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Watersport Clothing Advice

In this section we share a few tips on how to get the most of your watersports kit.

There is a fair bit jargon in the fashion industry. Can you tell your anoraks from your cagoules, gilets, capes, ponchos, parkas, overalls, and various sportswear? Do you know why hoods are so useful? Any clue what causes a Wet Out?

We hope to clarify some of it here.

Secrets of the Rainwear Industry

Does it matter that your rain suit is keeping you dry from rain if you end up soaked from your own sweat? The biggest dirty little secret in the outdoor industry is that rain gear won't keep you dry.

It makes little difference if you buy a high-end €400 Gore-Tex parka or wear your hoodie, they'll both wet out in continuous rain and leave you soaking wet. If the weather is warm that may be acceptable, but not when it is cold.

Leakage

Manufacturers don't consider it leakage when moisture intrusion is in the range of edge seams, zippers and pocket parts, or pressing through moisture under mechanical stress, like from a backpack or bike saddle.

Durable Water Repellent (DWR)

Another dirty secret in typical waterproof products is that light abrasions, dirt, and even body oils degrade the DWR, especially when the jacket is wet, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a rain jacket that you can actually wear outside. The DWR coating must be maintained and retreated to avoid soaking through, called a "wet out".

The other issue is that, once wetted out, this multilayered approach to rainwear restricts breathability and quickly becomes clammy. You've probably been there before. The jacket is soaked and it feels clammy and uncomfortable next to your skin.

A smarter alternative is to wear soft fleece clothes under a thin, loose fitting anorak or cagoule and matching pants. The fleece keeps you warm and wicks some of the moisture away. The outer shell keeps most of the wind and rain out. Occasionally shake it to ventilate a bit.

More Rainwear Secrets

  1. Rain clothes will not keep you dry in 100% humidity. They will help keep you warm however, as long as you keep moving and generate body heat.

  2. It’s possible to get hypothermia in surprisingly warm weather. Learn to recognize the early signs of hypothermia in yourself and your companions, such as the umbles (mumbles, stumbles, fumbles, and grumbles). Stay well hydrated. Keep moving and eating.

  3. Wear a few layers in cooler weather, especially if the waterproofing on your rain gear has worn away or you are only wearing a base layer underneath and it’s soaked. Adding a mid-layer will prevent the cold conducting from your rain jacket to your skin.

  4. A billed cap will keep rain off your glasses and out of your face.

  5. If you use hiking poles, attach them to your pack in cool weather so you can put your hands in your pockets to keep them warm.

  6. Prevent chafing. Wear long synthetic or wool boxer jocks. Carry aloe vera gel or zinc oxide to soothe irritated skin between your legs and butt cheeks.

  7. Wear hiking footwear that drains fast and dries quickly. Avoid shoes with a waterproof liner because they take a very long time to dry when they get wet. Mesh drains quickly and dries fast. Leather dries the slowest and should be avoided.

  8. If you are backpacking, let your feet dry completely out at night. Snuggle up to your friend in a tent and listen to the rain drops fall.

Getting the hang of all of these techniques, dialing in your own system, and validating it in different temperatures takes a surprising amount of practice, but pays dividends when you need it.

Forget Umbrellas

An umbrella is better than nothing, but not much better. The biggest problem is that umbrellas don't really keep you dry. If you are lucky, maybe your top third stays dry.

Umbrellas are really hard to handle when it is windy, because they have such a large surface area. If the wind is strong enough your umbrella can turn inside out.

In an effort to keep you dry as possible they act as really amazing sails. Somebody used an umbrella with a skateboard to go wind boarding. That was pretty cool.

One last problem with umbrellas is that they are big. The more effective they are, the bigger they are. And on a busy sidewalk, that can cause problems. Especially because on most busy sidewalks, there is at least one really rude person.

Hiking ponchos and capes are better than umbrellas as they give all round cover. They also flap around in the wind like ubrellas, but not nearly as much.

Dress for Immersion

It is important to dress appropriately for any sport you participate in. Proper attire can keep you safe and comfortable while enjoying your watersports. Consider the location and weather conditions before you choose your outfit.

Cold Water

  1. Wetsuit
  2. Anorak or Cagoule as Windbreaker (worn over the wetsuit)
  3. Kite pants (worn over the wetsuit)
  4. Neoprene boots

Cool Water

  1. Thermal base layer instead of wetsuit
  2. Fleece mid layer
  3. Anorak or Cagoule as windbreaker
  4. Kite pants
  5. Water shoes and socks

Warm Water

  1. Swim Shirt
  2. Anorak or Cagoule as windbreaker
  3. Kite pants
  4. Water shoes

Warm Water for Strength Training

  1. Swimshirt
  2. Tracksuit or Jogging Suit
  3. Water shoes

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