Past Wetsuit Materials
The first wetsuits ever developed tried all sorts of materials such as PVC and plastic foam to act as insulators. Neither worked and both were uncomfortable to wear. After years of trial and error, Jack O’Neill stumbled upon a material called Neoprene, which was perfect as it was buoyant, flexible and most importantly....a great insulator.
Modern Wetsuit Materials
While Neoprene is still used as the main base in most modern wetsuits, there are many other popular materials used in the design and manufacture of the wetsuits of today to make them more durable. The most popular materials in modern wetsuits are listed bellow to help highlight the main advantages and differences between the materials.
What is Neoprene?
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material that is still an extremely popular choice among wetsuit manufacturers due to how buoyant, flexible and stretchy the material is. Neoprene comes in different thicknesses ranging from 2 to 6mm, the thicker the Neoprene the warmer the suit. Most neoprene is laminated foam, however skin and flex forms also exist however they are more susceptible to cutting and abrasions.
What is Yamamoto Neoprene?
Made in Japan, Yamamoto Neoprene is considered to be the highest quality Neoprene available. It differs from regular Neoprene as the cell structure is much denser, offering excellent thermal insulation while remaining strong, light weight and flexible. In fact...Yamamoto Neoprene can stretch between 450% and 600%, which is ten times the amount human skin can stretch.
What is Thermoplastic?
Also referred to as Thermoskin, thermoplastic is a strong, heat-reflective wetsuit material. Suits made of Thermoplastic are particularly popular in colder climates as when worn under the main wetsuit, offer additional protection and warmth.
What is Jersey?
Jersey is a very soft material that is good for sensitive skin which is why it is commonly used to line the interior of wetsuits. Jersey is sometimes used on the outside of wetsuits, usually wetsuits with camouflage patterns. Inner jersey linings can also be enhanced with other materials including titanium.
How is Nylon used in wetsuit manufacturing?
Nylon is commonly found in the linings of most popular wetsuits. An extremely durable material, it helps protect weaker wetsuit materials from damage and hold together parts of the suit. The main downside of using Nylon is reduced flexibility which makes the wetsuit more restrictive.
How is Spandex used in wetsuit manufacturing?
Spandex is another flexible material used in the manufacturing of wetsuits and is often used as a substitute for nylon. Spandex is particularly popular in the seams of wetsuits. Wetsuits made entirely of spandex do exist, but can only be used in warmer climates as it doesn’t retain heat anywhere near as well as Neoprene.
How is Titanium used in wetsuit manufacturing?
Titanium is often used by high-end wetsuit manufacturers to help strengthen the lining of the Neoprene and help retain heat. This makes the overall suit a much stronger and robust product that will last longer than other suits. Titanium suits are usually much thinner, stronger and lighter than pure Neoprene suits.