Wetsuits: the secrets behind warmth and flexibility


Warmth and flexibility are the most important characteristics of the neoprene wetsuit. What has changed and what will be the future of neoprene in surfing?

Neoprene has been invented in the 1930s, but it only enters the history of surfing in the 1950s, by the hand of Hugh Bradner and Jack O'Neill. Things have changed a lot, in the past 60 years.
What is neoprene? Technically speaking, neoprene is polychloroprene, a type of polymer. It's the result of a chemical of chloroprene. After a series of new reactions, the product is baked and expands into neoprene sheets.
In 1951, the University of California Hugh physicist Bradner proves that small bubbles of air meant water would quickly reach skin temperature and continue to act as thermal insulation. One year later, Jack O'Neill starts his own wetsuit company in a Californian garage.
In the next decades, scientists and researchers would improve the neoprene wetsuit with new chemical formulas, lighter and thinner models, more comfortable tissues, super stretching features, special stitches. Marketing would do the rest.
New approaches to wetsuit manufacturing were born, too. With its high micro-cell structure, limestone neoprene offers 30% more air bubble inside the rubber than other conventional wetsuits.
The nitrogen closed-cells are a better insulator than air, which allows for exceptional heat retention and efficiency. Limestone neoprene has an elongation of between 480-580%, meaning that it is super stretchy.
Learn how to clean your wetsuit and make it last longer, here.

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