6 Key Differences in Diving a Dry Suit vs a Wetsuit

by: Jim Lapenta SDI/TDI Instructor

Much of the advertising one sees for diving involves warm water and divers in swimsuits or thin wetsuits. It can be a bit of a shock to those divers who were certified in warm water to make a pilgrimage to a cold water location. For those of us who dive and teach in much of the northern hemisphere, talking about the differences is much like talking about how to choose a mask.

We are often asked about the differences between diving wet and diving dry. Other than the obvious answer – “you don’t need to dry anything but your hair after the dive” – there are some key differences.

1. Warmth.

This is probably the most important reason to decide to dive dry. You know that neither a wetsuit nor dry suit actually keeps you warm. What they do is slow the amount of heat loss. Wet suits do this using a layer of neoprene and a thin layer of water trapped between that and the skin. Dry suits use air and a combination of undergarments. No water to take heat away if a seal is lost and allowed to flush through the suit. With drysuits you can add layers of insulation to slow the loss of body heat.

2. Buoyancy.

Wetsuits compress with depth and lose some of their inherent buoyancy. Dry suits allow the diver to add air and compensate for the increased pressure at depth. As the wetsuit compresses, it gets thinner and loses insulating capacity. The dry suit does not.

3. Weighting.

Once a diver has become proficient with a dry suit, over-weighting is not as much of a concern as it is with a wetsuit. As a wetsuit loses buoyancy at depth, a diver can become seriously over weighted due to suit compression. With a dry suit, the amount of buoyancy the suit offers stays more or less constant since the diver has the means to adjust for the increased/decreased pressure.

4. Varying conditions.

A large benefit of a dry suit is the ability to use the suit in various conditions. A wetsuit does not offer the flexibility of a dry suit to add or subtract undergarments to suit the water/surface conditions. Many divers use their dry suit year round, from warm water locations to under the ice in winter.

5. Purchase cost.

At one time dry suits were prohibitively expensive for the average diver. One could purchase several wetsuits for the cost of one dry suit. They often had to if diving in a wide range of water temperatures! With the introduction of new materials and manufacturing competition, a quality entry level dry suit can be had for roughly the same price as a higher end wetsuit. By varying the undergarments the diver can also avoid having to buy several different thicknesses of wetsuits. One dry suit will work in numerous environments.

6. Cost of ownership.

Once a diver buys a wetsuit there is very little maintenance other than proper rinsing. Dry suits require seals to be replaced, leaks attended to, boots or socks replaced, and maybe even the zipper. These costs may be offset by the life of the suit. Dry suits, with proper care, can last 15 – 20 years or more. This is using the suit on a regular basis- say 100 dives a year. A wetsuit seeing that much use may last five years. In the long run, a drysuit may actually be less expensive. Dry suits often hold their value for resale. Used wetsuits get tossed. Used dry suits are sold to offset the cost of a new one!

For more on the differences/ benefits of dry suit diving, contact your SDI/TDI/ERDI Instructor to see if it’s a wise choice for you.

Related Blog Articles

Online diving for dive operators: “Here there be sharks”

/
Need some help figuring out how to reach more people online? Richard Devanney is sharing his two cents on how he’s building his online presence. He shares what’s working and what’s not. What he thinks could be the best use of time for promoting your business and overall how to get more eyes to your website.

Oxygen Toxicity

/
No matter what type of diving you’re doing it’s important that you keep yourself safe. Whether doing shallow or deep dives, recreational or technical, it is important to always know and be aware of what you are breathing, and what depth you are at. It may save your life. Learn more about oxygen toxicity, how you can prevent it, the two different types and the warning signs that something might be wrong.

Tips for Getting Along With Your Local Pools

/
Do you struggle with getting pool time for confined water sessions? This can be an ongoing struggle if you let it. Instead, use these tips to help facilitate a relationship with your local pool.

Loving your Local Diving: UK Hotspots

/
Some folks might think that scuba diving is a vacation sport, that you can only dive in spots where you have to travel away from home. We’re here to tell you it isn’t true! Gemma is back with another article on the local diving spots she’s found in her very own backyard in the UK.

Bucket List Diving: Iceland

/
Is Iceland on your bucket list? Get ready to add it after reading this guide to traveling and diving in Iceland. By the time you’re done, you’ll feel ready to book a plane ticket and go. From the sights to the diving hotspot you won’t know where to start.

A Day in the Life of...An Underwater Actress

/
There are so many avenues you can take when you start your scuba diving journey. Scuba diving can be a endlessly fun hobby or if you love it enough you’ll figure out how to make it your job. Gemma is back to talk about how she stumbled into the role of underwater actress.

Technical Wreck Diving in Northeast Brazil

/
Is wreck diving in Brazil on your bucket list? Get ready to add it because of these wrecks. These six wrecks are a must see if you ever happen to find yourself in northeast Brazil. Diving is a crazy sport known to take folks to all ends of the world, so you never know!

Tajne Zaovinskog jezera

/
U zapadnoj Srbiji, u okviru Nacionalnog parka Tara, kod mesta Zaovine nalazi se jedno od najlepših jezera u Srbiji – Zaovinsko jezero. Po svom nastanku je veštačko jezero, nastalo je u periodu od 1975. do 1983. pregrađivanjem toka reke Beli Rzav i izgradnjom brane u zaseoku Đurići kod sela Zaovine.

Rethinking

/
Join Traci for the final jaunt of her certification series as she embarks on the in-water portion of her course. She recounts the pool session and overcoming her fear of trusting the equipment as well as her certification dives at a local lake. While throughout this portion of her certification experience is again not easy for her to conquer she does it!
6 replies
  1. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    I dive wet and dry in the Northern US and have done both year round – to me bouyancy is the biggest negative of a dry suit; at the end of the dive when ascending, depth control can become very difficult as the air in the suit expands, particularly if the tank is getting low. I second the warmth point – it is the reason I bought a dry suit; winter dives in 35 F water are physically painful in a wetsuit and merely cool in a dry suit; the dry suit provides for MUCH better functioning in cold conditions, both on the surface and in the water.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*