Michigan Windsurfing

Windsurfing & Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Michigan

Taken from Casey's Blog, on the Reef Warriors

Casey’s Blog:

So I was talking to Randy from Michigan and he asked me if my wetsuit was a drysuit in my cold water gear “review”! and how did I like it. After i got done emailing him, I read what i wrote and was like “This would be a great post.” Plus after surfing a whole winter season in my new wetsuit scoring killer wave sesh’s in lots of 34 degree water I got thinking:  ”Why would anybody buy a drysuit?” (Unless they’re stuck in the 80′s/90′s maybe, trying to look retro!  haha!),  anyways  here is what I wrote.

“Yup it’s a wetsuit and it’s way better then any drysuit. Now I have never been a
fan of drysuits since they choke the shit out of ya, cut off all of your blood flow, you have to wear clothes under them to stay warm and then you feel like the Michelin man.
Drysuits still get water in them anyways and if you ever got a cut in them and had
to go for a swim you most likely would fill up with water and would drown. All that
being said, until about 8 years ago they were the only 30-40 degree option to
keep ya warm.

But not anymore. Now the materials they have for wetsuits are insane.
They are super stretchy; you don’t even feel it’s on you and mobility is huge in cold
water. They let zero wind through them so you get no heat-loss from that. They
actually don’t soak up any water and they let very little water in. You never
feel the water through them. You really don’t get wet at all. With the zip-in hood
it’s seamless,  plus they are super easy to get on and off without any help. Try
that with a drysuit? When i take off my suit from a 30 degree sesh, my body is
literally steaming with heat.

The Oneil I have is so crazy warm and the quality is by far the best. It will last you for many seasons. Anybody who gets a drysuit anymore has to have a screw loose or is very misinformed. For example, just look at the surfers in you area or anywhere in the great lakes. Do you see them with a drysuit on? Nope you wont find a one. And they are sitting right in that 30 degree water for hours! They are all wearing 5/4 – 6/5 wetsuits. They are the proof. You can’t denies that. If you get that suit on my review, I promise you, you
wont be cold.”

So in my opinion, it looks like Drysuits are dead.  Love to hear your feedback! and thanks Randy for the inspiration! Check his blog out: http://randybass.wordpress.com/

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Comment by Randy Bass on March 23, 2012 at 7:43pm

I think my delema of the cold water is gone.  Lake Lansing is 68 degrees already.  I bet the inland lakes around me are in the 60's as well.  I might go get a reading this weekend.  Lake Michigan is showing 55 in some places.  That is warmer than some days in the middle of the summer when we get an easterly that blows the warm water to Chicago.  I have had 39 degree water at our beach in the middle of July.  I should have no problem with the 3/2 now.  Thanks for the info.  I guess I can wait another season to figure out the cold weather gear. 

I did not get out on the water yet, but I did get some streetsailing in last weekend.  I put some pictures on my blog if anyone is interested.  It was great to get some jibes in.  Brian put a link to my blog on the main page under windsurfing links. (Randy Bass' Blog) I want to get on the water but I just don't have time being a teacher. This time of the year is the busiest for me.  I do have my toy trailer ready to go if the planets align. 

Comment by Dave Dalquist on March 22, 2012 at 11:38pm

Hmmm, according to Casey, I have a screw loose.  :-)  As some places will kindly consider me a senior citizen in a few days, it's more likely a rusty screw frozen in place. Come to think of it, I do have a screw in one knee; I hope it's not loose....Whatever, I've been using fabric drysuits (usually Kokatat) for a lot of years, and love them (as do several of my kiteboarding friends and any serious kayaker I know). Warm, convenient, relatively dry, not binding, lasts many years, and mine has a relief zipper! More than once I've just worn street clothes under it for a quick session.

No, as Tom noted, a surfer wouldn't use one; you can't dive under a wave with that kind of flotation, although once I have the suit on, I pull open the neck seal, squat down, and force the excess air out. If the neck, wrist, or leg seals are too tight, you can carefully trim them back a bit at a time until you reach a wider radius of the seal that provides the correct balance between comfort and seal. I don't have fabric booties on mine - they don't fit well into the kind of neoprene booties we use for windsurfing; I use 7mm booties that go over the leg seals. As for wear, the fabric holds up for years; the seals eventually deteriorate, but can be replaced - done a set myself that came out fine.

