something to suit your currency needs.

The Need Essentials Ultra Premium Thermal Steamer will run you about $280 in Australia, or $190 in the US (i think, don’t quote us). If you need something a little less intense, hit up the non-liquid tape option which comes in at a very affordable price of $220, or their OG version for $200.

Buy a Need Essentials Ultra Premium Thermal Steamer :
⋅ Need Essentials Australia
⋅ Need Essentials USA
⋅ Need Essentials Europe

Alternatively, hit up our Winter Wetsuit Buyers Guide if you’re still a little undecided on what to buy.

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Need Essentials Premium Thermal Review

LIPPED PODCAST

If you’re driving, or reading isn’t your thing, then hit the below episode of Lipped where we talk all things wetsuits 2019 with industry experts from Xcel, Rip Curl, O’Neill and Need Essentials. And you’ll also get treated to listening to Tim and Jim take an in-depth look at suits from Rip Curl, Billabong, Xcel, O’Neill, Quiksilver, Need Essentials, Vissla, Patagonia and Hurley.


And if you’ve got a spare 30mins, hit up the below clip that Need dropped earlier this year which will give you an idea of the testing the team do when producing new suits.

Nordurland is a film about going surfing in the harsh, cold waters of the North Atlantic. It follows three friends from the subtropical northern rivers of NSW Australia, surfers Torren Martyn and Laurie Towner, as well as Need essentials founder and designer Ryan Scanlon.