With the ski season coming to the end I needed to find a new way to keep fit throughout the summer. Working at Tallington Lakes gave me the perfect opportunity to swap two skis on snow covered mountains (or Dendix) for one ski behind a boat on the water.
Glide Soul Wetsuit
The water is sill a bit nippy, this time of year, so I took the opportunity to try out a women’s wetsuit, from a new brand to the Pro Shop, Glide Soul. Having not heard of this brand before I didn’t know what to expect, and the colour wasn’t exactly to my liking either, so I was a little apprehensive. However once I got it on I was impressed. It was easy to put on and take off and the quality neoprene felt great too – very stretchy! I usually struggle with how tight they feel around my neck, as it makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel restricted in this at all! The seams are glued and blind-stitched, as you would expect from a quality wetsuit; which did not hinder movement either as I attempted to run the course. The Supratex knees feel great and give remarkable flexibility especially when you’re curled up in the water-start position.
As I feel the cold quite a lot, and like to stay warm, I will wear this 3mm wetsuit throughout the whole summer. So even though the colour is a bit ‘loud’ for me the performance of this wetsuit is fantastic. So don’t let the colour, of this women’s wetsuit, put you off because the performance itself is actually quite flattering; and we’ve got plenty of other Glide Soul colour-ways to choose from in store!
It seems like everyone is starting to do their part when it comes to cleaning our aquatic playgrounds; everything from reducing agricultural pollutants in our waters to reducing plastic waste. But how many of us have stopped to think; how eco-friendly is the wetsuit I’m wearing, in the water, when participating in my favourite water sport?
Picture Organic Clothing has taken the plunge into the wetsuit market, with the same company policy: ‘sustainable development and conservation of the environment’. Consequently we have seen the emergence of wetsuits made from NaturalPrene – 85% natural rubber and 15% synthetic chlorine free rubber. So what are these eco-friendly wetsuits like? Well I took one water skiing and wakeboarding at Tallington Lakes, and body-boarding/surfing in Cornwall to try – and the odd open water swim.
Glued and blind stitched seams, with solvent free water based glue, and a fully recycled polyester lining; make these wetsuits comfortable and ultra-quick drying. The additional DryNow fibre lining, in critical areas, is ultra-wicking and will keep your body’s core warm.
The zip-free entry design means your cold fingers do not have to struggle with a zipper; which along with the fully waterproof collar, including a glideskin neck seal, will ensure minimal water intake. If you are a surfer, or just take hard hits wakeboarding like myself, then the double NaturalPrene comfort zones protect your ribs perfectly.
Consequently Picture Organic Clothing has been able to dramatically save their carbon footprint, in the manufacture of good quality wetsuits. Instead of giving us the figures in a scientific number, that better minds that my own can’t comprehend, they give us an easy understandable representation: the emissions saved are the same as driving 56,000 kilometres in a car.
So high quality wetsuits, that perform in the water, following a 100% eco-friendly policy – done!
We have a lot of fun water activities here at Tallington Lakes, including wakeboarding and SUPing, and generally speaking – UK weather isn’t exactly the warmest, so I’m pretty grateful that Roxy has hooked me up with a Performance 3/2mm Chest Zip Full Wetsuit!
I’ve worn this wetsuit on multiple occasions and it’s fantastic. I mean, it’s a little long for me, but that’s expected considering I’m only 5ft1… But apart from that, I really have no complaints! We often go out for staff wakeboard sessions in the evening and I try my best to go out for a play during my spare time as well, and I can honestly say I haven’t been cold since starting to wear this Roxy Wetsuit. The 3/2mm thickness is ideal for braving the colder waters, but might be a bit thick for me in the warmer summer months. Not only does it feel good on, it looks it. The cut and colours of this wetsuit are actually rather flattering and make me feel like a badass – not a Christmas ham, like I would normally feel in a wettie.
Roxy continues to pioneer the world of women’s wetsuits; their designs are flattering and stylish without sacrificing any of the much needed technology giving you all the performance you want and need from a wetsuit. Initially the chest zip was a tad intimidating, but now I’m used to it, I think it’s better than a normal back zip, plus its free floating zipper technology is coated, with off-set teeth, to minimise water entry. Partner this up with Roxys seam technology, which features GBS stitching, Hydrolock Seam Seal and Redsealseam Technology you’ve got yourself a wetsuit with seams that reduce water entry and leaks using the thinnest, lightest and most flexible seal available.
