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November 09, 2020 6 min read

While shopping for a new wetsuit people usually focus on its style and fitting instead of anything else. Most of them seldom focus on the materials used in the wetsuit. It is very important to check the materials that are used to make the wetsuit you are going to wear on your body. It will help you to ascertain whether the wetsuit materials are comfortable for your skin or not.


Moreover, the material of the wetsuit also affects its warmth, flexibility, and fitting. A wetsuit can cause various side effects including allergies, discomfort etc. if it is made of the wrong materials. In this situation, it becomes necessary to know about different types of materials used for making wetsuits you find in the market while shopping to buy a new one.


History of Wetsuit Materials

The first wetsuit was invented around 70 years ago to make it easier for daring men and women diving and surfing in the cold water of oceans. After extensive research on plastic during WWII wetsuit was invented for the first time by two different persons. One of these inventors was an Italian military diver, Lt. Angelo Belloni, who used a suit made of rubber to protect his body from the cold water by insulating it. This suit was known as the Belloni dive suit after the name of its inventor.


This Belloni suit later became the base of neoprene wetsuit after the invention of neoprene as a material for wetsuits. Wetsuit neoprene was invented by a physicist at Berkeley UC, Hugh Bradner, who worked with the US navy as well as US Marine Corps, to make an improved wetsuit for divers. 


With time many companies made changes in the types of materials used for making wetsuits because of difficulty to put on and the easy wearing of a neoprene wetsuit. Even if a neoprene wetsuit insulates your body efficiently, you have to use talcum powder on it after using it every time.


In the meantime, companies have invented various types of materials for wetsuits as well as techniques to stitch them. The information provided in this write-up will help you to know the different types of materials used for making wetsuits. You can also refer to the blog post for some details: What Are Wetsuits Made of?


Different Types of Materials Used in Wetsuits


It is one of the most commonly used wetsuit materials. It is a synthetic rubber that is foamed. To create neoprene many chemical reactions are performed to provide it several properties. Along with making wetsuits, neoprene is also used in many applications like automotive belts, electrical insulations, braces for sports therapy, the fashion world and personal sleeve for electronic items, etc. as well as for making athletic wear, swimwear, and lingerie, etc.


Wetsuit Neoprene


Benefits of Neoprene in a Wetsuit

As the material for wetsuits, neoprene is special because it insulates your body. There is a myth that wetsuit keeps your body dry even when you are submerged in the water. But that is not the case. In fact, neoprene is a material that keeps your dry because it has several tiny closed cells that allow water to get in but do not reach your body. But a certain amount of water will seep in through seams, collar, cuffs or leg openings. In this way, neoprene helps in forming a sheet of warm water between the external cold water and your body to maintain its temperature.


Various types of neoprene have been invented since its inception to improve the performance of the wetsuits. The neoprene used in wetsuits today is more lightweight, insulating, hydrophobic, and durable than the neoprene used traditionally. Different types of neoprene used as wetsuits material are briefly discussed here under for your consideration.


Types of Wetsuit Neoprene

Basically, neoprene is of two types, open-cell neoprene and closed cell neoprene.


Open-cell Neoprene

Being a porous material neoprene is basically known as a material with open cells. These open cells of neoprene can help in fitting the wetsuit to your body a bit more tightly than the wetsuit made from closed cell neoprene. So to wear the wetsuit made from this type of neoprene you may have to lubricate it.


Moreover, the life of wetsuits made from open-cell neoprene is much less than the wetsuits made from closed cell neoprene because it can break very easily which makes it less durable material.


Closed-cell Neoprene

This type of neoprene is commonly used for making wetsuits because it is not porous like open-cell neoprene. Closed-cell neoprene is used to make wetsuits because it is lined with materials like polyester or nylon etc.


The wetsuits made from closed cell neoprene can provide you more insulation than open-cell neoprene because the lining inside it makes it a bit stiffer than the later one. Moreover, you can use it for a longer time as it becomes more durable than open cell neoprene.


About the differences between open cell and closed cell wetsuits, we have a detailed blog post you can refer to: Closed Cell vs. Open Cell Wetsuits: Which to Buy?


Neoprene is also found in some other variations as discussed here under.


Nylon-Lined Neoprene

Jersey nylon is lined under the neoprene used for making all the traditional wetsuits. It was lined with nylon due to various reasons like making it easier to wear the wetsuits. It makes it easier to slip into the wetsuit as compared to the wetsuit made from pure rubber. So nylon lining inside the neoprene makes it easier to put on and off the wetsuit. Earlier talcum powder was used to get in and out of the wetsuit until the invention of nylon lined neoprene. Moreover, the layer of the nylon fabric provides additional protection from splitting, wear and tear as well as cracking after drying out in the sun.


Smooth Skin Neoprene

This type of neoprene is used these days to make various types of wetsuits and accessories used with wetsuits like gloves, hoods, and boots. The neoprene of this kind repels wind and water due to its rubber-like finish but provides additional heat to your body by absorbing the warmth of the sun. It is also used in the lower back and the chest panel of the wetsuits specially designed for cold waters to increase the warmth of the entire suit to a great extent on a sunny and windy day. But the only drawback in this type of neoprene is that while getting in or out of this wetsuit your fingernails can tear it off which makes it less durable than other types of neoprene.


Smooth Skin Wetsuits


Alternative to Wetsuit Neoprene

Neoprene can not only do harm to the environment but can also cause certain types of physical problems to the user of wetsuits made from it. It can cause an allergic reaction to some of the users of neoprene wetsuits. So, when you will have to avoid wearing neoprene wetsuits then you will have to find some alternative materials to make wetsuits for you.


Many companies manufacturing wetsuits have developed alternative materials for making wetsuits due to increasing demand for hypoallergenic and eco-friendly wetsuits. People have become more cautious about the side effects of neoprene wetsuits.


Some of the eco-friendly alternatives of neoprene are briefly discussed here under for your reference.


Neogreene: In making this alternative to neoprene used for making wetsuits 25% less petroleum and 25% less electricity are used than the neoprene. In order to exclude the use of toxic adhesives like toluene and formaldehyde, water-based chemistry is expected to be used in making Neogreene.


In fact, this material was invented to make drink koozies and sleeves for laptops with a neoprene-like look but these products and their manufacturers could not survive for long. For this reason, this material could not gain popularity in the market still it encourages the inventors to find alternatives to neoprene that are eco-friendly.


Ariaprene: The companies making wetsuits have developed a sandwiched fabric which includes a layer of perforated neoprene in the middle so that it can trap air to increase the warmness of the wetsuit without increasing its thickness. It insulates your body like the windows with double-pane insulates the house as the air in the dead space helps in insulating your body more efficiently. This type of neoprene is normally found in wetsuits of the highest quality.


Initially this material was developed for making footwear due to its sustainable foam core but soon it replaced neoprene in the industry of sportswear. It is an eco-friendly material as the process of making it is based on water. It is a hypoallergenic and non-irritating material as the use of harsh chemicals in it has been eliminated. It is a synthetic rubber that can decompose with time.


Thus Ariaprene is considered a promising alternative to neoprene as the material for making wetsuits. Physically it resembles the compression, insulation of closed cells, and flexibility as found in neoprene. Though it has not gained much popularity in the industry of wetsuits still it can increase expectations to save the environment by using it as an alternative to neoprene.


Yulex: This material is considered as the true replacement for neoprene as it is made from natural rubber extracted from the main source of rubber on this earth, trees. The process of making this wetsuit material damages the environment to a considerably lower level which makes it a hypoallergenic alternative to neoprene.

Liz H.
Liz H.

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