Re: Newbie questions about dry suits

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Posted by brianc on November 17, 2000 at 12:40:21:

In Reply to: Newbie questions about dry suits posted by msblucow on November 17, 2000 at 11:38:09:

I've only been diving dry for about a year, so others here have lots more experience, but hey I'm not doing too well on the work-motivation thing this Friday, so here's what I can offer.

How does a drysuit work? (how does it seal and keep you warm)
Insulation, whether from a dry or wet suit comes from air - other gases can be used with a dry suit, such as argon. (Neoprene has bubbles of air in the rubber.) Air conducts heat much more slowly than does water. Dry suits allow users to use undergarments that help to retain heat by trapping air. A diver can add air to maintain the undergarments' ability to trap air - maintain loft. Out here, I wear a polypro jumpsuit as a base. That wicks away moisture from my skin. I have a fleece jumpsuit over that.
Seals, made of latex or neoprene provide, tight, hopefully waterproof, openings at the neck and wrists. Putting your head through a new neck seal is like being re-born (push, push...).

What are the different options? (materials, off-the-rack vs. custom, etc.)
There are options available in both material and fit.
Basically dry suits are made of crushed neoprene or are shell suits made of differeing materials.
I have not used a crushed neoprene dry suit, so this is all second hand info. I have been told that one great advantage is the closer fit gives much less drag relative to shell suits. Neoprene does seems to take a lot longer than shell suits to dry. I do not know how much flexibility there is in adding layers under a neoprene dry suit.
Shell suits can be made of tri-lam or other combinations of materials. Mine is an other. Shell suits can be like diving in a garbage bag if they are too big. I like the ability to vary undergarments for different temps. I have been comfortable off Carmel during a cold water upwelling and in Florida springs (72 F).
Suits are available off-the-rack or custom. Mine was custom made for someone who happened to have the same measurements (except for my big feet and I swapped the boots for free). I got it new when the original person backed out of the deal.

What's the learning curve? Do I need to take a class?
Expect it to take 10 - 20 dives to be as comfortable as you are diving in a wetsuit. I would recommend a class. There are emergencies that are unique to dry suits.

What should I expect to pay?
How much do you have?
I paid $950 for mine, but I knew someone who knew some one... I got it for cost, minus the original orderer's deposit!

How difficult are they to maintain and repair?
After a dive trip, I go through a three day ritual to clean and store my suit. It involves a toothbrush, wax, food grade silicone, and not putting my car in the garage or using my clothes dryer until I store my suit in another room.

What do folks out there recommend - what are your favorite suits, and why?
This is where I back out.

Man, I always feel like I'm writing an essay for grad school when I post to this board!

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