Dive Suits Tips

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Drysuits are Sealed Watertight for Diving in Frigid Water

Wet suits and dry suits insulate scuba divers and prevent hypothermia. Wet suits are the most common diving suits, since dry suits are most commonly worn in very cold waters. If you scuba in a tropical climate, you probably will want to invest in shorties, knee-length diving suits with short sleeves.

How do drysuits keep divers warm?

Drysuits are Sealed Watertight for Diving in Frigid Water

If you dive in waters below 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you probably will need a drysuit. Just ask the urchin divers and mussel harvesters who scuba dive daily in the frigid North Atlantic waters.

Drysuits keep the diver dry and warm with a water-tight seal. Frigid waters cannot seep into the suit. Undergarments -- thermal underwear and wool socks -- are worn under the drysuit for an added layer of protection. Wrist and neck seals often are coated with silicone spray. Gloves and a hood also are worn.

Drysuits are inflated when divers enter the water. The air helps with buoyancy and keeps divers warm. Drysuits are deflated on ascent.


Wet Suits Provide Thermal Protection in the Water

Look for Henderson suits with "hyperstretch," which is stretch neoprene that provides a custom fit divers of all shapes and sizes. Unlike traditional wetsuits, Henderson suits have more elasticity, shaping to the contours of your body. If your wet suit gives you a rash, wear a Lycra top and shorts underneath.

Was is the core warmer wet suit?

Core Warmers are the Perfect Fit for Warm Waters

A fun dive suit style is the core warmer. This scuba suit definitely is for very warm waters. It is a sleeveless shortie that is perfect for free diving or scuba diving in the Bahamas, Florida Keys or Cozumel.

With its sleek design and "slippery skin," the core warmer has the most fashionable look of any wet suit on the market, if that makes a difference to you.

Core warmers also allow for greater range of arm motion in the water. Say you're diving for stone crabs in the Dry Tortugas, it may make sense to wear a core warmer.

Core warmers also provide an additional layer of protection in colder waters. Layer a core warmer over a full wetsuit or dive skin, depending on your needs.

Can I wear a dive skin while scuba diving?

Wear Dive Skins Underneath Wetsuits

Dive skins are for warm-water diving. Some people even wear skins on cold-weather beaches, or at indoor swimming pools.

Made from Lycra or Spandex, dive skins aren't designed to keep divers warm, but they are helpful in protecting skin from cuts and scrapes. Some divers wear thin dive skins underneath their scuba suits.

Dive skins can get damaged from the salt and sun, so it is a good idea to always wash your dive skin in freshwater, hang it up, and let it dry. Don't throw it in the dryer; the heat will destroy the material. Do not try to store it wet either, or mildew will grow on the material.

How can I tell if a wetsuit fits properly?

Your Wetsuit Should Feel Snug But Not Tight

How can you tell if a wetsuit fits properly? First, it needs to feel snug but comfortable. An overly tight suit can hurt your circulation and impede your breathing. It won't keep you any warmer either.

Make sure the neck and chest don't feel too tight. Your suit should be form fitting, meaning there should be no loose folds.

Check out how the suit feels in the water. Once the suit fills, feel how the water heats and then warms your body. Try swimming around in the suit, to ensure that it does not allow too much water in, which will have the reverse effect and make you feel cold.

Why are wet suits popular for water recreation?

Wet Suits Are Popular With Divers, Surfers, Skiers

Wet suits are not just for scuba divers. Surfers, water skiers, snorkelers and jet skiers wear wet suits. Wet suits are popular for their fit, comfort and material -- neoprene.

Neoprene contains tiny gas bubbles that create a buffer between you and the water. Neoprene insulates the wearer from the cold water. Neoprene also compresses as you dive, so your tight suit is likely to loosen some as you descend.

When you buy a scuba wetsuit, follow the manufacturer's guidelines for sizing. Usually, the wet suit maker will have a sizing chart that makes ordering easier.

If you are trying on a one-piece suit, pull it up to your waist, then stick your arms in one at a time. Ask a salesperson or buddy to zip up the back, so you won't catch your skin or hair in the zipper. Make sure the wet suit does not cut off your circulation.

Finally, when purchasing a wet suit, don't forget to order your scuba gloves, hood and booties.

How do I care for my dive suit?

Rinse the Salt From Your Scuba Wetsuit After Diving

The first thing you need to do after a dive is hose off your equipment. Salt is corrosive, so you need to protect your fins, mask and wetsuit.

Your wetsuit needs to be sprayed thoroughly with freshwater. Soak the inside and outside of the suit. This will get rid of any odors as well. Then hang up your scuba suit and let it dry. Do not store it wet. Mold and mildew will grow, which are impossible to get out. Here are some other tips for maintaining your wetsuit:

  1. Store your wetsuit on a large hanger, which ensures that the neoprene material will not crack or bend.
  2. Occasionally wash your wetsuit with special neoprene soap. Your wetsuit dealer should also carry neoprene sealer for ensuring the long life of your wetsuit.
  3. After your wetsuit dries, store it away from the sunlight, which can degrade the suit. You also may want to lubricate the zipper to ensure it works properly. The lubricant also can be purchased from your wetsuit dealer.

Are there different styles of wet suit?

Wet Suits Come in Several Styles

Wet suits come in several styles. While the standard color is still black, increasingly color accents are used in angled patterns that flatter the diver's physique.

Here are some of the more common wet suit styles:

  • Full Body: The full one-piece scuba suit, or jumpsuit, covers the entire body, with sleeves that extend to the wrists and leggings that go to the ankles. Made from neoprene, divers order them based on thickness, from 2 mm to 9 mm. Beware, that once the thickness reaches 5 mm, the suit feels heavy to wear.
  • Shorties: These one-piece suits are knee-length with short sleeves. They are popular for diving in warmer climates. Surfers also use them.
  • Farmer John: The two-piece is so named for the bib-style overalls, which come with a hooded jacket. The layered dive suit provides extra warmth.

What kind of diving suit do I need for a scuba trip?

Wet Suits Provide Thermal Protection in the Water

Unless you plan to scuba dive under ice floes in the Arctic -- which some sport divers do -- stick with neoprene wet suits. They provide thermal protection for the wearer. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer the wet suit. Wet suits allow a thin skin of water to soak the diver. The trapped water is warmed by the diver's body, providing an additional layer of heat.

Neoprene is a heavy sponge-like fabric made from rubber. So it also also offers some protection for the diver against sharp or rough objects, such as coral rock or barnacles.

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