How to Choose a wetsuit Part 2.jpg

Welcome to Part 2! In case you missed Part 1: How to Choose a Wetsuit for Diving, you can still check it out. In Part 1, we explored the differences between wetsuit thickness, style, seam seals and zippers. Having a comfortable, well-fitting wetsuit allows you to focus on the amazing underwater scenery instead of shivering or chafing.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the various options, let’s pick a suit!

When and Where Will You Be Primarily Diving?

When and where you’ll be doing most of your diving will dictate what type of suit — Shorty, Full, Long John, etc., and how thick your suit should be to keep you sufficiently warm.
A few other factors to consider beyond water temperature:

  • Water temperatures fluctuate with the seasons, so keep that in mind when choosing.
  • How easily you get cold — if you get cold easily, opt for the warmer version.
  • Do you plan to wear a Lycra rashguard or suit underneath?
  • How long your typical dives are – the longer, the more chance of feeling cold.


As you can see from the chart above, the colder the water, the more coverage you need as well as a thicker suit.
Best Choices for Warm Water:
If you will be mostly diving in warm water (72° F/ 23° C or warmer), you best bets are:

  • 2 – 2.5 mm Shorty – lots of flexibility while keeping your core warm
  • 3/2 mm Full Suit – fairly flexible and a little warmer than a Shorty

A 3/2 mm full suit is a safe choice, since it will be sufficient in a wide variety of warm-water diving destinations year-round, while still enabling you to move with ease.
Best Choices for Cold Water:
If you will be mostly diving in colder temperatures (less than 72° F/ 23 ° C), consider:

  • 5 mm Full Suit – less flexible but warm
  • 7 mm Full Suit – stiff and a little difficult to move arms and legs but warm
  • 5 – 7 mm Farmer / Long John Suit – warm due to double layer over core, but a little cumbersome

In colder temps, you’ll also need booties, gloves and a hood in order to stay warm. If you’re going to be diving in really cold water (50° F or less), you should consider a dry suit. Naui, PADI and other organizations offer specialty courses on safely diving with a dry suit.
How Should a Wetsuit Fit?

Wetsuits need to fit snugly; otherwise excess water will seep in around the neck, cooling the water your body already warmed. Because they need to fit snugly, wetsuits can be a little tough to get on!
For full suits or long johns, roll the legs into a “doughnut” first, place your foot in the doughnut “hole,” and then unroll it up your legs simultaneously. This is easier than trying to pull it up over your legs, as well as extend the life of your suit.
Too Big / Small?
When you’re trying on a suit, look at yourself from all directions in a mirror. If you see the suit bulging or puckering around the torso or pelvis, it’s probably too big (it’s normal to pucker a little at the knees and elbows). On the other hand, if you feel squeezed or pinching and it’s hard to inhale a large breath, it’s too small.
Bend over, squat, sit, extend and rotate your arms as you would while swimming and see how the suit feels. If it pinches anywhere or gapes anywhere, keep looking. You might have to try a few different brands to find the one that feels the best.
If you plan to wear a rashguard or skin suit underneath, make sure you wear it while trying on wetsuits.
The bottom line is your comfort and safety depends a lot on your wetsuit, so take your time and try them on.
If you live in the Dallas area, call Scuba Toys at 877-728-2243 or stop by our shop at 1609 S. Interstate 35E, Carrollton, TX 75006 and we can help you find the perfect suit!

Or check out our huge online selection – at ScubaToys.com we offer hassle free returns and exchanges if something doesn’t fit.
Do you have any wetsuit buying tips you can share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!