How To Stay Warm: Tips and Tricks for Cold Water
Are temperatures getting cold but you still want to get on the water and ride? Winter can have some of the best wind and waves, but you need to take extra precautions to stay warm and safe on the water. Here are some of the things we find will help you stay comfortable and make life easier during winter kiteboarding.
- Get a GREAT Wetsuit (or Drysuit): If it is really cold you are not going to stay warm in a $99 suit. Do your research and get the suit you need. Be sure and get a suit with fully sealed seams and get the proper thickness for your air and water conditions. In general, the more you spend on a suit, the warmer and more flexible it will be. Wetsuits last for years so be sure to get a good one that will keep you warm. Check out our Wetsuit Guide here for how to select a suit and some pointers on booties, gloves, and beanies.
- Keep Your Extemeties Warm: Invest in good gloves, booties, and a beanie. Nothing is worse than cutting a session short because your hands, feet, or head are cold. Beanies are more comfortable and allow for a greater range of motion. If you do need a full hood, getting a suit with the hood built in makes it even warmer by keeping water out. You can zip on a hood or a neck closure and stay nice and warm. Neoprene hoodies are also great for staying warm and cutting the wind chill on the beach while rigging or packing down your kite. Some neoprene hoodies are also designed for use on the water if you need some extra protection from the elements.
- Use Caution: If you are riding in cold weather be safe! Never ride alone, don't kite out farther than you want to swim in, and stay away from offshore winds. Remember cold water will absorb your body heat quickly and a long swim can lead to hypothermia or other major problems.
- Bring Warm Water: Put hot water in sealable containers or jugs and bring it along. Nothing feels better than dumping warm water down your suit after a cold session. Another trick is to put your wetsuit in warm water right before you put it on, kind of like using a warm towel fresh from the dryer. This is especially nice if your wetsuit is wet from yesterday's session.
- Sealed Seams are your Friend: Sealed seams keep cold water out and warm body heat in which is super important if you plan on riding in cold conditions. Make sure your wetsuit, gloves, and booties all have sealed seams. Sealed and taped seams are even a step better with extra internal tape on the inside to stop water from entering your suit.
- Maintain your Rubber: Leaving your wetsuit sandy and salty will break down the neoprene and lead to a stiff and brittle suit. Be sure and wash it out in fresh water after every session. Starting to smell? Use either a wetsuit specific cleaner or save some money and use shampoo with conditioner; it will leave your wetsuit smelling great and keep the neoprene soft and flexible. Also be sure and repair any tears or they will grow. Aqua Seal is quick fix for any small punctures in your wetsuit and is also handy as it can be used as a temporary fix for a valve coming off your kite bladder as well as many other small repair jobs.
- Recycle, Use Plastic Bags: Plastic grocery bags are super helpful for getting your wetsuit on. New suits are designed to be water tight, but this means it will be very tight on your wrists and ankles. To make it faster, easier, and prevent damage to the seals, slip your hand or foot in a plastic bag and it will slide right into your wetsuit.
- Go Somewhere Warm: If the cold gets too much to handle book a trip south. La Ventana, Puerto Rico, and several other spots are excellent during the winter months. Corpus Christi will normally start to get good warm southerly winds in March and is extremely cheap and easy to travel to.