Wetsuit Thickness Guide For Buying Scuba Suit
Is the wetsuit thickness even something that you should worry about? Well, the answer is a resounding yes.
While you could go and just buy a good wetsuit on Amazon.com, you need to know that it will serve your needs very well. Apart from knowing your size, you also need to know that it is of the right thickness.
Many beginner scuba divers have ignored this consideration, and they found themselves very unhappy during their dive, probably having to end it before their planned time.
At the same time, you could be deceived by the sunny weather outside and you think that the sea has warmed up. That is rarely the case.
You see, the sea takes much longer to warm up. Thus, warm weather could have been with you for several weeks, but the ocean could still be very chilly cold for divers.
Whether you are buying a wetsuit for scuba diving, wetsuit for surfing, swimming, snorkeling or for kayaking, you need to know the thickness that will suit you best.
Is this your first time to buy a wetsuit? You will find some confusing figures about the right thickness to buy. Do not buy before you read this wetsuit thickness guide.
Wetsuit thickness is guided by a few things, one of them being the temperature of the water at your diving destination.
Thus, as you may have guessed, and rightly so, it is really a no brainer this one, but the colder the water the thicker the wetsuit should be.
Likewise, the warmer the water, the lighter/thinner the wetsuit should be.
If you are going for ice diving, it is an entirely different matter altogether. In such a case, you would need a dry suit. Also, many people prefer to keep dry with a drysuit when they go kayaking.
Table of Contents
Wetsuit thickness guide for you
Know what the wetsuit numbers mean
Often, when you buy your scuba diving, surfing or swimming wetsuit on Amazon.com or other online marketplaces, you will find some confusing numbers, well, at least if this is your first time to buy one.
However, do not fret at all as these numbers are quite easy to decipher. The first thing that you need to know is that wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters (mm). 10mm makes 1cm (about 0.4 inches). So, 1mm is about 0.04 inches.
There are two numbers or more for any wetsuit. The two of them denote the thickness of the wetsuit. Well, you may be wondering why we need to have two numbers if a scuba diving wetsuit is 3mm.
The reason is that the wetsuit thickness varies. It does not have uniform thickness. It could be thicker on the front body and the torso, and thinner on the limbs.
Thus, if you find that a wetsuit for surfing is 4/3, it just means that on the torso, tummy and neck, the wetsuit is 4mm thick but on the legs and arms, it is 3mm thick. Really, it is that simple!
The reason why the wetsuit is made thinner for the limb areas is so that you can get more flexibility in the water. At the same time, it could mean that the wetsuit is 4mm on the bigger parts and 3mm on the armpits and crotch.
When you see the two numbers, just know that they mean the wetsuit is thick in certain places and thinner in others. Usually, the bigger number is for the biggest part thickness. Thus, if you are buying a 4mm wetsuit for scuba diving, you will find it indicated as 4/3.
If you are buying a 3mm wetsuit, it will be indicated as 3/2. And so on and so forth.
Wetsuit thickness guide for water temperature
Wetsuit thickness is determined by many things but the chief of them all is the water temperature. Please note, it is the water temperature and not the air temperature.
Here is a simple guide for you:
- 7mm wetsuits are suitable for diving in water temperatures of 10 degrees C and below
- 7mm wetsuits are also recommended for diving in 10 – 17 degrees C
In the above two cases, using a drysuit for scuba diving would be recommended too. So please take note of that.
- 3mm to 5mm wetsuit is suitable for diving in temperatures of 18 – 21 degrees C
- 3mm wetsuit is suitable for diving in temperatures of 22 – 25 degrees C
- 2mm dive suits are suitable for temperatures of 26 – 28 degrees C
- Bare skin diving is suitable for temperatures above 29 degrees C
Kindly note that these are just general guidelines. You will need to go to specifics most of the time when you are buying certain gear for your dive .
If you catch colds at the slightest exposure, it would be advisable to wear a thicker wetsuit. For example, if you are diving in water temperatures between 22 – 25 degrees C, you may opt for a 5mm or a 3mm full wetsuit as opposed to choosing the recommended 3mm/2mm wetsuit.
