Admittedly, it’s difficult to write a product review on something that so few will often wear. Not so much because it’s an alien subject to many readers, but for fear of making this an argument in wetsuit’s defense. For the most part wetsuits are foreign subjects to casual personal watercraft riders – and even somewhat among those who would call themselves more active PWC enthusiasts. Despite them being antithetical to the whole notion of casual riding, wetsuits are possibly the single best piece of safety equipment you could wear besides a personal flotation device (PFD).
Apart from providing significant gains in maintaining healthy body temperatures by using your own body warmth to heat a thin membrane of water between your skin and the neoprene encasing your body, they also provide protection from external elements and insulation from potential damage. Most all sanctioned race organizers require participants wear a wetsuit or “john” (with full leggings).
RPM Racing Enterprises’ Ross Wallach explained, “If there was an accident where a racer was injured – be it a collision with another rider or if he was ejected from the craft – the wetsuit helps apply pressure to the injury. What if he broke his leg? The full suit would help keep that broken bone in place better than without it.”
Again, while many if not most readers of The Watercraft Journal might not see themselves in such a high intensity situation, the thick-yet-flexible neoprene material is also used to protect sensitive areas from the impact or bodily intrusion of water from the jet wash. Equally, the protective layer of a quality wetsuit provides protection from fast-moving seaspray, insects and other debris.
Now as the seasons change and temperatures begin to drop, researching the purchase of a wetsuit might be on the mind of many who plans to continue riding over the next few months. We’ve been lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with JetPilot’s Apex Race John and Jacket combination. Despite the suit’s title, the JetPilot Apex combo makes for a superior all-around suit as much as a competitive piece of equipment.
Made from JetPilot’s proprietary 2mm Flex-Lite Neoprene and Grooveskin combo, all of the suit is stitched together using the brand’s Flush-Loc Seams. JetPilot’s designers strategically placed Groove Skin Panels in high-wear contact areas as well as Outer Shin Padding for added protection for both the wearer and the suit itself.
Being a sleeveless john, access in and out of the suit is rather simple. A large-tooth zipper runs down the full length of the back, as nickle-coated ankle zippers are found running up the calves. Each zipper is also met with a Velco-strap to hold the zipper in place. The matching slip-over jacket is also made of 2mm all-Grooveskin construction and provides significant motion and mobility. We were pleased with the jacket’s ability to stretch, maintaining a comfortable fit in nearly all positions.
Both the Apex john and jacket were matchless in cutting down windchill while riding at speed for extended amounts of riding, and of course, blocking UV rays on sunnier days. Thankfully, JetPilot has done a masterful job in preserving the suit’s quality even over long periods of use. The screen printed logos have yet to fade, tear or crack and the rubberized traction pads have yet to show any feathering or peeling despite us using the suit nearly every chance we could.
Priced at around $240, the combination is more expensive than some, but pretty averagely priced for similar top-quality wetsuit and jacket combinations. As we’ve said before and continue to advocate, comfort and fitment will always outweigh the rest, and JetPilot makes some of the most comfortable gear you can find. That it holds up to the elements better than most and looks great are merely bonuses.