If you’re a diver, most likely you live for underwater adventure whether it’s in 60-degrees Fahrenheit water or a bone-chilling 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The key to staying safe, warm and comfortable is to know whether to use a dry suit or a wet suit. You can also wear a hood and diving gloves.
The fact that you can wear layers under a dry suit makes it the best choice for cold-water, recreational diving.
You have to plan your dives according to the water temperature. For example, you could wear a wet suit in 60 degrees Fahrenheit water but feel colder than if you wore a dry suit in 40 degrees Fahrenheit water.
Do you know the benefits of a dry suit vs wet suit? Whether you dive for exploring and adventure or gathering delicious crabs for your evening meal, understanding the different kinds of diving suits will ensure you’re having a kick during your dives.
What Is a Dry Suit?
Dry suits cover you from head-to-foot and keep you dry. They’re usually made from vulcanized rubber, neoprene or some other type of waterproof fabric. They have sealed seams and are less constricting than wet suits.
You can layer your clothing under your dry suit with more or less thermal layers depending on the water temperature.
In some places, like Alaska where the water is always frigid, you have to use a dry-suit for diving all year. If you’re a cold-water diver, you can go anywhere in the world and be comfortable in the cold environment when you’re wearing a dry suit.
Dry suits are usually more expensive than wet suits and do cause a little drag when you’re in the water. But, some of today’s dry suits are made with fabric that is more flexible. Find out more about dry suits.
What Is a Wet Suit?
Wet suits can keep your 98 degrees Fahrenheit body warm as the fall winds blow and the water temperature lowers to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Neoprene wet suits come in varying thicknesses for the body panel, and the legs and arms.
Most entry-level wet suits can keep you warm in 58 degrees Fahrenheit water. The seams of the suit determine how warm you’ll be. Stitchless, glued seams help prevent leaks.
Wet suits have different styles for all water enthusiasts. Here are the most common wet suit styles.
These neoprene wet suits don’t have sleeves and only come down to your thighs. This means your arms and legs aren’t protected from sun, surf, coral and jellyfish. You can wear shorties over dive skins for more protection.
Usually made of Lycra or polypropylene, dive skins give you full-body protection from the sun and scrapes. But, they don’t provide the warmth and buoyancy of neoprene suits. Dive skins are lightweight, great for travel and give additional warmth when you wear it under shorties or full-length suits.
The warmth you get from neoprene suits depends on the neoprene thickness. Standard suits range from about 3.2 millimeters to 7 millimeters thick. If you layer hoods, vests, and jackets, it can make a thin suit warmer.
Steamers are full bodysuits with long sleeves and legs. On the other hand, Farmer John’s are sleeveless suits with long legs.
Unless you limit your diving to tropical weather, semi-dry suits offer a versatile suit for many weather conditions. These suits feature waterproof coatings, gaskets, and waterproof zippers, but they’re tight-fitting like a wet suit. They trap a thin layer of water against your body to retain body heat.
Main Difference Between Dry Suit vs Wet Suit
The main difference between a wet vs dry suit is that dry suits are made to prevent water from getting into the suit. This allows for better insulation when diving in cold water.
Wet suits work by letting a layer of water into the suit. Your body warms the water between your skin and the wet suit’s protective layer.
Using Dry Suit vs Wet Suit Is a Different Experience
If you’re used to using a wet suit, you’ll find wearing a dry suit is a totally different experience. It’s more complex because it’s an enclosed system. A number of systems are included in the suit for controlling pressure and staying safe in your diving environment.
When you use a dry suit, you stay warm during your dive and even afterward while you’re on the boat. Some divers take a dry suit diving course to avoid any pitfalls while diving.
Which Is the Right Suit for You?
When you’re thinking about whether to buy a wet suit vs a dry suit, consider what you need. One is not better than the other. Both will keep you warm in cold water but they work differently. Here are some points to consider when you’re trying to decide which suit is right for you.
Choose a dry suit if you’re in the water for the following reasons:
- Coldwater diving
- Winter diving
- Immersion survival
- Water rescue
- Commercial diving
- Military diving
All of these activities require the added protection and comfort and thermal insulation of a dry suit.
Select a wet suit for the following activities:
- Diving in water temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit
- Triathlon swimming
You use a wet suit when you want to stay warm in all your recreational diving and water sports.
Wet vs Dry Suit Depends on Your Needs
The right suit makes it easy for divers, surfers, windsurfers and water sport enthusiasts to laugh at the winter’s cold.
If you know the facts about a dry suit vs wet suit, you can make an informed choice about which one is the best for you. Tell us which one is best for you in the comments.