The most important reason for most wetsuits being black is that this color is the most efficient at protecting wearers from the harmful effects of Ultra-Violet rays (UV rays). Black is the most effective photon absorber, which makes it an excellent shield against these rays. Black will also absorb and retain heat from the sun, which will go a long way in boosting the wetsuit’s heat-retaining qualities. It is, finally, a neutral color that very few people would mind wearing for whatever reasons.
A wetsuit should fit snugly to minimize water flow in and out of the suit while in the water. This replacement of the small amount of water held within the suit (between your skin and the suit) is known as flushing, and it severely diminishes the wetsuit’s ability to keep you warm. On the other hand, it should not be too tight as this may constrict your breathing or even lead to acute cardiac failure in extreme cases. A well-fitting suit will not have any gaps or bagginess – it should feel like a second skin.
Most wetsuits are made of a type of synthetic rubber known as closed-cell foam neoprene while some others are made of open cell neoprene. Neoprene is put through a process known as foaming, which results in the tiny pockets of nitrogen gas found in it and gives it its ability to prevent or minimize heat loss and provide buoyancy. This material will usually be sandwiched between thin sheets of durable material such as lycra (spandex).
Depending on numerous factors, wetsuit prices range broadly. At the low end, $75 suits are available, while at the high end, you might find suits that cost up to $500. The factors that go into determining wetsuit prices include the particular wetsuit’s size, style, insulation, thickness, materials used, flexibility, brand, and its intended purpose. Don’t hesitate to consult with someone with experience should you have any trouble navigating your way here, as a bad wetsuit can severely dampen your experience out on the water.
Although wetsuits do an excellent job of keeping water out, they are not waterproof. There will be a certain amount of water that gets in at the cuffs of your wrists, at your ankles, and at the neck, so you will not be completely dry. This water, however, will very quickly be warmed up and so the wearer will not lose much heat. It is crucial to have a well-fitted wetsuit as one that is too loose will allow too much water to get in and counteract its insulation capabilities.
Wetsuits are made of a material containing tiny bubbles of nitrogen gas, which plays the most critical role in providing insulation that prevents heat loss. Nitrogen, just as most gases, is a poor conductor of heat compared to solids and liquids. In addition to this quality, the fact that these bubbles are so tiny makes them even more efficient at trapping heat in much the same way that feathers or fabrics achieve this by minimizing convectional heat loss. A small amount of water will be trapped between the wearer and the wetsuit itself, but this will warm up quickly to reach your body temperature.
The primary function of a wetsuit is to help your body retain its heat or, in other words, keep you warm. Should your internal body temperature fall below a certain level, a dangerous condition known as hypothermia (core temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius) might set in, leading to shivering and confusion. The materials used in making wetsuits keep your body heat from escaping into the cold water around you, thus keeping you relatively warm and cozy even in the coldest waters. Human beings lose body heat at a much faster rate while in water than in air of the same temperature, which makes wetsuits important even in weather that seems comfortably warm.
For additional warmth, while wearing a wetsuit, you may put on specially designed neoprene shorts that provide additional protection against the cold. You can also wear your usual swimming trunks underneath if you aren’t too concerned about the cold. Rash guards are also helpful, as they prevent the chafing that leads to rashes when engaging in some activities such as surfing. It’s acceptable to wear nothing at all under your wetsuit. Still, you need to consider the activity you’ll be engaging in as well as the temperature, weather, and environment you’ll be operating in.
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