My little sis finally wants to continue her dive education from the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver to a PADI Rescue Diver!!
I’m both happy and a bit jealous, cause the rescue diving course was my favorite course, with lots of situation handling and hands on scenarios. Learning skills that can be used in real life emergencies and gaining more understanding of safety practices taught in Advanced and Open Water Diver.
When I asked what she is looking forward to most about going to the next level in PADI, she told me it was that she was looking forward to getting new scuba equipment. I started asking what BCD she was looking at, and what sort of regulators and first stage she was looking at. There was silence for a couple of seconds and then she tells me that she isn’t interested in that stuff. She just wants a cute exposure suit to dive in… After 22 years of knowing her I should have guessed she was talking about scuba ‘clothes’ to look good in… Girls will be girls.
As a diver who cares more about how my gear accomplishes its fundamental purpose, let me help any of y’all who are looking for an exposure suit. After finding an exposure suit that keeps you warm then you can focus on its aesthetic properties. <— That last sentence is for you sis!
First, let’s go over the three different types of exposure suits: bodysuit (a.k.a. rash guard), wetsuits, and dry suits. The key differences in these three suits are their thickness, and the water temperature in which each is suitable. Also, different type of suits will affect a diver’s buoyancy, so it is always good to know and understand the different types available so that we are adequately prepared for our dive trips! However do remember, different individuals have different level of sensitivity to temperature. So take the below as a guide and when in doubt, contact your PADI professionals in your area to assist you.
Body suits are typically used in tropical water. They are also known as rash guards, skin suit and lycra suit. Some cover most of the body except for the head, hands, and feet. Others cover only the upper body like a shirt. If you are going to be in warm water and are not planning on diving to a deep depth, these are the exposure suit for you. Remember if you go deep enough in warm water you will pass a thermocline, a thin layer in a large body of water where temperature changes rapidly with depth.
You are planning a deep dive in warm tropical water or entering temperate water, a wetsuit would be a better option. Providing insulation and protection, a wetsuit can be used in a various water temperatures; 10ºC/50ºF – 32ºC/90ºF. When purchasing a wetsuit, make sure to pay attention to the thickness and style of the wetsuit. It is because of the variety of thickness and style that allows wetsuits to work in a variety of water temperatures. For the coldest water, use a Full Wetsuits that cover your entire body, except for your head, hands, and feet.
For cool water, use a Shorty Wetsuit that cover most of your body, but stop before your elbows and knees. For the warmer waters, use a Wetsuit Vest, which only covers you chest and stomach, or a Short John Wetsuit, which does not cover your body below your knees and after your shoulders.
Also consider adding a hood to keep warmth as more than 40% of body heat is loss through the head and ears!!
If you ever get a feeling you want to go diving in the coldest of waters, always use a dry suit! These are also good for those that are sensitive to the cold, but remember not to use these in warm waters as you can overheat your body! While diving in California, USA during the winter these are great to keep any dive comfortable. 🙂
Hope this was helpful to everyone reading! If you are ready to expand your diving gear, a wetsuit is a great next step after mask and fins. Like having a personal mask, having a personal wetsuit is great for people like me who think of hygiene and cleanliness. More importantly a comfortable fitting wetsuit would mean a warm enjoyable dive. =)
Written By Marcus Oliva