WATCH CLIMATIC WIND TUNNEL TEST

About the test

C-Skins Wetsuit Development & Technical Testing taken to new levels

C-Skins Wetsuits spend a day in a high security climatic testing facility to test the new W’14/15 HotWired Wetsuits.

The end result – DryKnit lining.

The idea first popped into the mind of Mark Brown, C-Skins Technical Director when he watched a clip online showing a vehicle being tested in a climatic wind tunnel which utilised blizzard-making capability and wondered if wetsuits could be tested in a similar way. He liked the idea so much that a year and a half down the line we can see the wetsuit tests and the developments in full. “Being able to test and develop wetsuits in a controlled environment (alongside more traditional means) really appealed because it would mean that we could get some highly accurate data to enable us to make the best choices when it comes to wetsuit development (material innovations, panel position, neoprene thickness etc). Using thermocouples to monitor internal body temperatures and using Infrared cameras to monitor heat loss (external temperatures). It was also vital to learn more about the relationship between a wetsuit and the user and for the tests to be repeatable in the future”. Mark adds “It was really cool to be able to finally put some science into our suits and to have some hard facts. I’m kind of tired of always hearing these claims from wetsuit companies without the evidence. Its also important to remember that using these tests in conjunction with our team rider ‘in the water’ tests just adds to our ability to make the right decisions as we move forwards and develop our wetsuits. Using proven team rider testing feedback plus science is the only way forwards.

We arrived early at the facility with a team of 6 guys including our test subject, team rider Oli Adams, Filmer Timmy Boydell, Photographer Danya Schwertfeger, North European Sales Manager Jordi de Koning and UK & Ireland Sales James Goodman. As we drove in and through the heaviest security any of us had ever encountered we slowly started to look at each other and wonder what we had got ourselves into. The test facility is on a 17 acre site with various hangers and test tracks for all sorts of vehicle and product testing; a place where a group of surfers yielding rubber should never be seen! At this state-of-the-art facility, engineers take vehicle development and validation testing to the extremes. Now it was time to take our wetsuits to the extremes.

We drove up to the Climatic Wind Tunnel (CWT) hanger in awe. Once we got the intro’s out of the way and the team at the CWT made us feel at home, health and safety briefing followed, then we had a quick walk around the facility and a step into -20’C in our shorts and tees! All of this was followed by a group discussion on the running order for the day. It was predetermined that our tests would follow a strict sequence by starting at 0’C for 3 minutes and then progress to -5’C for 3 minutes, onto -10’C for 3 mins, onto -15’C for 3 mins and finally onto -20’C for 3 minutes, while all the time reading Oli’s body temperature using both thermocouples inside the wetsuit and infrared readings outside of the wetsuit. Testing each suit in turn with a recovery period in between.

While Danya froze it out in the Climatic Wind Tunnel (CWT) taking some pics of the new HotWired Accessories on large blocks of ice, Oli was busy striping down to have thermocouples attached to various parts of his body – Foot, Calf, Thigh 1 and 2, Kidney 1 and 2, Chest, Back, Arm Pit, Hand, Head. We wanted to make sure we had accurate readings from all over the body to ensure we’re not missing anything. Next making sure the thermocouples were all working and the computers were reading, followed by a rather awkward entry into the new C-Skins HotWired 5/4 Steamer making sure all the thermocouples stayed in place and that they continued to read accurately.

Oli, then entered the CWT, engineers connected the thermocouples to the reader again and off went the test. At each temperature drop all of Oli’s vitals were checked and then a final thumbs up from Oli to confirm he was happy to go down another 5. This was then followed by testing of last seasons HotWired and also the new HotWired Hooded Wetsuits.

At the end of the day once the testing had been completed it was time to make sure the day had a light hearted finish. In came the deck chair, paddling pool, cocktails and palm tree for a photo opportunity that was too good to miss. Unbeknown to Oli we asked the technical team to turn on the wind to as high as they dare for the finale – it turned out pretty good and we all got some laughs.

OBJECTIVES

  1. Test and develop a new lining for our Winter 2014/15 range of HotWired wetsuits – DryKnit
  2. Research where heat loss is most apparent in our wetsuits, so we can continually improve our wetsuits.
  3. Study body temperatures in specific areas while wearing a wetsuit can help us focus on improving designs and material uses.
  4. Compare infra red imaging (external temp) with thermocouples (internal temp) and to dismiss myths about infrared testing.
  5. Compare W’13/14 HotWired Wetsuit with new HotWired for final analysis.

