Closed Cell vs. Open Cell Wetsuits: Which to Buy?

by Liz H. May 16, 2019

Closed Cell vs. Open Cell Wetsuits: Which to Buy?

If you are considering buying a wetsuit, you will realize that you will have to take one of two options before you - an open cell wetsuit, and a closed cell wetsuit. But which choice is best for you? What are the differences and benefits of each? What of the drawbacks? To help you make an informed choice, here is a closer look at both open and closed cell wetsuits.   

 

Differences between Closed Cell and Open Cell Neoprene 

Typically, wetsuits are made of neoprene. But there are two ways in which this material is manufactured. First of all, neoprene is made in thick sheets, which are then sliced to get the right thickness for a wetsuit.  

The material itself naturally has air bubbles in it, and these air bubbles get exposed when it's cut to make a wetsuit, hence the name “open cell'. These open spaces act like suction cups that make the suit adhere to the skin. Because of the open bubbles, a suit made of this material while in this state is called an open cell wetsuit.  

On the other hand, a closed cell wetsuit is usually neoprene lined with another material such as nylon or polyester. This kind of wetsuit isn’t porous and makes the suit a little bit stiffer. It does not, therefore, adhere to the skin like an open cell wetsuit would.  

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Closed Cell Wetsuits

  • Advantages 
  1. One of the main advantages of closed cell wetsuits over their open cell alternatives is that they are much sturdier. Consequently, you will not rip this suit with your fingernail as would be the case with an open cell wetsuit.
  2. A closed cell wetsuit will usually cost much less than an open cell wetsuit, which is a huge advantage to the buyer.
  • Disadvantages 
  1. A closed cell wetsuit cannot be worn for long without making the wearer feel uncomfortable as it is less flexible.
  2. Due to poor insulation as it does not adhere to the skin, and closed cell wetsuit is not appropriate in diving conditions where the water is extremely cold.
  3. Putting on a closed cell wetsuit is much harder as the material is usually stiffer.MYLEDI 3mm 2-Piece Closed Cell Reef Camo Wetsuit

MYLEDI Hooded Men's 3mm 2-Piece Closed Cell Reef Camo Wetsuit

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Cell Wetsuits

  • Advantages 
  1. An open cell wetsuit offers insulation against the cold, which is a very useful feature in most diving situations.
  2. The open cell wetsuit is more flexible, and that makes diving more natural to the wearer.
  3. This type of suit offers a greater level of comfort, which means it can be worn for longer when diving, unlike the closed cell alternative.
  4. Wearing this suit is easier, although you have to use a lubricant to wear it easily.
  5. Although quite susceptible to scratches, an open cell wetsuit is also quite resistant against abrasions.
  • Disadvantages 
  1. The suit is pretty fragile, and even a fingernail can rip into it and ruin it.
  2. This kind of suit is considerably more expensive in comparison to the closed cell alternative.

 HISEA 7mm Yamamoto Open Cell Reef Camo Wetsuit

HISEA 7mm Yamamoto Open Cell Reef Camo Wetsuit 



When to Choose Closed Cell Wetsuits?  

If you are not that serious into diving and don't want to spend a fortune on high-quality gear, then closed cell wetsuits would be an ideal choice. These suits cannot handle long dives, and they are less flexible which makes them feel uncomfortable on the skin after some time.  

 

When to Choose Open Cell Wetsuits? 

When you are a little more serious about your diving and need a suit you can wear for much longer without feeling uncomfortable, then this is the best suit for you. They are also a little expensive, but they do offer great insulation which is great as you will often need a suit that can keep you warm during your dives.  

 

Summing Up 

When you go to buy wetsuits, it's important to consider some factors first. The last thing you want is to get a wetsuit worth hundreds of dollars and then realize it was not what you needed. But, faced with a choice between an open and a closed cell wetsuit, decide if you are buying the suit as a beginner who has no intention to spend much time in the water in which case you need a closed cell wetsuit. But if you are a pro who would like to take longer dives and enjoy better insulation, then an open cell wetsuit is the way to go.

 

Liz H.
Liz H.


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