Get the Perfect Scuba Diving Wetsuit

Your Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Scuba Diving Wetsuit

Guide to Choosing the Perfect Scuba Wetsuit
Selecting the perfect scuba wetsuit is a crucial step in preparing for your underwater adventures, ensuring not just the enjoyment, but also the safety and comfort of your dives. Your wetsuit is your ally against the cold, tailored to hug your body like a second skin, maintaining warmth as you explore the depths.
Choosing the right thickness of neoprene, a material that offers essential insulation, is the key, with options ranging to suit a variety of water temperatures and personal tolerances to cold.

Within this guide, we will navigate the nuances of scuba wetsuits, from neoprene thickness and styles to fit and sizing.
Along the way, we’ll highlight special features to look for, as well as how to care for your gear post-dive.
By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to choose your scuba wetsuit confidently, ensuring a comfortable and thrilling diving experience.

The Importance of Neoprene Thickness

When selecting your scuba wetsuit, understanding the importance of neoprene thickness is paramount to ensure thermal comfort and flexibility during your dives. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Water Temperature and Neoprene Thickness
    • Tropical Waters (Above 24°C): A thin wetsuit of 2mm or a shorty wetsuit may suffice.
    • Temperate Waters (18°C to 24°C): A full-body wetsuit with a thickness of 5mm to 7mm is recommended.
    • Cold Waters (Below 18°C): Consider a thickness of 7mm or more, potentially with added layers for extra insulation.
  • Flexibility vs. Warmth:
    • Thicker Neoprene: Offers greater warmth but can reduce flexibility, affecting your movement and dexterity underwater.
    • Thinner Neoprene: Increases flexibility and may reduce fatigue, but offers less protection against the cold.
  • Types of Wetsuits and Thickness:
    • Full-body Wetsuit: Provides the most thermal protection and is suitable for colder waters.
    • Shorty Wetsuit: Covers the torso and thighs, ideal for warmer waters where less insulation is needed.
    • Farmer John Wetsuit: Consists of a sleeveless wetsuit with full legs, often used in moderate water temperatures.Remember, the thickness of your wetsuit does not impact its sizing but is crucial for warmth. A snug fit is essential to prevent water from flushing through and to ensure the thin layer of water that your body heats is maintained effectively.  Moreover, styles of wetsuits, such as jackets/tops, vests, and full suits, and features like seams and zippers, play a role in the suit’s overall performance and your comfort.
      Choosing the right wetsuit thickness is not just about the water’s chill; factors like your location, the season, and the dive’s depth will influence the water temperature and, consequently, your decision. So, when you’re preparing for your next dive, consider these aspects carefully to select a wetsuit that will serve as your second skin, keeping you warm and allowing you to move freely as you explore the underwater world.

Exploring Wetsuit Styles

When exploring wetsuit styles for scuba diving, it’s essential to consider the variety available and how each caters to different diving conditions:

  • Semi-Dry Wetsuits:
    • Core Thickness: 8mm neoprene for the torso, providing exceptional warmth.
    • Arms and Legs: 7mm thickness, balancing insulation and flexibility.
    • Ideal For: Divers who prefer to stay warmer without using a drysuit, especially in cold water.
    • Seals: Superior seals around cuffs and zippers to minimize water entry.
  • Full Wetsuits:
    • Thickness Options: Ranging from 1mm to 7mm to accommodate varying temperatures.
    • Thermal Ratings: Rated from A (best insulation) to D, with fit and seals impacting warmth significantly.
    • Zipper Styles: Choices include vertical back zippers, front zippers, and diagonal or chest zippers for personal comfort and ease.
    • Allergy-Friendly: Options available for individuals with neoprene allergies.
    • Eco-Friendly: Alternatives like Yulex offer plant-based neoprene options.
  • Specialized Wetsuits:
    • Shorties: Short sleeves and legs with typically 2mm thickness for core warmth in warmer waters.
    • Skins: Non-neoprene suits for minimal warmth, primarily for protection against marine irritants in very warm waters.
    • Surfing Wetsuits: Enhanced features for flexibility and durability, with tougher knee pads and resistance to flushing.
    • Thermocline and Other Materials: For those seeking alternatives to traditional neoprene, options like Fourth Element Thermocline, Sharkskin, and Lavacore are available. When choosing your scuba wetsuit, the right thickness is crucial based on water temperature. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:
  • 3mm Shorties: For mid-20s to early 30s °C water temperatures.
  • 1mm Full-Suits or Rash Vests: For similar temperatures when less insulation is required.
  • 3mm Full-Suits: For water temperatures in the low 20s °C.
  • 5mm Wetsuits: For low 20s to mid-teens °C conditions.
  • 7mm Wetsuits or Semi-Drys: For mid-teens to 10 °C, offering substantial warmth.Remember, the fit and seals around cuffs and ankles are as crucial for warmth as the neoprene thickness itself. A well-fitted C-rated wetsuit can sometimes be warmer than a loose A-rated one. Hence, while the thickness and material provide the necessary insulation, the fit ensures that the warmth is retained effectively.

