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If you are a fan of watersports, you may have worn a wetsuit before. For instance, if you like swimming, surfing, or diving, a wetsuit may be an essential item.
However, if you have not had the pleasure of donning one of these suits before, you may be wondering what they are made of. Fortunately, we are here to answer all of your questions.
Table of Contents
What Are Wetsuits?
This garment is used in water sports, primarily to keep the user warm. They can also keep you safe, defending your body from abrasion. Wetsuits may be used in the following sports:
- Water aerobics
- River Rafting
As you can see, this piece of equipment can be used for a number of sports. As a result, it is quite a versatile garment. If you enjoy multiple water sports, we encourage you to consider investing in a good-quality wetsuit.
When Were Wetsuits Invented?
Before wetsuits were invented, there is a long history of diving suits being used. They were first designed in the 18th century. Like wetsuits, these diving suits were made to keep the occupant warm even in cold water.
It was not until 1952 that the wetsuit was first created. It was invented by Hugh Bradner, a physicist who worked at the University of California.
Bradner’s job meant that he often had to dive underwater. He sought to improve heat retention in diving suits.
Bradner’s invention has since been improved upon, with advancements in technology meaning that different materials can be added to the suit.
What Are They Made Of?
Most modern wetsuits are made from neoprene. First created in 1930, this synthetic rubber is used because it is stretchy.
This neoprene will be used to cover the majority of the human body. You can get some wetsuits that cover the entirety of your arms and legs or shorter versions that only cover part of them.
Neoprene is a good material for wetsuits because it is flexible. Therefore, it can be stretched to fit your body. It is water-resistant, meaning that it will keep you dry underwater.
Plus, neoprene is great for insulation. Consequently, it fulfills the wetsuit’s primary purpose of keeping the wearer warm.
Neoprene is not just used for wetsuits. In fact, this versatile man-made material is also used to make personal protective gear (PPE), such as gloves.
Furthermore, it is a common material in the construction industry. For instance, neoprene is often used to make hoses.
While all wetsuits are made from neoprene, other materials may be used in the construction. Other materials that may be used in a wetsuit’s construction include neoprene foam and spandex
Some wetsuits are thicker than others, meaning that more material has been used in their construction. The thicker the suit is, the warmer you are going to be in the water.
Generally, wetsuits will be somewhere between 2 and 6mm in thickness, though you can get even thicker units. If you are going to a particularly cold place or are participating in water sports during the winter, you should invest in a thick wetsuit.
What Else Goes Into Making A Wetsuit?
Wetsuits will also be constructed with a zip. This will make putting the suit on and off a smooth process. Normally, these zips are positioned at the back of the wetsuit.
Though you should be capable of zipping up your own wetsuit, you may need someone’s help.
Ideally, wetsuits should be quite tight. No, this is not so that you can show off your muscles! The reason why wetsuits should be tight is that they trap your body heat.
Of course, you should still be able to move around in your wetsuit. Though they must be skin-tight, wetsuits should also not be too uncomfortable.
Some wetsuits may be fitted with a durable outer layer, which is designed to keep the user safe. Moreover, some high-end wetsuits can contain heating elements. These wetsuits are not common.
If you want to keep yourself even warmer but do not want to splash out on a wetsuit with a heating element, instead you should wear gloves and a cap or hood with your wetsuit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Thickness For A Wetsuit?
The thickness of your suit will depend on how warm you want to be. As previously stated, the thicker the neoprene, the warmer you will be underwater. To help you to choose what thickness you should get, follow this helpful table.
|The Thickness of the Wetsuit||Water Temperature||Product Recommendations|
|0.5 -1.5 mm||18 – 25 °C / 65 – 75 °F||Dark Lightning Wetsuit|
|2 – 3 mm||16 – 20 °C/ 63 – 68 °F||Hevto Wetsuit|
|3 – 4 mm||14 – 17 °C/ 58 – 63 °F||O’Neill Men’s Wetsuit|
|4 – 5 mm||11 – 14 °C/ 53 – 58 °F||Henderson Thermoprene|
|5 – 6 mm||6 – 11 °C/ 43 – 53 °F||XCEL Polar Hydroflex|
|6+ mm||<6 °C / <42 °F||WYYHAA Wetsuits|
Can You Pee In A Wetsuit?
It is not recommended that you urinate in a wetsuit, as the smell can be quite strong. However, if you are desperate to urinate while underwater, there is no harm in doing so.
Just be sure to thoroughly clean your wetsuit after you have used it. If you are underwater for a long time, this may be the best option.
What Is The Difference Between A Wetsuit And A Drysuit?
To answer this question, you may need to know how wetsuits work. They keep a very thin layer of water trapped between the neoprene wetsuit and the skin to keep you safe.
Meanwhile, drysuits use air for a similar effect. Though this is the primary difference between them, drysuits tend to be more expensive than wetsuits.
Hopefully, this guide will help you to better understand how wetsuits are made. It may help you to better appreciate the scientific ingenuity that goes into making such a versatile creation.
The next time you don your wetsuit, you should think about the hard work that goes into creating this life-saving piece of kit. This should inspire you to push on and achieve greatness in whatever water sport you choose.
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I’m an Colorado native, who learned to surf in the Pacific Northwest, and SW Canada. I live inland near the mountains now, and love to get out on my SUP. It’s weird, but I love windy, choppy days as no-one is out and I like the challenge.