by Sean Harrison:
So you sat all winter, and for some of you it has been a rough winter, looking at your diving photographs, reading the dive magazines, and posting on social media all your diving dreams and fun stories, just waiting for the water to warm up. Why wait?! You can’t make the water warm up any faster! I know you can travel to warm water, but you can be warmer in the water no matter what temperature it is now. How you ask? A dry suit.
Dry suits have come a long way over the years and so have the undergarments. Perhaps one of the biggest advancements is that dry suits are more flexible than they have ever been. In years past, dry suits were primarily designed to be used in cold water only, which is not the case with current dry suit designs. Some manufactures have designed dry suits just for tropical water temperatures while others have taken a different approach and made a suit that can be used in any water temperature just by adjusting the undergarments (more on undergarments later).
Being “cold” doesn’t just happen in “cold water”, divers often get cold in very warm water. While there are many theories and questions out there about what cold water is, it’s all relative – what is cold to one person may not be cold to another. Any time you submerge yourself in water temperatures colder than your core temperature (36.5 -37.5 C / 97.7 – 99.5 F) your body releases heat through the skin. You also lose heat through your lungs as the cold compressed air is breathed in and then exhaled. This can make a diver very cold after multiple dives per day, over multiple days. While there needs to be a temperature difference between your core temperature (warmer) and the surrounding temperature (cooler) for your body to lose heat, the difference does not need to be very much. It does need to be enough so you won’t overheat but not so much that you become hypothermic.
Taking a dry suit course will not only make diving in tropical waters more comfortable, it will also extend your diving season. Think of all your dive buddies, sitting there, waiting for the season to begin as you are posting pictures and stories of the dives you are already enjoying. Then, at the end of their season, you are still diving! This is simply accomplished by adjusting the undergarments you use.
Undergarments, like dry suits, have come a long way. Going back to those early days again, the early undergarments were bulky and did not wick moisture away from your body. They also had big zippers and seams that would, over the course of a dive, irritate your skin. Divers during these times would use cotton and wool garments to stay warm. We now know that cotton keeps the moisture too close to the skin and causes you to be cold. Wool, while maintaining your warmth even when wet, cannot be worn by many divers and is not the best option. Today’s undergarments are made with materials that wick the moisture away from your body, are less bulky, can be adjusted to water temperature, and some of the recent ones are non-compressible and neutrally buoyant.
So if you are looking for a course that will make you more comfortable in the water, and extend your diving season, consider the SDI Dry Suit course. Be that diver that everybody is jealous of because you get to dive more.