Understanding the distinction between wetsuits and dry suits is important for packing the appropriate equipment for your trip, whether you’re new to the waterlife or a seasoned adventurer expanding your gearbox.
In comparison to drysuits, wetsuits are thinner and more form-fitting. When working in harsh conditions, we advise using a dry suit depending on the water’s temperature.
To assist you in determining which suit is most suitable for your needs, we’ll look more closely at the two in this article.
What is a Wetsuit?
Since your body is the best source of heat, a wetsuit protects divers from the cold by operating under this tenet. These suits are made of a closed-cell foam material, which is filled with thousands of tiny gas bubbles trapped within the structure, to help contain this heat underwater. Once you get in the water, the material lets a thin layer of water through, filling the space between your body and the inner layer of material. Your body heat causes this layer of water to warm up, keeping you warm and comfortable throughout your dive.
Wetsuits for scuba diving are made to fit closely to the body. A loose fitting wetsuit will let water flow in and out of the gaps between the wetsuit and your skin, which means your body will end up wasting energy to heat the “new” water, making it pointless for thermal insulation.
Additionally, a wetsuit needs to be thick enough for the water temperature you’ll be diving in. Wetsuits come in a variety of thicknesses; in colder waters, the thicker suits offer more insulation and protection, while the thinner suits offer lighter insulation in warmer waters. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that every person has a unique body, which is why the thermal performance of a given suit will typically differ from person to person. Others will require a wetsuit that is 2mm thick (or more), while some scuba divers can dive in tropical waters while only wearing a lycra body suit, also known as a dive skin. While some scuba divers can safely dive in cold water while only wearing a 6mm wetsuit, others require the added protection of a drysuit.
What is a Drysuit?
A drysuit, as the name suggests, keeps you completely dry by preventing water from entering the suit. Neoprene foam, crushed neoprene, vulcanized rubber, or strong nylon are all possible materials for it. In order to keep you dry, it is fully sealed and utilizes a zipper made of waterproof material in addition to wrist and neck seals.
You can wear clothing or other insulating layers underneath a drysuit because they fit more loosely than wetsuits. They function by maintaining an insulating layer of air between the wearer’s body and the suit, which can be adjusted using inflator valves that let you add gas as you dive deeper. Exhaust valves are also used by drysuits to let air out while climbing.
The inflator valve, which performs a similar function to the power inflator on a buoyancy compensator vest, is frequently located in the center of the suit’s chest.
Certain abilities are necessary to maintain neutral buoyancy while wearing a drysuit. It usually takes practice and experience to become comfortable with drysuit diving. We strongly advise getting proper instruction from a licensed instructor if you’re interested in giving it a try.
Comparing Wetsuits and Drysuits
If you’re trying to decide whether to purchase a wetsuit or drysuit, here are a few key differences that you should consider:
While drysuits use a layer of air and are completely sealed to prevent water from entering and coming into contact with the skin, wetsuits use a layer of water (that is warmed by the wearer’s body) to help keep the body insulated. Since water conducts heat over 20 times more quickly than air, the latter has the advantage here.
Both suits can be worn with undergarments to further increase thermal insulation, but drysuits allow you to wear thicker clothing underneath due to their loose fit.
Wetsuits typically facilitate swift and comfortable underwater movement due to their skin-tight fit. Depending on the material used, drysuits can cause some drag as you move underwater because they are much baggier. As a result, you might end up moving much more slowly than you would have if you had been wearing a wetsuit.
Due to the complexity of their construction and their ability to be used in a variety of environments, drysuits are typically more expensive than wetsuits. On the other hand, high-quality wetsuits can actually be more expensive than even the most expensive drysuits because the former can last up to 15 years with proper care and upkeep.
Quality entry-level drysuits now cost as much as premium wetsuits due to the proliferation of new brands and the accessibility of newer materials. In contrast to wetsuits, which are more likely to degrade after a few years of regular use, drysuits can frequently retain their value for resale, so their lower initial cost does not necessarily mean that they will lose value over time.
There is a good chance that you will be scuba diving in a variety of bodies of water with different temperatures. Basically, how thick or thin the wetsuit is will determine how effective it is in these conditions.
You would need to purchase a different wetsuit for each circumstance because diving in warm waters frequently requires thinner wetsuits while diving in colder waters frequently requires thicker wetsuits. Conversely, dry suits present you with no such issues. Since you can layer underneath the suit, you can dive all year long in any type of water and use the same dry suit.
Is a Dry Suit Better Than a Wetsuit?
Warmth is provided by wetsuits, which are appropriate for cold water. When dealing with extreme conditions, however, we advise using a dry suit depending on the water’s temperature. In contrast, dry suits are designed to be completely watertight, so they assume the wearer will be dry.
Can You Swim in a Dry Suit?
They are entirely waterproof, so you won’t get wet. You’ll never come in contact with water. They are utilized for a variety of water sports, including wakeboarding, swimming, diving, and paddling.
Do Drysuits Keep You Warmer Than Wetsuits?
Drysuits would be preferable in extremely cold conditions where the temperature limits the movements that a normal wetsuit can make. Because you can layer additional layers of warmth underneath the suit, a drysuit is a fantastic option for rough winter standup paddleboarding conditions.