top of page

Why learn to Dry Suit dive?

Well, simply put it’s a great way to stay warm! It Sounds obvious, but as water absorbs the heat from your body up to 25 times faster than air, it becomes essential to be able to use a dry suit in not just cold water, but cool water and also on dives that might take you deeper or longer than usual. The need to stay warm becomes not only about your enjoyment and comfort but also about your ability to dive safely.

We all know that getting cold on a dive is rubbish, and it can really suck the fun out of a good days diving. But there is a solution and although diving in a dry suit can be an intimidating prospect with all sorts of myths and misconceptions about it, imagine what it would be like to be able to dive all year regardless of the water temperature and not be cold!

So, what are these myths about dry suit diving? You’ve probably heard of a few already and have some ideas of what its about, but if not these are the ones we usually hear…

  • Its not for new divers, only experienced divers can use them?

  • My feet will fill with air and drag me to the surface!

  • You need loads of lead to sink?

  • Its uncomfortable to wear and difficult to use?

  • Its better to dive over weighted?

  • Dry suits are only for very cold water?

Some of these myths have a basis in truth and can be easily answered, others not so much and are just not true!

Its not for a new diver, only experienced divers can use them?

All divers can learn to use a dry suit, in fact you can start on your Open Water course, right at the beginning. Imagine learning to dive in a Dry suit! Everything after that would be a breeze. In cold countries its essential to learn in a Dry suit so it goes hand in hand with your basic dive skills. Buoyancy control is key and learning it in a dry suit from day 1 is not much more difficult than learning in just a BCD. A good dry suit instructor will explain and demonstrate everything you need to learn, from how to put the suit on correctly (Yes you need to be shown how to get dressed! we’ve seen people trying to put them on backwards!) to correct weight checking, buoyancy control and emergency procedures. You can learn to use a dry suit at any point in your diving journey.

My feet will fill with air and drag me to the surface!

This is probably the most common concern with new or non dry suit divers. The fear of being dragged to the surface by expanding air in the boots, shooting you to the surface feet first. This is definitely a “friend of a friend” story with few people really experiencing it themselves (most manage to stop themselves before they pop to the surface upside down!) The reality is that if you are correctly weighted (more about that later), have good buoyancy control and trim, it is much easier to control your body position in the water and not only prevent the terror of the runaway feet first ascent but also easier to recover from it if you do find yourself with your feet a bit higher than usual. Don’t forget that neutrally buoyant is neutrally buoyant no matter what why up you are, so if you are indeed neutral in the water (as you should be) you won’t unintentionally go up or down!

You need loads of lead to sink?

This way of thinking isn’t just exclusive to dry suit diving. Yes having lots of lead will make you sink, but that’s not a way to achieve neutral buoyancy and dive comfortably. As with any diving you need to be able to descend in a controlled way at the beginning of the dive and be able to slowly ascend and hold a safety stop at the end of the dive with less air in your tank. To enable you to do this you need to be correctly weighted, and this is based on several variable factors that need to be considered so you can adjust your weight correctly for the dive you are doing. These include but are not limited to: The type of suit, Neoprene dry suit or membrane, each has different buoyancy characteristics that needs to be appropriately managed. The amount of under garments worn, the more you wear, the more air you trap, the more weight you need. The size and type of your tank (bigger and heavier usually needs less weight) and also salt or fresh water. All of these contribute to your overall displacement and buoyancy and need to be considered when calculating your required weight. There is no magic calculation, but your instructor will give you the best way to make a good start and then work around that to fine tune your buoyancy, trim and positioning in the water with the ideal amount of lead to make you achieve neutral buoyancy. Yes, you will need more lead than if you were diving in a wet suit but it still has to be the correct amount.

Its uncomfortable and difficult to wear?

Dry suits can certainly be a bit more cumbersome than a nice fitting wet suit but that’s not to say that they shouldn’t be comfortable. Far from it actually. A well fitted dry suit should feel comfortable and easy to move in, with no restrictions to your flexibility. It does take a bit of time to get use to the neck seal, which is designed to be a snug fit to prevent leakage and also the wrists which can also feel a bit strange at first, but you will soon appreciate them for keeping you dry. The different types of suit are designed to fit in slightly different ways, for example a Neoprene dry suit will usually be a bit of a closer fit, like a baggy wet suit, but a membrane suit will be have a bit more room in it (so you can wear more layers underneath as they offer less thermal protection on their own). Making sure the suit is the correct size is important of course, but there is more room for movement compared to a wet suit. You should have enough space to fit the thermal under suit on and still be able to move comfortably. Boots or socks are an option that make fitting your feet in easier too. There are some manufacturers that even offer a body scan to make sure your new suit is a perfect fit tailored to your exact size.

Dry suits are only for very cold water?

Being dry during a dive is what enables the undergarments you wear to keep you warm. In reality the suit offers very little thermal protection, so the type and thickness of the under suit is just as important as the dry suit. For this reason you can use a dry suit in any water temperature, and by varying the layers you have underneath you can ensure you are as warm as you need to be. Wearing one on a hot day does have some issues that you need to be aware of so you don’t overheat but there is no reason why you cant dive in one in most water temperatures. Some divers like to use them in warmer water if they are doing particularly long dives where there is a potential to get uncomfortably cold, also technical divers usually require a dry suit for this reason, where getting cold can affect decompression and also for additional buoyancy, as part of redundancy. For very cold water they are essential and can be made even warmer by the addition of things like heated vest and even heated gloves!

Diving in new gear is always good fun, but don’t be surprised to hear that you do need to be trained in how to use a dry suit properly, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When used correctly they give you the freedom to dive all year regardless of the temperature, and open a whole new world of diving. But not learning correctly can cause problems and put you in a potentially dangerous situation, or at least a wet and cold one! You will need to learn how to operate the suit, inflate and deflate properly and avoid any potential issues with squeezes. There are some basic safety procedures to learn regarding loss of buoyancy control and valve issues and don’t forget the most important thing to learn; the change to your buoyancy control versus a wet suit and how to attain neutral buoyancy and good trim.

So, why learn to Dry suit dive? Its definitely to keep you warm when the water gets colder, but also gives you the chance to extend your diving season beyond the warmer months, give you more opportunities to dive in places that might have been deemed too cold otherwise, and builds on your skills to improve your buoyancy control and trim more than ever.

If you’ve not gone dry yet, then don’t wait any longer, get in touch and we can organise the PADI dry suit speciality training course just for you. Come out of the cold and into the warm with us.

Clic here for the Dry Suit Speciality page and booking

Ed Smith is a TDI, PADI & PSAI Technical and recreational diving instructor with over 25 years of experience in the water. The views expressed in these blog posts are personal opinions based on many years of diving experience and teaching, however they may differ from other instructors or professionals. These blog posts are for information only and nothing should replace proper, professional training.

Dive safe.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page