The creators of the modern wetsuit, Jack O’Neill’s legendary brand transformed our ability to enjoy watersports in cold waters.
The O’Neill Hyperfreak is one of their latest suits with the innovative ‘Technobutter’ neoprene.
Claimed to be lighter, more flexible and more comfortable than any other wetsuit, the Hyperfreak should tick all the boxes for anyone who wants a warm wetsuit but not that constricted feeling thicker suits tend to have.
Having windsurfed in the UK for the past 15 years, I’ve been through my fair share of wetsuits. Due to the colder temperatures here, I wear wetsuits almost all year round, so they get a good bit of use.
I tend to use a 5/3mm or 5/4mm wetsuit for late Autumn, Winter and early Spring. The summer months are normally a 3/2mm summer suit and the hottest days still need a shorty to keep the chill off.
I’ve tried everything from cheap to high end and a fair few mid-priced wetsuits along the way. Brands I’ve given a go include ION, Gul, Neil Pryde, Spartan, O’Neill, Billabong and Ripcurl.
More recently I’ve got into surfing and paddleboarding, so I was looking out for a new all-round wetsuit that’s flexible, durable and warm enough for all types of watersports. See what we recommend wearing for paddleboarding.
For the past 2 years, I’ve used the Hyperfreak 5/4mm+ winter suit and Hyperfreak 2mm shorty.
These wetsuits are well worn now and I’ve used them in all conditions, so are they as comfortable as O’Neill says but do they make any sacrifices for having the world’s most flexible neoprene?
Summary of O’Neill Hyperfreak review:
- Great value for a ‘proper’ technical wetsuit
- It’s as flexible and lightweight as O’Neill say
- The Hyperfreak looks classy and designed very well
- The 5/4+ is the most comfortable winter wetsuit I’ve used
- O’Neill’s size options means a perfect fit every time
- Not the warmest for wind sports
- No wrist & ankle seals mean neoprene tears easily
Where to buy:
- Ann’s Cottage – View website >
The Hyperfreak is mostly built with O’Neill’s unique ‘Technobutter 3’ neoprene. This is the same technology used in O’Neill’s high-performance Psycho wetsuit, so you know they are wanting the Hyperfreak to compete with the top suits on the market.
I don’t understand what Technobutter is and I think it’s an O’Neill secret recipe, but as soon as you pick up the wetsuit, you’ll tell instantly that it feels different. For starters you’ll question the thickness, my 5/4+mm weight feels more like a 3mm summer suit, and my 2mm shorty feels more like a rash vest. Along with the lightweight feel, the neoprene is softer and more ‘buttery’ to touch that any other wetsuit I’ve owned. Even before you put the suit on, you know it’s going to feel extremely comfortable.
Once you turn the wetsuits inside out, you’ll notice the entire inner lining is designed in a corduroy pattern, which is meant to help drain any water out the suit as quickly as possible.
O’Neill uses ‘TechnoButter 3X’ in the back, arm and shoulders which are meant to be even stretchier and more flexible than the rest of the suit. Within these key areas, O’Neill also tries to minimise the seams with larger panels to further increase movement and eliminate any rashing.
All seams are triple-glued & blindstitch (GBS) and are sealed with tape. The tape on these seams are also using the same Technobutter technology, so you know the suit is going to be comfortable and stretchy in all areas.
You can really tell everything in the wetsuit is designed for ultimate flexibility, and it really does make a difference especially in the thicker winter suits.
The neoprene is pre-stretched, so it shouldn’t change shape and stretch with use. So far that seems to be the case and both my summer and winter wetsuits have held their shape really well.
Comfort & Fit
For anyone looking to buy a new wetsuit, it’s always worth trying on a few before committing. All wetsuit brands fit differently and some seem to favour shorter arms, longer bodies or anything else in between.
I’m 6’2, on the lankier side and the O’Neill medium tall is the best fitting wetsuit I’ve ever owned. The array of sizing options O’Neill cut means you don’t just have to make do with something that’s either slightly too short or something that’s too baggy. The fit of a wetsuit needs to be almost perfect because you could spend £400 on a new suit, but if it’s too big you won’t be any warmer than buying a £100 suit.
