A wetsuit is the one piece of scuba equipment we all love to have, but hate to purchase. A good one fits snugly without binding and offers the perfect level of protection for the conditions we’re diving in. Wetsuits can add stylish flair to our kits, but there is far more to selecting a wetsuit than what color to chose. Do you know what’s important? Read on.
The rubber used in neoprene is a chemically-blown foaming process. There are basically two common methods of production. One relies on a two-step process with a bunch of really long words that derive from petroleum. The less common method is still a two-step process but is derived from limestone. Scubapro uses only 100% pure neoprene derived from limestone, and it’s called X-Foam.
Why Does It Matter?
X-foam complies with very strict requirements that lessen the impact on the environment wetsuits are designed to explore. This should be a concern to every diver. The items we introduce into the ocean can be hazardous to the marine life we want to see. Scubapro, in their role as an ocean steward, recognizes the need to protect our oceans. The company’s choice of neoprene and compliance with strict pollutants-free regulations places them at the forefront of wetsuit manufacturers.
What Are Your Options?
In Europe, wetsuits are classified as personal protective equipment (PPE) and Scubapro wetsuits thicker than 3mm are compliance tested for mechanical resistance (wear and tear) and thermal protection ratification (warmth). In the States, we benefit from this rating system because the testing requires standardization—something not every wetsuit designer offers. In a nutshell, wetsuits are classified based on the water temperature they go into—your body may want something different, so this is just a starting point.
- Class A is for water temps between 45 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit
- Class B is for water temps between 50 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit
- Class C is best between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Class D is rated for water temperature above 72 degrees Fahrenheit
The Scubapro line consists of Novascotia, Everflex, Thermal Tec, Sport suits in 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm, Oneflex and Tradewind. Why so many? It all comes down to you. Where are you diving? What protection do you need? What makes you comfortable?
How To Decide What’s Right For You
Sadly, one wetsuit is not ideal for all situations. Many divers opt to own multiple suits, or the rent the appropriate wetsuit when they travel to destinations with different water temperatures. Not every wetsuit manufacture complies with—or even tests—thermal ratings. That means some suits may claim to be a 3 mm, but in the water offer less protection. That’s why it’s always a smart option to invest a bit more and get something you know is going to offer consistent protection.
Size Matters…Except When It Doesn’t
There’s no way around it, you have to try on a wetsuit to determine if it’s going to fit. Label size will get you in the ballpark, but until you zip it up, you won’t know if it is the appropriate fit. The thinner or stretchier the neoprene, the easier it is to put on.
If you know in advance you are going to be trying on wetsuits, bring your swimsuit. For best results, the wetsuit should fit snugly. Too large, and the creases of extra fabric can compress at depth and pinch. Too snug, and you impede your ability to draw a deep breath. If the neck is too tight, that’s an obvious problem. Some divers like wetsuits with a notch or short zip at the throat. Not only will more room around the neck help if the water is warmer than anticipated, but for those prone to seasickness, it can be vastly more comfortable.
But Wait…There’s More!
Neoprene isn’t just for wetsuits. Hood vests, gloves, boots, beanies, head bands, and mask straps also make good use of the insulating properties and comfort provided by neoprene. (And don’t forget your surface interval. A little sun is a great thing, but too much is hazardous. Wear a rash guard with UV protection!)
Getting a new wetsuit should be a fun experience! After all, this is a piece of equipment that is going to make your dive much more comfortable. At Jupiter Dive Center all of our staff is knowledgeable about the different styles of wetsuits we offer and can help navigate the options so you get exactly what you want. So come on in, because deep down you want the best!