If you are a kite and/or surf freak, you'll likely want to be out there in the water for as long as possible, even far into the winter.
Winter is well known for offering far better conditions than summer for most watersports, at least for expert riders. Still, some surfers tend to stop their activity in autumn and start again in spring. This is because they think that cold water surfing or kiting is not enjoyable. Well, let me tell you that if you're convinced of this, it's probably because your current wetsuit sucks, is old and full of leaks.
Also, 2020's uncertainity is leading some riders that usually spend winter time snowboarding, to consider to spend their 2021 winter in the water rather than on the snow...
Just because we know that you damn need a new winter wettie, we wrote for you a winter wetsuit buyers guide with useful tips for buying the best wetsuits for winter surfing and kitesurfing and neoprene accessories, and for how to properly wear them.
A wetsuit helps to insulate your skin and keep it warm in the cold by trapping a thin layer of water between your skin and the suit. Your body warmth heats this layer of water. The neoprene that surrounds this layer maintains this warmth, which means that the thicker the neoprene, the better the insulation of course. For a wetsuit to function optimally, the layer of water must be thin, and there should be no leaking points or holes like in your current overused wettie.
Water penetrating your wetsuit is a double loss. Not only do you lose the warmth, but you also lose energy as the body has to reheat the layer of water. Therefore, you must get rid of your old wettie full of holes, you need a wetsuit that has enough neoprene and lining with a tight fit and proper sealing to enjoy a warm winter. Lekker!
Most winter wetsuits have a thickness between 5mm to 6mm. The neoprene is usually thinner under and on the arms, and you can determine the thickness of the neoprene on the arms by looking at what comes after the stroke "/" in the measurement. For example, if you see a wetsuit with a 6/4mm label or mark, this means that the thickness of the neoprene is 6mm for the core and 4mm around the arms.
When picking a wetsuit, it is advisable to go for thick but not excessively thick neoprene, because a thicker neoprene will give you more warmth, but it also means less flexibility. This means that your 1cm thick spearfishing wettie won't do for waterports, you got me?
When it comes to winter wetsuits, the insides matter as much as the outside, because both determine the warmth of the wetsuit. Not every wetsuit offers a lining, but those with lining are more expencive of course. However, the extra cost should not discourage you from getting a wetsuit that has a nice internal lining. Your winter wetsuit should at least have lining around the core body parts.
Apart from the fact that it keeps you warmer, the lining also ensures that your wetsuit will dry faster. You don’t want to be wearing a wet wetsuit when it is freezing cold outside, right? Linings materials differ from to brand to brand: thermal fiber lining, fleece, and so on...
The seams determine how well fitted the wetsuit will be, but they could also be an area of weakness if not done correctly. This is the first area through which cold water penetrates the wetsuit, so a proper sealing will help maintain the integrity of your wetsuit and you will spend less energy. There are different methods of sealing a wetsuit, the common ones are explained below.
Whith this method, also called "GBS", the neoprene panels are first glued to each other, and then the seams are stitched “blind” to one another. Blind means the stitches don’t fully go through the neoprene. This gives your wetsuit a seam that is 95% waterproof. It is done in this manner because the regular stitching will puncture the wetsuit and leave holes in it.
For improving sealing, in some wetsuits a flexible tape is applied to the insides of the seams, to improve the sealing and make the seam stronger and more reliable. The insulation is also improved.
Liquid seams result in a completely waterproof wetsuit, making it the best sealing available on the market. Once the neoprene panels have been blind stitched, a liquid seam is applied on the outside where a flexible tape is used on the inside. Lekker!
The sizing of a wetsuit will vary from brand to brand; therefore, before buying, we recommend to measure your body and refer to the official size charts on the brand's websites. We often include them inside our shop's listings description.
As the girls ot there are often far better riders than guys, a wide choice of womens winter wetsuits is available of course. Guess what? Womens wetsuits have more space on the breast and less on the croch, you don't nees to be a watersports expert to understand why.
Ladies, please keep in mind that womens wetsuits normaly adopt a numeric sizing, opposed to the standard S-M-L-XL sizing for man. So please check official size charts for your favorite brand; when possible we'll make it available tdirectly here on our shop.
A kitesurfing wetsuit has a distinct feature of Water Strainer or Aqua Flush. This is a perforated neoprene panel on the lower part of the wetsuit around the ankle. It allows water to come out but not go inside and make kite/windsurfing comfortable.
A surfing wetsuit will be extra flexible on the shoulders for paddling. So, if you are in both kitesurfing and surfing, we recommend to go for a surfing wetsuit.
Let's now talk about neoprene accessories for warming up your hands, feet and your precious head during winter surfing and kitesurfing sessions:
You have different neoprene headwear options for protecting your surf freak head from dispersing heat: integrated hoods winter wetsuits, external neoprene hoods and neoprene beanies.
Hoods generally come in 3mm or 2mm thickness and may have different neck lengths. It is advisable to get hoods with a length that fits perfectly with the wetsuit.
Whether you use a longer or shorter hood may depend on the entry of a wetsuit. A wetsuit with a back zip requires a hood with a longer neck, but a standard length hood will do for a chest zip wetsuit. If you are wearing a chest zip wetsuit, you should wear the hood first before wearing the wetsuit, so it is nicely tucked within it.
If you have ever worn boots filled with water, then you can imagine how uncomfortable it would be in the cold. This is why most boots have a strap at the top that prevents water from entering through the top. You can further prevent water from entering the shoes by putting it under the wetsuit and pulling the legs of the wetsuit over the boots.
A wetsuit designed for kitesurfing usually has extra straps attached to it, and you can close these around your ankle. If your wetsuit has the aqua flush, the water would normally be flushed out. But if it doesn’t, you are still good to go.
Apart from slipping your hands in, just like the neoprene boots, you should wear glowes below the wetsuit, so that it covers the wrists. If you are already wearing a wetsuit, just roll the arms up to wear the gloves and roll it back over the gloves.