Drysuit vs Wetsuit

drysuitNothing is worse than going on a scuba vacation and being cold during your dive. Actually, there is – getting on the 2nd or 3rd dive and being cold before the dive even begins. And this is how the debate begins; Dry Suit vs Wet Suit.

There are several advantages to the wetsuit. It is rather light, not extremely expensive, requires little care, it is easy to get in and out and has few maintenance issues, aside from a rinse here and there. Once patch-up work is needed, a diver will usually go out and get another one from their local dive center or repair it with rubber glue.

So why are so many people moving to the dry suit? It is heavier, costs a heck of a lot more, and it is a pain at times to maintain and fix and sometimes, you can’t even get in a dry suit without the help of your buddy. Why go through all the extra hassles to dive in a dry suit? One word… comfort.

Though you can get a decent wetsuit for between $150.00 to $250, depending on the thickness, a good dry suit can easily cost you over a $2000+. Depending on how many dives you do a year and where you go, it may not be worth getting a dry suit – but consider this; with a dry suit, you are now able to dive in many more places that have spectacular diving and you can probably do so year round, rather than just 2 or 3 months out of the year.

wetsuitThe “Dry Suit vs Wet Suit” debate is one that has been going on forever. In the end, it is a matter of comfort more than anything else. Aside from what has already been mentioned, people who prefer the wetsuit may also pick a wetsuit out of comfort. They streamline better and almost feel like they are part of your body, without having to worry about its bulkiness and air in the suit and purging it.

Sure, this is only a matter of opinion and the type of warm water dives that so many divers do nowadays really only require a 3mm suit – and that is fine. But what about all those other dive sites were the water is below 80F?

The only winner out of a debate like this is the end user: you. What makes you comfortable and how much is that comfort worth to you? Where do you dive and how often? You can settle this debate by going down to your local dive center and finding out when their demo day at the quarry or the beach will happen and try out the different type of suits available. Dry suits will also require additional training, but most dive centers that offer dry suits for sale are sure to have the SDI Dry Suit course available as well.

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8 replies
  1. Stephen Williams
    Stephen Williams says:

    A few years ago I went diving in Alaska. All of the local divers were there with their dry suits, I was wearing my 7mm wt suit. We did two dives from a Zodiac with an hour surface interval better and the only one cold after the second dive, one of the divers with a drysuit who used the wrong underwear. I was toasty warm in my 7mm. Water temperature 40°F. In Canada we also do ice diving in our wetsuits.

  2. Dominik Fretz
    Dominik Fretz says:

    Here in Switzerland, if you want to dive year round, there is probably no way around a dry suit.
    Water temperature in the winter is 4 to 6°C but even in summer the water doesn’t get much warmer than 8°C at depths below 20+ meters. Sure, you can do diving year round in a wet suit and people are doing it, but I took the plunge and went for a nice and comfy dry suit.

    One point you might want to think about, are health and safety issues. Even in moderately warm water, repetitive diving (think of a dive guide on a daily boat), your body will cool down to the point where it can cause hypothermia.

  3. George Stokes
    George Stokes says:

    Drysuit is always much safer option then wetsuit, with a wetsuit there is no layer of air between you and the water to insulate you from the cold, the rubber in the wetsuit will get cold and since your skin is in contact with the rubber it will also get cold, a drysuit allows you to wear an insulating undergarment and there is always layer of air between your body the drysuit liner the drysuit and the water, drysuit wins hands down every time regardless of how much more difficult it may be to put on, not to mention a 7mm wetsuit will be awfully warm come spring time when you will need two wetsuits instead of one drysuit.

      SDI/TDI/ERDI says:

      Yes. Well, not through SDI/TDI/ERDI. I just searched “rent a drysuit” in google and looks like there are lots of results. I would just add your location to the search to see where you could rent one locally. I hope this helps.

  4. Greg Garrett
    Greg Garrett says:

    Sorry……I’m not a diver. But I’m on the water a lot.
    I live on a 1 mile across lake in Michigan and I sail a sunfish sailboat and windsurf from ice away till ice back again. I’ve windsurfed as cold as 29 degrees one time and was out for over 2 hours. It was sunny that day which helps a lot.
    I have a 3/2 wet suit and I noticed this year that I am getting colder then I was years past. I am also 70 too, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. But my health is great and I want to go in the cold. I am wondering should I get a thicker wet suit or get a dry suit? I mostly notice the cold on the sailboat. When I’m on the windsurfer I’m exerting energy and that keeps me warmer. Also I notice that on the sailboat I will get hit with splashes of water on windy days and that helps. When I’m dry I get cold. That’s why I’m thinking of a dry suit.
    What do you think?


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