As you descend into the depths of the ocean, the world around you transforms. The salty water engulfs you, and the pressure increases with every passing moment. You feel the cool embrace of the ocean and hear the sound of your own breath echoing in your ears.
Whether you're dinghy sailing, diving, surfing, paddleboarding, or kayaking, the right gear can make a big difference in your comfort, safety, and performance. In this article, we'll explore the 10 main differences between wetsuits and drysuits, so you can choose the right gear for your water sport activity. We'll cover everything from the temperature differences to the advantages and disadvantages of each type of suit.
What are the advantages of a dry suit?
- The main advantage of a dry suit is that it keeps the wearer completely dry, allowing them to stay warm and comfortable in colder water temperatures. Drysuits are also more versatile than wetsuits, as they can be worn in a wider range of water temperatures. Drysuits are also more durable than wetsuits and require less frequent replacement.
What are the disadvantages of a drysuit?
- One disadvantage of using a drysuit is the high cost compared to wetsuits. Drysuits also require proper training and technique to use effectively, making them less beginner-friendly than wetsuits. Drysuits restrict the wearers mobility more than wetsuits.
What are the advantages of a wetsuit?
- The main advantage of wetsuits is their flexibility and mobility, allowing the wearer to move freely in the water. They are also more affordable than drysuits and require less training and certification.
What are the disadvantages of a wetsuit?
- The main disadvantage of wetsuits is that they can still be quite cold in colder water temperatures, as they allow water to enter and then warm up against the body. They also require more frequent replacement than drysuits, as the neoprene material can degrade over time.
- Purpose and Usage
- Material and Design
- Temperature Range
- Buoyancy and Mobility
- Water Entry and Exit
- Care and Maintenance
- Popular Water Sports for Each
- Environmental Impact
- Comfort and Fit
Difference #1: Purpose and Usage
A wetsuit is designed to keep you warm in the water by trapping a thin layer of water between the suit and your skin. This water is warmed by your body heat, creating an insulating layer that keeps you warm even in cold water. Wetsuits are ideal for water sports like surfing, kiteboarding, open water swimming, and dinghy sailing, where you are frequently getting in and out of the water.
A drysuit, on the other hand, is designed to keep you completely dry by keeping water out. Drysuits are used for activities like rafting, SUP, and other water sports where you are not getting in and out of the water frequently. Drysuits are also used for diving in cold water where exposure protection is essential.
Difference #2: Material and Design
Wetsuits are typically made of neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber that is waterproof and provides insulation. Drysuits are made of a variety of materials, including rubber, plastic, and Gore-Tex, and have a loose-fitting design to allow for layers of clothing to be worn underneath.
Difference #3: Temperature Range
Wetsuits are suitable for water temperatures ranging from around 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the thickness of the neoprene. Drysuits are typically worn in colder water temperatures, from around 35 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Difference #4: Buoyancy and Mobility
Wetsuits provide buoyancy, which can help you stay afloat in the water. They also allow for a greater range of motion compared to drysuits, making them ideal for activities like surfing, paddleboarding, and swimming. Drysuits, on the other hand, are less buoyant and can restrict your movement due to their bulkier design.
Difference #5: Water Entry and Exit
It's best to use a wetsuit if you are doing an activity where you expect to get in and out of the water often. Wetsuits are best for when you are going to be exposed to the elements for a prolonged amount of time.
Putting on a wetsuit involves sliding into it like a second skin, while drysuits typically require you to step into them and zip them up. While putting on a wetsuit is generally quicker and easier, getting out of one can be a challenge due to the suction effect created by the neoprene. Drysuits are easier to take off, as they don't create a suction effect.
Difference #6: Cost
Wetsuits are generally less expensive than drysuits, as they are made of less complex materials and do not require the same level of waterproofing. However, the price can vary depending on the quality of the neoprene and the thickness of the suit. Drysuits are typically more expensive due to the waterproof seals and complex materials used in their construction.
Difference #7: Care and Maintenance
Wetsuits require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent damage to the neoprene and extend the life of the suit. Drysuits also require maintenance, such as lubricating the zipper and ensuring the waterproof seals are in good condition.
