Launched back in 2004, Ion focuses on high-quality wetsuits, harnesses, travel gear, apparel and accessories for the international windsurf, kitesurf, surf, SUP and wakeboard scenes. For 2019, Ion has added a second hard shell harness option to feature one of the most complete lineups in the industry. Ion’s Colleen Carroll walks us through the line including Ion’s newest wetsuit options.
ION HAS ALWAYS HAD A DEEP SELECTION OF HARNESS OPTIONS. WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW HARD SHELL DESIGNS THIS YEAR, HOW DO YOU GUIDE A RIDER THROUGH THE LINE IN TERMS OF SKILL, RIDING STYLE AND COMFORT?
For 2019, we’ve introduced a secondary hard shell option, the Curv, which offers a softer flex index than our previous Carbon Series construction. With this new addition, we now have the most complete range of harnesses and have devised a new flex rating to help the rider determine their perfect harness. All harness names will now be followed by their Flex Rating, which identifies the stiffness of the specific model. Therefore, you’ll find our Carbon Series (CS) with the highest flex ratings in the range of 13-20 followed by the new Curv harnesses in the 8-10 range and then with traditional construction from 2-7. Additionally, we offer a variety of profiles giving the rider more support or freer range of movement depending on their personal preference and also a wide range of internal features to allow everyone the chance to find their perfect fit.
This year, the bulk of Ion’s development efforts went into the new Curv range. The goal was to create a new type of hardshell, one that still offered the flexibility demanded by many riders. With this new technology, we were able to make our lightest, most durable hardshell that also offered for new opportunities in flex.
WHAT IS THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND THE SEMI-RIGID AND RIGID HARNESS OPTIONS AND HOW DO YOU RECOMMEND RIDERS CHOOSE BETWEEN THE TWO?
Every rider will require a specific fit, flex and profile for their unique style of riding so we always recommend that they first try on their harness at their local ION retailer. However, if they find themselves stuck between the two options of hardshells now offered they should consider if they prefer the most support and load dispersal possible or if they would prefer their harness to offer the support of a hard shell but also allow the torso to flex. In our new Curv series, we’ve used 3D thermo composites more traditionally used in high-end luggage and this technology allows us to offer a range of flexibility in the material while still maintaining a rigid and ultra-durable structure. With this new composite, we also achieved our goal to offer a lighter hardshell option that reduced the overall weight by 50%.
ION OFFERS THREE DIFFERENT SPREADER BAR OPTIONS TO GO WITH YOUR HARNESSES. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF EACH AND HOW DO YOU STEER RIDERS BETWEEN THE METAL SLIDER AND THE ROPE SLIDER C-BAR OPTIONS?
We are happy to offer three options for 2019. The traditional hook, rope slider 2.0 and also our metal slider. Depending on what style or discipline riders prefer, they can choose the traditional hook for all around kiteboarding as this option is compatible with any chicken loop option. If their style is to always stay hooked in but they enjoy freeriding and demand the extra range of movement for extended toeside or blind riding, they may prefer the metal slider option. If maximum range of movement and freedom is desired riders can go with the rope option, which is best combined with a wave-specific chicken loop. The rope spreader bar is a favorite amongst our wave team and allows them to easily maintain the body position they desire even when the kite needs to be in a position that would otherwise want to twist your harness. With the new modular exchange system, the rider can easily change between all three attachment hooks if they desire.
HOW DO YOU BREAK DOWN THE DIFFERENT MODELS OF NEOPRENE WETSUITS BASED ON FEATURES, CONDITIONS AND BODY STYLE?
For the men’s line, we offer two different cuts that will better fit different body styles. In the range, we have the Strike and the Onyx lines. The Strike line is designed to fit an average build and is a regular cut that will be similar to other brands and clothing sizes. For the Onyx line, we offer a slim cut to reduce any bagging or extra space someone who is of a more-lean build might experience with other suits. Additionally, the Strike line will have a back zipper for ease of entry as well as front zip options and the Onyx line will offer a front zipper as well as one zipless option for the best seal from water entry.
Within each of the lines of suits, we then offer each model, which will come with different features and constructions as well as thickness and cut. Starting at the top of the range we offer the Select level, which will give the rider the ultimate warmth and stretch possible for the given thickness due to the use of our Plasma Plush lining throughout the entire core and legs as well as our Power Seam taping. The Amp level offers a combination of Plasma Plush and Hot Stuff liner combined with our Maki Tape to make an incredibly comfortable suit that will offer warmth and flexibility at a slightly lower price point than the Select level. The Core level offers a Hot Stuff liner in the essential areas as well as Maki Tape to offer the rider the core components necessary for a comfortable and warm fit. The Element level offers a wide range of styles and thicknesses as well as a robust construction at the most budget-friendly price point.
For the women’s range, we’ve developed three lines; the Jewel, Trinity and Muse. The Jewel and Trinity lines each offer the same levels as for the men’s suits; the Select, Amp, Core and Element. The Jewel line is for the rider that wants a back zipper and the Trinity line is for the rider that prefers a front zip. The Muse line offers a wide variety of shorties in four different cuts and each cut is offered in four different colorways to offer something for everyone.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF FRONT ENTRY VERSUS BACK ZIP AND WHAT OTHER DESIGN FEATURES ARE BUILT INTO YOUR WETSUITS THAT SET THEM APART?
Front entry offers the best seal possible to keep water from entering your suit regardless of how you crash or dive under the water. The drawback to this system is that it can be slightly more cumbersome to get into the suit since the opening is not quite as large as when a back zipper is used. Since the front zip is also a smaller length zipper and is placed only across the chest, it also offers for the most flexibility throughout the suit.
On our back zip suits, the rider will enjoy ease of entry through a larger opening than when a front zipper is used, however, they may experience slightly more water movement if they dive under the water headfirst. We have worked hard to eliminate this possibility for water entry by adding an additional panel of neoprene on the inside of the zipper. Some might also experience that the back zipper may offer slightly less stretch across the shoulders.
Other than offering our range of models in regular cut and slim cut as well as back zip and front zip, we’ve diversified the entire line to offer a range of looks for our suits with everything from simple and clean designs to bold appearances for those who want to stand out. On top of that, we use a range of neoprenes, foam, liners, taping and seam technology at the various levels to account for the demands of those who want absolute maximum performance or for those whose first priority is budget.