NCW 5/3mm Gulf Stream mini front zip winter wetsuit
There are two ways of thinking when it comes to sit on kayak water wear – some go the drysuit route while others prefer wetter neoprene options. Both have their pluses and minuses but for us at Sitons it’s rubber all the way if we’re fancying some wave action. North Coast Wetsuits supplied us with their 5/3mm Gulf Stream mini front zip winter wetty earlier in the year – we’ve been putting it to good use ever since.
First look Out of the box it’s a good quality looking garment. Blind stitched seams, flat locked and glued, tape spots on critical pressure areas, duraflex knee pads, anatomically shaped fit, mesh chest and back panel with fabric lining and rugged double lined neoprene to ensure long life and durability are all top drawer features. We’ll admit that while double lined neoprene is super hard wearing it’s designed to be wet. If you’re thinking of spending more time on the water than covered in it we’d suggest looking at alternatives – the evaporative cooling effect of double lined neoprene wetsuit can do more harm than good. Splashing about in waves, however, is perfect for NCW’s offering. The fit Before getting hold of the 5/3mm we had an extensive chat with brand owner Mark Graham. He went through the process of obtaining our measurements. This should ensure a decent fit and highlights North Coast Wetsuit’s attention to customer service – after all they want you to have a positive experience and own a product you love.
The fit is spot on and all shapes and sizes of paddler can be accommodated by NCW’s range. Once adorned it becomes obvious how flexible the 5/3mm is – a positive sign for kayak shenanigans. Some wetties unfortunately are a little restrictive – not so here. There’s as much movement as anyone needs without rubber sagging along key points. Getting in and out of the 5/3mm – especially if you’re not used to mini front zipper systems – can be tricky. It’s worth trying the process before standing bare skinned at your chosen put in on a Baltic day. Freezing yourself while wrestling with a new suit isn’t the most fun activity. It’s also worth mentioning ankle, wrist and neck seals. NCW have put a lot of time and effort into getting these right. Coupled with the superior mini front YKK zip entry system water flush is kept to a minimum. A nifty key pouch can be found on the right leg and all in all it’s a quality product from a home grown UK brand.
Out afloat On the water the NCW suit performs well. Some wetties can chafe after kayaking sessions, especially under arms and along the neck area. We haven’t experienced any of this since using the 5/3mm.
In terms of warmth it’s certainly a toasty garment. Standing still for too long in cooler air temperatures, as with any double lined wetsuit, will see the wearer chill off rapidly. Whilst moving and taking part in strenuous activity – i.e. surf kayaking – there’s no bother with loss of heat. During particularly cold sessions it’s worth considering layering up with a thermal rashvest or even adding a neoprene long john – NCW also stock these items.
Conclusion For a home grown UK brand, with affordable prices, North Coast Wetsuits offer a line of performance orientated products that fit a variety of on water scenarios. For our money the 5/3mm Gulf Stream mini front zip winter wetsuit fits the surf sit on kayak mould perfectly. Comfy, close fitting, yet flexible enough to cope with paddle strokes, and not chafe, it’ll keep wearers warm through winter months no trouble. Ankle, wrist and neck seals should be commended as they don’t flush water as with some wetsuits. The price should also be mentioned – you get a lot of bang for your buck here so your wallet will thank you.