In this review, a summary of documented research on immersion suits (i.e. constant wear, abandonment suit and diving suit) is presented. Particular emphasis was placed on research regarding the performance and analysis of these protective suits. Heat loss from the human body is critical for the protection of the wearer of the suit during cold water immersion, while thermal stress can be experienced by the pilots or helicopter rescuers when wearing immersion suits under normal or hot environmental conditions. In addition, the knowledge gaps have been identified in the aspects of environmental hazards, development of novel textile materials, garment design features and test methods. The key factors that are fundamental to thermal insulation of immersion suits have been summarized. Efforts for improving thermal insulation have been presented. Three-dimensional body scanning, as a new approach being used to understand and improve fit and sizing of garment, may contribute to a better understanding of thermal protection and thermal comfort of immersion suits. The simulation of real open sea scenario to test thermal performance of textiles poses a big challenge for researchers. This article reviews what is known about immersion suits, describes future development trends and identifies domains for improving performance of immersion suits and testing methods.
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