Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Wetsuits VS Drysuits

When choosing a new wetsuit you may find yourself having to pick between a wetsuit or a drysuit. The main difference between wetsuits and drysuits is that the latter tend to be warmer and have gaskets at the arms, legs and neck to allow a layer of air to sit between your skin and the suit, rather than the layer of water which is required by wetsuits. Many people choose to wear drysuits when diving in colder water; however both types of suit have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on what type of water activity you’ll be taking part in.

Wet Suits

Wetsuits are available in a variety of styles, including shorties (which extend to the knees and elbows, or shoulders) and full piece / one piece suits which cover the whole body. They also come with or without a hood and sometimes enclose the feet.
Wetsuits tend to be made from neoprene and range in thickness from 2mm to 9mm, depending on your requirements. Shore wetsuits are a great example of sports performance wetsuits which are thin, and therefore highly flexible, but for cold water diving you may want to choose a thicker wetsuit. This will restrict your mobility but will keep you warmer.

Semi-Dry Suits

Semi-dry wetsuits are full suits with inner seals, usually around the wrists and ankles. They are in effect a type of wetsuit; however the seals prevent water from leaving the suit which means it will stay warmer against your skin, providing better thermal protection than a wetsuit. They tend to be cheaper than wetsuits, and easier to use.

Dry Suits

Drysuits feature seals at the neck, ankles, and wrists which prevent water from entering the suit, so the wearer stays dry in the water and is insulated by a thin layer of air next to the skin. Many divers also choose to wear a thermal bodysuit under their drysuit, for maximum heat retention; however this is only possible when wearing a fabric drysuit as opposed to a neoprene drysuit, (see: what is neoprene?)

(example of a neoprene knee protector)

 This can make parts of the scuba outfit quite bulky and hard to manoeuvre in.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Choosing a Wet Suit

Wet suits have been around since the 1950s. Originally they were made from foamed neoprone, but now that material is usually sandwiched between layers of nylon or lycra. This not only provides more protection and insulation, it also allows a wide variety of colourful designs to be added to the wetsuit.

Almost all modern wet suits used for scuba diving use a method known as blindstitching to bind the seams together. This technique provides an excellent seal which is less prone to tearing than traditional methods. However many wet suits also use bonded seams for decorative and stylistic effects. Modern wetsuits are often made from materials such as spandex and even titanium fibres which is cut to an exact size using computer controlled water cutting machines. This allows for a very even finish which does not bulge.

Wet suits come in many different sizes. Winter wetsuits and wet suits used in very cold conditions are usually full length and cover every part of the body except for the face. For scuba diving in warmer water a "shortie" wet suit can be used which only covers the main torso.