In some cases, you may also be advised not to dive at all. For instance, if you catch colds easily and the water temperature is at the range of 10 degrees C and below, do not dive. You could be exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.
Perhaps you can dive in a full body drysuit, but it would be better to wait.
Also note that the water could become colder the deeper you go.
From 2mm wetsuits to 7mm wetsuits
With water sports being very popular the world over, the manufacturers of scuba diving gear have made sure that everyone’s needs are met.
Wetsuit thickness starts at 2mm and goes all the way up to 7mm. If you will be diving in winter, you will need a thicker suit than someone who is diving in Dubai in Summer.
Certainly, the wetsuit thickness that you choose depends on the temperature of the water. It also depends on other factors.
If you have a good budget, you can get virtually any wetsuit that you want. However, if you have a small budget, then it means you would need to go for a wetsuit under that budget.
Thicker wetsuits have been made with more material. The opposite is also true of the thinner wetsuits. Thus, a 7mm wetsuit would cost more than a 2mm wetsuit. You can check reviews of these wetsuits on Amazon.com and see the advantages of each wetsuit thickness.
If you are not well prepared with the right scuba diving gear, this sport can turn dangerous for you. Thus, if you want to venture into the water with a 2mm suit and it has not been summer for several months, be ready for a serious chill.
Be smart, like most frequent divers. You can buy two wetsuits. A 3mm wetsuit is good for diving in warm waters or in the warm summer months. A 4mm to a 7mm wetsuit can be good for diving in the mild winter places to the serious winter ones.
If you have just come from summer where you were using a 3mm wetsuit and then start using a 5mm wetsuit, you will find it a bit bulky to move around with in the water. You will tire faster.
However, it is better to tire quickly in the water than to increase the risk of hypothermia. Thus, you may want to make your dive times shorter if you are diving in cold water.
When to buy a 4mm diving wetsuit
Some divers just prefer to buy a 4mm wetsuit, just one. If you ask them, they will tell you that such a suit would be wearable in summer, and it would also be tolerant enough for cold water diving.
However, note that such a wetsuit for scuba diving is mostly appropriate for people that like to dive in the warmer months only.
In warm waters, a thinner wetsuit is preferred because it reduces exhaustion. It also reduces body heat generation and so, air allowing, you can stay longer in the water.
Note that while the 4mm wetsuit might be good for spring and summer diving, you may have to buy a thicker one for diving in fall and winter.
It does not matter how resistant to catching cold you are, but cold water can be numbing and most of the time, the 3mm or 4mm suits do not tend to do a good job at keeping you warm on a cold water dive.
Shorty wetsuit vs. full wetsuit
This is another important consideration in the wetsuit thickness guide. You would choose to wear a shorty or a full wetsuit depending on the water temperature. Perhaps your preference could also come in depending on what you like to wear, but the water temperature plays the biggest role.
In summer, you can choose either a 2mm full wetsuit or a shorty wetsuit. Either will be suitable for your diving protection. 2mm is quite thin and it will allow you ample and flexible movement in the water. The thicker a wetsuit is, the heavier it is and the more it tires you out.
When diving in extremely cold water, you will also want to wear a hood of the same thickness as the wetsuit to protect your head and neck.
The other gear that you must wear includes scuba diving gloves and scuba diving boots. All of them are made of neoprene – the standard material for scuba diving wearables.
Shorty wetsuits are best for warm water diving. Full wetsuits, complete with scuba booties and gloves, sometimes even hoods are best for cold water/weather diving.
Sealed or unsealed wetsuits?
How warm or cold you get when scuba diving does not depend on the thickness of the wetsuit alone. It also depends on how watertight the seams are.
Not to be confused here … wetsuits are not meant to keep you dry. What happens is that when you get in the water, a thin layer of water is trapped between the wetsuit and your skin. This layer of water is then warmed by your body heat.
The layer of warm water will act as a buffer zone between your body and the cold water outside. This means that no warmth will escape and at the same time, no cold water will come in.
That is how wetsuits work!
