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View Full Version : How hard is it to dive in a dry suit?



Guyburger
07-12-2007, 07:47
I've recently been tempted to learn how to dive in a drysuit. I've always been a warm water Caribbean diver but I am making my first trip to the Pacific (Galapagos in September). I understand that Galapagos is not so cold as to demand a dry suit but I became intrigued by the drysuit concept researching what exposure protection was appropriate.
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<DIV>I've had some experienced dry suit divers tell me that diving in a drysuit was so different from diving wet that it was a totally different experience. I've had some divers with limited experience in a drysuit tell me it was the hardest thing they've ever tried to learn in diving. I like the feel of diving wet and if a drysuit changes that completely I'm not sure its for me. </DIV>
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<DIV>What are your experiences in learning to dive in a drysuit and how do you compare it to diving wet?</DIV>

cummings66
07-12-2007, 08:09
It is different, and IMO takes at least 10 dives to get the hang of it. I don't think you should be diving anything more than a shallow dive profile for the first couple dozen dives because the odd's of losing control of your buoyancy are pretty good.
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<DIV>At first most will hate it because it's that different. Then it grows on you and soon it's like diving the wetsuit. In fact for me I prefer it to a wetsuit, it's easier for me now. In the beginning it was more difficult, no lie there.</DIV>
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<DIV>I suppose you could say there's a higher task loading to a drysuit and it's more dangerous, but after a while you'll catch on and it becomes fun again.</DIV>

Wolfie2012
07-12-2007, 09:32
It certainly is different, and like most anything else in life, some will take to it more easily than others. I'd also suggest shallow dive profiles at least until you can assess how comfortable you are in one. While it isn't technically necessary, you might also consider taking the certification class for it - you'll learn some necessary skills.
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<DIV>All in all the best anyone can really say is that it is a very different experience. Whether it is more difficult or not is really personal interpretation.</DIV>

jpsexton
07-12-2007, 10:00
I'd say 8 - 10 dives is about right. If you go this way get the dry gloves as well. They make a huge difference!

cummings66
07-12-2007, 13:32
When you get the dry gloves, if possible install the Viking Ring system as it's the best out there and never ever leaks.
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<DIV>The others are a matter of time before they leak. My buddy said he was 50 % happy with his, i.e. one of the rings leaked and the other didn't. The end result was a suit flood and no fun.</DIV>
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<DIV>Viking Bayonet Rings do not do this, nor do the rubber rings they have.</DIV>
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<DIV>At any rate, dry gloves and dry hood are very nice options to have. One without the other is silly.</DIV>

texdiveguy
07-12-2007, 13:45
Diving dry for a new or experienced diver is a piece-of-cake...'really',,,,a basic few skills and practice!

Jeff
07-12-2007, 14:59
The differences can be summed up in two categories:

Buoyancy - You now have 2 air bubbles, one in your BCD, one in the suit, that you have to manage.

Emergency procedures - valves, dumps, etc. on the suit can fail, the suit itself can tear, or develop a leak, and all of these have a variety of risks associated, and procedures to recover.

Skill level really has nothing to do with it. Go up north and you'll find shops that teach dry suit to the basic Scuba Diver class, due to the local water temps that are always in the low 50's or 40's.

It just takes proper instruction, and practice.

Marcin2005
07-12-2007, 16:28
Hmmm..diving dry <?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>
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As others have indicated, diving dry is not difficult, but is takes some time getting used to. <O:P></O:P>
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First, most of us in the Great White North dive dry not because it's "cool" but because it's necessary due to cold. Just to give you an idea, a typical temperature below a thermocline in the Great Lakes is in the 39 to 44 F range so at that stage even 7mm wetsuit does not give you enough protection. <O:P></O:P>
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However, should you decide to go ahead I would recommend going to some of the suit demo days toget the feel for different suits and see if it is what you need. Next if you decide to buy a suit try it with the undergarments on ! This is important to see if its fits properly.<O:P></O:P>
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Once you have the suit or (have a chnce to try it during a demo) start off by not putting any gas into it add only enough to minimize the "squeese". I would discourage you from using your suit as a bouyancy control device. That's what you BCD is for. <O:P></O:P>
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Lastly, thefirst few dives should be done in a pool or some other shallow body of water (that you are familliar with) until you become comfortable with it. If you donít know anyone who dives dry and is able to assist you, take a dry suit course.<O:P></O:P>
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Good luck<O:P></O:P>
M<O:P></O:P>

cummings66
07-12-2007, 17:30
I found for me the proper amount of squeeze is the amount you feel at 20 feet. I.e. descend to 20 feet without adding air and feel that pressure, now go deeper and add air to maintain the feeling you had at 20 feet.
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<DIV>The depth might vary a bit depending on your undergarment and type of drysuit, but the basics are the same.</DIV>