Yes, the newer neoprene suits are tons better than the old. Go for it if that's the way you want to go. Either way, pay more for a good one, make sure it fits correctly, and you'll be rewarded. Like most others, I'm still looking for a solution for the hands...

Randy: I wouldn't recommend a 3/2 in cold water unless you can fit add'l insulation under &/or over, e.g., some wetsuit companies sell hooded vests that add a lot of core warmth, e.g.,
Note that an attached hood can be restrictive when looking side-to-side, but a separate hood that doesn't bind can leave your neck open to cold. As Don said, a hood makes a huge difference in warmth. I've taken to wearing a cheap bike helmet for heavier-duty sailing. It's cool and lightweight in the summer, and there's enough adjustment room that I can wear a thick, neoprene skull cap underneath for colder weather.
Nice photos on the blog, BTW....

Comment by Randy Bass on March 12, 2012 at 11:40pm

I have a new delema that I posed to Casey and to anyone out there that might have an answer.  With the 70's and 80's coming up this weekend I might try for my first ever March session.  Can my new 3/2 wetsuit handle the 30 degree water temps.  I don't want to go "Retro" as Casey puts it in my 1992 drysuit if I don't have to.  I can't breath in it because of some addition weight I have acculated over the years.  I also think I would die of heat stroke in the thing if the air was in the 80's.  I have only used my wetsuit for fall sailing when the water is still in the 50's.  I am thinking I can get by with my 3/2 steamer, but if some out there has a better idea than me let me know.  I don't want to end up expired, washed up on the beach like dead whale because I overheated and asphyxiated myself in my old drysuit!  Thanks for the help.

Comment by Don Ferguson on March 12, 2012 at 9:12am

I have been using an O'neil dry for the last four years and also love it!  My older dry smooth skin Neoprene Neil Pryde worked ok but if you get a nick in it avoid aquaseal like the plague! I  unfrotunately didn't, and unknowingly repaired some nicks that just got bigger and biger until I had to scrap the suit. The aquaseal dries stiffer and harder than the smoothskin neoprene and starts to crack around it, then the trouble really starts. Often wonder how those guys sailed the Gorge in big conditions in those old Bare stiff (mine was yellow top and black farmer John) drysuits. I wore mine for one session in the fall here last year and couldn't believe how stiff it was and hard to move in.

Anyway just a thought. I also have a great problem with my hands getting cold when saiing, however this fall I found something that really made a huge difference was the hood! I have never been big on wearing these as I didn't like my ears covered when sailing, but I decided to give it a whirl this past fall and WOW huge difference. I still get cold hands but contrary to what they are saying now, it seems we do lose a significant amount of heat from our heads. By wearing the hood I have at least doubled my stay in the water time, and my core temp does not drop near as much as without a hood. I found also that latex dish detergent gloves cinched (not too tight) at the wrists keeps the skin from absorbing water and also helps although they do tend to loosen up after a bit and need retightening once in a while. Still, I don't know if I could bring myself to sail in large waves in temps in the thirties though. If anyone has other ideas (other than an on site hot tub, like Hatteras) please let us in on it!

Comment by Brian on March 9, 2012 at 8:18pm

Tom, you nailed it - what about the hands!

Comment by Tom Janicki on March 9, 2012 at 5:26pm

Interesting...I just purchased a modern dry suit in 2011 and I actually like it better than my old 2001 wetsuit/steamer which has thick and stiff neoprene. Very uncomfortable and never good for extreme cold.

I do like the dry suit easy on and off,  95% dry and can be used in a variety of temperatures. Colder,  you wear more underneath warmer, you wear less.

Never stiff very easy to move with 0 hindrance.

Surfers would not like the dry suit it has to much air built up inside and produces and unbalanced situation when fully submerged in the water...example legs will be full of air and thus your legs would float upward while your torso wants to sink.

Maybe next time I will check out the new stretchy neoprene.

Now the million dollar question – how to keep your hands as warm as your body?


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