Types of kitesurf wetsuits
A wetsuit is an essential part of you kitesurfing equipment. A wetsuit keeps you warm and also protects you from the sun. There are different kinds of wetsuits suitable for all kinds of weather conditions. There are wetsuits for any budget, but keep in mind that the cheaper ones usually don’t last too long.
Temperature versus thickness
Wetsuits are made in a range of thicknesses to suit any condition. There’s also a difference between full wetsuits and shorties with short sleeves.
Water temperature under 5 degrees
Kitesurfing in temperatures under 5 degrees is note recommended for beginners, especially not at sea. In case things don’t go as planned you risk hyperthermia in these kinds of conditions. More experienced kitesurfers can go out, but they often use a dry suit to keep them warm.
Water temperature from 5 to 15 degrees
These kinds om temperatures require think wetsuits. The recommended thickness is 5/5, 5/4 or 4/3.
Water temperature from 15 to 25 degrees
As the water is slightly warmer a wetsuit with a 3/2 or 4/3 thickness will keep you warm enough during your session.
Water temperature from 25 to 30 degrees
If temperatures get over 25 degrees you can kitesurf with just a shorty.
Water temperature over 30 degrees
No wetsuit needed when it’s this warm. A bikini or board shorts will be fine for these kinds of temperatures. To protect yourself against the sun, consider wearing a lycra top. The sun’s reflection can cause sunburn faster than you think.
Different types of wetsuits
Semi dry wetsuit
The most used wetsuit in kitesurfing. The water does penetrate the neoprene and the layer that forms between you and the suit keeps you warm. Within this and other types of wetsuit there are different choices to make:
- Full wetsuit: covers your entire body
- Steamer: full wetsuit made form the thickest neoprene, mostly for winter kitesurfing
- Over knee: arms covered and legs till just over the knees
- Shorty: covers your torso but has short sleeves
As the name might suggest, this suit keeps you dry. These suits are made specifically for cold conditions and usually include a hoody to keep you head warm.
Front zip wetsuit
We’ve seen an increase in front zip wetsuits over the years. The advantages over a back zip wetsuit are increase freedom of movement. Because the zipper is on the front, it pulls on your arms les, making it more comfortable.
Back zip wetsuit
Most wetsuits have a zipper on the back. This kind of suit allows for less freedom of movement than a front zip wetsuit.
Wetsuit price versus quality
Apart from the thickness of the neoprene, the type of seem has influence on the warmth of a wetsuit. Seems can be stitched, glued and blind stitched. The more water proof the seem, the warmer the suit. In general cheaper wetsuits just have stitched seems which makes them less strong and less water proof than glued seems. Personally I think investing in a good quality wetsuit is worth it. From experience I’ve learned that the cheaper suits tend to break quickly.
Tips for buying a wetsuit
Don’t buy a second hand wetsuit. Apart from hygiene, a wetsuit on average lasts just two years
Buy a suit with velcro straps to prevent water from coming into your suit
Try different wetsuits and brand at your local dealer
Buy the right size. Make sure your suit is not too big. Wetsuits should be a bit tight.