Exposure Protection – Wetsuits

So far I have only dived in wetsuits. I have never dived in a dry suit (though some of the dives I have done could have warranted a one). I currently own three wetsuits.

Cressi Playa 2.5mm Shorty
BARE 3/2mm Sport
BARE 8/7mm Velocity Semi-dry

Cressi Playa 2.5mm Shorty

Cressi Playa 2.5mm Shorty

The Cressi Playa was the first wetsuit that I have bought. Previously I had just rented a suit from the dive shop. When I had decided to move to the Bahamas the purchase of a wetsuit had been put on hold. But as I had everything but a wetsuit this was my first purchase in the Bahamas. The water temperature in August/September almost made the wetsuit superfluous but as the water cooled it became necessary. I purchased it on island and got it for more or less the USA price. So I was happy with that. It served me well on my IDC/IE, but I didn’t like the fact my knees were exposed especially when I was teaching.

BARE 3/2mm Sport

BARE 3/2mm Sport

Once the new year had rolled around and the water temperature had dropped significantly (it was still warmer than summer temps in the Med) I required something a little more. I was able to procure the BARE 3/2mm Sport from a friend. With the addition of this wetsuit, I was definitely warmer in the water and didn’t feel the cold as much but at times I would be left shivering at the end of a dive. At this time I also switched from backmount to sidemount and diving in a shorty in sidemount is just not done, so having a a full suit made it right.

BREVSD_old1

BARE 8/7mm Velocity Semi-dry

The cavern/into to cave diving courses meant that I would be diving in water that had an average temperature of around 24°C /75°F though most of my dives wouldn’t be for longer than 50 minutes. This is turned out to be fine in my BARE 3/2mm but I augmented it with a pair of Sharkskin shorts and a Lavacore t-shirt, however I was still shivering at the end of my dives. This has meant that to do the apprentice and full cave courses I would need something warmer as my dives are going to double in length. After a lengthy instruction with Brian Kakuk (my cave instructor) I opted for the BARE 8/7mm.

I have not yet started the final phase of my cave course but I have had the opportunity to try out the BARE 8/7mm in a quarry in Pennsylvania. There were several thermoclines in the quarry, but to put it simply the surface was about 27°C however at depth the water dropped to a balmy 5°C. I have to say that the water tested the limits of my wetsuit and that it did keep me nice and toasty. I am looking forward to trying it out. I’ll update soon with how it went.

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