Do Wetsuits Keep You Dry – Is It Waterproof?

17. Do Wetsuits Keep You Dry1
Read Time:9 Minute, 39 Second

YOU ARE NOT KEEN DRY IN WETSUITS. Despite being made of waterproof neoprene, they allow a thin layer of water to enter through the zippers, neck, wrists, and ankles. Anything you wear underneath a wetsuit will become completely soaked.

Your body quickly warms this thin layer of water because the wetsuit is tight and doesn’t let much water in. As a result, your body stays warm and only briefly comes in contact with the cold water.

Are Wetsuits Waterproof?

Although wetsuits are made of waterproof materials, they do not keep you dry, and anything you had on underneath will become wet.

Wetsuits have an inner layer that is water resistant and will actually keep water out of your body.

If someone throws a bucket of water at you while you’re wearing clothes underneath your wetsuit, it’s likely that your clothes will remain completely dry.

Wetsuits won’t keep you dry, though, when you’re completely submerged in water because water will seep in through your wrists, ankles, neck, and zipper.

Some people prefer to wear swimmers or rash vests under their wetsuit for comfort, privacy, or to stay warm, but I find that wearing my wetsuit alone keeps me the most warm and comfortable.

I advise against donning bulky clothing underneath your wetsuit, though. The clothing will get wet, which could make you colder. Additionally, you won’t look good in your wetsuit and won’t be comfortable if it bunches up underneath.

How Do Wetsuits Work?

One of the biggest myths is that wetsuits keep you warm because they let a thin layer of water inside, which your body heats up and keeps you warm.

While it does happen, this is not the reason wetsuits keep you warm. So, exactly how do wetsuits keep you warm?

Here are the essential facts, but there is a fantastic video on this topic that I’ll link to below.

  • Wetsuits are made from closed cell neoprene foam which is a great insulator
  • This foam is filled with thousands of tiny nitrogen bubbles
  • Heat struggles to move through the neoprene air bubbles and so it traps in your body’s warmth and keeps away the coldness of the water
  • A wetsuit will keep your body hot even when it isn’t wet
  • The thicker the neoprene the more your wetsuit will keep you warm, but the more restricted you will be in your movement (like how a thicker cooler keeps ice longer)
  • Wetsuits have an outer layer of water and abrasion resistant material to protect the wetsuit and make it last longer
  • Water does get into your wetsuit but because the wetsuit is so tight only a tiny thin layer of water stays inside your wetsuit which your body quickly warms up to body temperature

As you spend more time submerged, warm water will flush the bottom while cold water from the outside slowly seeps into your wetsuit. Your energy will be drained as your body works to warm up the new, chilly water, which will cause you to become colder over time.

17. Do Wetsuits Keep You Dry2

How Does Water Get into Wetsuits?

Neoprene closed cell foam, which is actually waterproof, is the material used to make wetsuits.

The rubber neoprene contains minute nitrogen bubbles. Actually, the nitrogen bubbles are what keep you warm and act as insulation.

But how does water get inside your wetsuit if neoprene is water-resistant, and why does wearing a wetsuit make you wet?

Although wetsuits are made of water-resistant material and are tightly fitted, water can still enter through the neck, zipper, wrists, and ankles. Only a thin layer of water can stay inside your wetsuit due to how tightly it is cinched, and your body quickly warms this up.

When you’re surfing, scuba diving, or engaging in any other activity, the water in your wetsuit is continuously drained out and replaced with new, icy water.

Your body will quickly warm the water up because a good wetsuit will make this happen at such a slow rate that it is hardly noticeable.

A cheaper wetsuit or one that doesn’t fit properly will allow more water to flow through it, causing what is known as the dreaded flush, which exposes your body to more cold and makes you feel colder more quickly.

This is why a wetsuit that fits snugly is essential. A wetsuit that is too big will be easier for water to get inside of and fill up.

Do Wetsuits Need to Be Wet to Keep You Warm?

It’s a common misconception that wetsuits keep you warm by allowing a thin layer of water between your skin and the wetsuit, which your body warms up and keeps you warm.

The opposite is true; if your wetsuit is completely dry, it will keep you warmer.

Neoprene foam, which is used to make wetsuits, is filled with a large number of microscopic nitrogen bubbles. Your wetsuit’s ability to conduct heat is compromised by these bubbles.

As a result, the cold water cannot sap the energy from your skin due to the wetsuit’s ability to trap your body heat.

Wetsuits don’t need water to work and if you’ve ever stood in the sun in a wetsuit on a warm day then you’ll find you get hot really quickly.

The best way to stay warm in a wetsuit is, in fact, to put it on before entering the water. The cold water becomes a relief for you as a result of your body becoming heated.

Can You Make a Wetsuit Waterproof?

