When you are shopping for the best wetsuit for kitesurfing or kiteboarding, you have to consider a few factors that will make all the difference when you’re out in the water. The most important of these factors are warmth, movement, and fit. Buying this kind of gear is not something you need to be doing often, so make sure you get it right the first time.
With the tips below, you’ll get a good idea of how to find the kiteboarding or kitesurfing wetsuit that fits you best. As a general rule of thumb, the best wetsuit for kitesurfing is the one that fits your body shape and allows you to accomplish the activities you want. There are so many brands and models on the market, and this review is just intended to be a starting point.
Once you’ve got more experience, you’ll begin to develop preferences like how dense you prefer the suit to be, how much mobility you have, hood or no hood, and so on. Without further ado, let’s begin the review.
- Why Do You Need a Wetsuit?
- What is the Optimal Wetsuit Fit?
- Best Wetsuits for Kitesurfing Review
- Wetsuit Sizing
- Wetsuit Warmth
- Wetsuit Seam Construction
- Wetsuit Care and Repair
- How to Put On A Wetsuit
- Taking the Wetsuit Off
Why Do You Need a Wetsuit?
The best wetsuit for kitesurfing depends on how you are planning to use it. For instance, if you intend to kite through the winter, then warmth is a priority. In this case, the thickest full-body suit is your best bet.
On the other hand, if you are vacationing in a tropical area in the summer and plan on practicing some leisurely kiting tricks while you’re there, then warmth is no longer as important. In this case, you’d probably prefer a suit that allows freedom of movement, so look for a short-sleeve and leg suit that has low millimetre thickness.
In the end, buying a wetsuit really depends on where you plan on surfing. If you plan on surfing in chilly areas, you may need to buy a suit with thick neoprene even during the summer seasons. On the other hand, if most of your kiting is done someplace like the Mediterranean, then you’ll want a thinner suit most of the time.
We really can’t stress the importance of having a good wetsuit. This is a crucial kit, especially in colder climates. Kitesurfing wetsuits provide year-round protection; warmth when it is cold, and protection against harsh winds, UV rays, and aquatic animals. Furthermore, kitesurfing wetsuits will keep you buoyant for the few times you’re in the water instead of on it.
What is the Optimal Wetsuit Fit?
In addition to warmth, your kit should have a snug fit as well. There should not be any bunching or sagging areas anywhere. It should feel as if your wetsuit is another layer of skin. Each section should wrap around your body tightly, especially around the wrists, ankles, and neck, as these are the points where water can seep in.
A suit that fits too loosely will allow water to enter. If too much water flushes through, it makes the wetsuit less effective at keeping you warm. Some users complain that their suit fits too snugly around their neck. To fix this, consider wearing a rashguard underneath to prevent a neck rash.
Wetsuits are not comfortable to wear outside of the water, hence why it is called a wetsuit. If you find it difficult to put on your gear, don’t feel as if you’ve made a bad purchase as this is the norm for a snug fitting suit. Over time you will get used to putting on and taking off your suit, and the whole process will be much smoother.
Best Wetsuits for Kitesurfing Review
If you’ve never owned a wetsuit before and can’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on one, then a good starting point is the Hyperflex. It is so affordable, we haven’t seen a cheaper suit anywhere else. But don’t think that the low price reflects its quality; it is surprisingly snug and durable.
The Hyperflex is so good at keeping you warm because it is made from a tight, celled material. According to customer reviews, thanks to its low profile seams the Hyperflex will not chafe your skin which is a common problem if you kitesurf for hours at a time. Furthermore, the smoothskin raw neoprene chest area will protect you against wind chill.
One thing to note is that customers that bought this online had issues with the sizing. Specifically, they tend to be a little on the small side, so we recommend buying one size up from what you’d expect to get. In a similar vein, Hyperflex wetsuits are durable but they may feel slightly more restrictive than the other wetsuits in this review. If you want maximum freedom of movement, then you should look to get a different wetsuit.
Rip Curl Flash Bomb
Rip Curl is a well-known name, and their Flash Bomb wetsuit has some high expectations to meet. So how does it fare against the other wetsuits in this review?
Starting off, the Flash Bomb has an E5 flash lining for added comfort, and thankfully doesn’t sacrifice warmth to achieve it. Combined with the full hood and smoothskin on the chest and you’ve got the formula for warm wetsuit that is perfect for kitesurfing. Another thing, Rip Curl makes the bold claim that the FlashBomb dries faster than all other wetsuits on the market.
Next, let’s talk seam construction. Anyone who has had their wetsuit fall apart at the seams will be glad to know that the stitching and gluing on the Flash Bomb is a major step up and tearing at the seams won’t be an issue for the Flash Bomb.
As to how well you can move in this wetsuit, despite not being marketed as a surfing wetsuit, Rip Curl is a surf brand, so we don’t see why the Flash Bomb won’t hold up to that task. Many users have reported that this wetsuit does not restrict their arm movements in any way, so paddling on a surfboard should be fine.