Special Features to Consider

When selecting a scuba wetsuit, beyond the basic style and thickness, there are numerous special features to consider that can significantly enhance your comfort and performance underwater. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Ease of Dressing:
    • “Find My Size” Technology: Utilize’s AI-powered “Find My Size” feature for recommendations on the best wetsuit size tailored to your measurements.
    • Ankle Zippers: Ankle zippers make it much easier to put on and take off your wetsuit, a simple yet effective feature for convenience.
    • Low-Friction Lining: A wetsuit with a low-friction lining or spandex-infused neoprene can greatly reduce the struggle of slipping into your suit.
  • Material and Construction:
    • Neoprene Quality: Gas injection neoprene is a premium choice that offers lightness, flexibility, and warmth compared to the more common and affordable chemical neoprene.
    • Lining Materials: Opt for linings like OMNIRED Technology for enhanced warmth and improved blood circulation, or choose standard polyester and nylon for durability.
    • Stitching Techniques: Flatlock stitching is suitable for warmer waters, while blind stitching and GBS provide a more watertight seal for colder dives.
  • Design and Features:
    • Panel Design: Fewer panels can mean enhanced flexibility and a better fit, although more panels can offer a more customized fit and increased durability.
    • Zipper Placement: Consider front zippers or diagonal and shoulder zippers for increased flexibility and comfort compared to traditional back zippers.
    • External Layer: Smoothskin provides better hydrodynamics but is delicate; fabric such as nylon adds durability to your wetsuit.
  • Additional Considerations:
    • Attached Hoods: For extra warmth, especially in cold waters, look for wetsuits with attached hoods to prevent cold water from entering through the collar.
    • Seals: Ensure your wetsuit has effective wrist and ankle seals to minimize water circulation and retain warmth.
    • Pockets: Pockets can be a handy feature for carrying essential items like slates or keys during your dive.
    • Waterproof Zippers: To maintain insulation and prevent water entry, opt for wetsuits with waterproof zippers. By paying attention to these details, you can ensure that you select a wetsuit with features that cater to your specific needs, whether that’s for ease of movement, warmth, or durability. Each feature, from the type of neoprene to the zipper’s location, plays a role in the wetsuit’s overall performance and can make a significant difference in your diving experience.

Wetsuit Fit and Sizing Tips

To ensure your scuba wetsuit fits perfectly and enhances your diving experience, consider the following sizing tips:

Getting into Your Wetsuit

  • Preparation: Before you start, wearing a dive skin or scuba socks can prevent the wetsuit from sticking to your skin and help avoid blisters.
  • Legs First: Slide your legs into the wetsuit, using a plastic bag over your feet or wetsuit slide lubricant to ease the process. Adjust the material from the shins up to avoid rolls and ensure a snug fit.
  • Arms and Torso: After the legs, gently work your arms into the sleeves. Ensure the armpit area is snug to allow better movement and comfort. A buddy can assist with zipping up to avoid stress on the zipper.

Checking the Fit

  • Snugness: The wetsuit should hug your body closely, allowing only a thin layer of water between the suit and your skin, which is essential for maintaining warmth.
  • Key Areas: Pay attention to the fit around your lower back, wrists, ankles, neck, and ensure there’s no significant gapping in the underarm or crotch area.
  • Breathing and Movement: Your wetsuit should permit normal breathing and free movement, including bending of knees without restriction.
  • Neck Fit: Particularly important for surfers, the neck fit should be snug but not cause discomfort or headaches.

Selecting the Right Size

  • Size Charts: Refer to the specific brand’s size chart, as wetsuit sizing varies by brand, and consider your height, weight, and chest measurements.
  • Between Sizes: If you find yourself between sizes, remember that wetsuits can stretch up to 5-10% over time. In this case, sizing down is recommended.
  • Universal Sizes: Sizes generally range from XS to 3XL, but start with your regular clothing size and adjust based on additional measurements like neck, chest, waist, and hips for a more refined fit.Remember, a well-fitted wetsuit is crucial not just for comfort but also for safety. It should feel like a second skin, as tight as possible without being restrictive or uncomfortable. If you’re unsure about the fit, visit a local dive center for professional assistance, try on multiple sizes and brands, and even consider renting a wetsuit to find the best fit for your individual needs.

Caring for Your Wetsuit

Caring for your scuba wetsuit is as essential as choosing the right one. Proper maintenance not only extends its life but also ensures it remains comfortable and performs well on every dive. Here’s how to keep your wetsuit in top condition:

Cleaning Your Wetsuit

  • Initial Rinse: After each dive, rinse your wetsuit with cold fresh water, especially if it has been in salt water, to remove salt, chlorine, and other contaminants.
  • Soaking: For a deeper clean, soak your wetsuit in cold or lukewarm freshwater mixed with a mild solution of baking soda or wetsuit shampoo for 30 minutes. Then, turn it inside out and soak for another 30 minutes to ensure both sides are thoroughly cleaned.
  • Zippers and Velcro: Use a toothbrush to gently scrub zippers and velcro patches during the soak, removing any sand, dirt, or debris that could cause damage or reduce functionality.

