Established in 1967 in the UK by Dennis Cross, Gul has been at the forefront of watersports apparel. It is now the largest UK based watersports company and is well respected across the world.
Gul wetsuits have come a long way since the early days when Dennis decided he’d had enough of the chilly winter Atlantic waters and designed the first 2 piece purpose built wetsuit for surfers. By the early 70’s Gul had gone on to create the ground breaking one-piece wetsuit named ‘The Steamer’ (named due to the steam that came from your wetsuit when removed on cold days!) And by the 1980’s Gul had expanded worldwide to supply the much wider watersports market, including buoyancy aids, drysuits, spray tops etc…
With 50+ years of wetsuit design and engineering, Gul offers a huge range of wetsuits specifically designed for men, women and children, in a wide range of sizes, thicknesses and price points. From 5/4mm to 2mm, full suit, shorty and long john, Gul wetsuits offers them all.
The 5/4mm Gul Viper Wetsuit – £250
The Viper is Gul’s top end wetsuit. With a quick dry lining, ultra stretch neoprene, taped internal seams and many other great features you’d expect from a more expensive wetsuit, the Viper is certainly as Gul say… “A suit to take seriously” Available in mens and ladies, a huge range of sizes and in 3 different thicknesses the Viper has been designed to suit watersport enthusiasts all year round.
– Available in 5/4mm, 4/3mm and 3/2mm
– Mens and ladies
– Colour black
– Sizes available – Mens – S, MS, MST, M, MT, ML, LS, L, LT, XL, XLT, XXL, XXLT
Ladies – 8,10,10T,12,12T,12-14,14,16
The SUPboarder Team reviewed the mens and ladies 5/4mm Viper wetsuit. The 5’6” medium build female tester wore a size 12 and the 5’11” medium build male tester wore a size L.
The wetsuits were tested throughout the early UK winter months in Cornwall, in water temps 10-12 degrees.
The SUPboarder verdict
Off the water
Our initial thoughts when picking up the Gul Viper 5/4mm wetsuits for the first time was how light they were. The weight is not what you’d expect for a 5/4 mm wetsuit. As well as being light the FX:LITE neoprene is soft and super stretchy, and inside the blind stitched neonseams reinforced with g-tape look robust and well made. The general quality inside and out is very good, and overall both mens and ladies are good looking wetsuits, with a black exterior and brighter inner lining (lime green mens and purple ladies)
The Viper wetsuits are very easy to get on and off with their super stretchy neoprene, and easy access front zip chest entry systems. The mens suit has a diagonal ABS: Aqua Barrier chest entry with a corrosion-proof zip. And the ladies has a Quadrate: Horizontal bib chest zip. The zips are both excellent quality and comfortable across the chest. The mens well hidden slightly smaller zip looks neat however makes it a bit trickier to use with gloves on.
Once on the Viper wetsuits feel super comfy and cosy thanks to their soft Bolt Dry X: thermal quick dry core lining, and the soft seam free neck. Both the mens and ladies had a good general fit, although the wetsuits may possibly come up a bit small as both male and female testers had to go up one size from their usual wetsuit size. The clever Powertex4 knee design allows for unrestricted knee flex and the key pocket on the lower calf is also a handy little extra feature to have.
On the water
Both testers are more used to wearing 4/3 wetsuits and were therefore surprised at how unrestrictive the thicker Viper 5/4 wetsuit felt on the water. It allowed full upper body range of movement and easy paddling. No chaffing was experienced thanks to the good fit, soft seam free neck, super thin seams and flexible neoprene. When in the water in the surf no flush was experienced and the excellent aqua-ring wrist seals meant minimal water entry and parts of the body even remained dry. The upper body mesh panel (front & back on mens, and back only on the ladies) helped keep the wind chill off on the windier days. And the 5/4mm Viper allowed the testers to comfortably stay in the water for a couple of hours + each session without getting cold. It was usually their chilly feet that made them come in! (should dig out the booties!)
The 5/4mm Viper was certainly a good wetsuit choice for SUP surfing during the early winter months in Cornwall (10-12 degrees). But we see no reason at all why the 5/4mm Viper wouldn’t be a great wetsuit choice for SUP surfing throughout the winter in lower water temperatures too (7-10 degrees). For general flat water paddling however, when you’re spending more time on the water than in it, the 5/4mm Viper wetsuit is a bit warm and the 4/3mm or 3/2mm Viper would probably be a better option.
We are unable to comment on the long term wear of the wetsuits as they have only been used for a couple of months. But from looking at the general build quality and finish of the mens and ladies Viper wetsuits there’s no reason why they shouldn’t last well if looked after. (rinsed with fresh water and dried after each session)
Pros – excellent choice of sizes, available in 3 thicknesses & well priced
Cons – available in black only
The 5/4mm Gul Viper mens and ladies wetsuits are very well priced and everything you’d expect from a top of the range wetsuit. They’re cozy, lightweight, flexible, and easy to paddle in as well as get on and off. So if you’re looking for a wetsuit to keep you SUP surfing in comfort in chillier waters, then it would be well worth checking out the 5/4mm Viper. You won’t be disappointed.
Remember to check out the 4/3mm and 3/2mm Viper wetsuits too if you’re likely to be doing more flat water paddling.
For more info check out the Gul website.