The F’N lite neoprene is made from limestone derivatives, and is packed with more air cells to increase warmth and decrease weight. In fact, F’N lite neoprene is 16% lighter than Hyperstretch 3.0 neoprene! The Termal Smoothie chest panel is a maximum stretch mesh with an open air structure to act as a wind and water repellent and give you intense heat insulation to keep you warm, even when the water is not. Finally, the Far Infrared Heat Technology thermal lining is Roxy’s warmest and fastest drying lining to date and it’s placed in critical areas to retain body heat meaning you can stay warmer, for longer!
Roxy pride themselves on being a brand that represents a new wave of fashion conscious and sport focused woman, and I certainly am a proud owner of the Roxy Performance 3/2mm Chest Zip Full Wetsuit. Not only do I feel confident wearing it, it’s super comfortable and keeps me warm meaning I can play for longer getting the most out of my time in and on the water!
Last week I had the opportunity to go to an O’Neill wetsuit training day, where I got to learn more about their wetsuits and what sets O’Neill apart from other wetsuit companies. Not only did I learn how each suit is made, and why they are made this way, I got the chance to try a Women’s F.U.Z.E. SuperFreak 3mm 2mm wetsuit for myself while attempting to kneeboard and wakeboard at a cable park. And, the proof really was in the pudding.
I really liked this wetsuit! The training day was held at a cable park, on a typically English day – grey and cold. So, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. I wakeboard behind a boat here at Tallington Lakes, and I usually spend a lot of time in the water, so with never being on a cable I knew I would spend more time in the water than not. After learning about how the suits are made, I know I shouldn’t have been surprised by how warm I was. But, I was. I was even more surprised by the fact I was warmer wearing the wetsuit in the water, than I was wearing my clothes out of it!
O’Neill Women’s F.U.Z.E. SuperFreak 3mm 2mm
The SuperFreak wetsuit is made with a super stretchy UltraFlex DS Neoprene, and stuck together with O’Neill’s glued and blindstitched (GBS) seam construction. The stretchy neoprene means you have unrestricted movement; and because the GBS stitching only goes part way through the neoprene, and is then glued, there is minimal leakage. O’Neill also place additional tape in all areas of excessive stress too, just to make sure! The suit has been designed with ‘seamless paddle zones’ which means that areas such as under the arm are constructed out of one panel. Consequently there are no seams to hinder movement (when paddling) and eliminates rashing; which in my case was a real bonus when I kept falling and having to swim to the lake side… And, I can see how great this would be when surfing or swimming for extended times.
The SuperFreak has yet another one of O’Neill’s tricks, the F.U.Z.E Entry System. F.U.Z.E stands for Front Upper Zip Entry, which basically means what you think; you get into the wetsuit from an opening in the chest. I was pretty intimidated by the concept, but once I tried it, I actually found it easier to get into than the usual back zipped wetsuits. F.U.Z.E follows the same concept of the Patented Z.E.N Zip Entry, where the zip system is added to the suit separately, having the main body of the suit constructed in a way that keeps as much water out as possible.
A few other treats included with this suit are the Krypto Knee Pads, a double Super Seal Neck and a neat little external key pocket on the thigh! The SuperFreak keeps the water out and keeps you warm like no other wetsuit ever offered at this price level. And, I can 100% recommend this, and any of the women’s O’Neill wetsuit, if you are after something comfortable, warm and flexible for these spring and summer months ahead!
Surfing in Scotland. Tallington Lakes Pro Shop kindly armed me with an O’Neill Psycho 3 wetsuit for the trip and I was keen to push it to its limits in the cold seas that surround Scotland.
On the Wednesday and Thursday there was a large swell on the east coast so we decided they would be the best days to head to the surf. We travelled towards Aberdeen and made our way south finally jumping in at Lunan Bay. This was a great reintroduction to Scottish surfing; it is a wild and rugged country and the seas around it seem to reflect that. The surf on the east coast were generally messy but it was great to get some water time before we headed to the reefs and slabs of the north.
