Wetsuits are a scuba divers primary source of protection from the underwater environment. Used primarily for warmth the wetsuit also protects the diver from abrasions due to accidental contact with the reef or underwater objects, or from contact with marine life. The complete Wet Suit Package would include the wet suit in addition to a hood or beanie, boots, and gloves. See more
Wetsuits are made of neoprene, a porous foam rubber containing literally millions of tiny bubbles. This material is an excellent insulator because it places a barrier of nitrogen bubbles between your body and the surrounding water. A thin layer of water will enter and it is quickly warmed to body temperature. As you dive deeper the neoprene compresses due to the pressures the diver experiences. These pressures make the suit become looser thus allowing for more water to enter the suit and lessens the insulating value of the material.
A wetsuit must fit snugly if it is to be an effective at keeping you warm. See How to fit your Wetsuit like a pro.
Like air temperature, water temperatures through out the world are different in winter than they are in summer, varying as much as 20 degrees. In Caribbean the water temperature can be in the 80’s in the summer, six months later the water temperature can be in the low 70’s.
Women tend to get colder easier than men. This is because women tend to have more surface area (curves) then men do. If a couple is traveling together it will almost always make more sense for the woman to have a warmer suit than a man would to the same destination at the same time of year.
If in doubt, always buy a wetsuit slightly warmer than your needs. If your wetsuit is keeping you too warm you can always let water in to cool you down, but if you are cold during a dive there is not much you can do except stop diving.
For Scuba diving or snorkeling in such areas as: Florida, Texas, Cozumel, Bonaire, Cayman, Belize, Hawaii, Sea of Cortez, Northern Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, Sipidan, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, Seychelles, the Mediterranean and warm waters throughout the world.
Suits are typically thinner and used as much for protection from exposure to the environment (sun, abrasion, etc) as warmth. The gloves are thin sometimes lycra backed with a palm for gripping boat ladders and underwater equipment such as cameras. Even though most of a divers heat loss is via the head, it’s also a very easy place to keep warm, so hoods are often Lycra or thin beanies. Boots are designed to protect the feet from rocky entries or to reduce the chafing in a full foot fin.
For Scuba diving or snorkeling in such areas as: California, Oregon, Washington, New York, the Great Lakes, New England states, Northern Europe and colder waters throughout the world.
For cooler times of the year, deeper diving or extended dive vacations:
These wet suits are primarily for warmth in extreme conditions first and protection from the environment second. The boots, gloves and hood are thicker neoprene with the hood having a skirt that is designed to tuck into the wetsuit to reduce water flow and add isolative value.