CompuDude
07-13-2007, 03:10
Dives 1-5: WHY did I spend so much money on this THING?
Dives 5-10: Ok, it sorta works, but I wonder if I can still dive wet most of the time...
Dives 10-20: Ok, starting to get the hang of it...
Dives 20-30: Oh, hey, look, I forgot to bring my wetsuit! Say, this warm thing is NICE!
Dives 30-40 : Do I have to dive wet?
Dive 40+: For Sale: Used Wetsuit

Joew
07-13-2007, 03:46
I've recently been tempted to learn how to dive in a drysuit. I've always been a warm water Caribbean diver but I am making my first trip to the Pacific (Galapagos in September). I understand that Galapagos is not so cold as to demand a dry suit but I became intrigued by the drysuit concept researching what exposure protection was appropriate.


Dry suits are great, but as other posters have said there is a small learning curve. If you do get a dry suit you should make sure you are comfortable diving in it before you go to Galapagos. The diving there can be chalanging and you don't want to add any unnecessary task loading. The water temp should be in the mid 60's in September, so I think a 7mm suit w/ hood would be fine for most people.

aramisun
07-13-2007, 13:01
<DIV>+ keeps you warmer - able to enjoy the dives longer</DIV>
<DIV>+ Don't get coldduring SI </DIV>
<DIV>- Extra weight may be needed</DIV>
<DIV>- can be too warm before a dive and between dives</DIV>
<DIV>+ can dive with your car keys and wallet</DIV>
<DIV>- bouyancy skills need to be relearned.</DIV>
<DIV>- can be much more expensive</DIV>
<DIV>-might need new fins to fit the dry boots</DIV>
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sjoliat
07-15-2007, 16:22
I did my first dry dives last weekend. It was a shallow quarry w/ surprisingly warm water(lower 70s)for central Ohio. I didn't need the suit for the cold so I just woretrunks and a thin shirt underneath.Here is some of what Ilearned from those dives:
<DIV>-To paraphrase a reply I saw on SB, I as well now know how vacuum packed meat feels. I was amazed how tightly suit wrapped mylegs even in waist deep water. Figuring out just how much air you can add/squeeze you can reasonably eliminate will take some practice</DIV>
<DIV>- Even if it'ssomething lightweightcover any skin under your suit - chafing became a problem after the third dive. I know this usually is a non-issue in a drysuit but thought I'd pass it along since you said water temps wouldn't be too bad</DIV>
<DIV>- Damn do I like dry gloves. I attached some Wells Lamont rubber gloves(from Lowes) using SI Tech rings. These gloves are much thinner than the gloves the suit came with(read excellent dexterity). Prior to the dives I tested them in a bucket of ice water for 10 minutes with just thin cotton gloves as liners and was fine. If you go dry get dry gloves as well</DIV>

cummings66
07-15-2007, 20:00
Actually, anytime you're in a shell suit you need something on to prevent issues with the suit such as hickies. A thin thermal undergarment is perfect, sweats work but you need to find some that aren't 100% cotton, just in case.
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<DIV>I use fleece if it's around 70 or so, just a single layer works great.</DIV>

plot
07-15-2007, 20:37
The squeeze is what I noticed most by far... especially on the surface when my legs were under and my torso was above water... it was amazingly painfull.

cummings66
07-15-2007, 21:07
It's odd, but after a couple years of drysuit diving I don't notice that feeling anymore. I'm sure it's there but it doesn't strike me like it did which was rather dramatic back then.
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<DIV>I don't believe anything is different, I suppose you just get used to it. Sort of similar to how I dove a wetsuit last weekend and didn't really like it, it felt so weird to me. My feet didn't want to naturally assume the frog kick position and I had to force them there, everything seemed to take more effort compared to diving dry.</DIV>
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<DIV>After 5 dives in a wetsuit I was getting a bit more comfortable, but I'm just not sure of it anymore.</DIV>

bolantej
07-16-2007, 01:22
I find that in cold water where I need to dive dry I wear enough undergarments to protect me again squeeze. when you're under, just roll that bubble around if anything is getting crunched.

