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Under suit recommendations for cold water wetsuit diving

Discussion in 'Exposure Suits' started by Didje, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Didje

    Didje Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Montreal, Canada
    278
    8
    18
    Hey guys,

    As fall is upon us, I’m looking for something to keep me warmer, and a dry suit is out of the question (can’t afford it). I currently own a Bare Elastek 7mm full suit with a 7mm hooded vest. Water temps will hit mid to low 40’s pretty soon brrrrrrrrr.

    Do any of you have experience wearing some sort of under suit with wetsuits to keep you warmer?
    Any brand/model recommendations?

    Thanks.
     
  2. pcheney

    pcheney Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Canada
    32
    0
    0
    Dove Tobermory (39 F) last week. Wore an O'Neil 7 mm with an old 1.5 mm shorty underneath. Worked pretty well. The O'Neill has welded seams, which makes a big difference.
     
  3. MichelG

    MichelG Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Goleta, CA
    67
    8
    0
    When I was diving wet, I used Akona socks in my wet boots and it made a difference, my feet would take longer to get cold in the 40's.

    Maybe it would work with a skin suit.
     
    Didje likes this.
  4. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    10,142
    8,200
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    Wetsuits are all about the thinnest possible layer of water between you and your [-]skin[/-] suit and minimizing water circulation. A cotton T for example might reduce circulation in a poor fitting suit but adds water volume that your body must heat.

    You didn’t mention depth. Suit compression has a huge impact due to reduced insulation value. There are higher density materials available for custom suits but are harder to locate. The warmest cut for a wetsuit is a farmer with no-zip pull-over jacket and an attached hood typical of freedivers. Unfortunately, the split-cell material used on better freediving suits does not hold up well to prolonged compression that Scuba divers require.

    The warmest suit will probably be custom cut to your dimensions, following the pattern of a freedivers’ suit, skin-in/nylon out, and made from a neoprene suitable for Scuba. Use a highly diluted solution of liquid hand soap or hair conditioner in a spray bottle to lube the suit for entry. You will slide into an otherwise impossible to don suit easier than a pair of blue jeans.

    Beyond that is a drysuit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
    Ouvea and Didje like this.
  5. Ouvea

    Ouvea Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: CA, USA
    722
    146
    43
    If by undersuit, you mean a polartec type of suit, then don't waste your time or money. They simply DO NOT work. Remember the function of your wetsuit. It limits the amount of water in direct contact with your skin and insulates your body from the surrounding water. A polartec will soak in additional water within your wetsuit. The additional amount of water will draw heat from your body, which you need.

    If you wish to remain with a wetsuit, then focus instead on using a suit and vest made with a compression resistant neoprene, such as Rubatex. You could try wearing an additional vest and see if this helps. Honestly, at low 40's 14mm of neoprene will not suffice. At 60-80 feet, your suit will compress to 3mm and you will be extremely cold. Even we, who dive drysuits, would not attempt to dive in 40 degree water without heavy undergarments.
     
  6. USCScubaboy

    USCScubaboy Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Madison, Wi
    379
    10
    0
    Just a thought... Instead of going for another layer, why not go for a few reusable heat packs?
     
    Didje likes this.
  7. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    22,171
    2,772
    113
    The best tip I can give you is dive naked under your wetsuit and pour warm (not hot) water in to fill the suit before you go in. Three finger mits and knee high booties are also nice.
     
    Didje likes this.
  8. Ouvea

    Ouvea Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: CA, USA
    722
    146
    43
    I've actually tried using heatpacks. Although good in thought, they don't work as well. The problem with heat pack is heat distribution. The only part of your body that will be warm is the area in direct contact with the heat pack. I've used the hourglass shaped heat pack that is orange in color and that is strapped around your waste. I also had two smaller ones as well. It didn't make a difference in how I felt nor did it increase my bottom time (warmth limited my bottom time, not tank volume).
     
  9. Didje

    Didje Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Montreal, Canada
    278
    8
    18
    A female friend recommended I try wearing pantyhose under my wetsuit. I am tempted to try it!
     
  10. Hashime

    Hashime Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Southern Ontario
    500
    56
    28
    There is really no way past a certain depth (depends on your tolerance). I can dive all the wrecks in toby with my 7mm farmer john + 3 finger mitts, but only for a little while. At 34m I can last 25 minutes before getting really cold. At 40m that is even shorter. If you want to stay warm you possibly add more layers (which will still compress, you will need much more lead) or you can go dry.
    So, in short, you can do a few things to last longer underwater, but at depth while wet you will get cold.
     
    Didje likes this.

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