Every scuba diver will need to select the right, diving gear, equipment and accessories. This certainly includes the wetsuit. It’s thus essential that the diver knows how to select the right wetsuit for scuba diving.
A wetsuit keeps you warm even if you are still wet under the water. They provide protection and insulation to your body, particularly when you are diving in cold waters.
It works by trapping small amounts of water against your skin. Your body heat will then warm up this water, which in turn can keep you warm during the dive.
Remember, adequate protection is very essential for your comfort and safety below the water.
It is certainly possible for you to have more than one wetsuit.
There are many of them out there.
The wetsuit you choose has to depend on the prevailing sea and water temperatures and conditions of your diving location. Here are some of the factors you should consider while choosing a wetsuit.
How To Choose The Best Wetsuits
Fit – You should get one that is the right fit. It shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. If it is loose, then water will continue to enter the suit. On the other hand, there can be breathing problems or movement restrictions if the wetsuit is too tight. The right wetsuit should snug you perfectly in all places and fit like a second skin, but it shouldn’t be too tight. Always remember, wetsuits tend to feel tighter when they are dry. So check the wetsuit sizing chart carefully. Most dive stores or shops offer them while you are about to buy one.
Thickness – The thickness determines how warm you will be once you have spent some time below the water. Neoprene prevents the cold sea water from getting in and disturbing the temperature within a suit. Wetsuits are pieced together in various Neoprene thicknesses – 3mm, 5mm and 7mm depending on the temperature of water. It is usually thinner on the arms, legs and shoulders and heavier on the chest and back areas.
As a rule of thumb, the thinner the suit, the better the flexibility of movement, but with less warmth and buoyancy. You can wear the 3mm wetsuit when you are diving in the tropics. The 5mm wetsuits are ideal for diving in Red Sea and other similar areas, while the 7mm suit is good for diving in spots where water temperature is below 15 Degree Celsius.
Neoprene Type – The Neoprene type in the wetsuit will affect its quality. A gas blown wetsuit is the highest quality of neoprene. It is the most durable as well. Don’t take a chemical blown wetsuit, because this wears out faster usually.
Style – There are many options to choose from, depending on the style you want. You can try the Shorty, a wetsuit ideal for diving during the hot summer. It has short arms and usually finishes just above the knee. You can also try the Farmer John or Jane. They are a two piece suit. The suit has sleeveless top and long legs. The most popular is the full scuba diving wetsuit. It is one piece and has long arms and legs. It is good for cold water diving.
Quality – You must always choose a wetsuit that lasts a long time. Check the inside stitching, which is very important as it supports the seams that will stop prevent holes. Side panels can reduce the restriction. You can feel this around the chest. It will be easier to wear if your wetsuits has leg and wrist zips than those without them. Do remember that zips should be made of metal and not plastic. Metal zips are less likely to break.
Price – Warmth and comfort under the water should always be top priority. You are unlikely to enjoy the most panoramic underwater scenery if you are freezing and feeling miserable just because you compromised on the price. Get a wetsuit with a higher grade neoprene, as they are lighter, are anatomically cut, and have more strategically placed cuts/panels that fit in all the right places. This gives you better flexibility too in the water.
Gender – Gender matters too when you are selecting the wetsuit. It needs to be remembered that women have extra curves and bumps. Tall and skinny women will also get cold quicker. So remember these factors too.
Optional and Desirable Features
- An attached hood prevents cold water from flowing in through your wetsuit collar as you swim.
- Wrist and ankle seals minimize water entry and circulation inside a wetsuit.
- Ankle and wrist zippers make getting into and out of your wetsuit easier.
- A spine pad fills in the channel made by your spine, which reduces water flow. Lumbar or kidney pads protect your lower back.
- Kneepads are common, but you can also get elbow pads. Many suits have special anti-abrasion material on the shoulders and in the seat.
- Pre-shaped arms and legs (bent knees and elbows) add comfort and prevent the neoprene from having to stretch as you move around. This reduces wear and tear.
- Pockets are good for carrying things like slates or keys. Pockets usually are placed on wetsuit thighs, calves or arms. Some suits also have interior key pockets.
Taking Care of Your Wetsuit
Like most scuba gears, always rinse, dry and carefully store your wet suit after every dive. It may occasionally need a good wash.
There are special wetsuit soaps you can use. Store your wetsuit on a wide plastic or wooden hanger to avoid creasing in the shoulders.
If you must fold it, do so gently with the zipper on top, or as directed by the manufacturer.