Wetsuits are a vital part of every water-lover’s wardrobe. They can be used to dive deep under the water, swim in the sea and even to surf in freezing cold temperatures. They are usually incredibly specialized and a wetsuit that is suitable for one activity might not be suitable for another. Because of this, the materials that wetsuits are made out of are super important.
Out of all of the materials that we could talk about, neoprene is the most important. It is rare to see a wetsuit that has been made without neoprene. Neoprene is a rubber-like material that is used in the construction of wetsuits for multiple reasons. One of which is that it is stable against most chemicals and will not begin to break down when it is exposed to things in the water.
It is also capable of remaining flexible within a wide range of temperatures, whereas other materials would begin to feel stiff and make moving under the water quite difficult. This allows you to move around freely even when the water that surrounds you is freezing, but as the layers of neoprene begin to get thicker you do lose some of that flexibility.Neoprene is also capable of offering the wearer an excellent level of insulation, but it is also quite buoyant. This is the reason why a lot of divers have to wear weights while they are wearing neoprene-based suits; otherwise they would simply float and struggle to get down under the water.
One of the main ideas that we can see when we look at the general design of wetsuits is the concept of trapping warm air. We can see this in the form of spaces that have been purposefully left empty so that they stop the air from escaping. This is especially important in the water, where the laws of thermodynamics mean that the warm heat from within your body will quickly escape into the colder water that surrounds you.
If this were to happen, then you would be at risk of suffering from hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when you get so cold that the core of your body cannot warm up again. Because of this, it is important that you wear a suitable wetsuit whenever you enter the water for any period of time so that you are protected.As we have already said, neoprene is one of the most important materials that can be found in modern wetsuits. But, there are also lots of other layers that exist both beneath and on top of the layer of neoprene.
Neoprene is essentially a piece of foam rubber that has a series of nitrogen gas bubbles trapped within it. This makes it a good heat insulator, but it also makes it incredibly buoyant. That buoyancy can be a bad thing when it comes to diving because it makes getting under the water quite difficult.
The base layer of the wetsuit is actually your skin and the gap that exists between your skin and the wetsuit. Water will quickly fill this gap and begin to warm up to your own body temperature quite quickly, meaning that you will literally be wrapped by your own little warm bubble of water while you are surrounded by cold water. Your wetsuit will stop this warm water from escaping.The first layer after your skin and the layer of water will actually be a layer of something comfortable. Most manufacturers use nylon because of how gentle it is against the skin. This layer exists to stop the wetsuit from rubbing your body and irritating you while you are in the water.After the layer of a comfortable material, we can sometimes see a layer of a heat-reflecting material. Whether or not this layer exists depends on the quality and cost of the wetsuit that you purchase. You might be asking yourself why we would want to reflect heat away from our bodies, but luckily this layer does quite the opposite.The material itself will usually be based on a type of metal oxide like aluminum or copper. It is placed strategically between layers so that it can reflect any heat that is escaping from the body back towards the body, meaning that a minimal amount of heat is lost to the cold water that surrounds you.We can then see a layer of neoprene. How thick the neoprene is depends entirely on what the wetsuit has been designed to do. If the wetsuit has been designed to handle freezing water temperatures, then the layer of neoprene should be quite thick. Regardless of how thick the neoprene is, there should always be a durable outer-layer on your wetsuit. This layer exists in case you catch your wetsuit or snag it on something while you are on the go. You might be imagining how you would catch something in the water, but it is actually incredibly easy to do so.
We hope that you now understand how your wetsuit keeps you warm and the materials that it is made out of. Remember that not all wetsuits will include all of the materials that we have listed, but you should never buy a wetsuit that does not contain some form of neoprene or a similar product.