What Is A Semi-Dry Wetsuit & Why Should You Get One?

April 29, 2024 4 min read

wetsuits hanging on dive charter

Choosing the right level of insulation is a critical part of preparing for any dive. Most divers will pick between a wetsuit or a drysuit, with water conditions and the amount of time you plan to spend in the water being the key deciding factors. However, there are occasions where a wetsuit offers insufficient heat protection yet a drysuit is uncomfortable or just a little too dry. It’s in this in-between space that the revolutionary semi-dry wetsuit lies.

What Is A Semi-Dry Wetsuit?

A semi-dry wetsuit combines the properties of both a wetsuit and a drysuit to offer an alternative level of insulation. Appearance-wise, a semi-dry looks just like a wetsuit and will usually have a similar neoprene construction to offer a wide range of movement and a comfortable fit. However, whereas a wetsuit works exclusively by trapping a layer of water between the body and the neoprene and heating this with your body heat, a semi-dry will restrict the amount of water that can get in a suit in a manner much similar to a drysuit.

Most semi-dry wetsuits have zips and seals akin to those found on a drysuit to create a seal that allows this process of restricting water entry to happen. However, unlike a drysuit which should keep the wearer completely dry and use air to warm the body and minimise heat loss, the seals on a semi-dry wetsuit will allow a small amount of water to enter and be warmed by the body like a wetsuit. The result is levels of thermal protection that exceed the standard wetsuit but do not go as far as those provided by a drysuit.

Advantages Of A Semi-Dry Wetsuit

As we have touched upon, the key advantage of a semi-dry wetsuit is that it offers more insulation than a standard wetsuit but does this without compromising on comfort and fit. This combination of properties can also be advantageous for the following reasons:

Suitable For Repetitive Diving

There’s no denying the fact that high levels of thermal protection are required for diving in cold water. However, when diving in this way consistently, the gasket on a drysuit can cause discomfort and irritation. The fact that a semi-dry feels more like a wetsuit when you are wearing it can therefore be particularly useful for repetitive diving, where warmth is key but steps must be taken to move freely.

No Need For Extra Training

To dive safely in a drysuit, you must complete the PADI Drysuit Speciality Course. While the skills and techniques developed throughout this speciality training are invaluable, many divers will find it hard to justify taking part in the course if they rarely dive in cold water and only have the need for a drysuit on an infrequent basis. Semi-dry wetsuits offer a brilliant alternative in these circumstances as there is no need for additional training needed to use one. This can make cold water diving much more accessible and appealing.


The halfway house nature of a semi-dry wetsuit naturally lends itself to being multifunctional. Semi-drys are insulated enough for deep dives but flexible enough for those who enjoy minimal bottom times, allowing you to go with the flow and enjoy a huge range of diving experiences without the need for excess kit. If you’re the kind of diver who enjoys a bit of everything, a semi-dry wetsuit could therefore be the perfect choice.

Aquanauts' Semi-Dry Wetsuit Picks

As the benefits of semi-dry wetsuits become more widely known, the range of options available to divers has expanded. More and more brands are entering the space and developing their own semi-drys and we have selected our top semi-dry wetsuit picks, available now at Aquanauts.

Scubapro Nova Scotia

The Scubapro Nova Scotia is one of the most popular semi-dry wetsuits on the market - and for good reason. Available for both men and women, this semi-dry wetsuit really does offer the best of both worlds. In fact, the Nova Scotia has the highest rating of thermal protection possible yet offers complete flexibility with minimal seams and a water-draining interior. Standout features include an Aquaseal Dryzip and double seals on the ankles and wrists, alongside a protective spine pad which ensures you are comfortable as well as warm when in the long water for long periods of time.

mens and womens scubapro nova scotia semi dry wetsuit

Cressi Ice

Cressi’s entry into the semi-dry space is near perfect, blending warmth with comfort thanks to a 7mm neoprene construction and a drysuit style master seal rear zip. Flushing and water ingress are kept to a minimum in a way that regulates temperature seamlessly. The Cressi ice suit also offers unmatched versatility thanks to the inclusion of a large thigh pocket and abrasion-resistant sections on the knees, shoulders and rear.

close up of cressi ice semi dry wetsuit

Whether you need advice to determine which kind of suit is right for you or wish to pick out the perfect semi-dry wetsuit, our team is always on hand to help. Simply pop into our Plymouth-based store or get in touch with us from further afield and we can answer all of your semi-dry-related questions.

Noeleen Smith
Noeleen Smith

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