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wetsuit in Monterey, CA

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by smolderinglime, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. smolderinglime

    smolderinglime Angel Fish

    Cold pacific waters in good old Monterey California. When I was getting my cert I used a 7mm john and jane rental and felt pretty cold at 60 feet. I need to get my own wetsuit for my school club. I've been browsing online, and I was wondering if the super duper 7mm one pieces with layering works? Or is it better to go with a 7mm john and jane? Dry suit is too much $$$ for my poor student wallet. I know a million people have asked this question and I've tried searching, so if someone can direct me to an answer I'd greatly appreciate it!
  2. SwimJim

    SwimJim Manta Ray

    I spent a month and a half diving Monterey back in 1980. Unless things have dramaticly changed the coldest water I ran into was about fifty. A properly fitting 7MM would do for that, unless your doing extended range diving of some sort. For a suit whether wet or dry I would go brick and mortor LDS. Yes, you will pay more, but fit is critical so its worth being able to try the suit on that your going to buy.
    That's a really cool area your diving in. I would like to go back some day and spend some time in the kelp forests. I was there before the aquarium was built. I would like to see that too. Have fun.

  3. melfox26

    melfox26 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tracy, CA
    Perhaps this thread belongs in the NorCal section of the board? Mods?

    I dive Monterey almost every weekend, albeit in a drysuit with argon. ;)

    If you were cold during your cert class with a 7 mm farmer john/step-in combo then a 7 mm fullsuit isn't going to fit your needs being that the combo essentially put 14 mm of neoprene over your torso and you were still cold. You certainly don't want to go down in wetsuit thickness.

    You also have to realize that since you were in your cert class, you probably spent quite a bit of time doing skills, etc. under water, kneeling or hovering near the bottom, right? You weren't moving around during that time so you weren't generating any heat, just dropping your core body temp.

    I'd give the 7 mm farmer john/step-in a couple more tries in local water. As said in the previous post, make sure it's well fitting. You know, there are "cheaper" drysuit choices available, even second hand ones on Ebay. For you, diving locally or not may come down to buying a drysuit. It certainly did for me, I couldn't dive here if I didn't have one.

  4. StSomewhere

    StSomewhere Loggerhead Turtle

    I saw lots of 7mm wetsuits at Breakwater when I was there last fall. With a relatively new 7/6mm I didn't think the water temps were a problem, but I agree that it sounds like it may not work for you. I would personally dive dry there if I had a drysuit (still on my list of stuff to get).
  5. fdog

    fdog ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    As someone who dives Monterey just about every other month, a custom 7mm semi-dry with a 5mm core warmer is tolerable for about 3 months a year, at the end of summer.

    It can be done. Buuuut....

    If you're serious, get a dry suit. A good off-the-rack dry suit, on sale, is about what you'd spend on a custom wetsuit.

    All the best, James
  6. Wristshot

    Wristshot Manta Ray

    For what it is worth, the key phrase in this entire thread is Jim's comment about "properly fitting".

    When I was first certified in Monterey, I used various rental units, 7mm 2-piece. Eventually I found a rental john that fit reasonably well, but none of the tops ever seemed to fit right. If the chest fit, the arms didn't and vice-versa. A loose fitting wetsuit allows for too much water exchange, and that means the water that your body warmed goes out and cold water comes in. You are constantly feeling cold water against your body, and you are expending a bunch of extra energy trying to heat the ocean.

    When I decided to make the financial plunge and buy everything, I opted for a custom wetsuit to ensure that it would fit everywhere. It does fit, and it has worked very well. My gloves still exchange water whenever I make a fist, but oh well. My lips are the only things that freeze now. My custom wetsuit cost about 30 - 50% more than a comparable off-the-shelf wetsuit.

    The other side of the coin is my buddy. He bought a Henderson Gold Core 7mm 2 piece wetsuit, and he loves it. He swears that the lining makes it slide on real easy, and he says that he doesn't get cold at all.

    I replaced my Mares cold water gloves with the Henderson Gold Core gloves, and they certainly do go on a LOT easier.

    My plan is to save up for a good drysuit because I believe that it will increase my enjoyment of local diving. In the meantime, I dive wet when I dive Monterey.

    Hope that helps.


    PS: Interesting comments from fdog were posted while I was typing.
    =>The drysuits that I have seen have been 2 to 3 times the cost of my custom wetsuit. ($611 in ~May 2002)
    =>Also from my limited experience diving in Monterey, the warmest months (water temps) are in the winter, and the coldest in the late spring and summer.
    53 in January 2002
    50-51 in March 2003 Carmel
    50-51 in April 2005 Pt Lobos
    48 in May 2002
    48-49 in May 2003 Carmel
    50-51 in August 2001
    53 in November 2001
    57 in November 2001 Carmel
    52-53 in Oct 2002

    Again, you take this with a grain of salt because there are so few data points, but my experience has been different than his.

  7. Jim Ernst

    Jim Ernst Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Sacramento CA
    ahhhh, one thing here to consider guys, the wet suits they use as rentals for your cert dive are CHEAP!!! i bought one (same type as rental) after my cert, and soon found i was cold in it, latter down the road i got a new one piece 7mm tri polor density EXCEL and wow what a differance, remember the rentals are cheap and have cheap neopreen, i also dive monterey on a bi-weekly habit, i use my excel one piece and am fine for about an hour and fifteen mintue dives 30-60 ft. oh and yes i am a huge COLD wimp!! just my input here!!!
  8. minamin13

    minamin13 Dive Equipment Manufacturer

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: SF Bay Area
    I wear a one piece 7-6-5 mm wet suit over a 7 mm hooded, sleeveless vest. I don't have severe cold issues when diving in Monterey, and I am sensitive to the cold.

    Although with this configuration you are wearing less neoprene than on the farmer john with jacket configuration, the one piece with the layering option can be just as warm, if not warmer. This is because when you wear a one-piece over the hooded vest, you have less holes for the warmed up water to escape from. If you wear the vest over the one-piece, all bets are off.

    Might I also add that the one-piece is much better looking from a fashion stand point?
  9. smolderinglime

    smolderinglime Angel Fish

    Well, the suit was a bit big on me and old. I'm tall 5'11.5" and female, so the taller the suits get the wider they seem to get. I suppose I should get something custom made, but I haven't got a whole lot of money to spend. I really want to layer, as opposed to getting john and jane.
  10. --tom--

    --tom-- Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Silicon Valley
    The reason I'm not going after the "layer effect" argument has a lot to do with the way a wetsuit works. If the suit is not very form fitting, it allow too much water to move past your skin, robbing more heat from you than your body can replace, so you get cold.

    That's why many divers talk about custom suits, many of us are not the body type that off-the-rack suits are made for. The custom suit will help tremendously.

    The other option is extremely stretchy suits that mold to your body better. I chose a Henderson Hyperstretch Titanium that works well for me. It is 7mm for the suit with a vest with a hood, the vest is 3mm with a 5mm hood. I get cold when the temp gets to about 48F. This is with about 100 dives in Monterey in the last year and a half. Henderson isn't the only brand that uses the ultra-stretchy material, Xcel also has a line of suits made for similar (if not the same) material.

    By using a thinner, better fitting wetsuit I was also able to shed 6 pounds off of my weight belt because wetsuit material is very bouyant, while staying just as warm.

    After all of that, I also wear a lycra skin suit under the wet suit that helps me to put on the suit a little easier. The skin suit also has a pad that runs down my spine and I think I feel warmer because of thet.

    I hope this helps, see you at Breakwater sometime.

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