Once again, this depends on how warm you want to be in the water. If for diving in cold water, the seams should be taped and sealed. In fact, the seams for wetsuits that are going to be used in low water temperatures are glued, sealed and blindstitched. Blindstitching means that the needle does not penetrate to the other side and as a result, it does not let in water at all.
Flatlock stitching can be done on wetsuits that are going to be used in warm waters, or that are utmost 3mm thick. As the name suggests, this flatlock stitch that lies flat on your body, causing you no discomfort at all. However, note that this kind of stitching may allow in a bit of water.
Fitting your wetsuit
It is very important that your wetsuit fits very well. There must be no air pockets, sags and such on the back, front or anywhere. Besides, the wetsuit should not lump or leave space under the armpits or on the crotch. It must fit snugly, everywhere, like a second skin.
If it does not fit properly, the wetsuit is going to deter your movements. It is going to make you spend more effort than you should to swim in the water. Even when you dive, you still have to move from place to place. Unless you are using an underwater scooter, you need to swim.
To know whether your wetsuit fits nicely, just stretch out when you wear it on the beach. There should be no notable restriction when you stretch your arms above your head.
Squat, stretch your legs and find out whether the suit leaves any spaces between it and your body. If it does, it is not the right fit. Again, if it is too restricting, it is not the right fit.
When you order your wetsuit from Amazon.com, you should check whether it is covered by a return policy so that you can return it if it does not work.
You have seen that there is quite more than meets the eye when it comes to keeping warm when scuba diving. Thus, it is paramount that you buy the right wetsuit. It should fit just right and the seams should keep water out completely, of course depending on the temperature of the water at your diving destination. Hopefully, this wetsuit thickness guide will help you clear the confusion about the wetsuit numbers.
What wetsuit do you need for diving in the Caribbean?
As I’m sitting here, I see snow falling outside my window in early April, and I’m overcome by a longing to pack my bags and head for tropical waters. And even though I won’t be heading there any time soon, I couldn’t help but wonder: what wetsuit should I pack, if I were to head out there this time of year?
Dreaming of diving in the Caribbean Sea.
If you’re planning a diving holiday, a good start is to ask your dive operator what wetsuits they usually recommend or rent out. To save you the trouble, I reached out to dozens of operators across the Caribbean, to answer that question for you: What wetsuit do you need for diving in the Caribbean?
The average water temperature in the Caribbean Sea is 27°C (80°F), and because of the tropical climate the variance is only a few degrees throughout the year. For most divers, diving is comfortable year-round in a 3mm shorty wetsuit and this is the most commonly rented wetsuit at local dive operators. In the warmest months, diving without a wetsuit is often possible.
While this answers the question for the average diver, there are several factors to consider when determining the right wetsuit for you. Besides water temperature, your personal sensitivity to cold, as well as the depth, duration and frequency of your diving should inform your choice of exposure protection.
What is the water temperature in the Caribbean Sea?
The entire Caribbean Sea is located in the tropics, which means that it is minimally affected by the seasons. The average temperature in the Caribbean Sea is 27°C (80°F) at the surface, and only varies by a few degrees. There is some variation by location, but this comes down to single degree differences.
In the table below, you can find the average water temperature for popular destinations in the Caribbean Sea month-by-month, as well as wetsuit recommendations for that period.
