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

Does Scuba Diving Affect Mental Health

/
You may have heard people talk about scuba diving being therapeutic and being good for your mental health. However, have you ever looked for solid points on how scuba diving could affect your mental health? In this article, we’ll go through six ways scuba diving affects your mental health.

Don’t Forget Your Roots

/
We see it all the time… divers who’ve been around the block a few dozen times with egos bigger than the ocean they dive. In this article, you’ll be reminded why it’s important to remember where you came from. Why you should never stop learning and recognize that we’re all on our own journeys in scuba diving.

ERDI PSD Tips and Cautions

/
Is your team on the same page in regards to what certain terms mean? Do you have team members with all different backgrounds or even training? If you answered yes to either of these questions this article is for you.

Obtaining Corporate Funding for Your Public Safety Dive Team

/
Getting funding for a public safety team is no easy feat. It seems that no matter how experienced or large a team is, there’s still never enough to go around. In this article, we’ll walk you through a few unique ways to get corporate funding for your public safety dive team.

The Rules Have All Changed! A Scuba Instructor Learns to Teach Freediving

/
Wondering what the process looks like for a scuba instructor to become a freediving instructor? Our Training Manager, Brian Shreve recently went through the whole process and is here to lay out the steps in detail. Consider this your first step to teaching freediving if you’ve been on the fence.

Meme-be you are the Problem

/
Attention scuba industry keyboard heroes, aka social media trolls. Okay, yeah that’s a bit harsh, but we need to take a moment to address something we’ve noticed on social media lately. The truth is we can all be better, and none of us are perfect divers every moment of every dive. So why do we act like it when another diver posts photos or videos online?

9 Reasons Tech Gear is Rec Gear

/
As a diver, just like there’s a world of possibilities of where to dive, there is also a world of possibilities on the gear you use. Sport divers often start out with a basic equipment setup and upgrade things as they go. There’s nothing wrong with that line of thinking, but have you ever thought about starting off with gear that will grow WITH you?
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>

*