Wetsuits are the primary source of warmth for Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, and Surfing. They are made from Neoprene, a foam rubber material manufactured by injecting millions of tiny nitrogen bubbles into the rubber and most often covered externally with nylon. Internally the wetsuit can be lined with nylon fabric or a plush, carpet-like material. These linings serve to assist the user in donning or doffing the suit and neither has much of an advantage over the other. See more
Scuba / Snorkeling Wetsuits
Wetsuits are chosen based first and foremost by the water temperatures the scuba diver or snorkeler will be using it in first and the activity it is intended for second. The basic principal is the thicker the material, the more warmth or the colder water temperatures it is designed for. They are designed to trap a thin layer of water between the material and the user's body. Body heat warms the water and the nitrogen bubbles in the neoprene while the neoprene insulates it in a similar fashion to how a blanket works on your bed. Often wetsuits are advertised as "Titanium" or using "Titanium Neoprene". In these wetsuits titanium foil or flake is used with the neoprene. The purpose is to reflect the user's body heat back at them more efficiently and allowing for less heat to be lost through the wetsuit. The end result is a wetsuit that will keep the diver warm with less effort and in the end, keep them warm longer. 1mm, 2mm and 3mm wetsuits are designed for use in warm, tropical waters
Neoprene in and of itself is not a very elastic or stretchy material. Proper fit is important to ensure the appropriate protection for the wearer. When using the sizing charts, be mindful that the waist and chest/bust measurements are the 2 most important measurements. The wetsuit needs to fit the torso properly in order to do its job correctly and give the diver or snorkeler the most comfortable experience. Height is a secondary measurement and would be next while weight can be typically used to tip the scales one way or another between 2 sizes and would be the least important measurement on the chart.
In the past few years new blends of neoprene have been introduced that are up to 200% more elastic than a normal neoprene wetsuit. Each wetsuit manufacturer uses a different trademarked name for this material such as Hyperstretch, Elastiprene, Quantum Stretch, or Premium Superstretch among others. Regardless of the name, the end result is the same. The superior elasticity of the wetsuit gives a more custom-like fit and helps to eliminate gaps cause by a poor fit. This closer fit helps to maintain the thin layer of water over more of the body thus creating a warmer fit. A huge plus for women divers and snorkelers as the increased surface area of their body commonly causes them to get cold faster than male divers. The second benefit to the scuba diver or snorkeler is increased mobility and flexibility which equates directly into comfort and enjoyment. This added flexibility also makes the newer blends of neoprene the perfect choice for wetsuits for surfing, jet skiing, water skiing, windsurfing and other active water sports.
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