What Material Are Wetsuits Made of?

What Material Are Wetsuits Made of?
If you want to keep hitting the surf year-round, you are going to end up in a wetsuit sooner or later. Designed to keep the body warm by heating a thin layer of water between the body and suit, the materials used are very important for this task.


Most wetsuits are made from Neoprene, a specialized plastic. Various thicknesses of Neoprene are used, from 2mm to 9mm, depending on the temperature of the water the surfer will be in. The thicker the material, the warmer the suit.


Highly useful in temperate climates, spandex is a good material choice for wetsuits. It is also used with Neoprene for extra stretch. Combination wetsuits use approximately 20-percent spandex and 80-percent Neoprene.


Durable and protective, nylon is used to line both the inner and outer portions of some wetsuits, making the suit resistant to abrasion and scuffing. Nylon reduces flexibility in exchange for protection.


Thermoplastics, marketed as Thermoskin, are thin, heat-reflective materials that have good sealing qualities. Surfers often use a thermoplastic wetsuit underneath a traditional Neoprene wetsuit for added warmth in cooler waters.


Using titanium threading in a Neoprene weave, or titanium oxide in the lining, increases retention and warmth in high-tech modern wetsuits, due to the reflective qualities of this metal.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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