Wetsuits - construction and function.

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Apart from the thickness and quality of the neoprene used in the manufacture of a wetsuit - how that wetsuit is manufactured will affect how well it functions in terms of overall fit, flexibility and heat retaining qualities. Ever wondered what wetsuit jargon generally means and how it affects the type of suit you need for your chosen watersport? The aim of this guide is to explain some of the terms used in wetsuit design and construction to help you make a more informed choice.

A wetsuit will not keep you dry. A small amount of water will enter through the seams, zipper, neck, arms or legs. A wetsuit works by trapping a thin layer of water between your body and the neoprene which then warms up to your body temperature. How effective this is and how long it takes depends on many factors including how well the suit fits, the water temperature, how the wetsuit is constructed and of course the thickness of the neoprene used.

Cheap, poorly constructed or incorrectly fitting wetsuits generally allow too  much water in to a suit with obvious poor results. Your body will be trying to warm up too much water or constantly heating cold water as it flushes through the suit. With wetsuits, like most things in life, you get what you pay for and a 'cheap' wetsuit will often be manufactured using the quickest,cheapest stitching method with  thin inflexible neoprene and basic cut which results in a poor fit on the majority of body shapes.

Three of the most common types of stitching used to construct a wetsuit are overlocked, flatlocked and glued and blindstritched (GBS). The type of stitching plays a part in how much water seeps in to the suit and how comfortable it will feel to wear. At Big Orange Watersports we believe in stocking quality suits so all our ranges are either flatlocked or GBS.

Overlock Stitching is the most basic form of stitching found in budget or cheap suits. Overlock stitching joins two pieces of material together by stitching over their edges. Although the seams can be seen from the outside, all the stitching is hidden away on the inside of the suit and leaves a protruding seam next to the skin - uncomfortable. The stitching will also open slightly when stretched and allows more water in.

Flatlocked Stitching is formed by joining two overlapping edges of material. the finished seam lays flat on the inside and outside of the wetsuit making it more comfortable against the skin. Flatlock stitching can be seen from both the inside and the outside of a wetsuit and looks similar on both sides. Wetsuits that are flatlock stitched  seep some water through the seams, although not as much as an overlock stitched suit. Flatlocking is found in better quality suits and will cost that little bit more as more work is involved in the stitching process.

Blindstitched (Glued & Blindstitched or GBS) seams can generally be found on high specification wetsuits, especially those used for colder water/winter us as the more complicated method of construction makes for a warmer suit with minimal water seepage. Material is glued together aong an edge and then stitched using a specialised curved needle whih means the stitching does not pierce the outside layer of the neoprene and thereby eliminating the water seepage holes along the seam that you usually get with the standard types of stitching. Blindstitch seams also lay flat, allowing the material to lay flatter and smooth against the skin enhancing comfort and fit. As you can appreciate this is a more complicated method of constructions and your wetsuit will generally be more expensive than a flatlocked suit.

Additional finishing touches added to suits may include the following:-

Taped stress points are usually found where two or more seams join together. The purpose of taping the stress points of a wetsuit is to add strength to the areas that most at risk of over stretching, usually when being put on or taken off. By taping the stress points manufacturers prolong the life of the suit & prevent the seams from parting where they may receive a lot of stretching. Commonly found on the better glued and blindstitched suits as a finishing extra.

Fully taped seams are a good way of preventing any water penetrating the seams and adding strength to the whole suit. The tape used is a thinner neoprene that may vary slightly in diameter up to about 1/2 inch wide and is glued over the top of the seams to add to the strength of the stitching.

Liquid taped seams are usually found as an alternative to fully taped seams. Rather than using the traditional neoprene tape, some manufacturers us a latex based glue to cover the seams. The advantages of this are that it is more flexible then neoprene tape and makes a better seal over the seams so it makes the seams water tight and as a result of this it makes the wetsuit even warmer.

At Big Orange Watersports Ltd we offer a wide range of quality, branded wetsuits from top manufacturers including BodyGlove, Sola, Typhoon, Billabong, TWF and Swarm. We offer s selection of styles, thicknesses and finishes to cater for a variety of watersports, water temperatures and of course budgets. Whatever your choice you will be assured of a suit chosen for it's style, quality and value for money with great discounts on the standard RRP. Our knowledeable staff are happy to give advice tailored to the individual and we would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in buying a wetsuit or accessories.

You can find our full contact details in our 'Me' page on ebay through the link below or visit our ebay shop to view our extensive range of watersports equipment!

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Big Orange Watersports Ebay Shop

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