The Results

Thermocouple Tests

Attaching thermocouples to Foot, Calf, Thigh 1 and 2, Kidney 1 and 2, Chest, Back, Arm Pit, Hand, Head allowed us to study all parts of the body and to see where heat loss was the most apparent. Were any parts of the body rapidly cooling down and other areas not?  We were also able to sit this data alongside the thermal imaging to track the visible heat loss and to compare the outside thermal imaging to the internal temperatures. Towards the end of the test we see that Oli’s internal body temperature is a huge 53C hotter than the outside air temperature and the outside temperature of the wetsuit!  The results also show that Oli’s body temperature towards the end of the tests only started to drop at a very slow rate which was great testament to the wetsuit development we have undertaken. Comparing data between last winters HotWired and the new HotWired was vital to enable us to improve the design and materials. At final testing we used samples with the new DryKnit+ lining on the chest and back which uses a foil reflective layer under the DryKnit to utilise the bodies radiant heat and reflect it back to your core. From studying the Body thermocouple readings we can see that the DryKnit+ works very well and equates close to a 7% warmth increase from last winters suit. We can also see that the new C-Skins ‘DryKnit’ HotWired holds and maintains body heat for longer without heat loss.

HOTWIRED 5x4x3 COMPARISON TEST

W’14 Vs W’13

Graph

BODY PART TEMPERATURES

HotWired 5x4x3 – W’14

Graph 2

Infrared Tests

As a warm blooded creature in a freezing environment we would expect Oli to register hotter externally than the surroundings, but Oli actually clocked in at the same temperature as the surroundings when measured with a thermal imaging camera!  You would imagine that Oli should read hotter than his surroundings, but he didnt! It didn’t add up until we studied Oli’s core temperature and found that the HotWired was extremely good at keeping heat transfer to a minimum. Heat was being trapped inside the wetsuit and Oli’s actual core body temperature was over 50C hotter than his surroundings! We evaluated that with our new DryKnit lining trapping a blanket of still air which kept the body warm, the heat generated by the body could not pass through the neoprene to the outside.  The reflective nature of DryKnit+ also helped to reflect heat back into the body. The seam appeared completely heat tight using Power Seam externally and C-Flex tape internally which was great to see. After contemplating this further we would much rather see the outside of the wetsuit cold and the inside hot!

We’ve all seen thermal imaging pictures of houses loosing heat through there windows where they show bright red and orange and this was our biggest fear to find bright red/yellow areas on the outside of the wetsuit! Thankfully the work we have done to date shows that heat loss is at a minimum when you wear the HotWired.

As we all know the extremities are most at risk, feet and hands are inevitably going to get cold at certain temperatures and after a certain amount of exposure. The thermal imagining showed that the HotWired accessories had a great deal of success because the colour/temperature was very similar to the surroundings. From studying the readings we can determine that minimal heat was lost through hands, feet and head and the overwhelming heat loss was through the face. This was great to be able to see the work in developing DryKnit had succeeded.

HOTWIRED ‘DRYKNIT’ 5X4X3 STEAMER

THE WORLD’S HOTTEST WETSUIT

The Hot Wired is all new for Winter 2014, with exclusive DryKnit+ thermal lining inside the chest and back which uses a foil reflective layer under the DryKnit to utilise the bodies radiant heat and reflect it back to the core. The suit also includes new Air Foam, H2X Dry Flex outer lining, coloured Power Seams and Future Fit.

• DryKnit+ thermal lining
• H2X Dry Flex outer lining
• Stitchless seams
• Airloc chest and back panel neoprene
• Future Fit
• Power seam
• Super Seal Glideskin collar
• C-Flex Hot Tape internal seams
• Future Fit 3D knees
• Enigma chest zip
• Lock Down cuffs
• Future Fit knee and arm flex embossing
• Air Foam – the most lightweight premium foam available
• Key pocket

Image Gallery

1

WIND TUNNEL

-23

DEGREES

6

HOURS OF TESTING

7%

WARMER WETSUIT