Lucky(AR)
07-17-2007, 17:26
alot of helpful info have been wandering about diving with a dry suit

tc_rain
07-17-2007, 22:18
I would highly recommend that if you are slightly interested in drysuit diving, take the drysuit specialty class. In the class, you will learn the different types of drysuits and their care along with the pros and cons of each one. You will also make several dives in a drysuit between confined and open water. I took the class and really enjoyed it. I never thought diving in 30 or 40-degree water could be any fun but I was proven wrong. In my opinion, it is just as fun as diving wet in 75 or 80-degree water.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

medic001918
07-17-2007, 23:03
I'll second the recommendation to take the drysuit class. It'sa chance to learn the basicsin a controlled environment under the supervision of an instructor. They will teach you to handle the common problems that you may encounter while diving in a drysuit. The more you dive the drysuit, the more you'll probably like it. You'll go through a learning curve, but then it will become second nature to you.
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Shane</DIV>

bordhead
07-23-2007, 17:12
i agree with compudude.. im at === smileys/smiley7.gifDives 5-10: Ok, it sorta works, but I wonder if I can still dive wet most of the time
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<DIV>it different and takes some getting useto..</DIV>

cummings66
07-23-2007, 19:58
If it wasn't for the money I spent I would have returned to diving wet, but I stuck it out. Now I don't like diving wet, not at all and to me diving dry is easier than diving wet. I don't think I loved it until 20 or 30 dives in the suit.

Moxie
07-24-2007, 23:12
When I did the drysuit cert I hated the feeling of the suit in the indoor pool. However, as soon as I got into the ocean I knew I was never going back.
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brandon
08-09-2007, 03:20
When you get the dry gloves, if possible install the Viking Ring system as it's the best out there and never ever leaks.

I have the bayonet system on my drysuit and love it. I keep trying to convince friends to get the rings, but I think they're waiting to see how well they hold up on my suit first.

I have around 20 dives on the rings with no major leaks or other problems. I do have a small pinhole leak on my left glove that I think is from grabbing King Crab, but it's only bad enough that it makes a quarter size part of the liner visibly damp. I'll buy another $3 of gloves to replace it if the leak gets any worse.

No dry hood yet. Maybe I'll look into that next.

-B.

cummings66
08-09-2007, 13:34
The SI tech rings are an accident waiting to happen, they make the ones for Viking as well but they're a better design and don't leak.

Every single diver I know that dives SI Tech has had them leak. Not all rings are created equal.

Hex92
08-10-2007, 09:12
I have had the Sitech rings on my suit for 2.5 years. I have never had a leak that wasn't due to operator error. Both times they leaked I had a bit of my liner glove in the seal.

cummings66
08-10-2007, 12:58
I'd agree operator error makes this happen, the issue is that it's too easy to have operator error.

Any ring system if it works is great, much nicer than wet gloves.

turtle_guy
08-11-2007, 01:34
I am forced to disagree with everyone on this thread. I had no learning curve to my drysuit. From my first dry dive I was like fish and loving it. I loved being dry so much that a single dive dry was enough to convert me.

cummings66
08-11-2007, 07:37
You're the exception to the rule. How have your friends done in one? Are they as comfortable as you were on the first dive? Most divers have some sort of issue or need a crutch of some sort like ankle weights. Most have floaty feet issues, maybe a feet first ascent, might have issues in venting the suit quickly enough with a run a way inflator valve or stuck exhaust valve.

When you did your course you had absolutely no problems with anything at all, didn't use ankle weights or anything? That's rather unusual but I can believe it because up until the drysuit I never had any issues in diving and picked it up like I was born to do it.

thesmoothdome
08-11-2007, 11:28
I didn't find it hard to convert to dry suit and the comfort I felt lead to what could only be described as the scariest experience diving I ever had. There is a learning curve there and sometimes we believe we're past that only to find out the hard way. As for "crutches," I like my ankle weights and always will.

cummings66
08-11-2007, 23:33
Lots of people like those ankle weights. Personally I prefer to get trimmed out without weight on my legs. Honestly though it won't make you carry anymore weight and I don't think it tires you more like some say. If there was no way I could get trimmed out without ankle weights then I'd wear them. I found in the beginning I needed them because I had floaty feet, but once I mastered the air bubble then I was able to lose those weights. One of my buddies has thousands of dives, been diving since the late 50's and he's still using ankle weights. He's at the top of the rung as far as professional teaching credentials go, but he's always a bit feet low when he dives and he won't risk taking off those weights for some reason. He firmly believes divers who don't use them will end up having a feet first ascent. Who am I to say otherwise, he's been diving longer than I've been alive.

I've only had two problems with my drysuit, I had an inflator valve stick and an exhaust valve not exhaust. Neither resulted in my going up, but it did make for an unpleasant dive.

I routinely practice both methods of drysuit diving, its a good skill to stay in touch with. Dive it like Padi teaches and then dive it the way most people dive it. Keep current at both, that's my belief.

