How Does a Wetsuit Work?

How Does a Wetsuit Work?
Wetsuits are worn by a wide variety of water sports enthusiasts, from scuba divers to surfers to para-sailors. That they are for keeping warm in cold water is widely known, but how they work is not.

The Basics

Wetsuits entrap a layer of water between the neoprene fabric of the suit and the wearer's body. Body heat warms the water, making it into a second layer of insulation.


Neoprene is a synthetic rubber. For wetsuits, it is made with nitrogen micro-bubbles in its matrix for extra insulation and is usually combined with small amount of another fabric such as Lycra for extra flexibility.

Tight Fit

Wetsuits only admit water through its zippers and openings (collar, ankles and wrists). To work properly, they must limit the amount of water circulating through the suit, and that demands a tight fit.


Because of the nitrogen micro-bubbles, wetsuits are also fairly buoyant. While they are not life preservers, they are moderately helpful swimming aids.


Surfers, snorkelers and scuba divers also appreciate wetsuits for the protection they offer from jellyfish stings and scrapes with corals.


The insulation offered by a wetsuit is directly proportional to how thick it is. They range from 0.5 mm to 7 mm thick.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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