Inspecting and Repairing

  • Regular Checks: Inspect your wetsuit for any tears or gouges, especially along the seams after cleaning. This is crucial for preventing further damage.
  • DIY Repairs: Small cuts or loose threads can be fixed at home using wetsuit cement for neoprene or heavy polyester thread for resewing nylon parts . Regularly wax zippers to ensure smooth operation.

Drying and Storing

  • Drying: Hang your wetsuit inside out on a flat hanger out of direct sunlight. Once dry, turn it right-side out to ensure both sides are completely dried.
  • Storing: Store your wetsuit on a sturdy plastic hanger covered with foam to prevent shoulder creases, or loosely folded in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. By following these steps, you’ll ensure your scuba wetsuit remains a reliable companion for your underwater explorations. Remember, a little care goes a long way in preserving the integrity and functionality of your diving gear.

Go Diving

As you prepare to go diving with your new scuba wetsuit, keep in mind the following tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Adjusting to Your New Wetsuit:
    • Be aware that a new wetsuit may offer extra buoyancy during the initial few dives, which could affect your weight requirements for achieving neutral buoyancy.
    • Add an extra pound or two of weight for your first dive if you’re wearing a new 3mm wetsuit, and adjust as necessary in subsequent dives.
    • There’s no shortcut to the break-in process of a wetsuit. It’s best to dive and let the suit naturally adjust to your body and lose the initial extra insulation and warmth over time.
    • To vent any trapped air and maintain body heat, make sure to expel all air from your wetsuit before diving and consider keeping it on between dives.
  • Comfort and Safety Measures:
    • Bring along hard candy, such as lemon drops, to help alleviate dry mouth after your dive, enhancing both hydration and enjoyment.
    • Always carry a whistle when diving from boats and have two underwater lights ready for any night dives as part of standard safety practices.
    • Choose dive locations that are shallow with minimal current and clear water for an easier and safer diving experience.
    • Opt for dive sites with sandy bottoms near coral reefs to ensure safer landings and exits.
  • Dive Practices for Optimal Experience:
    • Dive under the guidance of a divemaster who can provide assistance and direction in the water.
    • Hold off on underwater photography until you have mastered buoyancy control, as it requires significant attention and can be distracting.
    • Develop strong situational awareness, keeping mindful of your dive team, surroundings, and potential exit strategies.
    • Plan multiple safe return strategies, considering factors such as remaining gas, buoyancy control, and navigation. Remember, your scuba wetsuit is not just a piece of equipment; it’s a crucial part of your diving ensemble that provides buoyancy, protection from UV rays and marine life, and helps in being visible underwater. Wetsuits from trusted brands like Aqualung, Bare, Cressi, and Hollis are known for their quality and performance, ensuring that you have a reliable ally in your underwater adventures. Moreover, in colder waters, don’t forget to insulate your extremities with appropriate gear for your head, hands, and feet.


Ultimately, the journey of selecting the right scuba wetsuit is one of balancing personal comfort with environmental demands, ensuring that each diver can embrace the underwater realm in warmth and security. The thoughtful consideration of neoprene thickness, wetsuit style, and specialized features outlined in this guide is imperative for a fulfilling dive experience. These elements, together with the correct fit, serve to protect divers from the elements and allow them to immerse fully in the aquatic wonders that await.

By nurturing an informed and careful approach to wetsuit selection and maintenance, divers are poised to explore the depths with confidence. Should you find yourself ready to take the plunge, consider enhancing your diving journey with a well-suited wetsuit; browse our recommended products and find your perfect fit today. With every descent beneath the waves, your chosen wetsuit becomes more than gear—it becomes a trusted companion in the quest for underwater discovery.


What type of wetsuit is used by Navy SEALs?
Navy SEALs are equipped with Xcel Infiniti Synergy wetsuits that are hooded. They also use diving masks and MK 25 rebreathers, which are closed-circuit SCUBA systems.

What thickness of wetsuit is recommended for scuba diving based on water temperature?
For water temperatures of 82°F (28°C) and above, a 1-2mm wetsuit, often referred to as a “shorty,” is recommended for warm water diving.
For temperatures between 77-80°F (25 – 27°C) , a 3mm wetsuit is suitable.
In water temperatures ranging from 70-77°F (21 – 25°C), a 5mm wetsuit is recommended.
For temperatures below 70°F (21°C), a thickness of 5mm or more is advisable.

How can I determine the correct size when purchasing a wetsuit?
A proper-fitting wetsuit should allow you to move freely without restriction. The torso is the most critical area for fit. To check if a wetsuit fits well, inspect the lower back area; if you can pinch a significant amount of neoprene and there’s a lot of excess material, the wetsuit is too large.

At what water temperature is a 7mm wetsuit appropriate?
A 7mm wetsuit is typically suitable for cold water conditions, often in temperatures well below 60°F, providing substantial insulation and warmth for the diver.


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