Scuba Diving Wetsuits - What You Should Know?
>> Types – wetsuits are made out of an insulating, spongy material called Neoprene. Neoprene wetsuits come in different thicknesses to suit different environments. The thicker the Neoprene, the more insulation it will provide.
>> Styles – there are different length wetsuits depending on your preference. From full length steamer wetsuits to two piece spearfishing suits.
>> Fit – when fitting a wetsuit the idea is to ensure that only a thin layer of water can seep into the suit between the Neoprene and your body - this water quickly heats up and acts as an insulating layer. Your wetsuit should fit snugly over the body to allow this water to seep in but tight enough to prevent this water to flow out.
>> Colours – Camo is a popular colour among spearfishers, offering excellent camouflage in order to get as close as possible to their target. There is no specific requirement for divers and so Scuba Divers and some Free Divers tend to wear more bright and colourful pieces.
Why bother with a Wetsuit?
Whilst diving it’s important to maintain and regulate your body heat as it can drop quicker in water than on land. If your temperature is not stabilised the body will use up it’s energy to bring your temperature back up - this is where the wetsuit comes in.
They are made out of Neoprene which is a spongy type material packed full of air bubbles. These air bubbles help trap the divers body heat offering insulation around the body while the surrounding water temperature is quite considerably lower. Wetsuits come in different Neoprene thicknesses dependent on the divers’ susceptibility to the cold and the actual surrounding water temperatures.
As a general rule:
>> 20-22 Celsius requires a 8-9mm Neoprene Thickness.
>> 22-25 Celsius requires a 4-7mm Neoprene Thickness.
>> 25-29 Celsius requires a 1 - 3mm Neoprene Thickness.
Please note: This is based on the average diver and not a definitive guide. It is down to personal preference as some divers may feel the cold compared to others.
A breakdown of the wetsuit styles
>> Steamers/ Full Suits - are on piece, full length garments covering all the way to your neck, wrists and ankles.
>> Shorties - are also one piece wetsuits but feature short arms and legs. They tend to be popular in warmer waters or among surfers as they allow maximum mobility around key joint areas.
>> Semi-Dry Suits - are thicker wetsuits generally from 7mm Neoprene and up. They are not completely dry such as a dry suit however, they have reinforced seals at the wrist, neck and ankles to prevent water from escaping therefore insulating the body for longer.
>> Dry Suits - have been designed where water temperatures are typically between 15c to -2c. Water cannot enter into the suit unlike most wetsuits via seals at the neck and wrists. Dry suits can be made out of fabric or Neoprene and insulates the body by maintaining pockets of air between the cold water and the body.
How to get the perfect fit.
Wetsuit sizes vary from manufacturer so it’s worth checking each manufacturer’s wetsuit size chart to match your measurements. However, the most important thing to remember is; your wetsuit needs to fit snugly, with no loose areas. This doesn’t mean it has to be so tight it restricts all movement and compresses on the body to the point it is uncomfortable. More so it’s tight light a lycra swimsuit or shorts.
When trying on a wetsuit ensure the suit is pulled up into all areas, for example; if you leave your knees saggy the suit will pull and feel tight on your shoulders.