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

DEMA and beyond

Training & Travel Schedule - DEMA and beyond.

/
With 2021 being another unique year, we know you will face challenges from travel restrictions and other major safety concerns that will prevent many of you from attending DEMA this year. However, we still want to connect with YOU this November. So we are bringing you a Virtual Update. By doing so, we can reach divers and members all over the world and maintain safety in each of our locations.

Vertical Blue and TWO National Records

/
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to compete in a freediving competition? Talya Semrad and Lance Lee Davis are sharing their experience in competing in the Vertical Blue Freediving competition at the Blue Hole in the Bahamas. While they both scored a National Records, they also share lessons they learned along the way.

Who is Freediving For?

/
Have you ever wanted to try freediving but were worried that it might not be for you? Well, you’re in luck because this article is just for you. We’re breaking down some myths and mental barriers that often keep people from learning to freedive.

New Gear Fever

/
Have you ever done everything right, only for something to still go wrong? That’s exactly what happens in this diving story. This diver got a new piece of scuba gear, did the right thing by giving it a test run in a controlled environment before taking it out on their next big dive, and STILL ran into problems. This is a story about learning.

North East Scuba Diving Pro Tips

/
Diving in the North Eastern part of the United States, specifically in New York and New Jersey, isn’t your average day of diving. While some of the tips on this list are universal to most diving locations or scenarios, a lot of these items are location specific. So if you’re thinking about taking a trip to the North East, this one is for you.

A new diving destination for Cyprus

/
There are an infinite number of dive spots in the world, but few are as unique as this one found off the coast of Cyprus. We’re talking about the brand new MUSAN underwater museum. Check out the incredible sights you can see at the MUSAN museum in this article.

7 Tips For Diving with Contact Lenses

/
Are you a contact lenses wearing diver? Then this article is for you. Everything you need to know and consider about being a scuba diver who wears contact lenses. Say goodbye to the days of worrying about lens contamination or eye infections with these tips.

Neutral Buoyancy—Let’s Get Real!

/
Have you fallen into the neutral buoyancy debate? Or worse, have you been victim to the internet trolls who patrol the internet for photos and videos of divers doing something “wrong.” In this article we have Jeff Bozanic here to explain why it’s actually helpful and sometimes carries less risk.

Recovering From & Living with COVID-19 – Restructure Your Business!

/
Did your business, like many others, suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic? It’s safe to say there weren’t many businesses who were not affected. In this article, we’ll walk you through what it means to provide value to your new and existing customers, as well as lists of do’s and don’ts for rehabbing your business through COVID-19.
8 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
  2. Martín
    Martín says:

    Do you think this suits coild keep me warm out of the water? I drive a motorcicle and was thinking these suits may heló me stay warm

    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>

*