One thing we’ve noticed about many of Rip Curl’s wetsuits is that they are pretty slim on the legs and arms. You will need to check the exact specifications for each suit, but for the most part, expect Rip Curl suits to fit better on an athletic/slim frame.
Yet another wetsuit from a well-known brand, the Mystic Majestic is the main model that is leading Mystic’s current selection of wetsuits.
The first thing you’ll notice about this suit is how light it is despite its denseness. This is possible thanks to its featherlite neoprene and large cell material. If you’re worried about wind chills, Mystic have lined the inside of the Majestic with a fleecy material called Teddyprene which will keep you warm under cold conditions.
Furthermore, the Mystic Majestic has convenient back zip and chest zip variations to cater to what you’d prefer, and help smooth the process of putting it on and taking it off. With most wetsuits having a back zip design, perhaps you’re feeling a bit experimental and want to try something different? If so, then consider the Mystic Majestic.
For a budget wetsuit, the O’Neill Reactor is a great starting point for a thinner, basic 3/2 wetsuit that will keep you warm in chilly water and against cool winds. It is made from high quality fabric with a good zipper, flexible neoprene on the legs and arms, and wind resistant skin panels on the back and front.
The flat-stitched seam construction does let water in, and could be a dealbreaker if you stay in the water for long. However, for an activity like kitesurfing, where most of the time is spent above water, it’s not an issue at all. However, we recommend this suit only for warmer climates, and for that it does its job quite well.
First of all, I’m not quite sure how O’Neill came up with the name for this wetsuit. Perhaps the Psycho-Freak is psychotically, freakishly comfortable and easy to put on? Made from O’Neill’s Technobutter fabric, many users say that it provides freedom of movement like never before while making it easy to slip into and out of.
The Technobutter Firewall material (seriously, who comes up with these names!?) adds extra protection to the chest and back, keeping you warm even during chilly, windy days. Furthermore, the hydrophobic neoprene prevents water from entering the suit. The light foam rubber core keeps the suit slim, and its quick-dry properties speeds up the drying process.
It seems this suit is all about providing comfort and mobility. And while those are nice features to have, you have to be aware that supple materials have a shorter lifespan because they are more susceptible to wear and tear. If you intend to put this wetsuit through heavy use, you may find yourself having to replace it very quickly.
You can purchase the O’Neill Psycho-Freak in 3/2 and 4/3 variations for warmer and cooler seasons.
To ensure the user has a snug fit, wetsuits are sized in a two-dimensional manner of body length and width. In regards to width, regular clothing sizes should apply. For example, if you normally wear a large, then get a large wetsuit. If you wear a medium, then get a medium wetsuit, etc.
There are charts for general wetsuit sizing, however these can obviously vary from suit to suit. Make sure to look at the size chart for the specific suit you are planning on purchasing to get a better idea of how it fits.
Most wetsuits are made from neoprene, however there seems to be a trend of suits made from natural alternatives. The thickness of the neoprene in wetsuits varies, and as mentioned above you want thicker neoprene for colder conditions. If the cold conditions are really punishing in your area, consider looking for wetsuits with thermal base layers designed for water sports.
Next, the thickness of the neoprene is not uniform across the entire suit. There will typically be 2-3 thickness levels in each suit. For instance, a 5/4/3 thickness means that the wetsuit has a thickness of 5mm on the torso, 4mm on the arms and legs, and 3mm around areas that require more flexibility, such as the joints. Wetsuit design has come a long way, and these days even the thickest suits still allow for a surprising amount of movement.
Generally speaking, we recommend suits with a thickness of 3/2 to 4/3 in the summer. For the winter you should be looking for a 5/4 or 6/4 thickness.
Wetsuit Seam Construction
There are three types of seam construction to look out for. They are:
Flatlock Seams. This seam has an appearance similar to train tracks on both the outside and inside of the gear. It’s not ideal for colder climates because some water will still seep through flatlock seams, so only consider this for your summer wetsuits.
Sealed Seams. This is a combination of stitching and glue. Though some water may still seep though, this type of seam is appropriate for colder weather conditions.
Sealed and Liquid Taped Seams. If you really need to stay warm, this is the best option of the three. This seam combines stitching and liquid tape over one, or both sides of the kit. It is designed to prevent all water from entering the suit.
Wetsuit Care and Repair
Taking proper care of your wetsuit will help it last longer and maintain its performance. After taking it off, you should be washing and drying it to prevent issues like premature wear, mildew, tears, and the dreaded “wetsuit smell” which can be hard to get rid of. If left unchecked, wetsuits will become ground zero for bacteria that produces bad odors. So make sure to wash and dry them regularly!
Cleaning Your Wetsuit
Don’t wait to wash your suit. Always clean and dry as soon as you can. First, rinse it with fresh water. Do not wash your wetsuit using hot water, as this can damage the neoprene and reduce its flexibility. In the same vein, salt water or chlorinated water will wear down neoprene, so only use fresh, cold water to wash your wetsuit.
