How Do Wetsuits Work?

How Do Wetsuits Work?
Wetsuits are worn by surfers, scuba divers and kayakers, among others, to keep them warm in cold, wet conditions. Providing insulation is no easy task when the wearer is going to be soaked or even immersed, and wetsuits do so by making use of the water rather than fighting against it.


Wetsuit fabric is made mostly of the synthetic rubber substitute Neoprene. The Neoprene used to make wetsuits is honeycombed with tiny bubbles of nitrogen, which increases both its buoyancy and its insulating properties.

Basic Insulation

Neoprene is a poor conductor of heat, making it a great insulator. Wetsuits are made with fabric that is between 0.5mm and 7mm thick, depending on the severity of the conditions to be met.

Water Insulation

Wetsuits trap a thin layer of water between the neoprene and the body. Once inside, this water circulates very little, so it is soon warmed by body heat and serves as a second layer of insulation.

A Tight Fit

Because so much of a wetsuit's ability to keep the wearer warm depends on its ability to trap and hold a layer of water, they must necessarily be tight. A loose-fitting wetsuit will allow too much water to circulate inside it, stripping the wearer of his body heat.

Other Properties

Wetsuits are also somewhat buoyant, so they serve as swimming aids for snorkelers and surfers. Scuba divers also value them for the protection they provide against scrapes with rocks and corals or stings from jellyfish.

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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