For anyone who feels the cold or wants to dive in the UK year round, a Drysuit is a godsend. A Drysuit works by having seals at the wrist and neck that stop water from getting inside. You can then wear thermal undersuits to keep you warm.
We currently have over 60 dry suits in stock in a range of sizes and designs from manufacturers including Bare, Azdry, Typhoon and Aqualung
As a guide, if you are diving in temperatures of 10 degrees C or less, you almost definitely should consider a dry suit. Many divers consider about 17-18 degrees C as their time to do a dry suit (or 20 degrees+ if you are Lynne!).
The reality is that it is hard to get a rental Drysuit that fits perfectly and Drysuits are more expensive to buy than a wet suit. Also they require additional training for safety Drysuit Speciality. However, once you master dry suit diving a whole world of cold water diving is opened up to you including 12 months of the year in the UK, stunning locations like Iceland, and even ice diving in the Arctic Circle. Some people even choose to wear them in Mediterranean locations in the Winter months. I looked at the number of dives I have done in my suit, and the initial cost …. I would spend £2 per dive any day to be cozy warm and to dive all year round!
When buying a Drysuit, you absolutely need to try on before you buy it. A Drysuit that is too small will restrict your movement and one that is too baggy has the risk of over inflation and can give you buoyancy problems.
Also, be aware of purchasing a dry suit second hand especially from the web – ensure that it is serviced and pressure tested before you use it. It is also worth testing in a pool to make sure it fits and there are no leaks. A basic Drysuit service and pressure test shouldn’t be expensive, but new wrist seals and a neck seal will easily cost you £70+ to replace. A new zip can be up to £150. That £50 bargain suit you’ve got your heart set on may well have been cheap for a reason!
Tri-Laminate vs Neoprene
The 2 main types of Drysuits are Tri-Laminate and Neoprene. But which is best? The honest answer is that 50% of divers would argue tri-laminate, and 50% would say neoprene – so really it is what you feel most comfortable in.
Tri-Laminate Suits are thin fabric suits made of three layers (hence the name). They have no significant thermal or buoyancy effects.
- Lighter to transport
- More ‘forgiving’ for those who find their weight and body shape fluctuate
- Easy to repair
- Easy to put on and take off
- Their resistance to puncture makes them popular for more technical diving, wrecks and caves.
- As they don’t keep you warm, you need to wear more / thicker undergarments underneath them.
Neoprene Suits are made from the same materials as modern Semi Dry suits. They are much warmer than tri-laminate suits. However, because Neoprene has air bubbles trapped inside the material, it will increase the buoyancy of the suit significantly. Crushed neoprene suits re the same as neoprene suits, except that they have been compressed during manufacturer so that they are thinner and less buoyant. This means you get the same comfort and warmth as you would from a neoprene suit only with less added buoyancy. Drysuits can be compressed to varying degrees and the thinner the better. So a standard thickness suit would be 5 or 6mm which could be compressed down to 5, 4 or even 2mm in thickness.
- Warmer, so you wear less / thinner layers underneath.
- Heavier to transport
- Hard wearing
- More structured and fitting in shape, therefore less bulky
Finding the right size
When trying on a drysuit, don’t worry too much about the size of the boots as these can generally be changed fairly easily. It makes sense to try the suit on wearing exactly what you plan to dive with underneath it (such as an undersuit).
The drysuit should be zipped up and then the air expelled by you crouching down and pulling the neck seal away from your throat.
When you first look at a suit you will be convinced it it too long and probably too big for you. The simple tests that will help you decide whether you are in the right sized suit are:
- Squat right down with your feet flat on the floor. This is to ensure the legs are long enough and enable you to sit on a rib, climb ladders etc. If you find the suit is uncomfortable and is pulling in the crotch area, the suit is too short for you.
- Also whilst squatting down, wrap your arms around you as if you are shivering (which won’t be the case if you invest in the right drysuit!!). This helps you to establish the suit is comfortable across the shoulders as well
- Next kneel down and reach behind your head – could you do a shut down if you needed to?
- Finally, stand up and stretch up. Is the body length comfortable for you at full stretch?