Drysuits Made From "Compressed" vs. "Crushed" Neoprene What is the Difference?
One of the most frequently asked questions about drysuit materials concerns the differences between compressed neoprene and crushed neoprene. Many people are under the impression that they are the same or at least very similar. This is not the case. It is important to understand these differences before making an investment decision in a drysuit.
To make "crushed" neoprene we start with the highest quality rubber money can buy. After we build the suit we run it through our patented process using heat and pressure. This process changes the material and makes it much tougher. I made this discovery in my garage while trying to do something quite different. I then had to learn why and to perfect the process that made the material so tough. The result is CF200 material.
Drysuits made out of "compressed" neoprene are sold by a number of companies. According to the manufacturers, these suits are made of foam neoprene that has been made denser and thinner by compression. If a 4mm "compressed" neoprene suit has been made from 7mm foam neoprene and then compressed, it should weigh the same as an equivalent 7mm suit. It does not. Ask the dealer to let you compare the weights of a 4mm and a 7mm drysuit of equal size. The 4mm suit will be lighter showing the suit is just made with thinner foam material. In actuality, all foam neoprene goes through a compression process during manufacture. Therefore, all foam suits could be described as "compressed," but at best, this term is misleading. Compressed neoprene as is now commonly marketed is simply a thinner version of traditional foam neoprene.
If you put a sample of crushed and compressed materials under a microscope you will find the compressed material still has round bubbles while the crushed material cells are flat. This makes it tougher to penetrate and has better stretch characteristics. Below is a photograph showing the difference. The effects of time and the repeated changes in pressure affect any foam neoprene. Within 3-5 years, the material loses elasticity and begins to develop leaks as the bubbles rupture into one another. The lack of bubbles in the crushed neoprene suits, as well as the abrasion and puncture resistance of the material makes it the most durable substance used in the construction of drysuits today.
This makes the CF200 the least expensive suit per dive to own. Crushed neoprene material is patented and available only from DUI. For most divers, a drysuit is the single largest investment in diving equipment they will ever make. Therefore, it is vital to consider the value you get for your investment. Ask your local DUI retailer about the pros and cons of each material used in drysuit construction, or consult the book "Drysuit Diving" or the "Diving Dry" video which are available in many dive stores or directly from DUI.