Wetsuits for Different Temperatures
Using equipment well matched to scuba dive settings and activities is essential to diving safety. A wetsuit helps to maintain a safe body temperature while in the water, protecting the diver from hypothermia. It also serves to protect the skin from scrapes, stings and sunburns. Wetsuits are typically made with neoprene-based materials, which are porous and feature tiny nitrogen bubbles. These bubbles contribute to buoyancy and help insulate against cold by absorbing and warming water. Neoprene-based materials are marketed under several brands, including Titanium, Thermoprene and Hyperstretch.
Warm Water Options
These suits are designed to be used in water that ranges between 75 and 85 degrees. Warm water divers can use a standard, full body wetsuit or a shortie suit with short sleeves and short legs. The shortie suit is good for sunny days in warmer waters. This design allows for a fuller range of motion, offers some sun protection and protects body temperature. Even when diving in warm water, a person can experience some heat loss. A standard coverage wetsuit can be the better skin protection choice in some dive settings. The neoprene-based material used to make a warm water suit is usually from 0.5 mm to 3 mm thick.
Wetsuits For Temperate Waters
Water with a temperature that ranges from 60 to 75 degrees falls into the temperate zone. The wetsuits for this temperature range are made with a little bit thicker material. For these, the standard neoprene-based material thickness is from 4 mm to 6 mm. When the sun is bright and the days are hot, it can be easy to forget how much lower the temperature can be underneath the water. Regulating body temperature correctly by avoiding excessive heat loss is important. Hypothermia can be dangerous to a diver.
Cold Water Wetsuit
For water temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees, a wetsuit made of thicker material is an absolute can necessity. A well chosen wetsuit allows for more time in the water. The material used to make cold water wetsuits is usually between 6.5 mm to 7mm thick. Modern textile technologies have resulted in wetsuits that are both lightweight and warm. That preserves ease of movement and ensures comfort. Adding a another layer, such as a pullover tunic with a hood help preserve heat by preventing it from being lost through the head.
Make Good Choices
Not everyone has the same cold tolerance. When considering a wetsuit for a water temperature that falls to the low side of the range, go with the thicker material. It's better to scuba dive a bit warm than to be a little cold. Additional wetsuit layers can be added for warmth, making them a great take-along on a scuba diving trip planned around a few different diving locations. Bodies of water can vary significantly in temperature, so it's best to be prepared.