Wetsuit 101


As we have said before in our Get Your Gear On post, a wetsuit that fits well and suits your diving needs should probably be the first piece of scuba gear that you purchase. Wetsuits are designed to keep you warm and comfortable for a more enjoyable diving experience.

There are several varieties of wetsuits that you can purchase. Basically, the two categories include wetsuits and dry or semi-dry suits for scuba diving. 

Wetsuits are generally used in warmer water and work by sealing the water between the suit and the diver’s body. The water is heated by the body to keep the diver warm and comfortable.


The three main types of wetsuits include:


1. Shorty Wetsuits

A shorty wetsuit is used for scuba diving in tropical settings with water temperature above 81 degrees F (27 degrees C). The shorty features short sleeves and short legs that come just above the knees. You can also wear a shorty while enjoyng other water sports such as surfing, snorkelling, water skiing, and paddleboarding.

Shorty Wetsuit

2. Full Wetsuits

A full wetsuit is a one piece wetsuit that covers the arms and legs entirely. This wetsuit works well from Spring through Autumn and for divers who have longer periods of exposure in the water.


3. Long John Wetsuit

The Long John Wetsuit is a two-piece suit with one piece being a sleeveless top and full length bottom and a jacket for the second piece.  Long Johns are ideal for very cold water due to the insulation layering. They are often worn by both scuba divers, free divers, and surfers in cold water situations.

Long John

NOTE:  Most wetsuits are made out of neoprene in different thicknesses for various water sports and activities.  You will want to choose the thickness according to the water temperatures that you will encounter.

For diving wetsuits, here are some guidelines for choosing the right thickness:

2 mm: above 85°F (29 °C)
3 mm: 70 – 85°F (21- 28 °C)
5 mm: 60 – 70°F (16 – 20 °C)
7 mm: 50 – 70°F (10 – 20 °C)


The dry/semi-dry suit is a full suit with inner seals at the wrists and ankles to reduce or eliminate possible water flowing into the suit. They keep the diver warm and dry in extremely cold water and are usually thicker and more restrictive.


Remember, it is very important to have a well-fitting suit for diving. Always follow size chart guidelines when purchasing your wet or dry suit.

Below are a few suggestions for wetsuits:

Henderson Thermoprene Shorty – 3mm


U.S. Divers Adult Shorty -2 mm


NeoSport Premium Shorty – 3 mm






O’Neill Reactor Full Suit – 3-2 mm


Xcel Thermoflex Full Suit – 3 mm


Hyperflex Amp3 Front Zip Full Suit – 4-3 mm


Bare Elastek Full Suit – 7 mm


We have only shown the above suggestions in Men’s models but, please be aware, you can also find them in Women’s, Youth’s, and even Toddler’s sizes. There may also be different colors and thicknesses available but we have only featured limited examples.


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