|Destination||Month||Average Water Temperature||Recommended wetsuit|
|Anguilla||January||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||March||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||April||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||June||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||August||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||September||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Anguilla||October||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Anguilla||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Anguilla||December||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||January||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||March||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||April||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||June||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||August||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||September||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||October||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Antigua||December||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||January||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||March||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||April||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||June||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||July||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||August||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||September||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||October||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Aruba||December||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||January||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||February||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||March||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||April||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||May||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||June||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||August||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||September||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||October||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbados||December||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||January||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||March||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||April||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||June||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||August||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||September||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||October||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Barbuda||December||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||January||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||March||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||April||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||June||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||August||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||September||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Bonaire||October||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Bonaire||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Bonaire||December||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||January||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||March||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||April||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||June||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||August||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||September||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||October||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Curaçao||December||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||January||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||February||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||March||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||April||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||May||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||June||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||August||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Grenada||September||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Grenada||October||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Grenada||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Grenada||December||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||January||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||March||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||April||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||May||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||June||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||August||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||September||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Montserrat||October||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Montserrat||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Montserrat||December||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||January||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||March||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||April||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||June||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||August||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||September||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Saba||October||29°C (84°F)||swim suit|
|Saba||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saba||December||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||January||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||February||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||March||26°C (79°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||April||26.5°C (79.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||May||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||June||27.5°C (81.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||July||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||August||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||September||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||October||28.5°C (83.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||November||28°C (82.5°F)||3mm shorty|
|Saint Martin||December||27°C (80.5°F)||3mm shorty|
Surface water temperature and recommended wetsuit for all surveyed destinations in the Caribbean Sea.
As you can tell from this data, temperatures fluctuate very little, and a 3mm shorty wetsuit will suit most divers’ needs just fine.
What wetsuit should I wear in the Caribbean if I get cold easily?
If you already know that you’re more sensitive to the cold than other divers, it is wise to take some additional precautions.
Divers prone to cold will be able to dive comfortably throughout the year in a 3mm full-length wetsuit, potentially complemented with a thin diving hood. For some, wearing a dive-skin underneath a shorty will also be sufficient.
There are several gradations of additional thermal protection you can use. Note that many dive operators indicated that they are not able to provide these. Contact your operator ahead of time, and consider bringing your own.
- A diving hood: you should not underestimate the amount of body heat that is lost through the head, and while you might associate a hood with diving in cold water, a hood can go a long way in keeping you comfortably warm for longer.
- A diveskin: wearing a lycra diveskin, or a 1mm or 2mm full-length wetsuit underneath a shorty could just make enough of a difference for you.
- A 3mm full-length wetsuit: instead of the 3mm shorty, the 3mm full-length wetsuit covers your arms and legs. This is the recommendation for cold-prone divers in the Caribbean.
- A 5mm full-length wetsuit: upgrading from 3mm to 5mm will give you additional warmth, at the cost of needing extra weights. You should also keep in mind that these suits can also be more difficult to put on.
What wetsuits can I rent at Caribbean dive operators?
Now that you have an idea of the type of wetsuit you’re going to need, the next question arises: what wetsuits do dive operators rent in the Caribbean?
Most dive operators in the Caribbean only offer 3mm shorty wetsuits for rent, as they are the recommended wetsuit for most divers. Some operators indicated having a few 3mm full-length wetsuits available, depending on size. You should always contact your dive operator ahead of your trip, to understand what wetsuits they will have available for you.
If you require additional exposure protection in the Caribbean, you will often have to bring your own. Luckily, diveskins and hoods are affordable options if you don’t intend to dive very frequently. If you see more frequent dive trips in your future, splurging on your own full-length wetsuit is a great investment.
Will a thicker wetsuit be too hot for diving in the Caribbean?
If, like me, you already own a 5mm, or perhaps a 7mm wetsuit, which you consider bringing on your trip, you might be wondering: will I be too hot in a thicker wetsuit?
At 27°C (80°F), the water in the Caribbean Sea is still below your body’s core temperature, which is around 37°C (98.6°F). Even in a thicker wetsuit, your body will cool down and there is no risk of being too hot or overheating while underwater. However, divers wearing thicker exposure protection should pay extra attention to overheating and risk of dehydration while on the surface.
As thicker suits are harder to put on and remove, divers might be inclined to keep their suits on while on the boat or in between dives. When the weather is hot and sunny, make sure to at least take off the top half off the wetsuit, and to drink plenty of water.
Written by Reinier Hartog
passionate scuba diver and nature lover.
How to choose a wetsuit for diving
Wetsuit – a garment that protects the swimmer against hypothermia and injuries of the skin. The wetsuit is used for various types of water sports, including spearfishing, diving, freediving, Windsurfing, as well as for diving.
Choose a wetsuit with a mandatory fitting. It should fit exactly to the size and fit snugly to the body, like a second skin. Too bad free suit is warm, too close will be hard to breathe, leading to rapid fatigue of the swimmer.