From the Cairngorms we made our way along the coast to Inverness and then started the long drive to the northern tip of Caithness. The surfing in this area in my opinion is world class. It offers a huge variety of waves from long mellow points to thick heavy slabs. Having already done two trips to this region we also explored further west into Sutherland and again found plenty of empty line ups to keep us entertained.
To say the trip was ideal testing conditions for a winter wetsuit would be an understatement. The weather is constantly changing with rain and gale force winds. The water temperature despite being relatively friendly in October compared to deepest darkest January is certainly cold enough to put this O’Neill wetsuit through its paces.
The first thing you notice about the O’Neill Psycho 3 wetsuit is how light it is. The new TechnoButter technology, which is a honeycomb neoprene, means that the suit is not dense and has a light foamy texture. The weight of the suit is actually comparable to a 3mm/2mm summer suit when dry. As I got changed I noticed that the suit is extremely flexible; however it is worth noting that with this flexibility you have to be careful when putting the suit on because it feels like you could easily over stretch it or tear it if you pulled too hard.
The seams and seals on the suit are extremely impressive and even through some pretty heavy wipe outs I didn’t find that the suit flushed. The majority of the waves we surfed were over granite slabs and plenty of times you find yourself being dragged along the bottom. Fortunately the suit never split or tore in this situation. Obviously there is a certain degree of luck in the way you fall; but plenty of people did tear their suits on the reef. So I would conclude that the TechnoButter neoprene is tough as well as light.
Actually surfing in the 5mm wetsuit was pleasurable, as surfing can be in such a thick suit. I found due to the flexibility and lightness of the wetsuit, I didn’t tire as quickly paddling as I have in previous suits, and was able to surf for the best part of 5-6 hours most days. These benefits also extend to your ‘pop up’ and surfing; and you feel incredibly nimble for being in such a thick suit.
Overall I would highly recommend the O’Neill Psycho 3 because it made surfing, in Autumn, in Scotland an easy task and handled the conditions better than the suits I have worn on the previous two trips. However I would advise if you purchase this suit to treat it with care, similarly to most top end suits you are paying for flexibility but with this they can easily be pulled or stretched. So always hang the suit from the waist on a hanger and always take some thing to change on, especially in gravel car parks, as it would be a shame to ruin suit before you even got in the water.
Note: O’Neill discontinued the Psycho 3 for winter 15/16 and replaced it with the Psycho Freak ZEN and Psycho Freak FUZE wetsuits. They are the same suit just different ways to climb in! The wetsuit technology is almost 100% the same as the Psycho 3 but O’Neill have extended the ‘fire wall’ inside the suit all the way to the bottom of the legs – toasty!
If, like me, you open water swim to keep fit; it can be difficult to justify purchasing an open water/triathlon specific wetsuit. They are specifically designed for the competitive swimmer or triathlete with long distances swimming in-mind. Consequently they are not as hard wearing as a traditional wetsuit, and therefore not really suitable for anything else.
I wanted a wetsuit I could use for open water swimming, and the odd surfing holiday off the Cornish coast (and more), so I jumped in at the chance to try the O’Neill Hyperfreak full wetsuit. I knew it would be good for surfing etc, but would it be good for open water swimming because I have entered Swim Rutland in August?
The main features of the wetsuit are:
Glued and blind stitch seam construction
Contortionist seamless shoulder
FUZE entry system
I will not go into the technical details of O’Neill’s TechnoButter neoprene, I shall leave that to the boffins at O’Neill, but importantly its lighter and super stretchy than the normal neoprene. The glued and blind stitch seams complement the TechnoButter and with the seamless shoulder design contributed to a well fitting wetsuit with plenty of movement; which did not hinder my swim stroke.
The neoprene thickness is 3mm and 2mm, which gave me enough buoyancy, that I felt confident in the water; and even though I need to work on my swim technique, I had a good swim.
The FUZE entry system isn’t as easy as a back zip; but it does make a good seal, so I had no ‘flushing’ of the wetsuit, keeping me comfortably warm. However if you do elect to enter a triathlon this wetsuit will add time to your transition – however I’d see that as a much needed rest!
