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Prolimit Shield Free-X FTM 6/4

There’s nothing more telling that a niche sport has well and truly cemented its status than when it receives its own specific wetsuit range. Dutch neoprene wizards Prolimit have designed the Shield range from the ground up, and it’s designed specifically for cold water foil sports in mind, with various genius features making it extremely suitable for task with inbuilt impact protection. There are two suits currently in the range; we dutifully tested the 6/4 in the bleakest of UK winters but there’s also a 5/3 available for less perishing temperatures.

The base of the suit carries over some of the materials and manufacturing techniques which make Prolimit suits so solidly constructed and thermally bountiful. Entry is handled by a sturdy YKK front zip system with a generous aperture for getting in. A decent-sized shoulder flap that sits beneath the zip area gives complete coverage up to the neck, and a slick skin seal and bungee with adjustable toggle prevents any flushing effectively. External liquid seams run down the chest panel and onto the hips preventing ingress here, with internal blind stitching and glue holding the seams together throughout the suit. Internally there’s a luxurious purple fleece layer which covers the chest, back and thighs – Prolimit have coined this the Zodiac 2 Plush. From our horrific UK winter testing, this is extremely warm and quick drying; often when removing the suit after extended use we found that the seals were so good that the fleece was hardly even saturated. Three drain holes sit on the ankles to avoid wind sports elephant-leg syndrome, and optional Velcro ties can seal up the ankles.

The foil-specific features are all genius additions to an already solid cold-conditions wetsuit. A tough and grippy external material makes up the shin sections of the suit and the forearms. This aids grip on these areas which is very useful for anyone that’s trying to knee start on a wing board in choppy conditions. This tougher external coating also means a foil will glance off rather than penetrate the neoprene. The other luxury touch is the shoulder pad, which is sewn into the right-hand side. This has a slick skin finish to promote grip and provides an ultra-comfortable spot to carry your foil mast on, without it digging into shoulder. The knee pads have also been beefed up to avoid impacts and prevent the material delaminating as we’ve seen with many standard wetsuits being used for wingfoiling, particularly in the early stages.

All this extra material use is obviously brilliant for the foiling enthusiast, but does limit the stretch characteristics of the suit, albeit minimally, in the areas where it’s implemented. If you’re looking for primarily a surf suit, it’s best to choose from the various other Prolimit suits in the range. As you’d expect, for foiling sports, the benefits of the features definitely outweigh any negatives.

The Shield is a defensive weapon of a wetsuit for the depths of winter when conditions are on the critical or I daresay even on the dangerous side and you need all the help you can get. In a nutshell, it’s the perfect choice for when shit gets real.

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