See O’Neill’s wetsuit size chart.
You have to accept it will always be a struggle getting on a fitted winter suit and the Hyperfreak is no different. However, once you’re in you will really appreciate the Technobutter, comfort and flexibility the Hyperfreak offers. I’ve said it a few times now, but it’s the comfiest winter wetsuit I’ve owned.
The ankle and wrist openings are on the smaller side, but that gives me confidence O’Neill has designed this on purpose to minimise flush through these areas.
I also bought the shorty wetsuit in a medium tall, but without trying it on. O’Neill seems to be consistent with their sizes as this wetsuit also fits perfectly. Again the shorty wetsuit is unbelievably comfortable and almost feels like I’m wearing a rash rest and boardies.
It feels so thin that you question whether it will keep you warm, but trust me it’s perfect for UK summers. At any opportunity, whether windsurfing or surfing I would always put on the Hyperfreak 2mm.
Along with the comfort, I think the Hyperfreak wetsuits look classy and O’Neill have gone for stylish colours.
On the water, you notice the efforts O’Neill put into the Technobutter and your shoulders feel so loose when paddling. This really helps with reducing arm fatigue and I’m certain the Hyperfreak helps me have longer surf sessions in the winter months.
For windsurfing and paddleboarding, again the flexibility of the suit makes every session that little bit more enjoyable because it still feels like I’m in a summer suit during mid-winter. The soft Technobutter also helps minimise rubbing, especially great for the odd session when you don’t spend too much time in the water.
Whilst the Hyperfreak is very flexible and arguably uses the stretchiest neoprene on the market, I don’t think it is the warmest winter wetsuit available.
The wetsuit was originally created for surfers to use during competition, who of course want to feel as comfortable as possible because they will probably be in the wetsuit most of the day.
When there is wind, the lack of Smoothskin on the chest and back will no doubt let through some of the colder air, especially in winter. Smoothskin is the shiny type neoprene that is meant to reflect all wind to ensure your core stays as warm as possible. This feature is only important for windsurfers or kitesurfers, but it does mean the Hyperfreak will be a little colder than other wetsuits.
However, due to the range of sizes available, the Hyperfreak’s great fit keeps most of the water out and I’ve never got truly cold in the suit, even on the coldest days.
I do experience the odd flush through the neck seal, but I haven’t used a suit so far that doesn’t at least flush a few times during a session.
One issue I have with the Hyperfreak is the lack of wrist or ankle seals.
After about a dozen sessions I noticed some tearing around the ankles. I’m not sure how they happened as I’m very careful with how I put on, remove and store my wetsuits. Either way, the tearing has made the ankle hole bigger than designed, which is now causing some flush to come up through the leg.
These tears could have happened when falling off at speed when windsurfing, but I would expect the wetsuit to be a little more durable and not tear so easily early on in its life.
Now when I fall off windsurfing, it’s not uncommon for the wetsuit to roll up at the ankle which I’m certain is making the tears bigger and will just mean flushing more often up through the leg.
Final words of my O’Neill Hyperfreak review
If you take your watersports seriously, love to go out in all conditions and looking for a great value wetsuit, there are not many better alternatives than the O’Neill Hyperfreak.
The fit and flexibility within the shoulders make it an ideal wetsuit for those who surf most of the time. It honestly is the most comfortable wetsuit I have ever used and it’s no surprise it’s one of the best selling suits on the market.
However, if you are mostly doing sports like windsurfing or kitesurfing falling off at speed can cause water to flush up your legs and arms, so there may be a better, more sport-specific alternative for a winter suit.
For me, I might try a different winter suit when the time comes to buy another, but the shorty wetsuit feels incredible and I’ll keep buying them as long as they keep making the Hyperfreak!
You can buy O’Neill wetsuits from surf retailer Ann’s Cottage.
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.