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What Type of Drysuit?

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There are two choices in the main, either a neoprene suit, which is close fitting, or a membrane one, which is worn with a warm under suit.

Comments from the thread...
Neoprene is best... Membrane is is best...

Derek says:

Get a Neoprene suit and look like a real diver rather than a bag of potatoes tied up with string! As a fashion statement Membrane sucks, mind you it helps if you have a body worth displaying <g>

Rodger says:

Neoprene - Advantages
Warmth is in suit - no undersuit needed (or just track suit bottoms and sweat shirt if really cold)

Gordon says:

Don't forgot about crushed or compressed neoprene (which incidentally is what 95% of the O'Three suits are)

> No change in buoyancy/insulation characteristics during the dive.

Same for Crushed/Compressed Neoprene.

> Packs up small

Crushed/Compressed Neoprene is better than ordinary neoprene, but not as good as membrane, admittedly.

> Inside dries within minutes (except the boots ;-))

This depends on the suit coating, but generally my MSF O'Three dries very quickly. (*much* quicker than my old DUI crushed neoprene did!) Of-course the trick is to get a suit which doesn't leak, so you don't need to dry out the inside ;-)

> Repairs easy with cycle repair kit.

Same for Crushed/Compressed Neoprene, but yes, you do have to wait until it's dry.

One thing you didn't mention - if you do get a leak in a neoprene suit, then the suit can act like a wetsuit and give you some insulation, not a lot, but it's better than nothing.

> Very comfortable on surface.

Same for Crushed/Compressed Neoprene.

> Thermal quality can be varied by changing the undersuit.

Same for Crushed/Compressed Neoprene.

> Membrane - Disadvantages You need an undersuit.

Same for Crushed/Compressed Neoprene. But, depending on the drysuit material you might not needs as much insulation as a membrane.

> You also have the dilemma of neoprene or latex seals.

Same for Crushed/Compressed Neoprene. I was an advocate of latex seals until I got my O'Three - their neoprene wrist and neck seals are very flexible and much warmer than a latex seal, but different suit makers use different grades of neoprene - phone them and ask for samples!

You can wash the inside as easily as the outside. No real magic. I used to do my DUI once a year with some wet-suit shampoo. Not done my O'Three - yet. The pong factor is more likely when you aren't wearing a modern undersuit, which I suspect is more likely with a full neoprene suit rather than a crushed or compressed neoprene suit - I bet your thinsulate would get a bit 'high' if you didn't wash it remember, there's neoprene and crushed or compressed neoprene which are entirely different beasts. Good suit.

Manufacturers ought to be able to send you a sample of their material through the post, so don't be afraid to call them and ask for a sample, and using that and the "advice" you get here, be able to make a better choice before you pay your money!

Gordon says:

You probably want a crushed neoprene drysuit (assuming you've ruled out membranes)

It's won't compress with depth, so the suit buoyancy won't change. Neither will it's thermal characteristics, and you can vary the undersuits to suit - maybe in Bermuda all you'll need under it might be T-shirt and shorts to absorb any condensation/sweat in the summer, or a lightweight thinsulate in winter.

It'll also be less bulky in the shallows - if you are demonstrating various diving techniques (assuming you mean teaching by working rather than welding a pipeline!)

What I've found kills neoprene is exposure to sun and letting salt water dry on them. The salt crystals eventually tear the neoprene - so get it rinsed in fresh as soon as possible.

Nigel says:

Nobody in their right mind buys a neoprene dry suit. They were wonderful in their day. Almost dry, almost warm, a great leap forward for divers. Sigh. Nostalgia.

The whole problem sums up in the material. You don't use squishy stuff to keep water out. Now they tried to improve it by compressing it or crushing it but all that does is make it thinner and flatter. Why not spot the trend and use something that is thin and flat in the first place. A water proof membrane. Yes I said water proof - a novel idea to Neoprene dry suit users.

Neoprene makes bad seals. They always leak. Not much if they're tight I grant you but always. Latex, as used on membrane suits, leaks once and then only if you ignore the obvious signs of age. Then you change it.

Neoprene does nor wear well. Just look at the divers in their neoprene suits for crying out loud. Worn, tatty, bits pealing off. They look like they came from the diving equivalent of a high street charity shop and they're just a year old. They have a high grip surface so everything tugs at them and flakes another bit off, not to mention what salt does to them.

Neoprene is not warm. This is a myth put about by people ashamed to admit they bought a turkey. However since they seep water what you wear under them does not make much difference so you grin and bear it. I tend to get too hot in the membrane because I take fright at signs saying 4°C and wear too much. That's my fault not a criticism of the membrane suit. If I get out wet I'm sweating.

So what about the smears put about on membrane suits? If it floods you get cold. True. If it floods you get cold. If. Neoprene users know all about floods so they worry about them. My suit floods if I'm dumb enough to leave the zip open. I don't need to worry about floods because you didn't make that mistake twice. (Don't ask.)

You always have to wear something under them? Exactly. Your call. It's warm? T-shirt and knickers. It's cold? Tracksuit, thinsulate and two pairs of socks.

Neoprene is lovely stuff for a semi. Cheap and cheerful. It goes scruffy a bit soon but you can afford to bin it often enough. I have one. Rakish Italian cut. Wow. Quite the dive god. (sigh)

Be serious. Diving is supposed to be fun. You don't have to be cold. You don't have to be wet. Get real. Get a dry dry suit.

Jon says:

After doing 60 + wet dives in poor shop membranes (the burning of the old suit was much enjoyed), when offered a suit as a pressy I leaped at a neo. I was interested to find out years later that in America they (apparently) can not sell neo.'s as a dry suit, but as a NEARLY DRY. Says it all really. if you want 100% dry, don't buy a neo, unless you have latex seals.

Rodger says:

Neoprene - Disadvantages

  • Compresses at depth, this means the deeper you go the colder you get, and you need more air in suit/BC to compensate for this making buoyancy control a little more difficult.
  • Bulky to pack.
  • If it gets wet inside it stays wet inside.
  • Suit has to be dry to effect repairs (Black Witch, needle and thread) and the repair takes ages to 'take'
  • Quite restricting to wear on surface.
Membrane - Advantages
  • No change in buoyancy/insulation characteristics during the dive.
  • Packs up small
  • Inside dries within minutes (except the boots)
  • Repairs easy with cycle repair kit.
  • Very comfortable on surface.
  • Thermal quality can be varied by changing the undersuit.
Membrane - Disadvantages
  • You need an undersuit.
  • You also have the dilemma of neoprene or latex seals. I use neoprene neck seal (nice and warm and lasts ages) and replaceable (1 minute) latex cuffs (Polar Bear).
I dived Neoprene for twelve years, and got converted to membrane four years ago. I shall not go back.

Hugh says:

One of the reasons (actually, the main one!) I stopped using a neoprene suit was because it was so uncomfortable to wear all day. I used to get terrible friction burns inside my elbows and behind my knees. And it was a pig to get in and out of.

Lazarus X says:

I sent my (neoprene) suit back and they pressure tested it. When it came back they said that when the right pocket was put on they popped some of the bubbles in the neoprene causing a leak. They did of course agree to replace the suit but they hadn't got any in stock hence the wait.

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