At A Glance
Ocean Rodeo have been making kitesurf specific drysuits since the company’s inception in 2001, but their experience of drysuit design and manufacture goes back way further than that. For the full story check out http://www.oceanrodeo.com/kiting/about-ocean-rodeo/history/ but for now, as the saying goes, what OR doesn’t know about drysuits etc...
The Soul drysuit is the culmination of years of research, design and testing, and proudly steps forward as vanguard of the OR range. It’s a feature packed suit made from Gelanots, a fully waterproof, windproof and breathable fabric which maintains a constant microclimate for the wearer at standstill and during intensive physical activities, like kitesurfing, or any other sport that finds you interacting with a wild, cold ocean.
Practical features of the Soul include a removable padded hood, as self entry zip, hand warming pockets, compartments for MP3 players, keys and instructor whistles, and a zipper for when nature calls.
The fit is entirely different to any kiteboarding drysuit we’ve seen before: rather than hanging off you like a sloppy clown suit, the Soul fits like tailored snowboarding jacket and trousers. It uses stretch panels in the ‘jacket’ to keep it neat; we donned ours in the warm at home, drove to the beach via the petrol station, got out and filled up, no one was any the wiser.
Getting in and out of the suit is so straightforward. If you can touch the back of your neck, you can operate the self entry zipper – did you just touch the back of your neck? Easy isn’t it! Internal braces slip over your shoulders and keep the Soul in place, Latex wrist, neck and ankle seals keep the water out.
On The Water
Because the Soul is made from Gelanots which is breathable, you can adjust the insulation to suit your environment by layering up your thermal under-clothing. One full body fleece under the Soul will handle just about all the UK can throw at you, but people are already taking the Soul into Arctic waters by adding an extra layer.
Once you’re riding, the Soul gives you all the mobility of a tracksuit, need we say any more? It is just like wearing clothes designed for sports. The slimmer fit helps massively to reduce drag when you’re dragging after your board or wading through the water. We took a few tumbles and typical kite wipeouts and the Soul just shrugged it off; it really is a tough bit of kit.
Ocean Rodeo say the Soul will last several seasons of hard winter use. The seals can be replaced, and repair kits are available for the Gelanots fabric; all you need is an iron and a pair of scissors so it’s easier to DIY fix-it than a wetsuit.
The Soul is simply for anyone that would like to be warmer in the winter, or despises cold wetsuits. In very cold places, the Soul would be getting on for a survival aid against the elements. You can set the insulation properties to deal with the worst environments you’d ever want to launch a kite or SUP in, no question.
The practicalities of keeping dry between sessions are obvious: no more cold suits on double-session days, no more hopping around a cold car-park trying to change, no more fetid wetsuit stench on your skin. Instructors who spend their days stood in the water would likely appreciate this.
This is a high-end suit; probably the finest kite specific drysuit ever made, designed for the worst climates on earth, but would feel and look right at home on your local beach.
This review was in Issue 35 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Ocean Rodeo
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!