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Thread: Body size and Cold Water Diving

  1. #1
    TadPole
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    07/11/2013
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    Body size and Cold Water Diving

    Hey all,

    My girlfriend is pretty small, about 5'4" and a true 110 pounds. She has limited herself to warm-water diving because she says that diving here in CA is a "big person activity" (I'm 6'3" 195). Is there a real size limit to diving in cold water? I always thought that any person could dive in any water given the right equipment, but she seems to get cold eventually (sometimes shivering) regardless of the equipment if she's in cold water (dry suit with thick thermals underneath.

    Does anyone else limit themselves to warm water only for this reason?

    Thanks,

    Jeremy

  2. #2
    Shark Zeagle Eagle's Avatar
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    Yep, my 13 year (90 lbs) old gets cold no matter what the water temp is.
    --Zeagle Eagle

  3. #3
    Megalodon
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    The fact is that the less you weigh, the less body fat. Less body fat = more heat loss as fat retains heat better than muscle. It is also to a point, a mindset. I personally love the cold and tolerate it quite well, my wife doesn't like the cold and does poorly in even temperate waters; an hour in a pool is usually enough for her.

    As for a size limit, I can't say that there actually is one. I've dove with buddies of all sizes and shapes and there has been no physical determiner of cold tolerance.

    I once saved a man in Wichita just to watch him dive...(inventor)

  4. #4
    Grouper
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    If she is already wearing a drysuit (properly?), my next suggestion would be Nitrox, thicker hood and gloves.
    Any dive you survive is a good dive

  5. #5
    Shark
    Join Date
    09/29/2007
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    pennsylvania
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    body temp 98.6 degrees
    skin temp 80 degrees
    spring water diving 70 degrees
    add some fancy math formula about how water sucks up heat at a faster rate then air....
    enter from stage left a very cold body with 'warm' water hypothermia
    God is good, no matter what!!

  6. #6
    TadPole
    Join Date
    07/16/2012
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    Stettler, Alberta
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    I'm 5'4, 115 Lbs. At home here I dive in 5C (41F) water. I wear 7mm + 7mm wetsuit. Usually around 60 feet I'll start to feel the cold in my fingertips but otherwise I'm ok.

  7. #7
    As pointed out, no matter how warm the water is it is rarely as warm as your body. So everyone will get cold. It is just a matter of tolerance and body fat. The worst part is the better you get at diving the less you move around; the less you move around the quicker you get cold.

    One of my former instructors was around the same size as your girlfriend. She found she needed a wetsuit which was stretchy. She opted for a Henderson Hyperstretch. It came in sizes small enough for her and fit her curves well. Unfortunately, these suits compress more than the stiffer wetsuits. So below 80 feet in 50F water she would start to get cold. She also always used 7mm + 7mm wetsuit, 5mm gloves, 5mm boots and 5mm hood.

    It obviously didn't stop her from cold water diving. However she owned a dive shop and probably not your average diver.

    My current Course Director dives in a drysuit and she never complains about the water temps. Even 100+ feet in 45F water.
    This signature left intentionally blank

  8. #8
    lovecrazy
    Guest
    One of my former instructors was around the same size as your girlfriend. She found she needed a wetsuit which was stretchy. She opted for a Henderson Hyperstretch. It came in sizes small enough for her and fit her curves well. Unfortunately, these suits compress more than the stiffer wetsuits. So below 80 feet in 50F water she would start to get cold. She also always used 7mm + 7mm wetsuit, 5mm gloves, 5mm boots and 5mm hood.????

  9. #9
    Barracuda Founding Member
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    Different people can tolerate the cold better then others. Size or more important body fat can play a factor also.

    Every diver needs to learn what they can tolerate and then find out what works for them. I've done dives in a 5mm wetsuit and a buddy is diving in a swimsuit and t-shirt. I know I get cold easy and wear the appropriate exposure protection that I know works for me.

    FWIW one of my very best friends is thin, very little body fat. She used to dive almost every weekend in a quarry in PA during the summer. Just have to figure out what works. Drysuit, Layering wetsuits. Before I went dry I would layer a 7mm hooded shorty over a 5mm full suit. Dive it in all kinds of weather.

    While I've never used out I know a few people that love their semi-dry suits.

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