Helping our customers make informed decisions
For most people taking a trip to the coast, a super-sized beach towel and a simple pair of board shorts are all that’s needed to relax on the shore and take a paddle in the often-icy British ocean. But for those that take their aquatic activities a little more seriously, clothing and equipment has to provide divers and surfers with the comfort and warmth they need in order to take to the water whatever the weather, all year-round.
The wetsuit as we now know it was first born in 1952 from the mind of physicist Hugh Bradner, whose job at the University of California required him to partake in several underwater dives. Having experienced first-hand the difficulty that humans had at staying warm in water for extended periods of time, Bradner soon set about looking for a solution, one which he found in the form of Neoprane.
Following experiments with the rubbery material in the basement of his family home, Bradner soon determined that Neoprane was able to trap water between the body and the material, with the liquid then being warmed by the wearer’s body heat and kept at a comfortable temperature. What was more, as the wearer swam, fresh, cold water was largely prevented from permeating the material, with the suit already being ‘full’ of the warmed liquid.
It was these two discoveries that revolutionised the way in which anyone with an interest in water-sports or diving takes to the waves today, and since the 1950s the technology has been improved and enhanced to keep swimmers warmer for longer. Today’s wetsuits are equipped with an even greater ability to lock water out, with fabric flaps and even rubber glue guns being used to seal off seams and zip-locks that would otherwise let water seep in.
What’s more, some of today’s designs blend the core Neoprane build with a variety of additional fabrics, such as Spandex and even Merino Wool, which help to enhance a suit’s ability to hold onto heat and mould closer to your body. A selection of different shapes and styles are also now widely available, with some ‘shorty’ wetsuits opting to leave lower arms and legs exposed and other designs coming with detachable limb and head sleeves to offer additional protection as required.
With wetsuits now available in such an expansive variety of different shapes, sizes and material widths, there’s a model that’s ideal for practically any temperature. So if you’ve ever wanted to take the plunge but feared a less than warm welcome, a close-fitting wetsuit might be the key to getting into you into a new and exciting hobby this summer, and staying warm in the process!
Click here to see Universal Textiles’ full range of wetsuits!