After spending the summer in Swedish waters I have now returned to Koh Tao and the swimming pool like conditions of the water. One of the experiences I have brought with me is the benefits of dry suit diving.
Tropical Drysuit Diving
So why would I ever go trough all this trouble?
If you ever have been diving in tropical waters during your vacation then you probability did it in a pair of board shorts and a rash guard. But as soon as you decide to stick around for a while longer then quickly you will realize the water is not that warm any more. You will be coming up from the dives shivering. When i first started diving I did it in my boardies, a few weeks later and 3mm shorty felt OK. The weeks went by and so did my tolerance for the cold. An upgrade to a full 3mm wet suit felt fine for some time, but then the monsoon came. Bye bye 3mm and hello 5mm full wet suit, gloves and hood. It kept me warm. But now I dive in my Fusion Tech shell dry suit from Whites.
When I ask other divers what their take on dry suits are most say ice diving or winter back home. And this is true, if you want to dive stay warm and have a good dive you need a dry suit. But there is so much more to it. Diving around the world in your dry suit is like carrying a multi-tool in your pocket. You can use it everywhere and all the time. It all depends on what you wear under the shell. Right now I use a thin wool undergarment to transport any perspiration away from me. When I´m in the water the suit it self does not provide any insulation. If I feel warm I would let some of the air which is acting like an insulator. If I feel to cold I just add some. If I decide to go back to Sweden for Christmas all I do is to add an extra layer of isolation. As a technical diver I keep all my diving configuration the same all the time. The benefit from this is that facing any emergency I act the same way every time, not different for each configuration style. Even in warm waters the duration and depth usually is greater than recreational dives which affects the thermal exposure. A wet suit will compress during descent and thermal protection will decrease with it. Descending in a dry suit you would add air to equalize the suit. Water will cool down your body approximately 25 times faster, in a dry suit you are not at all affected by this in the same way.
Especially now during monsoon season I clearly see the benefits of diving dry. On the dive boats after the first dive people come out of the water with blue lips seeking shelter near the compressor or engine room covered in all the towels they can find. Meanwhile I stand on deck with the zipper open venting out some air. With a big smile across my face I am ready for the second dive.