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Before I take the plunge on a dry suit, some questions.

Discussion in 'Exposure Suits' started by AlmightyApkallu, Jan 27, 2020.

  1. AlmightyApkallu

    AlmightyApkallu Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Phoenix, Arizona.
    Hey folks.

    I just moved back to Phoenix Arizona from Florida... I had forgotten how cold Lake Pleasant was. 55 degree water, I was in a 7mm wetsuit with a hood and gloves. It was a pretty stretchy one, fit well, yet the whole 25 minutes of my dive could only be described as Agony. It felt like I was bear naked in Ice Water the entire time and never really warmed up. Once upon a time I was a surfer in California and thought I was pretty cold tolerant, but living in a warmer place and aging I guess has effects on you.

    I figured a Dry Suit was out of my budget but was told about the SeaSkin suits out of the UK. I have heard a lot of good things about them. There are two of us so I have to spend double on this stuff. They look super nice, but I have some questions...

    First of all, I can't find a solid answer on the import or customs charges. I've heard everything from you don't have to pay since it's a drysuit to hundreds of dollars. How much is it if I order a Drysuit from the UK? Does anyone have experience with this? Those that bought a SeaSkin Nova in the US, what did you have to pay?

    Next question is this... I'm 6'0 tall and 178 pounds (guy). I am still trying to lose more weight as I'm a cyclist and trying to get down another 15 or so pounds. The suits are custom tailored. How much of a difference would dropping that much weight at my size make? Am I overthinking this?

    Next question, what about the undergarments? I see some that almost cost as much as a Drysuit or the same as a very nice wetsuit. Is that really needed? What about thermal under layers? Does it have to be scuba specific? Are there cheaper ways around this?

    Next, biggest question... Do they make that huge of a difference? The way I felt the other day in 55 degree water I never want to experience again. I've never felt so cold and uncomfortable. My buddy as well. It was just agonizing. Does having a Drysuit on really keep you warm and toasty and comfy? What about your face and head, don't they get cold?

    Thanks a whole bunch for any help, advice and replies!
  2. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    Yes, drysuits make a huge difference. Search for the other Seaskin thread. It’s huge. Discussion of the customs charges in there.
    AlmightyApkallu likes this.
  3. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    Seaskin is great. They're inexpensive and made-to-measure, but if you lose another 15 pounds you may experience a bit of an oversized suit. Remember, they are made to wear undergarments, so it will be bigger than you think. At that weight though, it shouldn't be too bad. It's certainly still diveable.

    As far as undergarments, a good wicking base layer is important, you don't have to spend a bunch of money, you can easily grab some costco merino base layers for pretty cheap. From there you have several options. You can go polarfleece onesies, which I like. I have a DUI 400? gram and a Dive Rite 200? gram. Seaskin offers made-to-measure undergarments too, super cheap. The Fourth Element stuff is good but it's stupid expensive and I don't find the value in it. The Whites/Aqualung Thermal Fusion is uncomfortably hot. I wore it in Silfra, it doesn't get colder than that, and I was sweating. It's about the only thing with Fusion on it that doesn't suck. Check eBay for used undergarments, and check forums for the same. You can get fantastic deals on undergarments at either. It's important that whatever you purchase keeps you warm in the event of a suit flood.

    Another alternative that makes year round drysuit use a little easier is a heated vest. You underdress your undergarments so that you're not getting a heat stroke on the surface, and turn on the vest on the way down so that it keeps you warm. It's not an insignificant cost however, and if money is a constraint, it's down the list a ways.

    Hoods and gloves are your friends. The best hood is the K01, but it's pricey. I like the Waterproof hoods if you don't want to fork out the cost of the K01, although I do think it's worth it. Gloves are a personal thing. I like gloves that allow me to maintain dexterity, so I'm willing to accept a little cold in my hands comparatively.

    Customs seems to be all over the place. When I ordered my Seaskin, FedEx charged me $60 in customs fees. I don't know what it is lately.

