Wet suits keep you dry. That’s what they do. Not in the rain, although if a person could invent an inexpensive, yet stylish, slip-on rain suit, I’m sure it would sell quite well. Wet suits are for men and women that immerse themselves in cold water under various distinct circumstances. Designed initially for scuba divers and then popularized by surfers, the wet suit has developed from a simple layer of protection from the cold and wet into a”system” that warms, protects and aids the swimmer, surfer or deep sea diver that utilizes them.
Heat moves from a warmer object to the colder object. This is one of the basic laws of physics and you can argue about it until the cows come home and it simply won’t change. Knowing is no suit that may stop the exchange, but the transfer of heat from the body to the water round you can be slowed enough to permit a person to enjoy a deep dive for a far longer time with a wet suit. The amount of time it would take for a diver to suffer a severe loss of heat is dependent upon his size, the temperature of the surrounding water, the diver’s physical exertion and the insulation material in his wet suit. A good, state-of-the-art wet suit is composed of three layers — a wicking layer, an insulation layer and the outer protective coating.
The purpose of the wicking layer is to keep the diver’s skin dry. Wet skin loses heat at a much faster rate than dry skin, so the wicking layer removes moisture from the skin and transports it to the next level of substance, slowing down the loss of heat from the diver’s body. The insulation level slows down the heat loss considerably. There is no single, universal insulation which works for all divers under all conditions. In fact, a diver who spends a lot of time submerged in different places and under different conditions will have a selection of wet suits to accommodate his variety of choices. There are four basic types of insulation packages – the wooly bear (any fuzzy wool-type insulator), open-cell foam (excellent when dry, but stiff), type-B marine thinsulate (regarded as the best) and radiant barriers (good in distance, have to be combined with one or more of the other types to be effective in water). The outer protective layer’s sole objective is to keep the inner layers dry. Polymers — plastic and rubber conglomerates — are frequently employed by wet suit makers for this purpose.