As we dive into our latest blog installment, let's talk about the unsung hero of our water adventures: the neoprene wetsuit.

Next to our trusty boards, wetsuits become our steadfast companions as we brave the elements year-round. With each fall, storms roll in, and temperatures drop – it's prime time for the coziest, most flexible wetsuit to keep us in the game.

But here's the burning question: How do we gauge a wetsuit's warmth factor? Thickness certainly plays a role, acting as the initial indicator for water warriors. However, it's not just about the numbers. Enter smooth-skin neoprene, a game-changer in thermal insulation. Its sleek surface offers superior protection against the elements, reducing wind chill and keeping us snug in the water. So, while the outer shell matters, it's what's underneath that truly brings the heat.

Ready to dive deeper?
Let's uncover the secrets to staying warm and stylish out there!

Questions for Anne-Kathrin Brönner, Neoprene Product Developer at ION.   

A water sports enthusiast stands in the surf store, eyeing a new, warm wetsuit for the cold season. Immediately noticeable are the differences in neoprene thickness and whether it's double-laminated or smooth skin neoprene. However, the large price gaps among suits that appear similar from the outside raise questions: Can one discern all the warmth-giving criteria of a wetsuit at first glance?

Anne-Kathrin Brönner: Certainly not at first glance, as the inner lining plays a crucial role in thermal insulation. The next step should be checking the labels on the product.

ION provides labels for each functional inner lining and outer material, conveying the most critical technical information. Additionally, I recommend turning the suit inside out. If it features a smooth lining, it may not be particularly warm.

Wetsuits feature different lining materials, ranging from basic to technically advanced options. If a manufacturer doesn't use Graphene fibers, renowned for their excellent thermal properties due to their molecular structure, the lining structure should at least be roughened to trap body heat in cavities, akin to a wool sweater's natural thermoregulation. A bonus: these cavities absorb moisture, keeping you dry by wicking away sweat.

The wonder material appears to be "Graphene." Thinner yet equally warm?

Anne-Kathrin Brönner: Yes, a wetsuit lined with Graphene_Plush offers warmth comparable to a suit 1mm thicker, equipped with "Plasma_Plush", our second warmest ThermoPlush lining. Thanks to Graphene, water sports enthusiasts can opt for a thinner, more flexible suit without compromising warmth.

Are there other wetsuit brands utilizing Graphene similarly?

Anne-Kathrin Brönner: Indeed. ION stands alone in using a lining comprising 100% Graphene-coated polyester fiber. Competitors typically use a lining with only 50% Graphene fiber, which is indistinguishable to the naked eye.

So, extra thickness and "plush" don’t necessarily equate to more warmth!

Anne-Kathrin Brönner: Correct. As explained, plush is half the equation. ION's Graphene Plush, found in our warmest suit, the SELECT, combines Graphene technology with cavity principles for natural heat regulation, providing 20% higher thermal insulation than medium and high-priced suits with common linings.

On really cold days, a five- or six-millimeter-thick suit is necessary. However, not every six-millimeter suit is genuinely six millimeters thick. How do you verify the suit's actual thickness in-store?

Anne-Kathrin Brönner: Thickness can only be verified with a thickness gauge, typically available at well-stocked neoprene dealers.

What does warmth entail when comparing premium models versus baselines?

Anne-Kathrin Brönner: Generally, as you ascend from our top-tier model, SELECT, to the baseline, ELEMENT, you can expect decreasing thermal insulation due to the inner lining. Technological advancements entail higher development and manufacturing costs. Nonetheless, even our ELEMENT model features Hot_Stuff 2.0, our third warmest Thermo lining, on the torso.

ION's CORE level sits in the mid-range, featuring Hot_Stuff 2.0 on the torso and entire thighs, and Plasma_Plush on the back panel, ensuring affordability without compromising warmth.

One last question. What enhances a suit's warmth further? What should surfers look for?

Anne-Kathrin Brönner: Waterproofing is crucial. Glued-Blind-Stitch (GBS) seams, waterproof compared to flatlock, prevent water penetration. With GBS, the needle doesn't pierce the neoprene completely, unlike flatlock, where it does. In stores, you can discern flatlock seams on both sides, while GBS seams are visible only on the inside or outside.

Fit is paramount too. A loose suit allows water ingress, jeopardizing warmth. Our suits feature a "Water Barrier" in the chest area, enhancing warmth by creating friction for a better seal.

Ultimately, we aim to cater to all needs, from high-quality wetsuits with premium features to perfect entry-level models. Regardless of the level, attention to the inner lining is paramount. No one wants to cut short their water adventures due to cold. The inner lining, albeit invisible at first glance, makes all the difference.


»You cannot judge a wetsuit's warmth from the outside. What makes the difference is invisible - it is the inside lining.«

— Anne-Kathrin Brönner

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