Tørrdraktsmaterialer - er det så nøye da?

Dry suit materials - is it that important then?

JUST the wetsuit and which materials the drysuits are made of

By: René Petterson
For: Open water life

Most divers know the difference between a shell suit and a neoprene suit in the same way that most people have heard shell suits referred to as trilaminate or nylon suits. This is where too many people stop and most worry very little about the underlying information that often appears from here. Fortunately, it is not very critical for divers to know so much more about this, but it can be useful in the process of choosing a new dry suit or if you are going to carry out leak detection or repairs yourself.

Dry suit materials

This article will mainly be about shell suits, and where useful, refer to neoprene suits to understand the difference between the materials. First of all, it may be useful to understand the term "Trilaminate". If you break the word down, it gives a basic understanding of how the material is built up. TRI indicates that there are three layers and LAMINAT indicates that these are laminated/heat treated to stick together. Regardless of which material is used on the inside and outside, the common feature is that there is a waterproof membrane in the middle. The membrane is usually made of butyl rubber, but in cases such as BARE AquaTrek can be PU (plastic). The latter type of membrane is often used in travel suits and light dry suits as the PU membrane is about ⅓ the weight of butyl.

Are there other types of materials? Yes, in paddling suits, special suits and other surface suits such as NRS Extreme , NRS Extreme SAR and similar products bilaminate is often used, which consists of a membrane and an outer layer. In this type of suit, the membrane is exposed on the inside of the suit and is often only covered with a thin "mesh" for protection. This makes the suit sensitive to internal damage from, for example, zips on underwear. The advantage of this construction is that the suit becomes considerably more mobile and has a lower weight.

Now that we know a little about how trilaminate is built and have a basic understanding of how the materials fit together, we can start looking at factors that differentiate suits from each other in terms of durability, quality and price.

As with anything else that is purchased or manufactured, materials used in drysuits cost different prices based on type and properties. In the sections below, we will take a look at the different types of materials that are mainly used in the outer layer of drysuits. On some models such as the BARE HD2 Expedition, you will see a combination of materials in the suit's construction to increase wear resistance in exposed areas. Wear resistance can also be increased by fitting external padding such as Melcotape, kevlar pads or rubber pads. The suit's intended area of ​​use often sets the standard for the type of reinforcements used.

EXTERIOR MATERIALS

Nylon
Nylon is a common term for a series of interwoven polyester materials and the thickness is usually given in ig/m2 (grams per square meter of material) or Denier (more on this later). The thicker the outer layer you install, the more wear resistance you get. Here, manufacturers have to balance fine margins because increased thickness means less mobility and a stiffer suit. For designers and costume manufacturers, it is important to find a golden mean where the wear resistance is good, while the movement of the garment is preserved. Another disadvantage of thick nylon is that it dries very slowly and if the suit is not hung to dry in a well-ventilated area, there is a risk of it turning sour.

Shell suits with a nylon outer layer are usually found at the budget end of the price spectrum, this does not mean that it is a bad suit, but that it is designed with a friendly price point in mind and preferably occasional use over the expected lifetime. This type of suit is well suited for sport diving for divers who dive up to 60-70 dives a year. Examples of nylon suits are Bare Trilam Pro and one of our bestsellers BARE Trilam Tech .

Cordura
Cordura is a nylon-based material consisting of 16 subcategories, in this article we will not break down all 16, but it is useful to know that even if it says Cordura on two different products, it is not necessarily the same material.

One of the main properties of Cordura is that the material has very high wear resistance and low weight (Durability per weight index). This means that when the material is used in the outer layer of a trilaminate dry suit, the manufacturer can achieve a suit with good wear resistance and relatively low weight. In dry suit production, Cordura materials are used somewhat differently, from having a complete outer shell in Cordura, to being Cordura reinforced. In cases such as the BARE HD2 Expedition, a variant of Cordura called rip-stop Cordura is used in areas where the suit is most exposed to wear.

What does denier mean and why is this important? Denier is an index mainly used in the clothing industry to indicate the fiber mass/fiber thickness of the individual threads in a material, in relation to silk, this is set on a slightly obscure scale. If you look up the technical definition of denier, 1 denier is 1g/9000m. If you look at a product description with 650D Cordura, this indicates that the fiber base is 650x heavier than silk. The higher the denier index a material has, the higher the fiber density and wear resistance. Again, the flip side of the coin is that as the thickness increases, mobility decreases accordingly. To try to put this on a reasonably understandable scale, an average human hair is 20 denier and a typical thread in a microfiber cloth 0.8 denier.

Kevlar
Kevlar is a braided synthetic aramid material used in everything from diving equipment to bulletproof vests. The material is often characterized by its extremely low weight and high wear resistance. Although there are a few drysuits with a kevlar outer shell, the material is more commonly used as reinforcement on the outside, for example nylon or Cordura. Typical areas where you find Kevlar on dry suits are in knee pads and shoulder pads on professional diving suits.

Kevlar fibers are so tightly woven that they are almost impossible to separate, this makes the material very suitable for reinforcements in wear zones. In the BARE universe, kevlar reinforcements, often under the name K-Padz, can be found on the D6 , D8 and Trilam Commercial suits. This type of reinforcement can also be ordered on any new BARE suit, where you want extra reinforcements and can accept slightly stiffer material in the zones where they are fitted.

Rip Stop
Rip-Stop is a hybrid material that can be made from, among other things, nylon or Cordura. In production, stronger thread is woven in to create a grid in the material to prevent the material area from cracking. In principle, a puncture damage must be isolated to one route in the network. BARE X-mission uses a type of material called Micro-RS (Micro Rip-Stop), this material is woven more tightly than normal rip-stop to have increased frictional resistance against uneven surfaces such as rust, rust and other unpleasant objects a dry suit comes into contact with.

Melco tape and reinforcements
Melco tape has a number of applications and variants in dry suit production and repair. This type of tape is used for everything from waterproofing seams to external reinforcements. The main series are Melco 2000, which is used on shell suits, and Melco 5000, which is used on wetsuits. Most of the Melco products are equipped with heat-activated glue and are installed with an iron. Examples of external reinforcement are Melco 2000 dotted and Melco 5500 known as M-padz on the suits from BARE, these materials are equipped with ceramic knobs and provide a durable wear zone.

Melco tape also works great as a repair product in the field, as they can be installed without waiting for glue to harden. Here you can cut a patch for use inside, outside or both and assemble it using an iron or other heat source. Watch the temperature if you use this type of product as many of this type of tape can melt above 170°C.

Glued reinforcements vs material-integrated reinforcement
If you are going to try to have a comprehensive answer to the above, then it must be "Yes, thank you, both parts". A drysuit consists of many cut trilaminate panels. In production, it is possible to integrate, for example, Cordura into the panel which will later form, for example, the suit's forearms or the front of the knees. This is an expensive process, but the result is a suit with a material combination that provides the best possible mobility, while also being built for hard use. When you combine this construction method with external reinforcements, such as M-Padz, the result is suits built for expedition diving and hard use.

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