By adding rubber cuffs to your neck, wrists, and ankles, it would probably be possible to make a wetsuit waterproof, but this isn’t really how they are made.

Normal dry suits have thick rubber cuffs to keep water out and are made of a lighter waterproof fabric. This design enables you to wear warm clothing underneath your dry suit so that you can stay warm without relying on the dry suit itself.

However, some dry suits do use insulating foam and help to keep you warm in addition to being waterproof.

You can also purchase semi-dry suits, which are essentially wetsuits with thick rubber cuffs that allow much less water to enter than a typical wetsuit.

When the water is relatively warm, most people wear wetsuits, but when the water or wind chill gets extremely cold, dry suits are needed because they can keep you warmer than wetsuits because you aren’t exposed to any cold water at all.

Based on the water’s temperature, you can get a general idea of the type and thickness of wetsuit you might need below. The thicker the wetsuit, the colder the temperature, and the more likely you are to want to add booties, gloves, or a hood for additional warmth.

Make the Right Choice

Prior to purchasing a wetsuit, be sure to examine all of its characteristics, including the fit, thickness, and size. Additionally, keep in mind that a wetsuit is only effective for a limited time, so when the neoprene fabric begins to itch, it’s time to replace it.

In addition to being uncomfortable, old neoprene becomes ill-fitting and can cause rashes. It also allows too much water to pass through. Similar to how a torn wetsuit won’t keep you warm, if it accidentally gets stuck or tears in some other way, it needs to be replaced.

What Are the Different Wetsuit Designs?

You can pick the type of wetsuit you purchase in addition to getting the proper fit. Each one has different uses and can come in handy in different types of dives:

Shorty Wetsuits

Leggings and short sleeves are features of the shortie. They’re great for snorkeling and surfing because they don’t completely enclose your body, making them perfect for dives in warm, tropical waters.

Full-Length Wetsuits

Your entire body, down to your foot joints, is covered by these wetsuits. Additionally, they reach the wrists on both arms. They are perfect for cold water dives and can be worn with diving gloves, booties, and a hood to keep you warm.

Vests & Trunks

A pair of trunks and a dive vest may be all you need for your dive for shallow dives and dives in extremely warm environments, like the Middle East. There is no need for a full wetsuit.

It’s critical to keep in mind that all wetsuits, regardless of type, are made of neoprene and serve the same fundamental function, which is to keep you warm underwater. The types of coverage they provide determine how differently they are designed.

What is a Drysuit?

Since wetsuits absorb water, it goes without saying that you cannot use one if you are scuba diving in extremely cold water. You need a drysuit in these situations to keep water out and guard against hypothermia.

The use of drysuits has some unique issues. The fact that they are loose-fitting prevents you from moving around freely in the water even though they keep the water out. Your dive will need to be shorter if you’re wearing a drysuit because the additional effort required to move around will deplete the air supply in your scuba tank more quickly.


Are You Wet Inside a Wetsuit?

It goes without saying that wearing a wetsuit makes you wet because it allows water to contact your skin. This water won’t make you hypothermic because of your body heat.

Another worry is that your wetsuit might stench because of how stuffy the environment is. Your wetsuit won’t stink, though, if you clean it frequently. Imagine it as your workout socks. Your socks will smell like a dead rat if you wear them every day without washing them, but your wet suit will stay clean and fresh if you wash it after each use.

What is a Semi-Dry Wetsuit?

Although wetsuits aren’t waterproof, you can still choose a semi-dry wetsuit that will help keep some of the water out. Wetsuits typically work by allowing a thin layer of water to touch the body. The warmth of the body causes a small amount of water to warm up, but it also has a tendency to cool down quickly.

The semi-dry wetsuit extends the amount of time that the water keeps its heat. Latex and rubber seals are sewed into the semi-dry suit to stop heat loss.

In order to keep themselves more or less completely dry underwater, some divers even wear t-shirts underneath their semi-dry suits.

How Do You Stay Warm in a Wetsuit?

Now that you know how a wetsuit works, you need to be able to decide what type of wetsuit you need for your dive:

Wetsuits typically range in thickness from 2-4 mm and are made for warm water dives. Wetsuits with a thickness of 5-7 mm are recommended for dives in moderately cold water, though.

In addition to thickness, the right fit must be selected. You will feel heavier and expend more energy moving around in a loose wetsuit. In a perfect world, a wetsuit would be practically second skin-thin in terms of fit. Since water will keep flowing in and out of the suit and your body won’t be able to retain its heat, you won’t be able to stay warm in the water if it is too baggy. The likelihood of developing hypothermia increases as body heat is lost.

Can You Get a Rash from a Wetsuit?

In addition to making you sick and exhausted, wearing ill-fitting wetsuits can also leave you with a rash. As the loose fabric continues to move and rub against your skin, a rash will develop and the irritation will worsen.

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