A few months ago I signed up for the PADI Dry Suit Diver class because I wanted to try diving a Dry Suit – go figure! I wasn’t sure what the differences were, other than it takes you twice as long to get in them and you supposedly stay warmer. Here’s what I learned:
- Buoyancy is very different, as such so is the feeling of being in the suit.
- Because the suit is filled with air, when you move through the water, the air moves around and can cause squeezes in the legs or chest.
- When underwater you don’t adjust your BCD’s buoyancy, you adjust the buoyancy of the dry suit. Only at the surface do you adjust your BCD’s buoyancy.
- Dry Suits are much much more expensive but they last a lot longer (the cost per dive can be less). A wetsuit costs anywhere between $200 and $600 while dry suits cost anywhere between $700 and $5000 depending on materials and accessories.
- Dry Suits are not warmer while you are in the water!
- Dry Suits protect your body from cooling off too quickly by keeping air in between you and the suit instead of water which transfers heat away from your body fast than air.
- The real benefit of a dry suit comes when you are on multiple dives in one day. You stay the same warmth through out the diving experience, unlike a wetsuit in which you get consistently colder after each dive.
- Dry Suits are a little bit dryer but you can still get wet. You can still have water leak into the suit and you will most likely sweat while dry suit diving.
- Cleanup is a little more involved with the Dry Suit but not much more than a wetsuit.
- Dry Suits, seals and under garments take a lot longer to get in and out of than traditional wetsuits.
I’m sure you are curious. Is it really necessary to take a Dry Suit class just to be able to use one? Well, no. But it does make you a lot more comfortable.
Here’s how the class goes down: The first day you basically learn how to put a dry suit, undergarments and seals on. Oh it takes a while. You also learn how to cut new seals / adjust existing ones. The dry suit rental is usually included in the class! The second meeting is a pool session where you put on your dry suit, booties (rock booties), hood, mask, etc. and play with your buoyancy in a pool. Again it takes some getting used to. Lastly you go diving in the ocean! It’s just that simple.