The question on whether wetsuits are waterproof or not can only be answered first by explaining how a wetsuit works. However, if you are looking for the short answer, we can safely say that the wetsuit itself is not waterproof.
Nonetheless, the material from which it is made can be waterproof. This is the reason why we think the question, are wetsuits waterproof? ; requires a much longer answer that the one we suggest above.
Also in order to answer this question, you will need to understand that wetsuits are different from drysuits. Drysuits are made to be waterproof. That is if the word waterproof means that the parts of the body covered by the suit will remain dry even if you are immersed in water.
Of course, whether you remain dry when you are using the drysuit has to do with how you use it. To get to the bottom of this question, let’s start by looking at how the wetsuit works.
Before we attempt to get to the long answer on whether a wetsuit is waterproof or not, it is prudent to get to the bottom of what we mean by the term waterproof. The term waterproof generally means that the material you are talking about will not allow any water to pass.
This means in any direction, whether it is into the material of out of it. While you may find that some products are made from waterproof material, you can still discover that they allow water to come in through the seams, zips, and other such areas. For it to be totally waterproof, the wetsuit will have to allow absolutely no water in.
How The Wetsuit Works
Understanding how the wetsuit works provides more clarity on whether it can be considered waterproof or not. Wetsuits are made so that they can help you to stay warm even when it is cold and wet. Wetsuits are designed to provide warmth by using the water instead of fighting it. There lies the answer. Wetsuits are not made to be waterproof. They allow the water in.
A wetsuit is manufactured from a material called neoprene. This material does not conduct heat very well. This ensures that the heat generated by the body does not get transmitted into the water and therefore leaving the body cold. The heat generated by the body is trapped in in order to keep you warm. A layer of water is trapped in between the body and the neoprene.
The water inside the wetsuit does not have a lot of room to circulate. The heat of the body warms it and it becomes another layer of insulation. Since the ability of your wetsuit to keep you warm has everything to do with trapping a thin layer of water, you need to wear your wetsuit tight. If the wetsuit fits loosely too much water is allowed inside. The body will not have enough power to heat all the water.
You can still get a wetsuit that will restrict the amount of water coming into the body. You will be able to do this by getting yourself what is called a semi dry wetsuit. These ones are almost waterproof, but not quite. Wetsuits function by allowing a thin layer of water to be warmed by the body. However, this layer flashes out quite quickly.
The semi-dry wetsuit makes the process of flushing out of the warm water slower. What makes this possible is that the semi-dry wetsuit is equipped with latex and rubber seals. These are sewn into the zipper openings, the ankles and arm cuffs. This is why you are able to keep the heated water in for longer. This is why it is possible for a t-shirt worn under a semi dry wetsuit to come out from any dive pretty dry in most parts.
Wetsuits Are Not Waterproof
After this explanation, we are sure you now understand that wetsuits are not waterproof. They are actually supposed to get you wet. They are made to keep you warm, despite the water that gets in contact with your body. If you would rather remain dry, then you may need to get yourself a drysuit. Well, a drysuit is a whole different story with different features and prices.