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A wetsuit is a very clever invention designed to keep you warm even in the coldest of waters. The very first wetsuit was invent was by Jack O’Neill a surfer from California that wanted to surf in the winter months when the water got colder. His passion for the water led to the very first two-piece wetsuits, which he stitched together from pieces of neoprene. From that day the evolution of the wetsuit began and today the technology that goes into these wetsuits is unbelievable with every brand trying to make the warmest and lightest wetsuits possible.
So how does a wetsuit work, well by trapping the water between the neoprene and your body and warming that water to your body temperature. That trapped water then remains at that constant temperature for up to 4 hours depending on the water temp. Some features have enhanced the warmth by having very high quality neoprene that is so flexible that it moulds to you body shape and the better it fits the warmer you will be as there is no room for water to enter and sit making you cold. Even to the point where some wetsuits have air neoprene, which is small bubbles of air in the wetsuit and as air is a better conductor of heat it keeps you warmer for longer. Another addition is the smooth skin chest panel ,which basically stops cold winds from blowing through the wetsuit. This is great for sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing. So recent additions have also included thermal lining on the chest and kidney areas. This acts in a very similar way to thermal underwear but inside the wetsuit. It again traps warm body heat and reflects that back onto the crucial areas such as the chest and kidneys. Some designs have taken the wetsuit to a whole new level including the invention from Rip Curl in the Flash Dry lining. This is a combed back thermal layering that is featured throughout the Flash Bomb wetsuit and keeps your entire body as warm as possible. It also boasts that it dry’s in 15 minutes but that really depends on the outside air temp that you are drying the wetsuit in.
A revolution has taken place over the last few years where by chest zip entry system wetsuits are becoming more popular than the traditional back zip versions. This is due to the wetsuit then becoming far more flexible without the restriction on the back zip. The only problem with a chest zip is they are far more difficult to get on and off but after you have done this a few times you learn the way best to get in and out.
When it comes to getting a wetsuit for use in your water sport the first thing you need to consider is what time of year you will be using the suit?
As if you are thinking of using it in the summer months in either the UK or Europe then a 3/2 full is going to be the most cost effective way to purchase. As you will get far more use from a 3mm full in the months from April till December. The wetsuit is 3mm of neoprene in the body and 2mm on the arms, which is enough to keep you warm from about 15c up to 23c. Over that temperature you should buy a shortie 2mm wetsuit, this has short arms and legs so you have complete freedom of movement but stay warm if there is a slight chill. Even if the water gets warmer than that such as 24c plus then a neoprene vest and a pair of shorts is really all you need even on the cooler of days.
Winter is where your wetsuit really does need to be good, and it is worth spending the extra money to stay as warm as possible. Most winter wetsuits are 5mm or in the harshest of conditions 6mm on the body and 3mm on the arms. Things like thermal lining become a real benefit when the water is a cold 5c and below. It’s not only a wetsuit you need when in these cold waters as you will also need wetsuit boots, gloves and hood. A good idea is to have 5mm boots, 3mm gloves and a 3mm hood. Having all these additions will make sure that your feet and hands stay warm as there is nothing worse than freezing cold hands and feet. The hood is vital as well as most of your body heat is lost through your head region so keeping this warm will keep you in the water for longer. A lot of people don’t like wearing hoods as it can make you feel restricted but if you can bear it then it will make the world of difference. Some really good brands to check out for winter is O’Neill for entry level at £130 to Psycho and Pyrotech at the £250 to £300 mark. Rip Curl offer the Omega at £99 to the Flash bomb at £300 mark. Where the technology has come on so much you really can stay warm in cold water and have so much fun. No need for you to hide in the winter anymore so get out there and have some fun.
Hope this article has been helpful to you and for any further advice please feel free to contact us.