So, if like me, you want a multi-disciplined wetsuit; then take a look at the O’Neill Hyperfreak FUZE 3mm 2mm Full Wetsuit and you will have a wetsuit for all occasions, including open water swimming, when the water temperature is a little chilly.
If you are involved with water sports it generally means you will need a wetsuit at some point. This however is seen as a daunting prospect with the wide variety of wetsuit types available. Whether you fancy a dip during the brisk winter months or the height of summer, this guide will give you all the information needed to match your needs to that perfect wetsuit.
Wetsuits provide a perfect blend of thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and buoyancy through the use of numerous high tech materials developed by companies such as O’Neill. One such material to hit the market by storm was O’Neill’s Techno Butter technology which is now 20% lighter and 30% less absorbent than traditional wetsuits.
But many ask the question how do wetsuits really work? In water your body looses heat up to 25 times faster than in air so getting the right insulation is important. It’s the air trapped inside the neoprene itself which creates an insulator against the cold, and the more air you can pack in the warmer the suit will be.
To ensure ‘the warmth’ is not flushed out by any cold water, its crucial the wetsuit fits correctly, so please follow our size guide or give us a call and speak to an experienced member of staff. Or pop in!
A full wetsuit sometimes known as a ‘steamer’ suit covers your whole body and provides a high level of protection. It is available as a summer or winter suit with varying thicknesses from 3/2mm for highly active sports all the way to 7mm which incorporates a hood suitable for cold water scuba diving.
Short Arm Steamer
Do you find your paddling is affected with full wetsuits? Short arm steamers have been designed to still provide warmth and protection for your torso and legs but helps increase flexibility with thinner neoprene and strategic paddle zones when kayaking and SUPing.
A spring/shorty wetsuit either has full length arms and short legs or short arms and short legs. This design gives much more flexibility and movement generally used when body boarding or surfing when torso protection is important but it’s too warm for a full suit.
Short John Wetsuit
This bib style suit features no sleeves and short legs which gives your core warmth with the increased upper body flexibility key for highly active upper body sports during warmer summer months such as rowing and SUPing.
Long John Wetsuit
This again is a bib style suit with no sleeves but gives added warmth and protection through full length legs. This is perfect for the warmer months and highly active upper body sports such as competitive sailing, where bumps and abrasion from the boat hull and trapeze harness is a regular occurrence.
Generally made from a thinner neoprene so not to reduce flexibility, a wetsuit top/vest is perfect for extra protection and thermal insulation to be worn over swimwear when a normal rash guard is not enough. A wetsuit top/vest ranges from 0.5-1.5mm thick.
Made from a thinner neoprene wetsuit shorts are perfect for those situations when you want little warmth but added protection for your upper legs, great when combined with a rash vest and buoyancy aid.
Designed to be fully waterproof dry suits are used in extreme cold water during dives and water rescues offering the highest level of protection. Dry suits are a one piece design with water tight gaskets around the neck, wrists and ankles. These suits generally fall into 2 categories:
Neoprene Dry Suit – Similar to semi dry suits but with higher grade more robust water tight seals, with base layers worn for added warmth on longer dives.
Membrane Dry Suit – Constructed with layered waterproof materials i.e. nylon or rubber and unlike a neoprene dry suit does not provide any insulation or floatation so thick base layers must be worn.
With the high pressure systems becoming more frequent and the air temperatures warming up it won’t be long till the water temperatures around the UK start to catch up. This can only mean one thing! It’s time to brush off the neoprene cobwebs and prepare for the season ahead. But just remember have you got all areas of your body including your head, hands and feet covered with the right gear?
Due to the lack of warmth over the winter many waters around the country will still be well below 10°C, too cold for just a wetsuit alone. Don’t risk getting cold and cutting your session short with cold hands and feet. Let us give you the knowledge to understand the need and options of different gear for your extremities.
It’s widely known that when you get cold your body’s defence is to divert all heat away from your extremities to your core and vital organs, so just relying on a thick winter wetsuit is not enough in cold water. To give you a better idea of what gloves, boots and hoods you could get it’s important to know what time of year you will be going out in, how much use they will get and your budget.
