Buying wet suits and dry suits

The ocean can be cold. Terribly cold. Sometimes, unbearably cold. If you plan to scuba dive throughout the year, you'll need to invest in a good wet suit or dry suit (we'll talk about the differences in a moment). These suits are meant to keep you warm while offering a bit of protection during your dives. If you have ever gone on a diving excursion without a suit, you'll understand the role that warmth (or lack thereof) can play on how much you enjoy the experience. Remember, water conducts heat quickly. If you're diving in cold water without a suit, your body can be sapped with heat within minutes. In this article, we'll offer some advice on choosing a wet suit or dry suit and making sure you stay warm during your dives.

Wet suits versus dry suits

First, it's important to understand the difference between a wet suit and a dry suit. Both serve a similar purpose. They're meant to help your body retain its heat in cold underwater environments. The primary difference between the 2 types of suits is that a dry suit is designed to keep you warm in colder environments. While a wet suit usually allows water to pass through the suit and make contact with your skin, dry suits are designed to seal off the water and keep most of your body dry.

Many experienced divers suggest that if you're going to dive in the water with a temperature below 10 degrees Celsius, do so with a dry suit. Any diving in water with higher temperatures can be done using a wet suit. The other main difference is that of price. As you may already imagine, a dry suit is usually significantly more expensive than a wet suit.

Your wet suit options

Most wet suits are made of neoprene and come in a variety of thicknesses. The thicker the material, the warmer you'll be while wearing the suit. But, anything more than 6mm is too bulky for most divers. You can buy a full-body suit, a short suit, or a "Farmer John" suit. The key to buying a good wet suit is to find one that fits snugly without feeling too tight. Your wet suit is designed to allow a small layer of water to fill the space between your body and the suit. So, a suit that fits too tightly won't be effective.

Your dry suit options

A dry suit can be made from several different materials such as crushed neoprene, foam neoprene, nylon, or even a type of vulcanized rubber. Most dry suits come with accompanying booties. Together the suit and the booties seal off most of your body from the water. Some dry suits come with a type of underwear that you can wear underneath the suit. Because the entire dry suit seals off the water from your body, you can expect the underwear to stay dry while providing warmth.

Suiting up with the right suit

Don't make the mistake of thinking that a wet suit will suffice in extremely cold environments. Wet suits and dry suits are designed to work in completely different ways. A wet suit in cold temperatures will likely be ineffective in keeping you warm. Know the environments in which you'll be diving. If you're planning to dive in waters under 10 degrees Celsius, plan to invest the money in a good dry suit. It's the only way to really enjoy your scuba diving experience in ultra-cold waters.

More information

  • About wet suits - Why to wear a wet suit and what is your wet suit made of?