Seasons come and seasons go, and as the days get shorter we find the temperature of the water begins to drop. This does not mean we have to put our gear in storage, but rather you can hang up the wetsuit and break out the drysuit.
Diving dry gives you the opportunity to extend your season no matter what region of the country you live in. By keeping your skin dry and having the ability to layer undergarments, very cold water doesn’t become an obstacle to diving.
Here in the northeast, with colder ocean temperatures comes better visibility, and the ability to see colder water creatures that come closer to shore.
If you are not familiar with drysuit diving, it is not much different than a wetsuit , but instead of a layer of water between your suit and you, there is a layer of Air. Body heat transfer to air is slower than water and the air won’t flush like a wet suit. Waterproof material on the outside of the suit, leak-proof seals around neck and wrists, warm and fuzzy undergarments and a layer of air keep you nice and comfortable in the chilly water.
You may have noticed I haven’t called out a specific temperature of water to break out the drysuit for. Well, that’s because we are all different and have different tolerances to the cold. For instance, head to the Florida keys and they are wearing 7 mill wet suites in 75-degree water, where, in the northeast, it’s got to get to at least 50 degrees before I slide into a 7 mill. and below 45 before the drysuit comes out.
Major components of a drysuit
- Drysuit (of course). There are many different types, styles, and features of the suits. I am not going to review them all but the basic ones are, Tri-lam (no not from the greek house in a famous 80’s movie), crushed neoprene and vulcanized rubber. Each has its pros and cons, and I would strongly recommend a discussion with your local dive shop to find out what is best for you
- Undergarment(s), also come in many shapes, sizes, thicknesses, materials, etc. Depending on water temp and body tolerance you may need a couple of types of undergarments for cold water diving.
- Inflator valve, exhaust valve, seals gloves and boots will all be dependent on the suit.
Using a drysuit
If you have never dove dry or never taken a class, I would highly recommend taking a dry suit class from your favorite dive shop/training agency.
Why you might ask, well it comes down to learning safety skills. With drysuits, there is a layer of air between you and the suit and with wet, water. Air compresses (hopefully you remember this from open water class) but water does not. Air needs to be added and removed from your suit depending on depth and learning how to add remove adjust is important.
Secondly, you have new equipment, inflator, exhaust valve to learn how to effectively use and mitigate issues with, and lastly how to control the roving air bubble that is now contained in your suit.
These skills are important to your safety and enjoyment of extending your diving season.
Just because it is getting cold, don’t look to the slopes or mothball the gear. Find a local Dive shop, take a class, rent a suit and explore the wonderful creatures and sights in the colder water.
PS in the northeast the beaches are empty this time of year.
If you live in the Southern New Hampshire area and are looking for a Dive shop, come visit us at Aquatic Specialties in Merrimack, NH. We have a wide selection of drysuits and top-notch instructors who would love to go diving. Click on the image to the right to register for a DrySuit Class.