STARTING THE SPORT WITHOUT ANY KNOWLEDGE?
How does a wetsuit work?
A wetsuit creates a barrier against the elements utilizing the insulating properties of closed cell neoprene.
Neoprene is a closed cell foam made up of thousands of tiny air bubbles known as cells.
The air within the cells creates an insulating barrier which slows down the conduction of heat and cold and allows body heat to be retained.
It also allows a layer of water to be trapped next to the skin.
As the body heat warms up the water layer, it acts as an additional insulator.
Why are there different wetsuit thicknesses?
A wetsuit thickness relates to the thickness of the neoprene in millimetres and determines the temperature the wetsuit can be use whilst still keeping you warm.
The higher the number, the warmer the wetsuit will be.
Using a suit that is 5/4 as an example we know that the body area is 5mm thick and the arms and legs are 4mm.
The first number always refers to the body and the second relates to the legs and arms.
Single fins have added stabilization and control on powerful, larger waves, although can lack the manoeuverability of other fin setups.
What thickness wetsuit should I be using?
The thickness of the neoprene utilized in a wetsuit will determine its warmth and flexibility. A thick wetsuit provides a lot of insulation but can inhibit flexibility while a thin wetsuit will be very flexible but can inhibit insulation.
A 3/2 wetsuit is generally suited for summer and autumn.
A 5/4 wetsuit keeps us warm when out winter and spring.
UK waters average around 10°C with maximum and minimum of 15°C and 5°C respectively. With this in mind we recommend a 5/4 or greater for all year round use.
If you tend to travel a lot to different kite spots you will find generally find a full length summer wetsuit or a long-arm short leg suit will be more versatile and useful than a shorty.
If you are lucky enough to live in a warmer climate then you will most likely want a shorty as it is typically the most appropriate wetsuit.
Choosing a style of wetsuit can determine how flexible and how warm your wetsuit will be.
A shorty wetsuit covers the body and upper parts of the arms and legs giving you maximum flexibility and suitable for warmer climates.
Covers the arms and upper parts of the legs allowing for warmth yet still flexible in the legs for kiteboarding. Suitable for spring to autumn UK waters and most European destinations.
Covers the legs and upper parts of the arms allowing for warmth yet still flexible in the arms for kiteboarding. Suitable for spring to autumn UK waters and most European destinations.
Covers the body, arms and legs to your wrists and ankles and also the head if the wetsuit has integrated hood. Offering maximum warmth and is suitable for winter / summer especially the northern UK and European destinations.
A 'Steamer' is a wetsuit with sealed seams, usually achieved by blind stitching.
This stops the majority of cold water from entering the suit.
Winter wetsuits are steamers typically with a 5mm body and legs for warmth and 3mm arms for manoeuvrability.
Single lined neoprene is smooth on the outside of the suit and has a lining on the inside.
It tends to be more flexible but is more prone to damage.
Single lined suits dry quicker in the wind due to the fact that water rolls off the suit and overall provide better insulation than a double lined suit.
Double-lined neoprene is surrounded by a layer of nylon on both sides.
This provides extra protection to the neoprene making the suits more rugged and suitable for use on beaches with shingle.
Double lined suits are the more widely used suits for kitesurfing due to their robust nature.
The nylon on the inner side of the neoprene prevents neoprene from sticking to your skin making it easier to get on and off.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF A STRETCHY WETSUIT?
The more stretch in a wetsuit the greater the flexibility.
Due to the advances in wetsuit technology, stretchy neoprene even in entry level suits (around 50% stretch) offer comfort and flexibility.
More expensive wetsuits with super stretchy neoprene (up to 200% stretch) are generally a better fit as they have ability to ‘mold’ to your body and eliminate any gaps around the waist and back area as well as joints allowing for even extra warmth.
WHY DO SOME WETSUITS HAVE DIFFERENT NEOPRENE?
Wetsuits need to be flexible in the right areas such as behind the knees and the arms but also durable on areas that are prone to abrasion such as on the front of the knees and on the waist and back area where a kite harness sits.
By using different neoprene with different characteristics you can achieve a light-weight, flexible and durable wetsuit.
HOW ARE WETSUITS CONSTRUCTED?
Wetsuits are held together using numerous methods. Below are some of the more common methods.
Achieved by lapping the neoprene together, this creates a flat, comfortable seam that can allow water to penetrate slightly which is usually warmed by your body heat.
Normally found on summer suits or shortys.
Glued and Blindstitched:
First the neoprene is glued together.
A curved needle then brings the thread through the neoprene in such way, that it exits on the same side that it went in, without punching through the neoprene. The result is watertight stitch with no holes through the neoprene.
A wetsuit with this type of stitch is significantly warmer than a flat lock suit. This is becoming the most common method of binding a wetsuit together.
Normally you see this in mid to top end suits.
A rubber coating is applied over the glued and blind-stitched seams when sewing the neoprene to seal the inner and / or outer side of the stitches.
This makes them stronger and additionally closes any holes resulting in nearly 100% waterproof stitches.
Special rubber is also used when sewing the neoprene to seal the inner or/and outer side of the stitches.
Back zip or front zip entry wetsuits are down to personal preference but can give differing amounts of warmth, flexibility and ease of use.
The maximum height of a fin is measured from the bottom surface of your board.
Back zip entry suits are easy to get on and off. On some backzip wetsuits you can get what is known as ‘flushing’ where cold water enters the suit through the zip and flushes out the water heated by your body.
Newer wetsuit designs sometimes have waterproof zips and an internal barrier that sits behind the zip that virtually eliminates this flushing keeping you warmer for longer.
Front entry suits are on the rise in popularity as there is virtually no chance of water entering the suit through the back, neck or front of the suit.
These suits are a little bit harder to get on and off than back zip suits but with the correct technique it is easy to master.
A men's wetsuit requires a different panel layout to women's wetsuits, one that corresponds to the male body shape, especially in the chest and waist areas.
Arm thickness is also increased and leg length is typically longer.
A ladies wetsuits normally corresponds to the female body shape in the chest and hip areas.
Arm thickness is also reduced and leg length is normally shorter. All aspects are taken into account to help provide you with the warmest and flexible wetsuits to keep you riding for longer.