Scuba exposure protectionWater absorbs heat about 800 times faster than air does, so you cool rapidly in water. Also, the scuba diving environment sometimes has a potential for scrapes, stings and burns. Exposure suits help you retain heat and provide protection against incidental skin injuries and sunburn. Diving suits are available in a large range of styles. They are normally categorized by the thickness of neoprene they are made from. When choosing a dive suit a diver needs to consider the environment they will be diving in, comfort, fit and quality of construction.
Wetsuits come in many different types
Skin Suits:In warm waters, a diver may not need thermal protection, but a thin suit will help prevent equipment from rubbing the skin and protect against stings and scraps. The thinnest suits are made of Lycra and are made from 0.5 mm neoprene.
Shorties Suits: A shortie wet suit provides a little more thermal protection than a skin. Because they leave the arms and legs exposed, they do not provide protection against stings and scraps.
Full-Length Suits: A full length wet suit is the choice of most divers. These suits give a diver more thermal protection on the arms and legs and provide better protection against scraps and stings. Full-length scuba diving wet suits are made from 2-8 mm neoprene.
Semi-Dry Suits:Semi-dry suits are normally worn in colder waters, but can be worn in warm waters like the Mediterranean Sea. When worn in cold waters, divers will also wear a hood and gloves with a semi-dry suit. These suits are made of 9 mm neoprene and can be worn in layers. Divers know this style as a Farmer John wet suit. It consists of a coverall-style base layer with a long sleeve shortie worn over the base layer.
Dry-Suits:Dry-suits are designed to keep divers warm when they are diving in extremely cold conditions like under ice. Dry-suits are loose-fitting and divers will often wear a thermal under suit with a dry suit for added insulation. Dry-suits use air that can be injected by the diver to keep the water pressure from squeezing the suit against the body.
The Importance of a Good Fitting Wet Suit
A scuba diving wet suit keeps a diver warm by trapping a thin layer of water between the diver’s body and the wet suit. This water gradually becomes warm and acts as an insulator. A wet suit that fits close to the body gives a diver better insulation while diving.
A dive suit that fits properly should be easy to put on and follow the shape of a diver’s body. This will keep water from flowing freely between the suit and the body. A suit that fits poorly will chill rather than warm the diver.