There’s no denying that many of the top windsurfers come from warmer climates. With much more time on the water it is the reason why a lot of the PWA World Tour competitors who live in colder destinations end up travelling for the most part of the year. However, such is the way of the World Tour that these guys occasionally end up competing in the coldest of destinations, so how do they ensure that their body temperatures will remain warm enough to be effective in the heat. Axel Reese joined the 6x World Champion, Gollito Estredo, in the cold chamber.
“ Time isn’t the problem, but -9 °C? Are you guys serious!?” asked Gollito shortly before the World Cup in Sylt. Gollito lives and windsurfs on the the tropical island of El Yaque, Venezuela. Still, he accepted the cold chamber test for the ION Fall and Winter Suits.
We found a cold chamber in the outdoor specialists store, Globetrotter in Hamburg. In addition to the average temperature of -9 degrees, the cold chamber is equipped with a wind machine, making it frostier than ever and even harder to withstand the bitter conditions. Normally customers use the chamber to test outdoor jackets and pants, Gollito was going in to try out a variety of wetsuit concepts.
The time that we start testing wetsuits is dictated by the seasons. As the latter half of August approaches days become shorter and the sun less frequent, and with the imminent approach of cooler weather we get in the right mood for testing.
Wetsuit concepts on the market come with huge diversity amongst models, so it’s often hard to select which one is suitable. You can roughly group them into four groups.
- Double Lined Wetsuits
- Hybrid Wetsuits
- Skin Wetsuits
- Neopren Drysuits
In order to compare these wetsuit concepts, we decided to select wetsuits from one brand, ION. In addition to this, we wanted to guarantee optimum comparability so we chose suits with a thickness between 5/5mm and 5/4mm, also ranked in the so called “AMP” level. “AMP” reflects a similar price and quality level. To add a little more detail, this means that the best and lightest neoprene, ‘V-Type’ was used for all AMP level suits. These suits are all internally lined and equipped with warm and stretchy jersey material, ‘Sanitized’ and come with sealed, glued-blind-stiched seams. In addition to the suits mentioned above, we also tested the heavy duty drysuit from ION, the ‘Fuse.’
Gollito tries all four of the wetsuit categories consecutively to determine his own ‘Brrrrrrrrrrrrr” factor. So what were the results?
Gollito´s cold chamber test report
Category 1: Double Lined Wetsuit / ION Strike Amp 5.5
“I need maximum flexibility from a suit when freestyling and this model has been my best companion for years. You can really feel the advantages the double lined material gives when you put the suit on, it slips over the body so easily even though it is a 5,5.”
“The warmth factor of the suit in the cold chamber was good in comparison to other test suits. This could be down to the fact that we chose the double lined suit which is 1mm thicker than the other test subjects.”
“The Strike AMP 5,5 is my absolute favorite.”
Category 2: Hybrid Wetsuit / ION Hybrid AMP 5.4
Despite the thick skin neoprene, the Hybrid AMP 5/4 is easy to put on and take off . Inside the cold chamber I could hardly feel a difference between the Hybrid AMP 5/4 and the Strike AMP 5,5. The Hybrid AMP is definitely a good choice if you’re exposed to the wind for a longer time without moving. For example, the World Cup in Sylt takes place in autumn and temperatures around 10 degrees. So, when we’re waiting on the beach for our heats, this suit would be a very good choice.”
Category 3: Skin Wetsuits / ION Quantum AMP 5,4
“To start off, the Quantum Amp 5/4 is a top suit, although it can’t keep up with the flexibility or the ‘get-on/get-off’ comfort of the Hybrid and the double lined suits.”
“However, it seemed that once immersed in the cold chamber, Gollito started to have fun with the Quantum AMP 5/4.”
“ This suit felt a lot warmer due to the skin neoprene, a material that keeps the humidity out, meaning less wind-chill. Due to this, the Quantum will score highly!”
Category 4: Neoprene Drysuit / ION Fuse – combined with thermal underwear
“WOW! This suit is really warm! To be honest i’ve never tried this suit before, but I have seen the JetSki Rescue team at the World Cup in Denmark and Sylt wearing them. After testing it, I can totally see why they are using this suit in the North Sea. With the additional thermo underwear and hood I almost felt nothing, even when the wind was turned on. Not surprisingly the Fuse is a little heavier and you need more time to get into it but, if you’re searching for the warmest suit, the Fuse is it!
These temperatures are the measurements of exposed skin during each period, not from inside the wetsuit. (rounded to 0.5 degrees C)
|temp. after 5 minutes
|temp. during the wind||temp. after|
Quantum Amp 5.4
|ION Hybrid Amp 5.4||5/4||26||21||14||16|
|ION Strike Amp 5.5||5.5||26||22||15,5||17|
|Wetsuit||Ease to get on/off||Warmest („1“= the best)||comfort and movability(„1“= the best)|
|Quantum Amp 5.4||3||2||3|
|Hybrid Amp 5.4||1||4||1|
|Strike Amp 5.5||2||3||2|
Gollito: ‘ My conclusion.’
‘My favourite was the Strike Amp, which is the double lined suit. I love the freedom I get with it’s incredible flexibility, something I definitely need for freestyling. Even the thicker material – when compared to other suits – doesn’t change my opinion. Also the heat and warmth performance during the test was surprisingly good and even better than those of the comparable Hybrid suit.’
We would like to say thank you to Globetrotter Hamburg for their support