You can use the following criteria:
- neck area-the suit should sit tight, but not pinch;
- armpits-small gaps are allowed;
- perineum-tight fit;
- lower back – loose-fitting with regard to the bend of the spine;
- ankles and wrists-tight fit (through them most often gets water).
Tips for fitting your scuba diving suit:
- there should not be a bloated air bubble on the back, otherwise, the suit will get too much water and it will not be effective;
- to feel how comfortable the wetsuit is, you can lie on your stomach, bend your legs to your back and try to simulate swimming. At the same time, the movements should be free, and the suit itself should not crash into the body;
- it is recommended to measure the Shoe together with a thermal sock.
To minimize the penetration of water from the outside, obturators are used – special seals that ensure a tight fit of the suit to the body. They are placed on the edge of the hood, in the cuffs around the hands and ankles.
Important: some wetsuits, for example, without internal duplication, are put on with a special gel or talc. You can also use soap and shampoo for this purpose.
Scuba suit view
Wet – the most common type, passes a certain amount of water through the zipper and loose areas of the wetsuit.
This water, being heated to the swimmer’s body temperature, becomes a heat insulator and prevents the penetration of cold water from the outside.
Thus, a wet wetsuit on the principle of action reminiscent of the thermos. However, over time, the cold water still penetrates, and the swimmer loses heat.
Dry suit – does not pass water inside the wetsuit, which means that it preserves the heat generated by the body.
The tightness of the suit is achieved thanks to the obturators on the hands and neck, waterproof zippers, and sewn or glued special socks/shoes.
A dry wetsuit has valves that supply (blow) or pump (bleed) air from the suit. Due to the relatively large thickness of such equipment, the swimmer’s movements are restricted.
The price of a dry wetsuit is much higher than a wet one. Drysuit – the best option in case of prolonged stay in cold water (12°C and below) – diving or diving operations, as well as with little activity of the swimmer.
Semi-dry-intermediate option: like dry, it is equipped with seals and a sealed zipper, but it allows a little water (maximum 200-250 g). Retains heat better than wet.
It can often contain a sewn-in water helmet and an additional neoprene t-shirt. Thermal insulation is achieved due to the thickness of the neoprene and due to the water located between the wetsuit and the body.
Wet suit material
The vast majority of wetsuits are made of waterproof material-neoprene (foam rubber).
It has two main parameters:
- compression resistance / recovery-the ability of neoprene to restore its thickness after the swimmer has surfaced: slows down the thinning of the neoprene, and therefore the deterioration of the thermal insulation of the suit;
- elasticity-allows the wetsuit to fit snugly around the body to avoid heat loss due to the water circulation inside it.
This material is found in several types:
- SL-smooth (“rubber out”), most often has a dark color; it is a warm material, but sensitive to mechanical influences and UV rays, as a result of which such a suit quickly fails;
- DL-consists of three layers (fabric+neoprene+fabric): this material is much stronger and less sensitive to UV rays; however, ” DL “is colder than” SL”; 3 mm thick neoprene” SL “is equal to 4 mm” dL ” neoprene in thermal properties.
It should be noted that there is a new modification of neoprene “DL”, which is equal in heat to” SL ” neoprene, but costs more.
There are also wetsuits made of a combined material “D/L-S/L” (chest, sleeves, back – “S/L”, the rest – “D/L”). Wetsuits for freediving and spearfishing are made of neoprene”open time”.
This neoprene is cut especially so that it sticks well to the skin with its “open” bubbles.
Dry wetsuits can be made of the following materials:
- trilaminate (rubber-nylon) – almost does not retain heat, so it is recommended to use it together with a thermal underwear;
- pressed neoprene-perfectly fits the body and warms in cold water, but this suit is quite massive, not too resistant to wear, when you go out in the cold quickly freezes, while it is expensive;
- crushed neoprene-similar in properties to the previous suit, but much more resistant to mechanical damage and compression underwater; the most durable material.
