By National Geographic Adventure Contributing Editor Steve Casimiro, editor of The Adventure Life
When it comes to surfing, cold water has little to recommend it. Other than the plus of heralding the typically larger waves of winter, it also means thicker, more restrictive wetsuits, the addition of booties and hoods, and—sometimes—creepy, bitey swimming things. But in a flash, Quiksilver’s dynamite Cypher PS+ heated vest changes all that. (Everything except the bitey things, that is.)
The Cypher ($200) uses infrared waves to warm blood flowing through your kidneys, which then transports heat through your body. And while it isn’t the first heated wetsuit, it’s by far the most versatile. The typical approach by manufacturers has been to take an existing design—the classic 3/2 full suit with three millimeter thick body and two mil arms—and turn it into a little furnace. The Quik vest, though, thin enough to be worn under a 3/2, a 4/3, or a 5/4. You can slip it under a shortie, a Farmer John, or a wind guard. And of course, you can wear it by itself, as I have this spring.
Heat comes via two flexible carbon pads, which are powered by a small rechargeable battery that tucks into its own pocket. (The vest comes with wall and car chargers for the battery.) Two settings control output—high produces 129 degrees and will crank for two hours, low kicks out 116 degrees. I typically use it on low and have no idea how much juice you get from it—it lasted longer than any of my sessions.
It’s tough to muster a complaint with the simple, well-designed Cypher, but the on-off control has room for improvement. The settings are controlled with a concave button that’s not always easy to nail when it’s under a full suit. And the battery could be smaller. Other than that, the vest is pretty darn flawless. Now, if it only came with shark repellent…
For more by Steve Casimiro, go to The Adventure Life
Photograph courtesy of Quiksilver
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