Neoprene is a man made rubber compound that when combined with correct fabric laminates provides an excellent material for wetsuits with stretch and durability.

Standard closed-cell neoprene incorporates millions of very small gas filled cells or “bubbles” that add inherent buoyancy and thermal insulation into the product. According to Boyle’s Law- one of the fundamental physical principles that must be understood by all divers- “The volume of gas is inversely proportional to the surrounding pressure”.

The effects of Boyle’s Law on the gas in the closed cells in the neoprene is that when ambient pressure increases on descent, the bubbles in the neoprene shrink due to compression and lose a percentage of the buoyancy and thermal insulation they provided at the surface. images

This isn’t an issue with wetsuits that are designed for surface water sports (skiing and surfing) because the suit isn’t subjected to any compression. For divers this means our suit that was sufficient on the surface where the suit is at it’s full thickness, doesn’t provide enough insulation to stay warm at depth.

To insure a comfortable dive, performance material base layers are utilized. These base layers provide additional thermal protection, but aren’t compressible so remain neutrally buoyant and don’t lose any thermal capabilities at depth. These base layers are flexible, light weight and can be worn in layers. Base layer materials such as LavaCore’s Polytherm can be worn as stand alone pieces, layered together or worn under a traditional neoprene wetsuit.

lavacoreBecause our gulf coast water temperature varies 25F throughout the year, you need to have a thermal system that allows you to vary what you wear depending on season, depth and area. Even when the surface is 85F in August, it can be 75F at depth and the freshwater springs stay 68F-72F all year.

For more information on designing a custom thermal system for your diving style, come by and talk to a system adviser at Gulf Coast Divers (251) 342-2970.