Aug 23, 2023

Billabong Furnace Comp 4/3 Hooded Wetsuit Review

Words by Mattie Starr
Billabong Furnace Comp 4/3 Hooded Wetsuit Review

When you visit the lineups of the Pacific Northwest, some of the brands you’ll see on the regular are Xcel, O’Neill, Rip Curl, and some other brands scattered here and there. However, one brand you don’t see very often is Billabong, and I’m here to say that’s a damn shame. Sure, Billabong hasn’t always been known for having the best cold water suits. In fact, my first Billabong suit many years back had a hood so tight that it gave me a migraine each time I wore it. That was then however, let's talk about what's happening now. Currently, Billabong makes some of the best, most flexible, and warmest wetsuits around. More specifically, the Billabong Furnace Comp 4/3 Hooded Wetsuit is a dream come true for those who value flexibility, yet want the warmth to surf year round in our 50 degree water.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Billabong Comp 4/3 Hooded Wetsuit is that its material is different from other wetsuits. Billabong calls it Airlite Stretch Fabric & Smart Neoprene, however it doesn't feel like a traditional neoprene. It's nice to wear, and is incredibly flexible and comfortable on your skin. As an added bonus, it’s actually a recycled nylon elastane fabric, helping sandwich a partially recycled, premium lightweight smart foam as the main insulator. This foam is created from upcycled car tires and neoprene scrap, so you can feel good about wearing this suit, knowing it’s not quite as bad for the planet as your run of the mill wetsuit (it’s still probably not great, but hey, gotta start somewhere!). Its also extremely lightweight, and doesn’t hold much water weight at all. You notice it even more  switching back and forth between another suit from a different brand, as the Billabong does an excellent job of staying lightweight once you’re in the water, not just in the car park.

The inside is lined with Graphene, a highly touted textile for its thermal retention properties. In layman’s terms, this means the stuff is just plain warm, keeping you nice and toasty on cold days. Now look, we’re talking about a super lightweight, zero slick skin 4/3 wetsuit here. There are days when the air is 30 degrees and it’s windy as hell. I’ll paddle out and think; “Yeah, it’d be nice to have a little thicker suit right now”, but those days are rare, and I’m bad at forcing myself to wear gloves. When I do however, that usually provides enough extra warmth to make up the difference for having a thinner suit. That being said, if warmth is your #1 priority, you might think about a different option. This suit is more for the surfer who wants the lightest, most flexible suit that will still let you surf year round comfortably with only a few asterisks.

The entry system is a disconnected, large zipper head, which makes it easier to get on than other chest zips that have their zipper head unzip to a point still connected on the right shoulder. This allows the chest zip flap to easily open up and makes this suit easy to get around even wide shoulders. The inner seams are all taped with Super Flex neoprene tape, and some of the exterior seams are sealed with liquid seal which Billabong calls Power Seams. However, many of the more critical seams that flex when paddling are only taped on the inside, allowing the suit to flex more than if they were power seamed on the outside.

The Billabong fits a slimmer to medium profile body well. I personally don’t have large or wide enough shoulders to fill in an O’Neill wetsuit, however the Billabong fits me in the shoulders perfectly. I am around 145 lbs and 5’7” on a good day, and fit perfectly into a size Small.


How We Tested This Wetsuit:

I tested this wetsuit over the past 7 months by using it as my only wetsuit. I took no special care of the suit, which means unfortunately the suit has probably taken a bit more of a beating than if you were to care for a wetsuit properly. It only gets rinsed with fresh water after a session if the spot happens to have a shower, and it gets hung to dry in the sun (what can I say, I value it getting dry!). I do try and knock the sand off if it gets on the inside, as that’s just annoying and uncomfortable.


Specs Overview:

Neoprene: Partially recycled, premium lightweight Smart Foam, for highest thermal retention and lightweight stretch, made from upcycled car tires and neoprene scraps. Sandwiched between Recycled nylon elastane exterior fabric, and a Graphene interior fabric.

Seams: Fully taped interior seams, partially taped exterior for added flexibility.

Fit: Tends to fit a slimmer or regular profile better.

Entry: Chest Zip with a detached zipper head.

Value: At $439.95, it seems priced about right, not too high, but not a steal of a deal either.


Test Results:

My current suit got it’s first session in late December 2022, so I’ve had good 7 months of solid water time with this as my only suit, and overall, I would absolutely not hesitate to buy another one. There are some areas where it’s starting to show a bit of wear and tear, such as the taping around the wrists, and there are some nicks in the exterior jersey, but overall it’s holding up well. I haven’t noticed any reduction of warmth, and the neoprene hasn’t faded or gotten crispy. All the seams are fully intact and the chest zipper works just like new. The one thing I didn’t love right away was how tight the hood was, however after one session and a couple good tugs on the thing to stretch it out, it feels great now.


Manufacturer Specs:

  • Eco-Conscious Fabric: Recycled nylon elastane exterior fabric.
  • Graphene interior fabric.
  • Neoprene Foam: Partially recycled, premium lightweight Smart Foam, for highest thermal retention and lightweight stretch, made from upcycled car tires and neoprene scraps.
  • Exterior Seams:Power seam.
  • Interior Seams:Machine applied super-flex neo tape.
  • Lining: Airlite 4D infuses our Graphene fibers into our already incredible Airlite liners.
  • Shape: Hooded full suit.
  • Neck: Mock neck.
  • Sleeves: Long sleeves.
  • Thickness: 4/3 mm thickness.
  • Entry: Chest zip entry.
  • Materials 70% Recycled Nylon, 19% Nylon, 11% Elastane


Final Thoughts:

I love this suit. Plain and simple, this is one of the best fitting, most flexible wetsuits around and keeps me nice and warm all year long. The material is extremely comfortable and a joy to wear, and it’s made it really hard to jump into any other suit that I own. For $440, it’s not some amazing deal by any means, however it’s still $100 under other brand’s flagship suits, and in my opinion, it’s extremely well priced for what you get.


Billabong Furnace Comp 4/3 Hooded

Billabong Women’s Furnace 5/4 Hooded

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