When I was sixteen years old, I completed my scuba diving certification by doing a beach dive in Monterey, CA. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to Monterey, but the water there is VERY chilly. I remember suiting up that day and having to put on an extremely inflexible and thick petroleum-based, neoprene long john wetsuit and zip-up jacket. I was relatively warm in the murky, cold Monterey water, but the wetsuit was so thick that I couldn’t put my arms down at my sides. This experience drastically contrasted my recent experience diving in a MAKO wetsuit in the winter in Santa Barbara, CA. I borrowed a friend’s old 5mm MAKO Yamamoto 2 Piece Open Cell Wetsuit and I was very warm and also still very mobile, unlike the petroleum-based suit. After my great experience wearing a MAKO wetsuit, I decided to write a review about the suit, hoping to buy my own and feel proud of my purchase. I was extremely disappointed to discover how little information MAKO shares with its consumers. Besides MAKO’s use of limestone instead of petroleum for their neoprene, the rest of their manufacturing and sourcing seems very unsustainable and possibly unethical. MAKO’s wetsuit prices and quality are amazing, so I hope they decide to be more transparent with their consumers and adopt more sustainable and ethical practices. If MAKO decides to drastically change its practices to show greater respect for the earth and its factory workers you’ll find me lecturing every diver I meet about the oh so amazing MAKO wetsuits.
MAKO wetsuits are known in the diving community as some of the highest quality suits for their price point. The owner of MAKO, Dano explains that this is because they source the majority of their wetsuit materials directly from Yamamoto Corporation in Osaka, Japan, which creates one of the highest quality neoprenes available. The MAKO Yamamoto 3D Reef Camo 2 Piece Open Cell Wetsuit is made from Yamamoto limestone-based neoprene, Yamamoto “Mega Stretch'” material, pieces of plastic for beaver tail clips, knee and chest padding, seem glue, and thick string for the stitching.
Yamamoto neoprene is made from limestone, instead of petroleum (crude oil). Most traditional wetsuits are made from petroleum, but as more companies have become aware of neoprene alternatives, limestone has become increasingly popular. Petroleum-based neoprene suits have about 65-69% impermeability, which means they soak up water like a sponge and stay wet for longer. On the other hand, Yamamoto limestone-based neoprene is about 99.7 % water impermeable, which means you can stay warmer in colder water for much longer. Yamamoto limestone-based neoprene has 30% more individual nitrogen-filled air cells than petroleum-based neoprene, so it provides 30% more warmth. Limestone-based neoprene is also lighter and more durable than petroleum-based suits so they will last you longer than a traditional wetsuit. A longer-lasting suit means you are wasting less and ideally decreasing your carbon footprint.
While MAKO uses limestone-based neoprene, which is more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based neoprene wetsuits, limestone mining is an unsustainable practice. Limestone is mined from a quarry or underground. Limestonemining can contaminate groundwater, create sinkholes, destroy deep cave habitats, and emit dust which can harm human health. Despite these negative environmental impacts, it is estimated that limestone reserves on Earth will exist for about 3,000 more years, while petroleum reserves will not make it anywhere close to 3,000 years. So by making suits from limestone-based neoprene, MAKO is helping the diving community break away from a reliance on petroleum-based products.
Unfortunately, MAKO does not explain what most of the rest of the materials of the suit are made of and if they are eco-friendly. It is likely that the other materials MAKO uses for this wetsuit are not recycled, and in the case of the plastic pieces, may be made from petroleum or other toxic materials. MAKO should consider putting greater detail on their website about the other materials in their wetsuit, so consumers can understand exactly what they are buying.
MAKO sources its neoprene from the Japanese company, Yamamoto. Unfortunately, Yamamoto does not have a website and I could not find any information online about where they source their limestone and other materials from, so I decided to do a little digging. Apparently, limestone can be found most commonly in Egypt, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, so it is highly likely that the limestone Roxy uses comes from one of these places. Yamamoto does not describe where its neoprene factories are located, but it could be likely that Yamamoto has some of its factories in Japan. MAKO also does not explain where their suits are manufactured, but on their website, they claim that they get their wetsuits from the same dive gear factories that other large dive brands do, so it is likely that their suits are manufactured in Asia. Most of the notable wetsuit manufacturing companies that other large brands use are located in Asia. It is unfortunate that MAKO and Yamamoto are so opaque about how their products are made and where they source their materials from because it makes me automatically assume that they are trying to hide something from their consumers.
MAKO sells the wetsuit, but sources their limestone-based neoprene from Yamamoto Corporation from Japan and uses an unknown company to manufacture the high-quality wetsuit. Not only is MAKO opaque about their manufacturing process, but they also lack transparency about the working conditions at their factories, how much they pay their workers, and if their factory practices are sustainable and ethical. Yet again this just lack of information just makes me question MAKO and Yamamoto’s ethics and sustainability.
MAKO was founded by Dano Krahling in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Dano’s goal was to sell high-quality Yamamoto wetsuits to divers for an affordable price. He was able to accomplish this by buying straight from dive gear factories, instead of having to go through foreign brands, distributors, and dive shops that mark up the price of the wetsuit. This is why MAKO Yamamoto wetsuits are incredibly affordable, especially considering the incredible quality and durability of the wetsuits. The 5mm MAKO Yamamoto 3D Reef Camo 2 Piece Open Cell Wetsuits are sold for $250.95, which is at least about $50 to $100 cheaper than most other limestone-based neoprene wetsuits.
* amazon.com/Spearfishing-Wetsuit-Yamamoto-Reef-Piece/dp/B0722D53XR?th=1 (http://amazon.com/Spearfishing-Wetsuit-Yamamoto-Reef-Piece/dp/B0722D53XR?th=1)