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I'm toying with the idea of going drysuit vs. a 5/4 or 6/5mm wetsuit this winter.
Do you have drysuit experience? If so, what brands/models are you using for kiting? What features would you not want to live without (i.e. a "relief port" so you can pee in between sessions!?)
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I used an Oneill dry suit years ago for waterskiing in the winter but not yet for kiting. I know a couple friends that use them and like them. They say about 2-3 seasons and then they have to replace the seals as they wear out.
I am probably going to retire my 5/3 Oneill wetsuit as it is starting to get a little cool now. Never been cold in it. I scored an Oneill Psycho II 6/5/4 awhile back and going to bust it out this winter. It might be a little overkill but it is always nice to be cozy out there especially on the 6m wind days.
If you got the $$$, I recently saw that Patagucci (Patagonia) just came out with a kite specific dry suit. Get one of those, a bottle cognac...the possibilities are endless.
Check out the Ocean Rodeo Soul Drysuits... they are pretty sweet.
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Hey Guys - John Z from Ocean Rodeo here, obviously I carry a bias towards our Soul Drysuit but I'll perhaps take this chance to explain a bit why. (I've sold drysuits for 12 years)
The O'Neil suit Floater is referring to was likely what we would call a "PU Lined" suit, meaning it was nylon lined with rubber, tape welded to stay dry. It likely did a good job of keeping Floater dry from sea water but was also likely heavier than today's suits and certainly not breathable, making the suit very hard to regulate your temperatures in and likely that you'll end up soaked at the end of the session from your own sweat. Our original Pyro drysuits were the same construction for years. Great for the depth of winter but not much else.
The Patagonia suit is a beautifully designed suit but consumers need to be aware that it is essentially one step above a high end wetsuit. It is neoprene and as such will be just as frustrating to get on and off as a thick wetsuit but it will also be as restrictive to your range of motion and as heavy when wet. The suit is "dry" only in so far as they have added neck, wrist and ankle seals and tape welded the seams. Otherwise it is a wetsuit similar to all others. This means it will also be equally difficult to regulate your internal temperatures and it won't be breathable.
Our Soul drysuits are nothing like either of these suits. The materials are 100% breathable and have been in use in our suits for the last 5 season (meaning, we are sure they will hold up to the harsh mariner environment). The suit weighs less than 5lbs when wet and has been designed from the ground up for SUP & Kite specific movements. We have a patent pending on the entry system which is both self entry and which removes the zipper from your shoulders, leaving them open to a full range of motion. Because the suit is breathable you won't get a nasty build up of sweat inside the suit and this also allows you to easily layer up or down for the day's weather - meaning our Soul suit can be used comfortably in a much wider window of air and water temperatures. Many riders will use them all the way through until it's shorty weather again.
If you have specific questions, please feel free to ask away. Again, I obviously carry a bias but I have had years of experience with drysuits and am happy to answer in as objective a way as possible. It should be mentioned for newer kiters out there who may not know the company history, Ocean Rodeo has been a kite brand since 2001 but our 1st product was a drysuit and we were spun out of a diving drysuit business. Our head of design has over 20 years of drysuit design history and has brought together his know-how and his selection of the best possible materials in the design of the Soul.
John Z - OR
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A few things to be careful about IMO... you can't really swim in a drysuit, they are incredibly inefficient if you have to swim in. If they rip and fill with water I've heard they can be dangerous. You don't see many people in Cali wearing dry suits because a good 5/4 w/ a hood is all you really need for the coldest coast days. I do see people in Oregon and Washington rock them though, if you've ever kited Washington in February... I'd consider one for the pacific NW but not for cali. my .02
Last edited by NCKite_Ryder on Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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I know its a little cheesy, but why not layer up. I have a 5/3 hurley freedom. I had a 45 minute swim in after a self rescue last january. Water temp: 46 degrees. I started to get damn cold; felt like begining stages of hypothermia. But with all of that said, i think id much rather throw my 2 mm top over that suit, or pick up a 6/5/4, over investing all of that money on a drysuit. Its all fun and games untill youre out there and faced with either a long swim or a wardrobe malfunction. I have to agree with nck rider on this topic for sure; a leaky drysuit or a long swim would be pretty damn dangerous. In a sport with so many what ifs, thats a question that is worth bringing up.. If its cold enough where you need a drysuit to get your fix, maybe you should reconsider your lattidude.........move south! Just my .02 as well. Btw, i have zero experience with drysuits so take it for what its worth.
I'll address a couple points Ryder and Kiteman touch on...
1) Swimming - this is true, loose fitting suits are sloppy when faced with a long swim. It's certainly not impossible to swim however and you have the added benefit of being warm and dry as you swim in.
2) Ripping a drysuit while on the water is incredibly hard to do. In 12 years of selling suits the only rips I have seen are from people snagging a suit on a sharp nail or edge while on land. Even a large fin will likely brush off the material we use. However, if you do manage to get a gash - say 2-3" in size, or larger, in the suit - the suit will not flood with water. If you cut the suit the outward pressure of the water will simply burp all remaining air from the suit and it will "vacuum" to your body. The water will then seep into the rip but will not flow in, rather the suit will be sucked tight to your body.
Drysuit decisions boil down to the use and weather you will face. In general I agree with both Kiteman and Ryder that in Northern California you can get away with a 5mm or 6mm suit as your weather is less severe but you will be fighting the rubber (our suits are much more flexible than even a 3mm suit) and you will be exposed to wind chill and cold towards your end of your session. Also, as mentioned, it comes down to use - Neoprene is horrible for breathability and if you work hard during your session you will get chilled quickly afterwards due to the sweaty build up. They aren't for everyone but they are a fantastic option for watermen and women who want to extend their sessions into the shoulder seasons!
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I find this really hard to believe. I've flooded my wetsuit with much smaller rips.
Hello, I have been using the Ocean Rodeo Dry suits for the past 8 years. I have never had a suit rip or have a seam open up.
The materiel will compress against you, as JZ said, a wetsuit's neoprene is too stiff to have the same effect.
Even if you jump in with the suit unzipped it will just be neutral buoyancy, it will not pull you under.
Think of the suit as a snow boarding Bib that you layer up fleece underneath, depending how warm you want to be. Same thing.
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