Choosing the right wetsuit

Wetsuits are most definitely not accessories: they quickly become compulsory as your body gets colder 25 times more quickly in water than in air! Your neoprene suit will protect you from the cold as well as the wind, the sun and pollution. A wetsuit is often the first thing a novice diver or snorkeller buys for the comfort they provide as well as hygienic reasons.

Is that your case? To help you choose the right wetsuit, Tribord has reviewed the criteria to take into account: types of suit, performance depending on the water temperature, wetsuit care, etc. After reading this you’ll have no problem buying the best wetsuit for you!

 

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WETSUITS:

NEOPRENE WETSUITS

 

This type of wetsuit is the most common on the market. It isn’t designed to act as a barrier with regard to the water, but rather to trap it and allow your body to warm it up until a thermal buffer is formed between you and the outside.

Made of neoprene — a rubber polymer filled with air bubbles— these suits vary in thickness from 0.5 to 7mm. 

In this respect, they’re excellent snorkelling or diving suits as they’re rather flexible and, above all, modular.

There are formats ranging from a simple thermal top to the overshorts suit,  from the full-length one piece (the most flexible) or two piece (easy to put on and warmer), with or without a hood, for men, women and children, etc.

Choose between models with a back or front zip (easier to put on!), fitted or not with watertight cuffs on the wrists and ankles.

You need to be aware of all these criteria and take them into account when deciding which wetsuit to buy! 

 

DRY SUITS

This type of suit totally insulates your body from the water. Thermal protection is provided by the clothes you wear under your polyamide fabric suit or by your diving equipment itself if it’s made of neoprene.

Dry suits remain the preserve of experienced divers who spend their time in very cold water (below 15°C) or who do long immersions with a rebreather. Although they are delicate to use, they are renowned for their effectiveness.  

 

SEMI-WATERPROOF SUITS

dive in semi-tight wetsuit

 

It’s a cross between the last two types of suit! Made with neoprene ranging in thickness between 4 and 7mm, a semi-dry suit virtually isolates you from the external environment, thanks in particular to its cuffs and waterproof back zip (which requires the help of another diver). Less flexible and without the possibility of injecting air, it will constrict you to a varying degree depending on the depth.

It’s becoming increasingly popular with recreational divers, for water temperatures between 10°C and 20°C because it represents an excellent compromise between the user-friendliness of a wetsuit and the thermal comfort of a drysuit!

Don’t forget to complete your diving clothes: gloves, booties and hood all play a major role in protecting you and the tips of your body in particular, sources of significant heat loss. They are recommended for water temperatures below 18°C, but quickly become essential once the temperature falls to 15°C and below!

 

CHOOSING THE THICKNESS OF YOUR NEOPRENE SUIT

Contribution of heat in dive

 

The colder the water the thicker your suit needs to be. The examples of following temperatures/thicknesses ratios are provided to give you as an indication: they also depend on how you feel, how tired you are, the number of dives made, the suit (age, adjustment, quality, cut...).

In water:

-        above 28°C: a top or possibly overshorts;

-        from 23 to 27°C: a 3mm full suit;

-        from 20 to 25°C: a 5mm full suit;

-        from 18 to 23°C: a 7mm full suit;

-        from 13 to 18°C: a 5 or 7mm full suit plus an overjacket or two-part overshorts from 5 to 7mm, with hood and booties;

-        from 10 to 15°C: a semi-dry suit with hood, booties and gloves;

-        10°C and below: a drysuit…

 

DETERMINING THE SIZE OF YOUR DIVING SUIT

Choose the size of its combination

 

It’s essential - you must try on a diving suit before buying it!

The first time the suit may feel a bit tight and constricted, above all with 20°C in the Decathlon store. This feeling is perfectly normal: a suit must be like a second skin. Don’t forget that neoprene compresses under pressure, giving you greater freedom of movement.

Your suit must therefore be well adjusted: measure your chest, waist and pelvis before going to the store.

When you’ve got your gear on, spend a little time bending and make moving actions with your arms to ensure you can move without any problems. You must never feel, in any circumstances, stifled around your neck and torso! You must be able to breathe deeply and naturally. Even more so with a semi-drysuit!

When choosing the size of your suit, don’t hesitate to try on different brands’ models and sizes with little difference between them. Each one has its own specific cut and degree of flexibility. Don’t forget about children’s and women’s suits, superbly tailored to their morphology.

 

TAKING CARE OF YOUR NEW DIVING SUIT

Follow the Tribord care guide to preserve the flexibility watertightness and life cycle of your neoprene suit.

A tear on the seabed? Discover how to repair your diving suit.

And now, time to try on suits and choose one in your Decathlon store!

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