    Definitely get a drysuit to dive Pleasant in the winter. It's a crappy place to dive, why make it worse by being cold. It will also help when you drive to California to dive, because nobody wants to dive JUST Lake Pleasant. That being said it's a great place to do workup dives, there's stuff to see (well, sort of see), places to go, it's a good way of just getting wet, and it's a good learning environment because it can be challenging but also safe.
    laikabear and AlmightyApkallu like this.
  4. BFRedrocks

    BFRedrocks ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Phoenix, AZ
    Welcome back! I got my cert in Lake Pleasant in a 7mm and thought I'd hate diving there forever, until I broke down and bought a drysuit (actually my wife and I bought each other drysuits for our wedding gifts to each other). Now, even when it hits 50 deg at depth, I'm super warm and comfortable diving the lake. I still much prefer the warm Caribbean and <3mm suits, but when it's that cold, I wouldn't get near a 7mm again.

    Undergarments are going to be personal preference and tolerance. I used to dive a thick fleece thinsulate suit, but found a merino wool supplier from the UK and now I just dive in thinner layers...my mobility is much better that way too. They are pretty costly, but warmth and comfort to me are worth it. You can also layer some ski clothing too...the "fleecier" the better it seems as you need space for the air to be. I have some old tree stand Under Armor stuff that worked great, but I don't think they make it anymore.

    While my new drysuit was manufactured in Europe, I bought it through an online US dealer, so no import taxes there, but those were more than made up for with the increased purchase price. I've purchased dive equipment from a UK supplier and saved a pretty penny not having to pay VAT tax with no import fees either.
    AlmightyApkallu likes this.
  5. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    I don't think losing 15 lbs. will make a huge difference in the size you need to order. You are overthinking this in the sense that you should keep in mind that a drysuit is a bag, designed to contain you and a suitably puffy undergarment. I don't think an inch more or an inch less around your middle would make a huge difference in the end result of what size the manufacturer is going to put you in, even if it's custom made.

    Drysuit undergarments can be pricey. The ideal undergarment doesn't restrict your movement, is easy to don and off, doesn't catch on the inside of the drysuit, and is made of materials that retain insulating properties to some extent if they get wet (say, your drysuit floods). You can wear all kinds of things in your drysuit, but they don't all trade off these various considerations nicely.

    A base layer under a drysuit-specific undergarment is a good idea, because you can more easily launder the base layer than the undergarment. The base layer can be your typical outdoor activity baselayer made of synthetic, wicking material. You can use a warmer base layer, such as wool, when it's really cold.

    A drysuit really does work! You wear a hood to keep your head warm. As for your face, keep in mind that much of it is covered by a mask and your hood. The remaining exposed bits will not feel cold in 55F water if the rest of you is comfortable. People who dive in near-freezing water do experience a bit of shock when their face hits the water (so I hear), but for your Arizona lake and such it won't be an issue.
    laikabear and AlmightyApkallu like this.
  6. Ontwreckdiver

    Ontwreckdiver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: St Thomas, Ontario, Canada
    I use driWear Microfleece underwear from Marks Work Warehouse. It is about $85 for both top & pants up here, so it will be cheaper in the US. I use the cheaper Walmart version of Under Armour for a base layer. If the water temp gets below 50 degrees then I will use my Mares 200 g drysuit underwear that I got on sale for $75.
    Dark Wolf and AlmightyApkallu like this.
  7. StefinSB

    StefinSB Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Santa Barbara, CA
    Along those lines. For CA diving (50s) I use Merino base layer and 4th element arctics. I want to use my drysuit instead of the 5mm wet nextime in Tulum (70s). Any suggestion on undergarment that is slightly "colder" than 4th element artic's?
    AlmightyApkallu likes this.
  8. runsongas

    runsongas Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    AfterDark and AlmightyApkallu like this.
  9. AlmightyApkallu

    AlmightyApkallu Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Phoenix, Arizona.
    Thank you all so much for the replies. I am reading every bit of every reply multiple times and taking in all the info. The more the merrier. I did check the SeaSkin thread, or thought I did, and everything about import tax was in Australia or Canada, no conclusion on American $$$.
  10. lexvil

    lexvil Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: jamestown, ca.
    To limit unreasonable fees and duty ask them to ship via government postal service, no UPS or FedEx.

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