We’re fast approaching that time of year where dipping water temps are requiring more than just boardshorts but it’s still too warm to dust off the fullsuit. Even the short sleeve full might still be a tad much rubber. I recently picked up a 2009 model Matuse Philo
1 mm jacket specifically to cater to this transitional period.Ma-Who?
If you haven’t heard of Matuse
, you need to get out more. Granted, they only opened their doors in 2006, they’ve since received the attention and accolades of all walks of watermen. I’ll leave the what’s-the-name-mean pontification up to you and Google and get to the bottom line – they make a hell of a wetsuit. Bargain basement priced, the Matuse is not. But what you sacrifice in paychecks (yes, plural), you more than make up for in a quality suit that lives up to its promise of form and function.Function
What Matuse prides itself in is a warm, comfortable wetsuit. This is accomplished using not the standard petroleum-based neoprene but rather a limestone (yes, as in the rock) based rubber made exclusively by a Japanese company called Yamamoto
. Here I’ll also refrain from getting into what “exclusively” really means nor will I get into the whole scientific debate on whether the so called “geoprene” is more environmentally friendly than neoprene. Suffice it to say, this stuff feels damn good.
At only 1 mm thick, the Philo fits on you like a glove. The arms offer some resistance sliding into but that resistance makes for a very effective seal once you are in the water. And unlike tight fitting neoprene, there is serious elasticity with the Philo making the fitment very snug but not debilitating. This also prevents water rushing all over unlike more conventional jackets or rash guards. I do experience some pull on the bottom of the jacket but water does not rush inside.
The arms and upper torso of the jacket are made of slick rubber and this runs back over the shoulder blades. The rest of the jacket is made of “Hydrasilk Nylon” which is super elastic. A claim made on the Philo tag is that this material is 500% elastic versus the 70% elasticity of human skin. My thoughts exactly – who the heck volunteered themselves for that sadistic test.
As mentioned, getting into the Philo is not as effortless as your conventional jacket or rash guard. Although there is a “half zipper” along the lower back allowing the jacket to open up more for easy entry. But once you’ve got it on, it just fits like a very well tailored glove. Getting the Philo off is actually much easier and it just rolls off your body. Paddling in the Philo is effortless. I’d never say it’s just like paddling bareback – because nothing is like paddling bareback unless in fact you are paddling bareback – but it’s pretty damn close. The slick paneling was placed and formed such that there is minimal resistance to paddling. And at 1 mm thick, that’s a good as you’re going to get for this level of warmth.
And warm, the Philo is. The first time I took it out, water temps were in the low-50s but the sun was pounding in a cloudless sky. It felt very odd with my upper body being nice and toasty and my balls turning into icicles. The Philo retains heat to the upper body extremely effectively. I can see this jacket being absolutely ideal for the overcast conditions where water temps haven’t dipped too far.Form
Some things only look good, while other things only work good. The Philo is both. This is one slick lookin’ jacket. With its subtle and unassuming Matuse logos on the chest and back along with the Greek styled lettering along the arms, the jacket exudes classy. The touch I like the most is the inconspicuous “v” notch in the neck which I also find serves to free up neck movement.Similar Models
A few things have changed since prior iterations of the Philo. Most notably for me, the “v” notch in the neck was not in prior models. The Philo has always just come in a long-sleeve 1 mm version. If you’re looking for something with more Matuse oomph, there is the Chapter 1
which comes equipped as a 2 mm long- or short-sleeved jacket. If you really want that bareback paddling feeling, there is the 1 mm sleeveless BC Vest
. For women, Matuse makes a long-sleeve jacket dubbed the Sophia
which appears like a 2 mm version of the Philo. Very similar paneling and overall look except for the obvious ergonomic accommodations.Pay to Play
While Matuse makes undoubtedly excellent suits, they do command a premium – and the Philo is no exception. As of writing, a Philo will set you back $130
. Compare this to conventional neoprene jackets from more traditional name brands ranging in the $50 to $80 range and thermal rash guards for around $50.Worth It?
So far, abso-firggin-lutely. Although I haven’t owned the Philo long enough to fairly comment on longevity, I think this jacket is light years ahead of its peers both in terms of form and function. It feels great, it keeps me really hot. It looks sick. It’s not obnoxious and emblazoned with fiery, tribal, cyber, or whatever trendy patterns some other name brand suits seem to be gravitating towards.
Whether the Philo will all of a sudden fall apart on me after a couple months of usage remains to be seen. For the price, I tend to be ultra careful with it and that alone is something some might consider an inconvenience. The warranty language on the artsy tag that came attached to the Philo reads like carefully crafted lawyer speak greatly diminishing any liability Matuse has in repairs. Having yet to take them to task on warranty repair, I can't say for sure though.
Given all of this, and if you have duckets burning holes in your pocket, I would absolutely recommend the Philo to keep you in the water before winter is in full swing.Updates
Check back as I update this article after the Matuse Philo has seen more action.DISCLOSURE: THE AUTHOR OF THIS REVIEW PURCHASED THIS PRODUCT AT THE MANUFACTURER’S SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE.