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Wet Suit layers for handling 70 to 85 degree span

Discussion in 'Exposure Suits' started by JAB110, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. JAB110

    JAB110 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: New Jersey
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    Hello all. I'm new to diving and this forum.

    Even though still training, i have a very specific diving target area. I visit Florida 4 times per year (basically once per season) and would like to go diving each time i'm there. I'll be in the Venice (gulf coast) area and have found that the water temps range from 70 to 85 degrees. So what i'm hoping to find is a good scheme for wetsuit layers that makes it so i buy the base suit now, for starters, and wear that this summer. And then, as the seasons change and it gets cooler, I don't need a whole different suit, I just add layers to what i have. Is that do-able?

    From what i've read on this site, many recommend a full suit, at least most of the time. So i'm trying to figure out if like a 3mm "Farmer John" (legs but no arms) makes sense in the summer, with maybe a jacket and optional hood for other seasons? I don't really see hooded jackets (i see vests), but that would leave my arms exposed. Are there suits that allow arms to be attached?

    Finally, i also don't know the practicalities of doing such layers - like does it get bulky and uncomfortable doing this? Should i go with a lesser thickness on the full suit, because i'll be adding layers? Thanks for any help.
     
    ScubaNow likes this.
  2. 2airishuman

    2airishuman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    2,446
    1,654
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    Cold water tolerance varies widely from one individual to the next, which makes it hard to give accurate advice. Here's what I'd suggest:

    - Lycra one-piece rashguard for warm water, snorkeling, and surface intervals in the sun
    - 3/2 full wetsuit as the next step
    - Something warmer.

    For "something warmer," I would recommend a 3mm freediving wetsuit with an integral hood. I have one and it's great, works down to about 65 degrees for me but I'm pretty cold tolerant. Alternatively you could get a 5mm fullsuit and a separate hood. Either way you'll need gloves.

    Freedivestore.com has freedive suits that include hooded jackets, as does Mako. I like them but they're not for everyone. They require a certain amount of upper body flexibility to don and doff, especially shoulder flexibility, because they don't have zippers. On the other hand one-piece full suits fit most people but if you're unusually tall or short it can be hard to find one that works.

    Some people use multiple layers and make it work. I don't think it's worth it. Neoprene only lasts for some finite number of dives, and when you wear two garments they both wear, so you're not saving any money in the long run.

    It would help to know your body shape, composition, flexibility, and perceived cold tolerance.
     
    ScubaNow likes this.
  3. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
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    That's the range I dive in, but what it takes to keep a person warm depends so much on the individual. I am afraid layering doesn't work for me throughout the range. At the high end of that range, say, about 80-85, I use a 3 mm. (I always use a full suit, not a shorty, for protection against stings and abrasions.) In the middle-to-low part of that range, especially if it's a cloudy, drizzly day on which I can't seem to warm up on surface intervals, I might layer the 3 mm with a 3 mm hooded vest. At the low end of the range, or in the middle of the range on cloudy, drizzly days, I found layering with the 3 mm leaves me too cold, and I bought a 5 mm. Even the 5 mm is not enough to keep me warm in 72 degree water if I am not exerting myself and/or it's a long dive, so I layer the 5 mm with the 3 mm hooded vest. At 70 and below, none of the combinations of 3 and 5 mm work well enough for me. At that point, it's 7 mm or drysuit time.

    I rented a farmer john and jacket a few times, back before I bought my own suits, and I didn't care for that combo.

    Before buying the 3 mm hooded vest, I tried a Lavacore hooded vest, but decided it did not add enough warmth to be worth the trouble. It seemed to me that the Lavacore added the equivalent warmth of maybe 2 mm of neoprene. The advantage of Lavacore, Sharkskin, etc., is that they contribute no buoyancy, but the disadvantage is that they are just not as warm as neoprene.
     
  4. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
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    It also depends on how many dives you are doing, for how long, and your general tolerance to cold.
     
  5. JAB110

    JAB110 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: New Jersey
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    Hey, thanks for the quick reply. So the ras hguard supplies some warmth? or it's just something that will be good to have under the wet suit anyway, and maybe provides some skin protection?

    I'm fairly small, 5'7" tall and 150lbs. I few extra pounds in the middle, but not considered heavy I think. Probably about average flexibility, but i'm in my 50s, so not like i once was. (I do jog and stretch every other day.) My cold tolerance is probably average or maybe a little below. I'm not the guy who's always sweating, but i do feel the cold sometimes when outdoors, even tho dressed for it. Sorry so vague, i don't have enough experience in water to really answer.

    I did some quick looks for 3/2 suits, seemed to get alot of hits for Surfing suits. Does that sound right, or just a coincidence?

    Finally, this is funny, but i just glanced at your name and thought it was "Irish Human"... Me too!
     
  6. 2airishuman

    2airishuman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    2,446
    1,654
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    The rashguard doesn't provide much warmth. I use it mainly for protection from the sun and jellyfish. Some people wear them under a wetsuit -- I don't, either one or the other.

    I have a Neosport 3/2 full suit. I wouldn't necessarily say it is a great suit. It wasn't expensive. After maybe 50 dives there's been some noticeable loss of elasticity but it's still usable. I would guess I'll get 100 or 200 dives out of it before I have to replace it. Neosport also makes a 5mm full suit, so if you like the fit of their 3/2 you can add the 5 to your dive locker.

    My 3mm freedive suit is from freedivestore.com. Makespearguns.com has very similar suits but not in my size, they may fit you and their prices are a little better. Something for you to ponder. I carry a trigger spray bottle with 5% hair conditioner and the rest water and use that to wet my skin and the suit before putting it on. It's an extra step but I think it's worth it. I'm 51 and can get in and out of a freedive suit ok.

    Those choices (a rashguard, a 3/2 and also either a 5mm full or 3mm freediving suit) would definitely carry you down to 75 degrees. Then you can judge whether you need something more for 70 degrees. Maybe, maybe not.
     
  7. JAB110

    JAB110 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: New Jersey
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    Thanks Lorenzoid. While i was responding to 2airishuman, i guess you had posted. Wow! What a great forum.
    And to your point about warmth/comfort being a bit personal - i bet that's right, but also probably means, the more opinions the better. And i'm grateful for yours.

    I think i kind of learned from what you both wrote that i might want to start out with something like the 3mm (or the 3/2 "Irish Human" mentioned) and then i'll have to learn from there where my comfort lies. Sounds like you tried things and adjusted based on experience, and i'll probably need to too. Anyway, thanks again.

    Btw, when looking for the 3mm suit full suit, well, there's an awful lot to choose from. I don't mean manufacturer so much, but is there features that are "must have" or price points that say "if you paid under $200, it's not gonna last etc."? As i said, i'm new to this, so i'm not the type to spend a fortune on all the gear, and then find out - eh, this isn't for me. I'd much rather build my arsenal slowly, based on interest, demand etc.
     
  8. 2airishuman

    2airishuman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    2,446
    1,654
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    Surfing wetsuits sometimes have a larger neck opening. I've heard that the neoprene compresses more than that on scuba wetsuits, but I'm skeptical that there's much difference. There are also triathalon wetsuits out there that don't cover the arms.

    On the lightest end of the thickness/warmth spectrum it matters much less what you get. Let cost, availability, fit, and convenience be your guide. If you can get a hot deal on a surf wetsuit, great.

    My (real) surname is Irish. I have roots throughout the British Isles and Northern Europe.
     
    ScubaNow likes this.
  9. 2airishuman

    2airishuman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    2,446
    1,654
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    Start with what you need for your next few dives.

    In general the higher dollar wet suits should be more durable because of better neoprene, better seams, and better lining. The more expensive suits generally have a smoother interior lining that is more slippery and easier to get on and off. They will also have more effective seals at the ankles and wrist to limit water movement past these points. All these things matter more on thicker suits than thin ones, because thicker suits are less stretchy and inherently harder to get in and out of, and therefore more susceptible to having the seams pull apart, and because they are used in cold water the seals matter more.
     
  10. JAB110

    JAB110 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: New Jersey
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    Thanks again Irish - you're too much. All good info, and i appreciate your taking the time. I'll try to remember to post back with what i do (and what i learn from it).
     

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