The use of a wetsuit is as important in scuba diving as an air tank. It is an essential piece of scuba gear. Choosing the appropriate wetsuit, however, depends upon many factors and preferences. For example, where will the dive be taking place? What will the water temperature be? What type of neckline or stitching do you prefer a wetsuit to have?
When buying a wetsuit, the thickness of the material that is needed is the most crucial decision to be made. The thickness of the wetsuit will be the determining factor to your warmth and comfort underwater. Most suits are sold with thicknesses of 3mm or 6mm, these two choices will be sufficient in most temperatures of water where the average dive will take place.
Another choice that needs to be made is the type of wetsuit that you will need. Wetsuits most commonly are found with short legs and sleeves and long legs and sleeves. The choice of which is right for you depends upon where you are diving, the temperature of the water and your personal tolerance level for temperature changes.
The water temperature will help you when making the decision regarding thickness and length of the wetsuit needed. If you are diving in water that is above 85 degrees, a 2 mm short suit is what you would need. However, if the dive is in water that is 60 to 70 degrees, look for a 6-7 mm long suit. The final decision regarding the thickness and type of suit that is best for you rests upon your own body characteristics.
The type of neoprene that the wetsuit is made of is as important as the thickness of it. The neoprene that a suit is made from will have an affect on several aspects of the suit, including the durability, overall look as well as cost of the wetsuit.
There are three types of neoprene used for wetsuits that are worth mentioning here. They are Gas (chemical) blown, skin and titanium. The purchase of a gas blown suit will result in a more expensive, stronger wetsuit. A chemical blown suit will have a softer feel but will tend to wear quicker as a result, this is less expensive.
The most expensive option is to get a suit that is made with Titanium. These wetsuits have the Titanium either as a coating for the inside or as threads that are woven through the suit. The thought behind adding the Titanium to the wetsuit is that it is supposed to keep you warmer by preventing heat from leaving the body while under water, however, some divers are still skeptical about the validity of this claim.
When trying on a wetsuit for size be sure to check that there are not big gaps in the armpits, that the crotch of the suit is snug, the ankles and wrists of the suit need to be snug, not loose or water will get in. Finally, if in order to close the suit, the zipper needs to be held, it is probably too small and needs to be at least one size larger. On the other hand, if it zips easily and isn’t snug, try a smaller size. If you can’t find a wetsuit that fits exactly right, it can and should be altered.
Use these tips along with recommendations from seasoned divers to ensure the right wetsuit for your needs. Enjoy!