Wetsuit: neoprene supremacy in the surf industry

 

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.

Memory is also important. Is your wetsuit holding the shape of your body? It should. The next step is getting neoprene into the eco-friendly fields. Unfortunately, wetsuits are not green enough because of all the chemical interactions needed to produce neoprene.

Discover the brands producing the best wetsuits models in the world, here.

Surfer's height and weight dimensions are the most important features to confirm before buying a neoprene wetsuit. Women should also check their waist and chest measurements. Here's a general wetsuit size chart:

 

Size

Height (cm)

Height (ft)

Weight (kg)

Weight (lbs)

 

XS

168-175

5'6''-5'9''

55-65

121-143

 

S

170-178

5'7''-5'10''

60-70

132-154

 

MS

172-180

5'7½''-5'11''

65-78

143-172

MEN

M

175-182

5'9''-5'11½''

70-80

154-176

 

MT

180-185

5'11''-6'1''

74-84

163-185

 

LS

175-180

5'9''-5'11''

75-84

165-185

 

L

180-185

5'11''-6'1''

78-88

172-194

 

XL

182-192

5'11½''-6'3½''

85-100

187-220

 

 

Size

Height (cm)

Height (ft)

Chest (cm)

Chest (inches)

Waist (cm)

Waist (inches)

Weight (kg)

Weight (lbs)

 

2

155-160

5'1''-5'3''

75-80

29½''-31½''

58-63

23''-25''

40-48

90-105

 

4

160-165

5'3''-5'5''

77-83

30½''-32½''

60-66

24''-26''

45-52

100-115

 

6

163-168

5'4''-5'6''

80-85

31½''-33½''

63-68

25''-27''

50-57

110-125

WOMEN

8

163-170

5'5''-5'7''

83-88

32½''-34½''

66-71

26''-28''

55-61

120-135

 

10

168-173

5'6''-5'8''

86-91

34''-36''

68-73

27''-29''

59-68

130-150

 

12

170-175

5'7''-5'9''

90-95

35½''-37½''

73-78

29''-31''

64-73

140-160

 

14

172-180

5'9''-5'11''

94-99

37''-39½''

76-81

30''-32''

68-77

150-170

 

16

175-183

5'9''-6'

98-102

38½''-40½''

81-86

32''-34''

75-84

165-185