How Do Wetsuits Work? Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated: July 18, 2023

Scuba diving is something that everyone likes once they try it. Even if you pursue it as a hobby, there are some things that are essential. It is necessary to wear a wetsuit while you dive deep into the ocean.

Every reason behind wearing a wetsuit has some logic and science attached to it. Even though most people wear them, the working of a wetsuit is still quite a mystery to some.

Read on to clear all your doubts about how wetsuits work.

What is a Wetsuit and How Does it Work?

how does a wetsuit work

Wetsuits are stretchy, synthetic rubber clothes made of neoprene materials that stick to the body tightly.

As valuable as the invention of wetsuits has been, it is interesting to know that wetsuits have various factors that together make them perfect scuba gear. The factors are:

  • Thickness
  • Layers
  • Neoprene
  • Fitting

All these make the wetsuit a perfect swim gear because the thickness keeps the cold water off the body, the layers ensure maximum safety, the neoprene helps regulate heat within the body, and the fitting eases the swimming process in such a high-density environment.

Types of Wetsuits

There are so many types available that it is overwhelming to choose between them. However, there are specific suggested criteria to look for in a wetsuit, such as:

  • Fleece linings which help keep the body warm for longer
  • Semi-dry suits keep a minimal amount of water inside
  • A tight fit that feels like another layer of skin
  • Thickness of the suit

All the above points are essential.

The Science Behind it

Wetsuits are made out of a material called neoprene. This material is excellent for regulating heat throughout the body. The reason there is a need to regulate some amount of heat is to save you from hypothermia.

Hypothermia is the condition in which the cells of the body start to freeze because of freezing temperatures. It is well known that oceans are cold; as you dive deeper, the temperature decreases.

It is so because the sunlight cannot reach the ocean’s surface, and hence the cold temperature. However, a wetsuit traps a small amount of water between the inner layer of the suit and your skin.

The heat of the body and the neoprene material heats the water, and an insulating environment is created. The insulation of the body keeps the cold temperature of the ocean at bay.

As a matter of fact, the better the neoprene is laid in the wetsuit, the better the insulation will be. When underwater, our body needs to maintain its temperature.

How Much Difference Does a Wetsuit Make?

A lot of people question if a wetsuit makes a difference. But the answer to that is simple, yes! Wetsuits do have a considerable significance. The notable difference that a wetsuit makes is that it keeps your body warm.

Wetsuits fit your body like another layer of your skin. This ensures that the water is trapped correctly and doesn’t flush away. Wet suits that have fleece linings can reduce the amount of water trapped against your skin.

In addition, they keep all the marine flora and fauna from coming in contact with your skin. There is a lot of plankton and fish that we do not know about. We never know which of these could cause something adverse to our skin.

Recommended Read: How to Fix a Wetsuit Tear

Wetsuits are a beneficial protective layer that gives scuba divers ease to swim. They are very tight yet comfortable. You can even wear something under your wetsuit to be more comfortable, depending on the conditions.

If we dive regularly wearing clothes, they will get drenched so quickly, and the water will add its weight to them. Water has a high density when you go deeper. All these factors might slow divers and can weigh them down.

Wetsuits cut right through the water and help divers to flow opposite the water current easily.

So a wetsuit does make a lot of difference. It ensures our safety and comfort at the same time.

How Does a Neoprene Wetsuit Work?

how neoprene wetsuits work

As I have already mentioned, the neoprene material in the wetsuit helps regulate the heat throughout the body. The water is much denser than air and can regulate heat in the body twenty times faster than air.

Therefore, the water is packed in a small space, and then the neoprene layer is present. This helps in maintaining the temperature of the body as long as the diver is inside the ocean.

Wetsuits come in different thicknesses ranging from 1 mm to 7 mm. Neoprene, however, provides some amount of exposure too. Do you ever get sudden chills while scuba diving? It is because of the exposure degree set by the neoprene material.

Also Read: Why Are Wetsuits Black?

The exposure degree releases a certain amount of heat at times to cool the body down for a while. After the body is cooled to a certain extent, the heating cycle regulates through the body again.

Another instrumental part of neoprene is it does not allow the water to latch onto your skin. The more this cold water stays away, the warmer the body becomes. Neoprene keeps the density of the body intact while diving into the depths of the water.

How Does a Zipperless Wetsuit Work?

Zipperless wetsuits are more or less like a superhero costume. These suits are rather more tight-fitting than the ones that have zippers. One needs to squeeze themselves into it.

However, the zipperless wetsuit has the same material, neoprene, in it. They trap a bit more water inside and are mostly preferred in cold water diving.

These have so tightly adhered to the skin that there is no chance for the water to flush out quickly.

They produce more heat from the body and generate it throughout. They are good to go against some strong water currents as well. Zipper less wetsuits tend to maintain a streamlined body shape so that swimming becomes easier.

Do Wetsuits Keep You Dry?

No, they don’t. However, wetsuits do keep you warm in cold water. There’s a thin layer of water between your skin and the wetsuit and that water warms up to keep you warm.

Apart from the initial amount of water that enters inside the wetsuit, the neoprene keeps more water off your skin.

The thickness of it has a crucial role to play too. The thicker, the more effective it is. Wetsuits are designed in such a manner that their thickness and the neoprene do not allow more water (apart from the thin layer that initially enters the wetsuit) to touch the skin.

Sometimes it might seem like wetsuits do keep you dry, when the thin layer of water dries out due to the heat, when the diver is out of the water. But the fundamental purpose of a wetsuit is to keep you warm, not dry.

If you prefer to stay dry during a dive, you should opt for a drysuit. The way a drysuit works is by enclosing your body in a layer of air, making it water-tight and completely dry. However, they shoud be used only in cold conditions as it might get uncomfortable in warm temperatures.

More Read: What is the Difference Between a Wetsuit and a Drysuit?

Final Thoughts

Wetsuits have been in use for more than 70 years now. With each passing year, the trends and styles change. Every year there is some new improvement in their designs, and these changes are for the good.

As valuable as a wetsuit is to keep you warm in the ocean, it is even more preferable because of the safety it provides.

The sturdy material does not allow the marine life to harm the body of the diver, and it keeps many harmful seaweeds and bacteria away.

Next time when you plan to go for a deep-sea adventure, do not forget to put on a wetsuit and flaunt it too.

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