Update: here are some Predator drysuit kiteboarding action shots. I got my Predator from Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham.
Even though Victoria BC has Canada’s mildest climate the fact is the Pacific Ocean is darn cold! In the summer the air temperatures make wearing a 3mm to 5mm wetsuit comfortable. In some lakes/inlets you can even skip the wetsuit entirely. However the rest of the year you need some serious insulation to play in the water for any length of time. Staying warm is important for having fun and can even be a matter of life and death when you find yourself in the cold water longer than you had planned.
Your choices for staying warm are either a crazy thick wetsuit 6mm-7mm+ or a dry suit. A really thick wetsuit is stiff and cuts down on your mobility quite a lot. A drysuit is a waterproof shell you can add layers of insulation underneath to match the temperatures you need to deal with. Although some drysuits are bulky Ocean Rodeo makes a special drysuit [The Predator] that combines the warmth of a typical drysuit with the flexibility of a light wetsuit…the best of both worlds.
The way the Predator drysuit works is using a 3 layer system:
- fleece insulation layer [matched to water/air temperatures]
- waterproof breathable layer [keeps you dry]
- stretchy neoprene skin [keeps the whole package sleek]
The insulation layer is the same as any other drysuit, but the typically there is a baggy waterproof skin on top of it. By using a thinner waterproof membrane and then a stretchy neoprene out skin the suit gets pulled tight against your body and looks just like a wetsuit. This is critical for any sports in the waves…like surfing, SUP and kite surfing. If a wave hits you in a baggy suit it will take you with it and give you no ability to control what happens. The force may even rip your suit and if it fills with water you are dead. In a skin tight suit the wave has nothing to push against other than your body which allows you to swim through a wave and get some control back. As a result prior to the OR Predator you would never see anyone wear a drysuit in the waves…now you can.
Main Predator benefits:
- flexibility of a 2mm wetsuit
- buoyancy of a 3mm wetsuit
- warmth of a 7mm wetsuit
- easy to swap in dry insulation layers for each session
- breathable to expel moisture from sweat
Putting on a cold wetsuit is pretty horrible..especially when you are freezing to begin with. Using a drysuit you can replace the insulation layer that gets a bit damp from sweat, even in a breathable suit, with a fresh dry one and head out for another session nice and warm!…awesome…=-)
I’ll be ordering up one of these suits so I can keep my watersports going into the winter. Although Ocean Rodeo is headquartered in Victoria BC the best OR dealer I’ve found is Bellingham Kiteboarding. I got my OR Mako 140 board from them and was happy with the killer price and the great service. I’ll be calling them up once it gets chilly up here.
I’ll be using this drysuit for a bunch of different sports:
- SUPing [flat water and surf]
- sea kayaking
Ocean Rodeo also makes a more conventional drysuit called the Pyro [pro version shown above]. If you are not going into the waves this suit is cheaper and a bit easier to get on as there is only one layer to put on over your insulation layer.