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bcd or wet/drysuit first?

Discussion in 'Diving Into New Gear' started by sf8193, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. sf8193

    sf8193 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: san francisco
    Hey All,

    I'm looking to buy my first bp/w or wet/drysuit soon. I can't decide which to get.

    With a bcd I would be able to use it in 95 percent of conditions that I'd be diving in, and even if I couldn't, might need to switch the wing out if I'm doing some really cold water dives. With bcd I would also be able to rely on my equipment rather than random dive shops. It would be consistent.

    Having said all that, all the articles I see online say first to buy a wetsuit. I can't understand why, especially since they are so specific to temperatures. If I buy a 5mm for one trip, I very well could need to buy a 7mm and 3 for others. That's mildly frustrating for me.

    Are there reasons I'm missing for buying a bcd over wetsuit first?
  2. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    A wetsuit keeps you warm if it fits well. If it doesn’t fit you well, a lot of water can flush in and out. Being cold on a dive sucks. The colder the water, the more important this is.

    If you can only get 1 wetsuit, I find the 5mm to be the workhorse for a lot more conditions unless you are using it for cold water locally. I say skip the 3. I have a 3, 5, and an 8/7 semidry. The 8/7 is for local Northern California or cold water diving. I have yet to be hot in a 5mm even in tropical water and it’s nice for repetitive diving where your core starts to cool. After a while it compresses down and it’s not truly a 5. If you need more warmth, add on some Sharkskin/Lavacore or a vest/hooded vest. It can be quite versatile.

    My 3 gets used the least.
    laikabear and chillyinCanada like this.
  3. Orestis82

    Orestis82 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Denmark
    Depends on what the alternatives are, how much does it cost to rent, selection available, how easy it is to find a wetsuit that fits etc.
  4. Neilwood

    Neilwood Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Scotland
    The correct answer is - it depends.

    What type of diving will you do most? Warm water or cold? For cold water diving a drysuit is hard to beat. For warm water, you can get by with a thicker suit than absolutely needed but trying to use a thinner suit will cause you problems. This is because you can cool a hot suit down by holding the neck open and flushing it (or pouring a cup of cool water down it if still on the boat) but too thin a suit will never stay warm enough and there is no way to warm it once you have started a dive. Did a liveaboard (water temps about 23-25C, air temps approx 30C) where some people were using shorts and rash vest while others were in with 7mm suits. No one complained about being too hot or cold.

    Another issue particularly with wetsuits is are you happy to use a suit that someone else has dived and potentially peed in? I didn't have an issue with it when i rented because I knew the shop thoroughly cleaned all suits after use.

    BCD/ BP&W- How happy are you using different equipment everytime you dive? I bought my BP&W after only about 8 dives - I just hated the squeeze of a jacket BCD. I was lucky as I could afford the whole lot at once.
    ibj40 and Marie13 like this.
  5. Barnaby'sDad

    Barnaby'sDad ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Virginia
    Wetsuit. I bought that first (after mask, fins, and snorkel) and I’m glad I did that. I’d rather not pay to rent something that dozens of people have pissed in.

    My other concern was finding a wetsuit that fits. Having your own wetsuit takes that concern off the table.

    You can show up anywhere and rent a BC that you can live with for a few dives. Depending on your body type...that may or may not be the case for a wetsuit.
    Lorenzoid likes this.
  6. KWS

    KWS ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SE TEXAS
    building a kit is a step by step process. one item dictates the specs of the next. for instance my dry suit (shell) needs one wing type for singles and another for doubles. Not becasue of the obvious of dingles or doubles but the amount of lead carried and where. different suits have different lift ,, they require different lead amounts to carry. If you use a weight belt then you will need a wing or BCD that has a lot of lift at the waist. The amount and location needed will certainly dictate what BCD you get. The wet suit and its lift locations/forces will decide whether you need light or heavy fins. You could find that a BCD will not work for you at all and you need a BPW. Then there is the question of steel or AL tanks. Any way it is not a simple task to guesss the right combination. the last thing you want to do is to buy gear to counter the mistakes from the last purchace.
  7. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Assuming you've done those 25-49 dives in rental gear, how did that work out for you? I take it you would have mentioned if you'd had trouble renting stuff that fits. Are you drysuit certified? I'm not, but that seems like a thing people usually buy rather than rent. Do you own any other gear? I bought a computer before I bought either a wetsuit or BCD, and that was the right decision for me, as it's the most portable and most varied (therefore most stressful dealing with an unfamiliar model.)
  8. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    I'd have to agree with buying the suit first. I did the opposite for some reason, buying the BCD here in Canada while getting my OW and used wetsuit shortly after in Florida. You really need both anyway if only to eliminate continual rental costs.
    My 7 mil farmer john suits me well in most places. If the water temp. is above 65 and air is like 80+ I'll go right to my shorty.
    At times I've just used the top to the farmer john and bare lower legs. Trim not the greatest that way, but I've done it with 60+ water and hot air.
  9. Satrekker

    Satrekker Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Clearwater, FL
    Buy the wetsuit first instead of the bcd. Also, I'd look at buying a dive computer and even regs before a bcd, especially if you travel for most of your diving. Also, check out a bpw before pulling trigger on bcd if you aren't familiar with them. GL
  10. Aviyes

    Aviyes Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Utah
    Wetsuit made so much of a difference. Also, I require the Tall sizes for my skinny 6'2" height, which are never carried by dive shops/LOBs. But, you may get lucky with a well fitting rental if you find yourself in the standard S/M/L/XL size requirements.

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