Long Island, New York Scuba Diving

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Friday, March 11, 2005

All About Drysuits

Well maybe not everything but I’ll tell you enough about them so you can make an informed decision if you are thinking about buying one. Traditionally, drysuits are one of the most expensive investments a scuba diver can purchase. In the past few years a large number of manufactures have entered the market and the competition has been able to drive the price down for entry level drysuits. Some Neoprene drysuits start out at $600 now and that is a far cry from prices that used to start at about $1000. You can still spend $3000 on one if you like but chances are there is something comparable out there for you.
Drysuits keep you warm by first keeping you dry inside an external layer of neoprene, nylon, rubber, cordura or some combination of these materials. Typically, a diver wearing a drysuit will also be wearing fleece undergarments for thermal protection. A neoprene drysuit offers more thermal protection because the neoprene itself works as a thermal barrier. A shell suit or nylon, cordura, rubber suit requires undergarments for all a divers’ thermal protection because the outer shell works only to keep you dry. Drysuits operate by keeping a layer of warm air between the diver and the cold water. This is accomplished by running a low pressure line from your regulator to the drysuit. It works in much the same way as your BC. As you go deeper you will add a little air to your suit and as you ascend you will dump a little air from the suit. This takes training and a little practice so make sure you seek the proper instruction before using a drysuit on your own.
It makes the most sense to talk about when it is beneficial to use a drysuit. First, Diving in any cold water may warrant a drysuit. And that may also depend on your own personal definition of cold water. I usually wear a drysuit for all beach dives from Mid-October through the end of May. Once water temperatures drop into the low 60’s and high 50’s I abandon diving wet. I could use a heavier 7mm wetsuit for this but to me it’s just easier to jump into a drysuit rather than fighting a heavy wetsuit in a cold parking lot. Oh yeah, and taking a wet suit of in a cold parking lot is no picnic either.
Drysuits are also beneficial if you will be diving off of a boat at depths of 60’ or more. If you are doing that you can bet you will be passing one or two thermoclines even in the summer and the water on the bottom is going to be cold.
What kind of drysuit? Well I prefer the shell style and after owning many drysuits I have settled on a cordura, front entry or self donning drysuit. I can regulate the thermal protection I wear under it and it is a very tough outer shell that will resist my bottom crawling and wreck rumbles. The Neoprene suits are extremely warm and are very durable but they also can make a diver overheat in the hot summer months. I have seen a few divers sweat it out onboard a dive boat in 80 degree weather before their dive. Crushed neoprene however offers a happy medium between the shell and thick neoprene suits because it offers thermal protection and it is flexible and you can still wear undergarments under it.
Some of the manufactures I recommend are: Bare, DUI, Harveys and Diving Concepts. I own a Diving Concepts Cordura suit and I couldn’t be happier with it. It has all the features of a very expensive suit at a moderate price and it is built tank tuff.
Remember that diving with a drysuit is going to require a little training to make sure you know how to use it and what to do in an emergency so make sure you are trained before you use one. This was just a brief overview to get you on your way. If you have any questions regarding drysuits please feel free to contact me at info@longislanddiving.com or just give a call.

2 Comments:

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