This fall brought some great winds to our area and with it colder sea temperatures.
As the seas cool, I am often asked about choosing the proper wetsuit for our region’s conditions. Although the winter water temperature averages around 70° and rarely drops below 65, having the proper wetsuit will still make or break your day.
One of the first things to account for when shopping for a kiteboarding wetsuit is the fact that you will have less time in the water when compared to diving or surfing. Although this would seem advantageous to staying warm, this actually causes some wetsuits to not function properly. As many of you may already know, wetsuits actually use the water around you to create a warm layer between the neoprene and your skin. While kiteboarding, gravity will slowly drain the water from the suit and take a good amount of your body heat with it. To counter-act this, some wetsuits are lined with synthetic wool-like fibers to help retain a very thin layer of water against your skin.
When choosing a wetsuit for kiteboarding, there are a few other factors you will want to consider. High-speed falls associated with kiting can often “pack” the wetsuit with water and some wetsuits will retain this water almost like a water balloon. Wetsuits with strategically placed drain holes can help drain water quickly before absorbing your body heat. The second factor to consider is wind resistance. Although neoprene does not typically breath, some suits tend to let the wind in. I recommend looking for suits with non-porous exteriors as well as glued and taped seams. This will greatly enhance the suit’s abilities to block the wind.
No matter how nice a wetsuit is, it will not work properly if it is not the correct thickness and fit. For our area, most kiters and surfers can stay warm with a 3/2 full suit on the colder days and a 3/2 shorty on the slightly warmer ones. The term 3/2 means that the chest portion of the wetsuit is 3mm thick, while the arms and legs are 2mm thick. As far as determining size, it is important to get the tightest fitting suit that you still feel comfortable in. Any baggy areas will fill with water and cost you valuable warmth. It is important that the wrist, ankle and neck cuffs are tight enough to block excess water from entering while still allowing you to move freely and comfortably.
I hope this guide helps give you a little extra knowledge when it comes to purchasing your next wetsuit. As always stay safe, warm, and respect your fellow beach goers.
See you on the water!