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Wetsuit vs Drysuit: What’s Really Best for You?

Written by Colin Kint

The majority of wetsuits are made from neoprene so that they fit tightly against the skin and retain heat. A drysuit looks more like a large bag with holes for legs, arms, and head. Depending on the model, there may be gaskets at the ends of the legs, sleeves, and at the head/neck opening to keep water out.

A wetsuit and a dry suit are equally valuable in the water sports world, but they have different functions. Wet suits and dry suits are mixed in a variety of sports for optimal performance and comfort, and they serve different purposes.

Here’s how wetsuits and drysuits differ!

Wetsuit

Wetsuit

Features

  • A thin coating of water acts as an insulator to keep you warm
  • Watersuits are commonly worn by surfers, paddlers, divers, and snorkelers
  •  Help improve swimming ability with buoyancy

Pros

  • Putting on and taking off wetsuits is easier

Cons

  • They lose their comfort if worn for an extended period

Drysuit

Drysuit

Features

  • Drysuits are available in several different materials
  • Drysuits typically feature a zipper running across one shoulder to the opposite hip
  • Gaskets on drysuits are rubber or neoprene

Pros

  • You can layer clothing under drysuits
  • Can withstand extremely cold temperatures
  • Keeps your body dry

Cons

  • Can be difficult to put on or take off
  • Drysuits are bulky and heavy.
  • Air must be removed from your suit before getting into the water

Wetsuit vs Drysuit: How Do They Differ?

1. Design

Wetsuit

In a wetsuit, tiny bubbles of gas are surrounded by the closed-cell foam material.

The suit lets a small amount of water pass through as soon as you dive into the water, which forms a thin layer between you and the suit

Drysuit

It is fully waterproof, with a wrist seal, neck seal, and waterproof zippers, ensuring your body stays dry at all times. The fit of dry suits is looser than wet suits, allowing for additional layers of clothing underneath.

Winner

The drysuit has a neck seal and waterproof zippers so you remain dry. There is also plenty of room available to add layers for warmth.

2. Material

Wetsuit

Neoprene is the most common material used in wetsuits, and you can expect a quality suit to last for years.

Drysuits

Drysuits are classified as either trilaminate or neoprene.

Winner

Both use the neoprene material, which Is very hard-wearing, warm, and lasts when you care for it properly.

3. Comfort

Wetsuits

Wetsuits fit so tightly that, as a result, they tend to make underwater movement smoother and more comfortable.

Drysuit

If made of a heavier material, they tend to be bulkier and can cause drag underwater

Winner

The wetsuit is much better in this situation because you can move easier underwater. On the other hand, drysuits can drag and are harder to move with bagginess.

4. Thickness

Wetsuit

Generally speaking, wet suits come in three thicknesses: 7 mm, 5 mm, and 3 mm. After this, you need extra undergarments or swap to dry suits. It will allow you to move more freely, but it will also provide less buoyancy and warmth.

Drysuit

Drysuits are really just super-thick wetsuits that have been compressed or crushed. As a result of compression, the diving suit is waterproof, and reduces the changes in buoyancy caused by descending and ascending.

Winner

Drysuits are thicker than wetsuits. For a suit with a thickness greater than 7mm, a dry suit is recommended.

5. Protection

Wetsuits

Wetsuits are available that cover the whole body or that only cover the torso and legs.  A hood, jacket, or vest can be added to protect from the elements. Several different types and thicknesses of wetsuits are available to match the water conditions, and the sun’s rays are blocked off as well

Drysuit

These offer passive thermal insulation so water cannot penetrate them. Those who work or play in or around cold water, such as divers, boaters, and water sports enthusiasts, wear drysuits. Besides the head and hands, a drysuit protects the entire body, and you also become protected from the sun’s rays.

Winner

Both suits offer sun protection. The drysuit protects the whole body, but the wetsuit also has added protection that you can buy. The drysuit is better If you don’t want to wear the extra protection that you would need with a wetsuit.

