If you’re looking to advance and expand your diving opportunities then you may be thinking about diving with a drysuit. Diving with a drysuit rather than a wetsuit, allows you to dive in colder waters and for longer periods of time. As you can imagine, drysuits can really enhance the diving opportunities you can experience, but how do they work?
Unlike a wetsuit, a dry suit keeps you completely dry (the clue’s in the name after all!). Fitted more loosely than wetsuits, enabling you to wear undergarments, drysuits work by keeping an insulating layer of air between the body and the suit which you can control with inflator valves that allow you to add gas as you descend deeper. You can release air during ascent using exhaust valves. Drysuits are fully sealed to ensure they are completely watertight - This includes seals at the neck and wrists, alongside fully waterproof zips.
Diving with a drysuit allows you to dive comfortably in colder conditions - in England this is typically between December and March, however we all have our personal tolerance for the cold. Effectively, a drysuit enables you to dive anywhere, in any season. This is due to its ability to keep you completely dry and insulated. Some divers will also choose to wear a drysuit when they need to dive for extended periods of time as it keeps you warm underwater and avoids the 'wetsuit chill' between dives, particularly on a rainy or windy day.
If you’ve been used to diving with a wetsuit then the first thing you’re likely to notice when diving with a drysuit is the change in buoyancy. Due to the layer of air between the suit and your skin, a drysuit makes it more tricky to maintain neutral buoyancy. You control the buoyancy by adding air directly into the suit using valves, rather than controlling it through a BCD. You may need to add more weights (drysuit diving will generally require more lead than wetsuit diving) than you’re usually used to diving with in order to balance out the extra buoyancy.It’s essential to do a course on drysuit diving as this teaches you how to control your buoyancy safely and effectively.
Drysuits are usually made out of Neoprene or Trilaminate. The best choice for you depends on the type of diving you’ll be doing, and what you find most comfortable. Neoprene suits are more fitted, and don’t require you to wear additional undergarments as they already provide thermal insulation. Typically, they are less expensive than trilaminate suits, and this is helped by the fact that you don’t need to buy additional undergarments. Trilaminate suits are a lot more lightweight and highly durable. They are designed to be worn with thermal undergarments, and the ability to layer makes them suitable for use in both cold and warm water. Their lightweight design makes them easier to transport, and their ability to perform in both cold and warm conditions makes them a more versatile option.
It’s important that your drysuit is not too tight so that it restricts your movement, and that it is not too big so that there is excess material and too much air - this will lead to buoyancy problems. In order to check the fit of your drysuit when trying it on, make sure to try out the following movements:
If you can do all of these movements with just a small amount of resistance then the suit should be a good fit.For more information on diving with a drysuit, including guidance on choosing the right suit for your requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Aquanauts team. If you live locally in the Plymouth area, feel free to pop by the store where our experienced team of divers can show you the suits we have available and help you find the perfect fit.
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