Top Wetsuit, Rash Guard, and Scuba Wetsuit Styles

Wetsuits - Why do I need one?

The main purpose of a scuba wetsuit is to keep you warm while you’re in the water. Wetsuits also provide a protective barrier from stinging sea creatures and help prevent cuts and stings due to accidental contact with underwater environments such as a reef or wreck. While there are other reasons to wear a wetsuit, warmth and protection from the environment are our primary focus.

Just as you would check weather predictions before choosing your clothes for a trip, you’ll want to check the predicted dive conditions before choosing your wetsuit. Though this might seem obvious, don’t forget to factor in whether or not there are stinging sea creatures (i.e. portugeuse man-of-war) anticipated at the time you’re planning to be there. We find that this alone can be reason enough to wear some sort of protection.

Choosing the Right Wetsuit

Wetsuits come in a variety of thicknesses and styles. It can be a bit overwhelming and understanding the conditions you’ll be diving in makes selecting the right wetsuit easier. We take everything into consideration and help guide you in the selection process so you have the diving wetsuit you need for comfortable, fun, successful dives.

Wetsuit Thickness

The first thing to know is that wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters (mm) and the smaller the number, the less insulation and warmth the wetsuit provides.

  • Tropical water (over 84 degrees) - 0.5mm to 2mm
  • Warm water (80 - 84 degrees) - 2mm to 3mm
  • Moderate water (73 to 79 degrees) - 3mm to 5mm
  • Mild water (66 to 72 degrees) - 5mm to 7mm
  • Cold water (less than 66 degrees) - we recommend the nearest dock or boat deck

Note that water temperature recommendations vary by brand, so this is an overview from our experience. Additional factors to take into consideration include activity level, length of dive, and air temp. All of these play into selecting the right wetsuit and combination of protection.

Wetsuit Styles

Shorty wetsuits provide protection for your torso, upper arms, and legs. Shorties are usually 2.5mm to 3mm and are perfect for most watersports, including shallow dives, mid-range dives, snorkeling, spearfishing, surfing, jet skis, and even layering under a scuba wetsuit.

The two piece wetsuit provides coverage for your whole body, from your neck to wrist and ankles, with legging-style pants and a long sleeve top. With this style, you can wear the pieces separately or together. You’re also able to select the size top and bottoms separately, giving you the best fit. These come in neoprene and non-neoprene and usually range from 0.5mm to 7mm.

Full wetsuits are by far the most popular style of scuba wetsuit. This style covers you from your neck down to your wrists and ankles, and range from 0.5mm to 7mm. Most of these have the same thickness throughout; however, these sometimes are listed as a 7/5/3mm (or 5/3) wetsuit which have varying thickness in the torso, legs, and arms. These are designed to keep you warm while allowing you to retain as much mobility as possible. The thicker the scuba wetsuit, the less mobility you have. Note that thinner wetsuits (0.5mm-2mm) tend to be non-neoprene, made of nylon or an alternative material, and are often referred to as a dive skin or skin.

Spearfishing wetsuits are full wetsuits designed specifically for spearfishing, allowing you the most range of motion possible while providing the protection you need.

Note that there is a difference in men’s and women’s wetsuits in all categories. Just like clothing, different manufacturers cut the wetsuits differently so you’re not only looking at style and thickness. An ill fitting dive wetsuit can quickly turn a great dive into a miserable experience. Our trained professionals know the cut and fit of each of the wetsuits, so put their knowledge and expertise to work for you.

Rashguards - What are they?

Rashguards are typically made of lycra or a performance material and provide lightweight protection for your torso and arms from the elements. These are loose or snug fitting and provide UV protection. Typically a rashguard is a long or short sleeve top, but dive skins and lycra shorts/pants get lumped into this category as well. The main purpose of a rash guard is to protect your skin from the sun, stinging sea creatures, and other water hazards. Providing minimal warmth and insulation, rash guards are also great for layering under a wetsuit. When worn alone, they’re perfect for snorkeling, surfing, skiing, and shallow dives in warm water.

Wetsuit Care

One of the most important things in owning a scuba wetsuit is caring for it. How you take care of your wetsuit plays a large role in the life of your wetsuit. No matter how durable it is, poor care often leads to a stinky wetsuit or premature compression of the cells of your wetsuit. Both can cut the life of your wetsuit significantly and you’ll be ready to toss it in no time.

Make sure you rinse your wetsuit thoroughly after every use and hang it to dry out of the sun. Every now and then, you’ll want to use one of the wetsuit shampoos to address the smell (yes, that’s normal). Just make certain you follow the directions and never put any neoprene in the dryer, it’ll destroy it.

Finally, check out our accessories page. There will be times when you need to replace a zipper pull, add lubricant to your zipper, and re-seal a seam. We put all these items in one place to make it easy.

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