Diving suit thickness
The thickness of the suit must be selected depending on the water temperature and time spent at depth. The lower the water temperature and the longer the time, the thicker the wetsuit should be. In warm water, most often use a suit with a thickness of 3-5 mm, in cold water – 7-11 mm.
The dependence of the thickness of the diving suit on the water temperature can be represented as this ratio:
- 30°C and above – 2 mm suit (wet);
- 25-30°C – 3 mm suit;
- 23-25°C – 3 mm+hood;
- 21-23°C – 3 mm+hood+vest or wetsuit 6 mm thick;
- 12-18°C – 6-7 mm;
- below 12°C – dry suit.
The greater the thickness of the wetsuit, the less its elasticity, so the thickness can be combined: under the knees, on the elbows, in the armpits, and other places associated with active movement, there are inserts of a material of a smaller thickness. In this case, specify the minimum and maximum thickness of the suit, for example, 2/3 mm or 3/4 mm.
Important: if necessary, the wetsuit can be supplemented with insulation, which is worn on top as a jacket. In this case, the thickness of the wetsuit increases. Sometimes this insulation has a built-in helmet.
To increase the strength, thermal insulation qualities, as well as to improve putting on wet wetsuits, neoprene is often duplicated by the following materials:
- plush (PL), as a rule, duplicates the inner side of the suit, which greatly facilitates it’s putting on and taking off;
- nylon (N) duplicates both the inner and outer sides of the suit; with internal duplication, the wetsuit can be worn without the use of shampoo and gel, and with external-significantly increases the strength of the suit;
- stretch (XTend) increases the elasticity of the suit, which makes the dive more comfortable;
- titanium deposition (Ti) improves the thermal insulation of the suit due to the heat-reflecting properties of the metal. Single-sided spraying reduces heat loss by 20-25 %, double-sided-up to 30 %.
There are several types of wet suits:
Not duplicated (“naked”) – soft, thin, elastic, providing maximum freedom of movement of the swimmer. However, this wetsuit has low thermal insulation properties and is sensitive to the slightest damage – it is easily torn or punctured.
With one-way duplication-occurs in two varieties:
- duplicated from the inside – the wetsuit is easy to put on, but the fabric promotes water circulation, which leads to heat loss; the suit is sensitive to mechanical damage (vulnerable places-elbows, knees, head);
- duplicated from the outside (“sticky”) – much more sealed and stronger than the previous wetsuit, but difficult to put on (only using gel, soap, shampoo).
With two-way duplication-has the advantages of the previous two types. These suits are the most durable and reliable, but very rigid, which means that they restrict the freedom of movement of the swimmer underwater.
Combined-combines the qualities of various wetsuits. For example, a jacket or trousers made of rubber to the body, and in some areas have internal inserts of a duplicate material, which leads to water circulation on the skin.
Diving-the best option is a wet suit with double-sided duplication, having long sleeves, but without a helmet. For more severe conditions, you can wear a warming vest. You can use a dry suit. It is important that the costume was bright colors: the swimmer can better fit into the underwater world and not scare away its inhabitants.
Freediving – perfect wet “naked” suit that allows you to quickly and easily dive to a great depth, as well as move freely underwater. Due to insufficient thermal insulation properties of the suit, it is insulated with a coating of biothermal ceramics and titanium. Spraying allows you to wear a suit without gel, but increases the risk of its rupture.
Spearfishing – a good choice will be a wet one-way duplicated wetsuit with a special Kevlar insert to stop the gun when reloading. The outer layer of fabric protects the suit from mechanical influences, and a dark or spotted color well masks the hunter in the water environment.
Important: suits with double-sided duplication are not suitable for hunting, as they restrict the movement of the hunter, and during long swimming increases the loss of heat due to the circulation of water inside the suit.
Windsurfing-wet or semi-dry wetsuit (short arms/legs or short arms/long legs) is suitable. These models are usually rubberized at the knees for additional protection of the suit.
Important: in addition to the wetsuit, it is recommended to use neoprene socks, gloves, and gloves that protect against hypothermia, bites, and scratches. If you plan a long dive at a low temperature, then a good addition will be neoprene t-shirts.
