The next step in the series of articles on how to choose and maintain your diving equipment is to have a look at the second type of body coverage, the drysuit.
A while back, we went over what to look for in a wetsuit and what would be the best choice for your type of diving. This article will follow the same idea and will go through the options you have when considering a drysuit.
The main difference between a wetsuit and a drysuit is obvious in their name. While the wetsuit offers insulation by allowing a low amount of water between your skin and the suit, the drysuit offers less insulation but it keeps you completely dry and gives you the ability to equip undergarments to increase the warmth in cold waters.
There are 4 main areas that should be considered when deciding upon a drysuit. Based on the type of diving you frequently engage in, your choice should include research over the type of material the suit is made of, type of seals, the footing options and accessories.
Based on the materials the drysuit is built off, you have mainly two options: neoprene drysuits or laminated material drysuits.
With a neoprene drysuit, you will have a feeling close to the one the wetsuits provide. While you will be kept dry, the thickness of the suit will make it feel tighter on the body and it will not have that much space for undergarments. They will offer a higher level of insulation compared with the other drysuits and it is a good choice for someone changing from wetsuits to drysuits.
The second option you would have when looking for a drysuit is the laminated material drysuits. They are often called bilaminated or trilaminated, based on the number of layers they have. The layers are composed of different water-resistant materials and are in general lighter than the neoprene. Another difference is that these suits will not provide insulation, but you will have enough space under them to equip any type of undergarments requested by the water temperature.
Seals on the drysuit can be considered one of the most important features. They are present to make sure no water will go in through the neck opening or the hands one. Some considerations you need to have here are that if it is too large, it will let the water flow inside the suit. If it is too tight, it will be uncomfortable and can cause skin irritation. The seals can be made out of neoprene, latex or silicone.
Neoprene seals are the most durable out of all the options, being highly resistant. One common issue found with the neoprene seals is that they will stretch over time and because of their thickness, some divers might find it difficult to get it over their heads.
Latex seals offer you a customized fit, as you are able to trim the seals when you first fit the drysuit, in order to have a perfect and comfortable feeling around the neck and wrists. Latex is more flexible and easy to equip, and it is not as tough as the others.
Silicone seals are the newest type on the market. It has the most flexibility and fitting of the three materials, and it is a bit more resistant than the latex ones. One important factor to mention is that they wear out the quickest.
Boots or Socks
When it comes to protecting the feet, you will have two options with the drysuit. You can either get the suit with boots included or socks.
If you know that you will enter the water through tough terrain, then a drysuit with boots included will be the right choice. If not, you have the option to buy a drysuit that has “booties” or socks, which will provide you with more comfort over longer periods of time. With this option, you will then be able to add some “rock boots” on top, when necessary.
The last feature you need to consider would be the accessories that you will need based on the type of diving you undertake. Some that can be considered are the pockets. Do you need them? How many do you need?
When diving in cold water you also want to consider the need for dry gloves. Is the dive long? You might want to consider the possibility of adding a pee-valve (yes, pee-valve is a thing).
The same recommendation can be made for the drysuit as for any other diving equipment. After the dive, make sure to soak it in fresh water in order to remove any salt crystals and foreign materials that may have settled on the suit. As with the wetsuit, the best way to dry it out is to hang it vertically, not to affect its shape.
Also remember to store it in a dry place, outside the reach of sunlight.
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