Drysuits & Wetsuits for the Winter Months
Don’t let the winter months stop you from enjoying your watersport as it doesn’t matter whether your into sailing, kayaking, or kitesurfing ,the evolution of wetsuits and drysuits is enabling these sports to be taken to depths of endurance.
If we firstly take the winter wetsuit, over the last 6 years we have seen a revolution in wetsuit technology and the speed of change has been amazing. A top end wetsuit of 6 years ago would not considered to have enough technical features to be an entry level wetsuit. So if your now looking to buy your first wetsuit or your debating the worth of spending a little more, do you get additional features to make it worth the extra spend or are you paying for brand names. The simple and honest answer especially when dealing with winter wetsuits is a massive yes.
The more you spend the more flexible / lighter the material becomes and the more technical warmth properties you get. So lets have a look to see what some of these technical features actually mean.
Thermal lining – a material designed to act in the same way as thermal underwear but inside a wetsuit. It wicks water away from the body whilst heating the core areas.
Air Neoprene– Small air pockets that are in built into the neoprene, the theory behind this is air is a better insulator of heat so your body heat warms up the air pockets and in turn this maintains your heat.
Smooth Skin - This is the top layer of neoprene when it is made, it has been used as the smooth layer that manufacturers have used on chest and kidney panels to prevent wind cooling down these areas. This has recently become less important due to double lined neoprene’s becoming so good.
Double Lined Neoprene – Is the double weave of the jersey that comprises the neoprene and In recent years has got so good that it now prevents wind from penetrating the wetsuit thus keeping you even warmer. It also means that rather wind and kite surfers having to buy all smooth skin wetsuits, everyone can now use the one wetsuit and use it for different sports such as surfing, sailing, kayaking etc
Super Stretch Material – This type of high grade neoprene is becoming more and more prevalent as the majority of the neoprene that makes up a wetsuit. In a nutshell it makes the neoprene extremely stretchy thus making movement in the wetsuit easier so you don’t get tired and the better it fits to your body the warmer you will be. This has been the one revolution that has made wearing a wetsuit a joy rather than a pain.
Drysuits are much better for surface watersports such as Sailing, Kayaking, Kitesurfing etc or diving. In simple terms a dry suit is designed to seal the suit preventing water entering at any point. Should not be used for sports such as surfing due to the bulk of a drysuit.
The main difference between dry suits and wetsuits is that dry suits are designed to prevent water entering. This generally allows better insulation making them more suitable for use in cold water. Dry suits can be uncomfortably hot in warm or hot air, and are typically more expensive and more complex to don. For divers, they add some degree of complexity as the suit must be inflated and deflated with changes in depth in order to avoid "squeeze" on descent or uncontrolled rapid ascent due to over-buoyancy.
For surface watersports drysuits have a geo textile material that allows the material to breath so you sweat less and its generally more comfortable to use. The next choice is socked or non socked drysuits and this generally comes down to preference and wether your sport also requires boots. Generally kite and wind surfers users the non socked drysuit. Drysuits are more expensive than a wetsuit and a little more cumbersome. Usually with a dry suit they come with a thermal suit that is like thermal underwear in a front zip suit.