*** Please note, this review is for the 2017/18 version of the 3.8. A new version has been released for 2019, and some of the new/additional features can be found in this link to Orca 3.8 ***
It’s that time of year again when most of us start getting back into the openwater, and with an Ironman coming up in July, I decided to treat myself to a new wetsuit! Having previously used the Orca Alpha, I decided to try out the Orca 3.8 this time around, based on the Orca Swim Scale. Orca categorise their wetsuits into 3 types of swimmers, as highlighted below:
Natural Swimmer: Alpha & Equip wetsuits for maximum flexibility, targeting those who can keep a horizontal position in water and have excellent technique.
Total Swimmer: Predator & Sonar wetsuits for better flexibility & increased buoyancy, targeting those looking for maximum freedom in the shoulders and improved buoyancy in the legs to keep them horizontal in the water.
Progressive Swimmer: 3.8 & S6 wetsuits for maximum buoyancy, targeting those with sinking legs looking to improve their body position.
A combination of the Ironman distance and my very less than perfect technique, pushed me towards the 3.8 in the hope that it would keep my lazy legs up and help preserve them a bit more for the bike and run legs.
So how did it go on the test run?
Initial thoughts when I pulled the suit on was that the shoulders and upper body felt as flexible as I’d hoped, thanks in large to the 1.5mm neoprene used in that general area. But every bit as important to me, was the feeling from the thicker neoprene targeting the legs, hips and lower body panels.
In the water, the suit didn’t disappoint either. My lazy, sinky leg problem was virtually eradicated, and it almost felt like I didn’t need to kick at all. The flexibility in the arms meant I wasn’t fighting against the suit and all my energy was going towards the stroke.
With a slightly low cut neck, the suit did not allow the water to flow in, other than the usual minimal ingress expected. I didn’t use any Bodyglide before putting the suit on, and suffered absolutely no signs of chaffing in the neck area. A very clever flexible panel in the nether region meant my legs were able to kick freely from the hip with no discomfort, which, like the shoulder panels, meant I wasn’t fighting against the suit. Thinner panels in the cuff and calf areas meant taking it off was quick and easy, saving those vital seconds in transition!!
So, in summary, what is the overall verdict:
It does exactly what it says on the tin. Maximum buoyancy in the hips, legs and lower body with excellent flexibility in the upper body. The suit almost felt like a second skin, whilst putting me in a good stable and horizontal position. Very happy with my choice for this season…10 out 10 from me!!
Remember, it is vital with any wetsuit to make sure you have the proper size and fit. We all have different body shapes and sizes, so call in and ask a member of staff who will be able to advise you accordingly. Happy openwater swimming…..