Here at Sitons we’ve been promoting kayaking in the off season and the benefits of paddling through winter for a while. As keen advocates of the sport we have to accept the Northern Hemisphere endures periods (months even) of less than enticing weather. In an effort to address the chill factor, UK-based company Ianovated have come up with a totally unique wetsuit concept that addresses the reality of sub 10C degree kayaking. We got our hands on one of these ‘hot’ suits to put to the test. Check out our awesome video review of the Ianovated Wetsuit below and read on to find out what we thought of this outside-the-box concept…
We’re not going to beat around the bush here; the Ianovated Winter Wetsuit looks very unusual to say the least. With its protruding air tubes, mouth piece and ‘freedom of movement’ fit it’s certainly a product that will raise eyebrows and invite questions – maybe even a degree of ribbing from your mates? But anyone wearing it will be having the last laugh on those Baltic cold days! It’s a classic example of substance over style – although it does have style in its own right. Iain Smith, Ianovated (geddit?) brand owner, is a keen windsurfer who loves a good blast all through the year – not just in summer. Keen to avoid those dreaded hot aches after freezing sessions the concept was born. It soon became blindingly obvious benefits didn’t just favour wind addicts. Perfectly applicable to other watersports aficionados; the Ianovated suit is suitable for paddlers as well.
Unfurling the suit is an unusual experience. You obviously get the traditional looking neoprene package, but further investigation leads to discovering the tubing and odd looking plastic paraphernalia. It’s a well constructed single lined neoprene bit of kit. Seams are stitched and glued with key areas reinforced for durability. As with all ‘shiny’ suits, there’s a degree of care needed – this material can pick up nicks and tears if you’re not careful. Across the shoulders is a heavy duty ‘dry zip’ which is a hardcore barrier against water flush. Neck, wrist and ankle seals are snug and taking this as just a wetsuit – it’s a high quality, well thought out bit of gear.
All tube exits are held in place with a rock solid gluing process and quality plastic makes for robust airways that don’t kink. Wearers can adjust the length of the tubing by pulling gently. The mouth piece is slightly smaller than you’d find on a standard snorkel – this being for ease of fit. Getting into the suit was a doddle – no different to any other wetty – just be sure to have the inner ‘spaghetti’ in the right place; down your back in case you’re wondering.
The Innovated wetsuit has been designed with manoeuvrability in mind. The plastic tubing also needs room to sit against the wearers skin and hence the shoulder areas, elbow and forearm section boast generous amounts of room. This surprised me slightly as my everyday suit is a snug fitting garment with limited extra space. Room for manoeuvring is a good idea – particularly with sports such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing and kiting. In fact, any sport which requires lots of upper body movement will benefit from this ‘space’. Supplied was also a pair of palmless mitts. The open hand design means wind chill is kept to a minimum but grip stays at its maximum. Although your hands can get wet, warm breath flowing over fingertips will cancel out the cold.
ONTO THE WATER
The test day was a particularly crisp affair with mercury levels reading sub 10C – the exact environment Iain had in mind when he designed his suit.
Just walking to the water’s edge, gear in hand, was a warm experience. A moderate NW breeze was taking the edge off temperatures but chill couldn’t be felt. Jumping in the boat the session was on – in no time ground was being covered. Every so often a few breaths were sent down the tubes instantly toasting up fingers and hands. During a bit of splash, fingertips did get wet, in fact drenched, but again, a few more puffs hotted things back up nicely. Single lined neoprene worked in perfect harmony with the ‘heating system’. The evaporative cooling effect of shiny rubber is less than its double lined equivalent ensuring less heat loss from the body’s core.
The well designed mouthpiece meant hands free most of the time. Occasionally there was a necessity to adjust manually but there’s no real reason why paddlers can’t stay affixed to their shafts right through.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE Ianovated Winter Wetsuit
The Ianovated wetsuit was a complete revelation. It’s unusual styling doesn’t even begin to convey the benefit wearers will experience during cold conditions. Even though we tested it on a fairly chilly day, it’s not hard to see how temperatures as low as minus degrees would see users happily snug and warm. Ianovated’s roomy design was perfectly adaptable to paddling with no restriction during strokes – the hands free nature of the mouth piece helped to maintain an efficient paddling rhythm. Single lined neoprene works in complete harmony with the rest of the suit ensuring paddlers’ core thermostats keep the temperature turned right up. Although originally designed with windsurfing in mind kayakers would have a hard time ignoring the benefits.
Ianovated’s winter suit is ideal for when the thermometer plummets below 10C but actually comes into its own when readings register less than 5C. We think it’s a perfect alternative to a drysuit with a hefty amount of versatility. Do yourself a favour and try one out – you won’t be sorry.
For stats, specs, testimonials or to buy an Ianovated wetsuit for yourself head over to ianovated.co.uk.