Hoods & Beanies
Recent research has shown that heat loss through your head of around 45% is a myth and is actually around 10%, never the less it’s extremely important to cover your head in cold water. Despite this myth and lower figure, surfers still regularly wear a hood due to the increased chance of being submerged or covered by a crashing wave. This rapid change in head temperature can lead to brain freeze which no rider wants.
Full Neoprene Hood
Full wetsuit hoods vary in thickness from 2-3mm to provide a perfect balance of warmth and flexibility suited to any condition you may throw yourself into. Most hoods come with a peak this provides two functions; gives extra protection against the crashing waves/spray and gives added protection against the bright sun on those rare days.
Many people ask the question to tuck or not to tuck your hood? The real answer is whatever you feel comfortable with, try both ways and you will soon find out which is best for you and your style of riding.
When a full hood is over kill a wetsuit beanie could be an excellent alternative, suited to lower impact sports and warmer conditions. The possibility of losing your beanie out in the surf is high so many beanies now come with an attachment strap as standard giving you the confidence to take on some huge waves.
Beanies are generally thinner than full face hoods around 2mm due to being used in warmer water, as a result they have increased comfort and flexibility. For that perfect beanie visit (Link to wetsuit)
Whether you’re planning on spending hours in the water or having fun on the beach being equipped with the right feet protection is important. As a general rule of thumb if you’re wearing a full wetsuit a neoprene boot is best whereas if you’re walking around the beach visiting rock pools a neoprene reef shoe will be best.
Reef shoes are thinner at around 2mm but have a thicker sole perfect for walking across sharp rocks whilst keeping cool at the same time. For extra protection against the cold a full boot 3-5mm thick would be used in conjunction with your wetsuit providing a perfect seal against any water seeping through.
You wouldn’t get the wrong size shoe and wetsuit boots are no different. Too small they rub and feel uncomfortable whereas too big can cause the boot to fill with water.
Head, check. Feet, check. Next is picking the perfect wetsuit glove which can be a daunting prospect with the numerous variations and styles out there! With an item such as gloves facing a lot of punishment, being either single or double skinned is an important aspect. Single skin gloves are generally smoother and repel water more efficiently but less durable whereas double skinned are much more durable and slightly stiffer due to the increased thickness a favourite for many people.
Having a glove that is too small can cause poor circulation and cold hands whereas gloves being too big won’t retain the heat so it’s important you follow our size guide link to help choose the right size for you.
Neoprene Maintenance & Care
As with any neoprene product it is important to clean and store them correctly. To ensure your boots, gloves and hoods stay mould free and last for years rinsing after use in salt water and thoroughly drying is a must! And finally store them in a dry environment out of direct sunlight.
This guide should help you pick all the right gear but if you’re still unsure why not pop into store or give us a call and speak to one of our experienced staff.
Wetsuits youʼve got to love them! They are an essential piece of kit to wear for open water swimmers and at certain temperatures are mandatory in some open water swims and all triathlons.
So how do we choose a wetsuit and what should it fit like?
Firstly, price is not a good guide alone. Expensive high end suits are almost always designed for the elite end of the sport and will reflect this in terms of buoyancy. Most open water swimmers and especially the majority of triathletes do not kick enough or even at all (you know who you are). Buying a high end suit with little floatation in the legs will not help you swim faster. Check your swim ability and your position in the water and research the suits designed for your swim type. Manufacturers make a range of suits so pick the one that is most closely designed for your swim ability.
Once you have made your choice you need to get the right fit. It should be very snug (even uncomfortable) out of the water. No saggy bits and make sure the suit comes up into the crotch area and the armpits. The small of the back should fit well and when zipped up check for fit by getting someone to pull gently, it should be a suction fit with no gap.
Check out the short video, it shows how to put a wetsuit on.
Fold in half first and concentrate on the legs, slowly ease yourself in and ease the material into the key areas before zipping up.
Check for a good seal around the neck and arms. If the suit is too lose water will flush through and make swimming harder and colder.
Use some lube to avoid chaffing or come up with a good excuse for the ʻlove bitesʼ that your suit will provide if you forget. The best advice is to try before you buy if possible. And remember the zip goes at the back!