A diving suit is an essential part of diving equipment. A diving suit provides insulation and therefore ensures that it does not cool too quickly in the water (this occurs in the water about 20 times faster than out of the water). It also protects you against sharp rocks and underwater life. There are different models of diving suits. In general, we know two main models of diving suits: wet suits and dry suits.
The wet suit is used for snorkeling and diving and comes in various thicknesses. How does a wet suit work? A suit closes, as it were, as a second skin of your body. It is very tight to the body but has to be comfortable and must be able to move well. Most wet suits are made of neoprene (in combination of nylon). In addition to the thermal properties of the material itself, it has a layer of water between the skin and the material. Due to its body heat, this layer of water is heated and good insulation is obtained.
Different types of wet suits
The most common sizes are 0.5 mm, 2 mm, 3 mm, 5 mm, 6.5 mm and 7 mm. Sometimes there are also different thicknesses used in a suit. There are different models for a suit such as the short suit, the jumpsuit, the long john, the farmer john (jane for women), a full suit or a two-piece suit. The short suit covers the upper torso, arms and legs. The jumpsuit is made up of one piece and covers the entire legs. The farmer john is like a bib pants. The two-piece suit usually consists of a jumpsuit or farmer john and a loose jumpsuit or a thin shorty. Two-piece suits are popular because they have a fairly large temperature range.
In general, it can be said that in warm tropical water (27 degrees or more) it is enough to have a suit with a thickness between 1 or 3 mm. It is possible to have enough with a short suit. If you are going to dive in water between 20 or 27 degrees, you need a suit with a thickness between 4 or 6 mm. If you enter to snorkel or dive in water less than 20 degrees you need a wet suit with a minimum thickness of 7 mm or a two-piece wet suit.
When diving (or snorkeling) in cold water (below 10 degrees Celsius) it is necessary to wear a dry suit. With a dry suit your clothes underneath are kept … dry. Then the water does not enter and the air that is between your body and suit is heated so that the heat can be maintained. Diving with a dry suit is very different from diving with a wet suit. The amount of air in the suit can be regulated. Of course the air in the suit affects buoyancy and therefore neutral buoyancy. For example, when he ascends he has to release the air from his suit. Read more about scuba diving specialization.
Different types of drysuits
The distinction between the various dry suits has been made by the materials, the place of the zippers and if there are booties or tops attached to the suit. Most dry suits for recreational or technical diving are made of neoprene or trilaminate. A wetsuit is more flexible and fits better than a trilaminate suit. It also has greater thermal insulation. The great advantage of a trilaminate suit is that it always has the same buoyancy so it is ideal for neutral buoyancy.
There are diving suits that combine properties of dry suits and wet suits: the semi-dry suit. The biggest difference is in the seams, the joints and the dry zipper. Through this closure, the shape of the seam and the joints of the arms, legs and neck there is less water flow. As a result the water stays longer in the suit and stays warm for longer.
T shirts or rashguards are usually made of lycra and nylon or polyester and are not suitable for diving. They have little isolation but they do protect it from the sun, rocks and underwater life. They can be worn under a wet or dry suit for additional insulation. They are more suitable for swimming and snorkeling in hot water.
What diving suit to wear depends on your personal preference and physical characteristics (Do you feel fast cold?). You also have to take the following factors into account.
Where are you going to dive? In tropical waters, in the Mediterranean Sea or do you prefer under the ice? The water temperature determines the thickness of the suit and whether it has to cover the entire body or not. The deeper you dive, the colder it is. The depth also has an effect on the diving suit itself. The deeper it goes, the more the insulating effect of the material decreases due to water pressure.
The duration of the dive also affects the type of suit you should wear. If you want to dive for a long time you need a thicker diving suit. Also the number of times you dive, body temperature (and thermal sensation) and the condition of the suit (is the suit already dry again?) If you want to dive again this can influence. What is your diving style? Do you like to move a lot in the water or do you prefer to be floating? In the latter case it is advisable to wear a thicker diving suit.
- You can’t know how the suit will really be before the first dive. That’s why it is advisable to first rent a suit and if you like it, you can always buy it later.
- Physical characteristics such as height and weight, body fat and metabolism affect heat management. Do you feel cold fast? Then choose a thicker wetsuit.
- In hot weather, put on your suit just before diving if you can’t overheat quickly.
- Consider the amount of lead. Different types of diving suits have different effects on their buoyancy. If you dive for example with several layers, you will need more lead.
- Use a hood in cold water because a lot of heat is lost through the head.
- Keep in mind when testing a dry suit that the inflator and ventilation valve can be operated.
- Note that the suit is not too tight and that you can put your fins on yourself.
- Wear the fins when you are going to try the dry suit.