I need to buy a wetsuit, which one do I choose?
In buying your wetsuit you will be making one of the bigger investments of your equipment inventory - you could also be making a fashion statement!
I personally shy away from hiring them.
How many times have you read or heard someone say there are two types of diver, those who pee in their wetsuits and those who lie about it, frankly? Speak for yourself, but it does indicate what happens a lot and in a hired one almost certainly often, so yuk!
There are many brands, different styles and colours.
They come in various forms like:
Farmer John or two piece - a bit like a farmer's dungarees but tight fitting!
Full length - Some have an integrated hoodie
Shorty - Short sleeved and short legs
There are 'skins' which are a very thin 'garment' which is either worn by itself in warm water or underneath in colder water for added protection/warmth. These also come in varying thicknesses depending on either the climate you are diving in or as in the case of some people I know who are prone to feeling the cold more than others.
Wet suits are made from a synthetic rubber called neoprene which has millions of tiny bubbles inside it which makes it a good insulator, neither letting warmth out nor cold in.
Hard wearing places like elbows, knees and shoulders have a reinforced area of normal rubber or similar to provide added protection against wear and tear.
The idea behind a suit is that it is tight fitting so that the flow of water is restricted, once water has entered the suit, your body warms that water up and thereafter keeps you warm.
I have on occasion, before going for a dive where I KNOW I am going to get cold, put my wetsuit on under a warm shower.
The plan is I will then retain the body heat rather than losing some when my body has to warm some cold sea water when I first get in! I think it works.....
Wetsuits generally come in some fairly standard thicknesses - the colder the water the thicker (obviously?) the wetsuit should be.
As I mentioned earlier, in warm tropical waters either a skin or a shorty is often fine
I have a story to share -
I feel more comfortable with a suit on. I dived in just a t-shirt and boardies (shorts) after my suit blew overboard and disappeared on a trip (yet another story!), and was hassled by a lone remora who seemed to be trying to get up my shorts! I had my camera with strobes with me so spent a few minutes flashing the strobes (and some underwater gymnastics!) at the little pest until he decided to go away. I had the dreads he would get inside my shorts and cause me some 'stress'.
The bottom line is that it can provide a certain amount of protection for your skin from abrasions and the like.
I know of a couple of people in surging conditions who have bumped against the reef and ended up with what was called 'protein poisoning', it isn't too serious, just the wound takes a lot longer to heal and can be quite painful - antibiotics seem to solve the problem, the ointment antibiotics applied to the skin seemed to be best (Hey, be warned, this isn't medical advice!)
I've gone right off the point here - back to the subject:
When you first buy a wetsuit it tends to be a little tighter than it will be after a few dives, unless you are putting on weight that is?
It is also a little more buoyant before the neoprene gets a little more worn and the bubbles compressed a little, so you may find the first couple of dives make you tend to keep bobbing on the surface like a beached wh... uh ..fish. It soon sorts itself out.
I think before you buy a wetsuit, speak to people who have their own wetsuits and see what they think, ask a few dive shops (one dive shop will likely advise you to buy the ones they have in stock rather than necessarily what you want so ask around). Also go on the web and check out the reviews posted by people. It's quite a bit of money to spend and worth taking a bit of time to find out which is going to be best for you.
Something to bear in mind - when you are underwater, the colours change so that sexy red and black suit you are eyeing out? Underwater it is a boring black and grey.
Yellow is the favourite colour for some sharks - Tiger Sharks are particularly curious about yellow :-)
Black you look like a seal - favourite food of the...... just kidding!
Anyway have fun - scuba diving equipment is my favourite (in fact only) shopping!
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