6. Warmth

Wetsuit

The wearer’s body heats the water layer in a wetsuit in order to aid in body insulation,

Drysuit

A drysuit uses air and a full seal to keep water out and skin dry.

Winner

The latter is more efficient in this case since water conducts heat twenty times better than air.

7. Buoyancy

Wetsuit

As far as buoyancy is concerned, diving with wetsuits is much easier. Since the water pressure increases the deeper you go, the wetsuit compresses.

Drysuit

In contrast, the drysuit attaches to your body using compressed air. Considering that you control how much air gets into this suit, neutral buoyancy is difficult to achieve in such a suit.

Winner

The wetsuit is better for buoyancy as it will compress as you get deeper. The drysuit is more complicated as you have to maintain the neutral buoyancy yourself, which can take a while to perfect.

8. Safety

Wetsuits

Wetsuits may assist with flotation, but they don’t provide it outright. You can float in a wetsuit during any activity, and they will also protect you from scratches and abrasions

Drysuits

Drysuits protect the wearer from the elements by insulating  and excluding water

Winner

The drysuit is best as it is thicker and offers safety against sticks or things sticking up in the water. It also keeps water out completely, so the cold water risk is non-existence.

9. Longevity

Wetsuits

Depending on how often you use them, wetsuits should last about 4 to 10 years from a good manufacturer. However, when buying a cheaper brand of wet suit, parts like zippers may stop working after only one or two seasons.

Drysuits

If properly maintained, drysuits should also last you at least 10 years, or even longer. When using your drysuit, be sure to take care of it. Getting into and out of a drysuit can damage the suit’s most critical components–its seals and zipper.

Winner

Both the dry suit and wet suits can last about the same amount of time depending on the use and how well you look after them.

10. Pricing

Wetsuits

Wetsuits typically cost over $100 to over $1000 each. They can be a big investment.

 Drysuit

You will probably need at least $500 to buy a drysuit for kayaking; top models can cost several thousand dollars.

Winner

You could likely buy two good-quality wetsuits for the same amount of money.

11. Maintenance cost

Wetsuits

Wetsuits only require that you rinse them properly for maintenance. However, you may need a zip replacement here and there.

Drysuit

The drysuit repair involves replacing boots and socks, patching leaks, and replacing zippers.

 Winner

As far as the cost of ownership is concerned, wetsuits are cheaper to maintain, and there aren’t as many parts that need to be replaced and maintained.

Wetsuit vs drysuit – Which one should you buy?

Both suits will keep you warm as they offer insulation.

Dry suits are more comfortable as you can add more layers underneath them. They will also keep you dry, which is something that a wetsuit cannot do.

If you want to go diving, a wetsuit is the better choice. Wetsuits compress as you go deeper into the water, and pressure is increased.

FAQs

1. Which is better for diving, a wetsuit or a drysuit?

Ans. A drysuit is necessary if you dive in cooler waters below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. When diving for extended periods of time, divers may also choose to wear drysuits.

2. Are wetsuits effective in protecting you against jellyfish stings?

Ans. Jellyfish stings are prevented by wetsuits. Wetsuits work as excellent deterrents against jellyfish stings because of how thick the rubber is.

3. Is sunscreen necessary under a wetsuit?

Ans. Whenever there is rubber on your body, it should provide some protection from the sun. However, you should still use sunscreen. If you are swimming with a springy, then you will need sunscreen as the arms and legs are exposed.

4. Why are wetsuits always black?

Ans. UV protection is maximized with black. The rubber used in your wetsuit, neoprene, is white when it is first made. Carbon black is added to rubber, which makes it stronger. The same reason for its enhanced UV resistance applies to heat absorption as well.

About the author

Colin Kint

Colin is in his mid twenties and a professional skateboarder whom you may already know. He participated in most of the skateboarding competitions in San Francisco. His innate passion for the sport drove him to pursue his career as a professional skateboarder. Another reason why he’s so good at it could be his relentless practice sessions with his friends. Apart from that, Todd also volunteers in various community awareness programs. He’s an environmental activist with an undergraduate law degree and an expert photographer as well. He does most of the photography of our site.

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