Next, apply mild, non-detergent soap and hand wash thoroughly. You can also buy wetsuit conditioners and shampoos. Baby shampoo can also work if you don’t have the special shampoo.
Drying Your Wetsuit
Once you’ve finished cleaning your wetsuit, you’ll have to dry it. Hang the wetsuit on a hanger designed specifically for wetsuits or padded clothes. Beginners often make the mistake of hanging their suit on a traditional wire hanger. Do not do this, as the metal wire can damage the neoprene by stiffening and cracking it. Over time the shoulder area will degrade.
Another mistake is sun drying. The UV rays can cause permanent damage to the neoprene, which will shorten the suit’s lifespan. Instead, hang it in a shaded area if possible.
Unfortunately, even if you are diligent with washing and drying your wetsuit, over time it may need repairs. After each use, make sure to inspect your suit for rips and tears. Wetsuits can be torn by small rocks or fingernails. Small rips (1-2 inches long) are easier to repair if detected early and can even be done at home.
Tears larger than this should be repaired by a professional repair service. Similarly, if the seams or stitches have been torn, you should also consider taking it to a professional for repairs.
Wetsuit Repairs at Home
So, for situations where the rip is small (1-2 inches) and you are up for some DIY repairs, you can fix it at home. Before getting started, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Neoprene Cement/Sealant/Repair Adhesive. Look for brands of sealant and adhesive marketed specifically for wetsuit repairs. Alternatively, you can purchase a puncture repair kit from a bike store, as the glue used is similar.
- Small brush, such as a paint brush.
- A heavy object.
If you aren’t feeling like going the MacGyver route, you can just buy a wetsuit repair kit which will contain all the supplies you need.
- Before attempting a repair, first make sure the wetsuit is clean and completely dry.
- Next, clean the ripped area with alcohol and wait until it evaporates.
- Using a brush, apply a coat of sealant to the torn area, making sure to keep the two sides separate for now.
- Wait 3-4 minutes for the glue to dry a little bit, and make sure the sides aren’t touching each other yet. You can proceed to the next step when the glue is tacky but not wet.
- Congratulations, you’ve successfully applied the first coat of glue. Now for the second. Do the same thing again, but this time wait for 15 minutes. The sealant should feel like the sticky part of a sticky note.
- Now, carefully bring the ripped sides together, making sure to align the edges on both the inside and outside. Any mistakes will be difficult to fix at this point, because the glue is extremely strong.
- Get a heavy, flat object and place it on the tear for 1 hour or until it fully dries and seals.
How to Put On A Wetsuit
First, we recommend putting on the wetsuit on a smooth, clean surface. Any rough terrain or debris, such as rocks, splinters, or shells can damage wetsuits. Ideally, you should be standing on a changing mat, board bag, or a plastic bin. If not, then you will have to be really careful.
Unzip the wetsuit and turn it inside out until the halfway point. This is to make a bigger opening for you to put your lower body through. Next, wrap your foot in a plastic bag. The plastic bag makes it much smoother for your feet to slide through, otherwise you may get stuck. Stick your foot and leg through, and repeat for the other leg.
When grabbing your wetsuit, make sure you are holding it with your fingertips, not your fingernails. Also take off your watch or any jewellery, as these can damage your suit. When pulling the wetsuit up, use controlled motions and do not yank it or you can tear the suit or damage the seams.
Pull the suit up to your body and begin to fit it over your arms. Wrap the plastic bag around your hand and slide it through. Do the same for the other hand and arm. Before you zip the suit up, make sure there are no loose sections; the wetsuit should conform perfectly to your body and it should feel tight.
Zipping the suit up can be tricky if you are not flexible enough. To zip the wetsuit yourself, hold the section below the zip with one hand, while pulling the zip vertically upward with your other hand. Remember, use controlled motions, and don’t yank if it gets stuck. You may need to ask someone to help you zip the suit if the zipper snags on anything.
Taking the Wetsuit Off
Unzip your wetsuit all the way. Begin to remove the suit from the shoulders, being careful to use your fingertips and not your fingernails. Once your shoulders are exposed, begin to peel the sleeve from your arms one at a time. We recommend freeing your arms one at a time, because doing both simultaneously will restrict your movement and make you look like a penguin.
Once your arms are out, roll the suit down to your torso. Pull it down further to your hips and legs, and then gently roll it down your upper leg to your calves. If you find yourself losing your balance, you can do this while sitting down. Once the suit is down to your ankles, put your fingers inside and work your foot through it one at a time. Now that your suit is off, you should follow the steps above regarding cleaning and drying it properly.
Sometimes when you are out in the public, you may not have a good place to remove the suit privately. If you are worried about peering eyes, you can wrap a towel around yourself and shimmy out of the suit. If your car is nearby, open a door and stand behind it for cover.