The color of your wetsuit is very important for more than just visual reasons, so why are wetsuits black? Wetsuits are black mainly due to UV resistance and the low cost of coloring neoprene. Yet, the color black holds many inherent benefits, making it the optimal choice for any wetsuit.
From keeping you warmer to withstanding sustained exposure to the elements, wetsuits are primarily black for a range of reasons. Here we’ll be taking you through what makes black the best color for any garment or apparel which you intend to use in the water for prolonged periods of time.
Early Rubber and the Cost-Effectiveness of Black
The original color of rubber resembles milky white, yet in this state rubber is not yet completely stable. During the early years of rubber manufacturing, carbon black, or soot, was chosen as an inexpensive stabilizing compound.
As it combines with other polymers, carbon changes the color resulting in the black which we see. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber which resists degradation much better than natural rubber or other compounds.
Almost every formula for neoprene used for marine applications such as wetsuits includes a carbon black filler to toughen the material even more. The black filler improves insulation and wear-and-tear resistance while being extremely cost-effective. Even today, colored neoprene comes at a higher cost.
A Black Wetsuit Lasts Longer
Both rubber oxidation and aging are reduced when carbon black is added to neoprene. This means that oxygen absorption is lowered while viscoelasticity rises, giving you a wetsuit which stretches enough to adapt to the form of your body under the water without weakening the rigidity of the neoprene.
Without adding carbon black, neoprene ages quicker and resists less shear flow and strain when the stress of water is applied. Even at today’s state of advancement, carbon black is still the best filler for neoprene’s marine benefits. It increases tensile strength dramatically, which makes it hard to replace given its range of other benefits.
Black’s UV Protective Benefits
A wetsuit is exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight, and it has to sustain a beating from the varying degrees of water temperature, the minerals or salt in the water, and the knocks and tumbles taken during general use. Thanks to its outstanding durability, neoprene already fits the bill for marine applications even before filler is added.
Once carbon black enters the mix, you have a synthetic rubber with profound UV protective benefits. Black is the first color to absorb photons mainly due to the fact that it isn’t actually a color, but rather a lack of color. The next color in line to absorb light is red, a popular choice among tech divers.
How a Black Wetsuit Keeps You Warm
A black wetsuit is a very versatile insulator. It draws in and retains heat when the water is cold and regulates your body temperature to a comfortable degree when swimming in warm waters. Without the addition of carbon black, a wetsuit would not capture and retain enough sunlight to stay warm in cold water.
The dielectric strength of neoprene rubber is remarkable, making it the insulator of choice for all marine applications and industrial sealing solutions. The heat retention of black and the way that a wetsuit traps water between your skin and the neoprene warms one significantly while regulating the temperature quite well regardless of the conditions.
Black is the first color to absorb photons, which is responsible for the UV resistant properties of your wetsuit and aids in the absorption of heat. With the water trapped, you want all the thermal support you can get. Carbon black added to raw neoprene supplies exactly that in terms of both heat and structure. Some wetsuits even have an extra layer of carbon fibers integrated to aid thermal regulation and flexibility.
Dispelling Common Fallacies
The misconception that a black wetsuit makes a person resemble a seal is complete nonsense. There is absolutely no heightened risk of a shark attack when wearing a black wetsuit. Should a shark decide to attack, its approach from underneath the water towards the surface leaves the target looking darkened from beneath, making the color choice of the wetsuit trivial.
The only color which seasoned divers and surfers avoid is yellow, and this is due to nothing more than hearsay. An entire range of early wetsuits was discontinued after being the first dive-gear released in yellow. This appears to have led to a string of conspiracies regarding shark attacks and yellow’s visibility underwater.
However, scientific studies confirm that it has no effect. Sharks identify their prey using a combination of finely honed senses, but relying on their incredible smell. With the ability to smell a drop of blood in the water from over three miles away, a shark won’t be attacking you because you look like some other form of food.
Marketing Benefits of Black
When it comes to developing an item of clothing or any form of apparel or accessory, black is the most popular choice. Black may not always be a favorite color, but most people will buy in black if they are unsure of which color to pick. The psychology of marketing also reveals that serious purchases are normally made in the color black.
When one has to pick a wetsuit and takes up an earnest stance towards their new interest in diving, jet skiing or surfing, for example, the wetsuits which look most attractive are black. If you look at the popularity of black as a color in fashion, it far outperforms anything else. From black dresses to black wetsuits, black clothing is the best-selling over and over.
The Best Wetsuits are Black
Black is a color which is forever versatile. Despite wetsuits being available in other colors, it is not likely that black’s popularity will ever be overthrown. Black wetsuits offer all of these inherent benefits and more.
Some wetsuits even have added conductivity for internal heating, thanks to a carbon black layer. FAR Infra-red heat technology is another example of true wetsuit innovation, but most of these suits are released in black first.
Black wetsuits are here to stay, but feel free to shop around if you feel like expressing yourself. Designer wetsuits are common, and high-end technology can give you everything from advanced ergonomics to featherlight engineering.