Dive suit design
- Short – short arms and legs (shorts). These suits are always wet.
- Suit with long legs and short arms / detachable sleeves-wet suit.
- Long – completely long arms and legs: both dry and wet suits.
- Monosuit-a jumpsuit, usually with a helmet, covering the entire body of the swimmer. It does not violate the natural stability (buoyancy) of a person in the water.
- Separate-jumpsuit with straps + jacket with helmet and sleeves. This suit is convenient to put on, warmer than a monosuit, because it consists of a double layer of neoprene.
- Combined – consists of several elements: a monosuit, jacket, and helmet. Various combinations of them allow you to choose the best suit for each occasion.
The zipper makes it much easier to put on and take off the wetsuit, but water penetrates through it. Sometimes the zipper is equipped with a special flap to protect it from water ingress.
The lightning bolt can be located:
- on the chest – it is convenient to fasten and unbutton, but sometimes it may bulge; it is good if the zipper is equipped with a double slider – this will allow it to be fastened/undone from above and below;
- on the back – the wetsuit does not bulge when bending, but this zipper is inconvenient to fasten and unbutton;
- on the neck – the worst option, because it is in the zone of the greatest activity and causes great inconvenience.
The zipper on the chest should be fastened with a little effort. If it is difficult to fasten, then you should choose a suit a size larger, if it is too easy to fasten – then a size smaller.
The type of seams depends on the strength of the connection of the parts of the wetsuit, therefore, its durability and efficiency.
- Glue and tape – an economical, but not very durable type of seam.
- Zigzag seam – found in colored inserts on the neck, hood, and other places that have a small load.
- Seam Mauser – wide and strong seam without sizing. However, if the threads do not withstand the load, the seam will split.
- Blind seam – the most durable, reliable, and flexible seam – it is first glued, and then sewn in a special way.
Scuba diving suit care tips
You should wash the wetsuit in freshwater after diving, since salt crystals damage the rubber when it dries. Do not dry the suit in direct sunlight, or near heating devices.
When storing and transporting the suit, do not allow permanent folds, kinks, or stretches. In a dry suit, it is recommended to lubricate the sealed zipper with silicone grease before diving.
If the suit will not be used for a long time, then the blow-off and bleed valves should be thoroughly washed with clean water.
Among diving and spearfishing enthusiasts, the most reputable brands are Aqua Lung, Bare, Beuchat, Cressi, Mares, and SeacSub.
Each of them guarantees the quality of their products: the best neoprene, tailoring, fit of the suit, that is, its anatomical features.
In all brands, you can find both budget models for novice divers, and wetsuits for professional athletes or hunters.
How to choose a diving suit/ deep sea diving suit?
For professional diving, dry Hydra is used, since it is more difficult to control buoyancy in such a suit, you need to learn. Amateur divers can choose a wet monosuit.
And depending on the temperature of the water where the dives will be, choose the thickness of the material 3-5-7 mm.
However, it is worth remembering that everyone has different heat exchange, there are no identical people, and the data on comfortable temperature is averaged.
It is known that women, thin people, and the elderly cool down faster. Plus, you also need to take into account the depth of the dive-the pressure will affect the neoprene, it will lose its thermal insulation properties.
When marking a wetsuit, manufacturers specify 2 digits: for example, 3/2. This means that the clothing is combined with 3 and 2 mm thick neoprene.
Thanks to this, elasticity is achieved in the right places, and the best fit is achieved. You will also see the letters on the Hydra-D/L and S / L (double-lined and single lined), that is, double – neoprene is glued with nylon on both sides, and single – on one.
You will be warmer in an S/L suit, but this Hydra will last less than a D/L suit.
And before you buy a particular atmospheric diving suit, you need to try on several options from several brands.
Since everyone’s bodies are different, the size grids of different brands may also differ. And which wetsuit fits you better can only be understood empirically: by trying on several different ones.
A good hydric should sit like a cast, without folds, but not pull down to “woodiness”. In any case, over time, the Hydra will stretch, so a tight fit is very important.