I do believe a person could be one with it on the first few dives if they're comfortable enough in the water. In reality most of the drysuit issues that could kill you involve problems with managing the air, not moving through the water. If you look at the things stressed in the drysuit course its recovering from air management problems. Too much air, wrong place for it, wrong attitude, etc.

thesmoothdome
08-11-2007, 23:49
Very true cummings66. Most problems I've ever had with my drysuits were because I quit paying attention to what I was doing with my air. A little too much air here, dumped a little too much there, etc. Of course there was the big one, which I've discussed a few times on the board already, but it really started with just a little too much air. Getting your bouyancy and trim down is what's really important. I also think it's important to get used to being a little less flexible in the water too. Once those things are mastered, as long as you don't fall asleep at the switch, you're golden.

turtle_guy
08-13-2007, 00:55
You're the exception to the rule. How have your friends done in one? Are they as comfortable as you were on the first dive? Most divers have some sort of issue or need a crutch of some sort like ankle weights. Most have floaty feet issues, maybe a feet first ascent, might have issues in venting the suit quickly enough with a run a way inflator valve or stuck exhaust valve.

When you did your course you had absolutely no problems with anything at all, didn't use ankle weights or anything? That's rather unusual but I can believe it because up until the drysuit I never had any issues in diving and picked it up like I was born to do it.

Yeah i know i am exceptional :smiley2: But there was one problen with my pool dive i didn't get my wrist seal on right and had a squirt gun when i was done(if i held my arm just right and pulled my seal open a little i could get a five foot arc of water). But my first drysuit dives were outside of a course. I went to a demo day and dove with a trusted instructor and had such a time i never dove wet again.

cmufieldhockey8
08-18-2007, 23:49
I am forced to disagree with everyone on this thread. I had no learning curve to my drysuit. From my first dry dive I was like fish and loving it. I loved being dry so much that a single dive dry was enough to convert me.
I didn't think it was very hard either. After playing around for a few minutes, I did a cave dive with no major bouyancy incidents. Few minor ones too. Guess I'm lucky.

cummings66
08-19-2007, 09:43
While I never had any problems, it did take me a few dives to like it. I'm concerned that when a person says it's so easy I never had problems that others might think they could do it and not have problems.

The thing about that is I've dove with enough drysuit divers to see several have problems, some of which sent them to the surface. I don't want a non drysuit diver to think it's so easy a caveman can do it.

It can be, but you must realize that there are divers out there that I wouldn't walk next to on dry land without fear of them having problems. It's like diving, some take to it like fish, others struggle.

jerdr1
08-19-2007, 09:46
Diving dry takes a couple tries to get very comfortable. Other then the extra wieght you have to wear in cold weather it is pretty much the same as wetsuit, just dry and warm!!

CompuDude
08-19-2007, 14:24
While I never had any problems, it did take me a few dives to like it. I'm concerned that when a person says it's so easy I never had problems that others might think they could do it and not have problems.

The thing about that is I've dove with enough drysuit divers to see several have problems, some of which sent them to the surface. I don't want a non drysuit diver to think it's so easy a caveman can do it.

It can be, but you must realize that there are divers out there that I wouldn't walk next to on dry land without fear of them having problems. It's like diving, some take to it like fish, others struggle.
I agree. I found it to be very easy, but I did my first few dives in one with a very experienced friend with several hundred drysuit dives (and a cert card) under his belt, until he was sure I could handle myself. It's very easy to have everything go perfectly with a DS dive and then suddenly have them go out of control quite quickly if something major goes wrong. It takes a little time to learn the fine points of control that will help you deal with those situations, that may or may not arise.

In OW class, you learn how to do a CESA, although you expect/hope you will never need to use that skill. It's good to learn the DS emergency skills, too, which you also may never need... but if you don't know how to do them when the fit hits the shan, you may pay dearly for your over-confidence.

Hollywood703
08-19-2007, 16:03
When I bought my drysuit, luckily I was new to diving, so it was more task loading at the time, but everything was new, so it didnt seem so out of place. One thing about ankle weights is it really depends on your fins weight and if you have a problem with air in the legs...when i first started i found it easier to dive with them to help not go inverted. Now I dont use them, unless the situation calls for it. I didnt go through a class, however, my first dives where with an instructor.

georoc01
09-08-2007, 09:59
Well, I go for my dry suit specialty next weekend. I'll report back how it goes!

Theepdinker
09-08-2007, 12:45
I like the mobility & reduced weight requirement of my wet suit.
Multiple dives in cold water (52F) in the same day, Dry suit all the way.

Theep