Fourth Element returns this year with the 6/5/4mm RF2 wetsuit! Last year, I had the opportunity to review the first freediving wetsuit they ever developed, the one-piece RF1 3/2mm paired with the RF vest 3mm. After, it became my winter wetsuit for the chilly November-April waters of Xiao Liuqiu, Taiwan! While I felt super warm in the RF1, I did miss putting on a two-piece wetsuit and having an integrated hood. So, when I heard that Fourth Element came out with a two-piece wetsuit, I begged for the chance to review it!
Oh, how I love the look of the RF2! It looks ultra-professional with its minimalistic logo on the chest and glossy print on the side of the hood and on the back of the jacket. You only have to glance at the beavertail closure’s stitching and the glued and blindstitched seams to appreciate the obvious quality of the construction. There is Glideskin across the shoulders and on the hood that is advertised to provide maximum hydrodynamic capabilities, and lined outer panels around the core, arms, and legs for extra durability. Additionally, the face seal of the jacket and waist of the pants have Smoothskin for optimal sealing.
The inside of the wetsuit is lined with open cell Metalite neoprene for extra heat retention and a sturdier build. It’s known that Fourth Element is an expert in cold-water diving, so they deliberately placed 4, 4.5, 5, and 6mm limestone neoprene in key areas to keep you warm exactly where you need it (while still allowing you full mobility!).
I also want to highlight that the neoprene in the RF2 uses limestone instead of petrochemicals to form rubber chips, which has much less impact on the environment. The rubber used in the neoprene is recycled by their wetsuit factory from post-consumer scrap tires, which significantly reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Additionally, the yarn in the wetsuit is dope-dyed, which saves a lot of water, reduces water pollution, and also reduces energy consumption. Any trimmed materials from wetsuit production are recycled and reused to produce more neoprene, saving large amounts of raw material and minimizing wastewater and air emissions.
While producing freediving wetsuits still impacts the environment, Fourth Element makes it a part of their mission to reduce their impact as much as possible, which is something I find unique and admirable about them as a company.
Putting on the RF2 was surprisingly a dream. I have only used a 5mm wetsuit a few times before and felt (and probably looked) like a snowman because of the single thickness of the neoprene and absence of paneling. However, the RF2 slid easily onto my body with just a little lube and with the least amount of struggle. The mobility of this wetsuit is also something otherworldly – I could place my arms next to my body without force and my range of movement was completely intact! I honestly did not know this was possible with wetsuits thicker than 3mm, and this is fantastic because I get cold very easily.
The streamlined fit is the most impressive out of any standard-sized wetsuits I’ve tried, and I especially love that you can choose short and tall wetsuits when choosing your size (I chose Small / Short for my 163cm / 5’4” sisters!). Before entering the water, I filled my wetsuit with some freshwater to keep cool until I reached the dive site. Because of this, I’m unsure if saltwater even entered my wetsuit until I purposely flooded my hood. Don’t tell anyone, but I was even a little bit afraid to pee in it because the seal was so good!
Personally, I found the neck to be a bit stiffer than I’m used to, however, it didn’t really affect my dives. I also normally wear 3mm wetsuits or less, so this may just be something to get used to for thicker wetsuits.
The RF2’s performance in the water was just as expected from a high-quality wetsuit – amazing. The differences in thickness meant that I did not just have a single thick layer of neoprene covering my body, forcing myself to wear way too much lead weight to offset it. I was warm, I was comfortable, my level of flexibility was quite intact, and nothing on the wetsuit pinched or poked into my skin. I am actually excited to dive and teach this winter because of the RF2!
What a wetsuit – Fourth Element’s RF2 has completely changed my perspective on cold-water diving! From the obvious quality of the materials used and wetsuit construction to the strategic placement of differing neoprene thicknesses for complete warmth and mobility, this is definitely my new favorite cold-water wetsuit! I also love the sophisticated look of it and feel proud to wear a product from a company that tries to be as environmentally conscious as possible. This wetsuit is an absolute must-have for freedivers in cooler waters and I cannot recommend it enough!
- Streamlined cut
- Varied thickness for optimized comfort and performance
- Flexible and warm ‘open cell’ (Metalite) lining
- Smoothskin face seal and waist panel for optimal sealing
- Glideskin outer panels for maximized hydrodynamics
- Glued and blindstitched throughout
- Beavertail closure
- Supratex reinforced lined outer
- Limestone neoprene
- Ergonomic seams for ease of movement
- 90% neoprene / 10% nylon
- RF1 Jacket – $325 USD / €303 EUR / £259 GBP
- RF1 Leggings – $209 USD / €195 EUR / £166 GBP