Xcel builds the Thermoflex Free Diver TDC wetsuit to maintain warmth and keep you hunting for fish one breath at a time. I took this suit on a weeklong spearfishing trip for this review.
The task: Putting one of the most advanced wetsuits on the market to the test while spearfishing 60–70 feet deep in Southern Baja waters. It was almost as fun as a sunset surf session at Nine Palms – but I digress.
Xcel Wetsuit partnered with Celliant Technologies to create a neoprene suit built to insulate you while spearfishing. Xcel claims the Thermoflex Free Diver TDC’s inner lining absorbs heat and emits it back to your body. I took it to task to see how it measures up.
Xcel Thermoflex Free Diver TDC ($480): Science in the Fibers
A first look at this wetsuit shows the usual camouflage neoprene fabric. But the magic, according to Thermoflex, lies in the inner Smart Fiber Technology lining. These inner hydrophobic fibers are where Celliant’s product development really shines.
There’s a little voodoo going on with this stuff. I’m still a bit doubtful, but this is what the brand claims.
Scientists selected 13 natural minerals for “thermo-reactive behaviors” and ground them up into particles 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair. They then introduced the particles into to poly resin and spun it into the TDC inner liner fibers.
Celliant claims these fibers absorb body heat, then re-emit it as infrared light waves. The brand says these light waves are vasodilators (open your blood vessels for more flow). It touts improved blood circulation and increased tissue oxygenation. But I can’t verify any of this.
Or, maybe you just feel warm? I’m pretty skeptical. Ultimately, this is a wetsuit. Does it work well for spearfishing? Let’s find out.
External Build Features
The aquatic camo two-piece suit has ultra-stretch neoprene construction. The material has soft foam for increased comfort and a tight textile weave, keeping water absorption to a minimum.
The hooded beavertail top includes Glideskin material around the hood and wrist enclosures, keeping water from entering the suit and holding it in place. A Duraflex chest pad assists speargun loading in the water.
The long john bottom piece also has the Glideskin material around the ankle seals. Durflex kneepads are located in high-wear zones for durability. And the pads expand flexibility.
Xcel Thermoflex Freediver Review: Thoughts From 60 Feet Deep
On previous trips, I’ve used wetsuits designed for surfing. Durability, general warmth, and losing body heat from my head were of concern. But Xcel’s Thermoflex Freediver wetsuit eased my mind.
Hydrostatic compression in water causes a suit to lose insulation properties, and the Xcel Thermoflex stood up against it. The insulated hood kept precious body heat circulating internally.
Xcel built this suit with a combination of TDC fibers and ultra-stretch neoprene, which allows for maximum dexterity and increased warmth. Because I didn’t measure body heat compared to another wetsuit worn in the water, I can’t claim to know that the science behind TDC fibers is legitimate.
But I feel comfortable praising the warmth and flexibility I felt in this suit. I never felt cold or overheated during the several hours I wore it. Kicking to the depths, loading bands, wrangling fish, and sneaking around rocks all felt smooth and fluid. My movement never felt restricted inside the Xcel ThermoFlex Freediver.
This wetsuit met all my expectations for a premium offering – it’s well worth the $479.95. I’ll definitely wear it on future spearfishing excursions.