Difference #8: Popular Water Sports for Each
Wetsuits are commonly used in water sports such as surfing, paddleboarding, and swimming, while drysuits are typically used for activities like dinghy sailing, open water swimming, rafting, and kiteboarding.
Canoeing / Kayaking
Open Water Swimming
|Dinghy Sailing||Cave Diving|
Scuba Diving / Snorkeling
Wakeboarding / Wakesurfing
Difference #9: Environmental Impact
Wetsuits made from traditional neoprene have a significant environmental impact, as neoprene is a petroleum-based product. However, eco-friendly wetsuits made from sustainable materials like recycled rubber are becoming more widely available. Drysuits tend to be very eco friendly, as they are typically made from sustainable materials like Gore-Tex.
Difference #10: Comfort and Fit
When it comes to comfort and fit, both wetsuits and drysuits have their pros and cons. Wetsuits are known for their snug fit, which provides a lot of flexibility and mobility.
Drysuits, on the other hand, are typically looser and bulkier than wetsuits. They are designed to be worn over your regular clothes, so you may need to purchase a larger size than you would for a wetsuit. This extra space can make it more difficult to move around in the water, but it also means you can wear more layers underneath for added warmth. Some drysuits have adjustable cuffs and neck seals that allow you to customize the fit and keep water out.
Best of Both Worlds
The Galapagos wetsuit is a game-changer for water sports enthusiasts who want the best of both worlds. This wetsuit incorporates the advantages of both a wetsuit and a drysuit. The sealed feet, hands, and neck, along with the waterproof interior, make it function like a drysuit, giving users a dry feeling for longer periods and avoiding the discomfort of a cold splash when entering the water. Additionally, the Galapagos wetsuit has the comfort and flexibility of a regular wetsuit, and it's affordable too. With its eco-friendly construction and use of recycled materials, this wetsuit is perfect for those who care about the environment while enjoying their water sports.
Understanding the differences between wetsuits and drysuits is crucial in selecting the appropriate gear for your water sport. Wetsuits are great for surfing, paddleboarding, and other water sports where you are likely to get wet, while drysuits are ideal for polar diving, dinghy sailing, rafting, and kiteboarding. The differences in material, design, temperature range, buoyancy, mobility, water entry and exit, cost, care and maintenance, popular water sports, and comfort and fit make each suit suitable for specific activities.
Consider the differences between wetsuits and drysuits and select the appropriate gear for your activity. Don't forget to also consider the environmental impact of your gear and opt for eco-friendly and sustainable options whenever possible.
What is the difference between wetsuits and drysuits?
- Wetsuits are made of neoprene and allow water to enter, which is then heated by the wearer's body to keep them warm. Drysuits, on the other hand, are designed to keep the wearer completely dry, using a waterproof material and tight seals at the wrists, ankles, and neck.
What temperature should I use a drysuit vs a wetsuit?
- Drysuits are recommended for water temperatures below 60°F, while wetsuits are suitable for water temperatures above 60°F. However, the appropriate temperature range for each type of suit can vary depending on the individual wearer's tolerance for cold water.
What is different about dry suit diving?
- Drysuit diving allows for longer dives in colder water temperatures, as the diver is protected from the cold water. Additionally, drysuit diving requires different training and certification than wetsuit diving.
Why do surfers not wear dry suits?
- Surfers typically prefer wetsuits over drysuits because they offer more flexibility and mobility, allowing the surfer to move more freely on the board.
What is the difference between a wetsuit and a drysuit for kids?
- The difference between wetsuits and drysuits for kids is the same as for adults - wetsuits allow water to enter and then warm up against the body, while drysuits are designed to keep the wearer completely dry.
Can you swim in a drysuit?
- Yes, drysuits are suitable for swimming, as they allow for a full range of motion and protect the wearer from the cold water.
Should I wear a wetsuit in 70 degree water?
- It is not necessary to wear a wetsuit in 70 degree water, as the water is generally warm enough to swim comfortably without one. However, some people may still prefer to wear a wetsuit for added buoyancy and protection.
What temperature is too cold for a wetsuit?
- There is no specific temperature that is too cold for a wetsuit, as it depends on the individual's tolerance for cold water. However, wetsuits are generally suitable for water temperatures above 60°F.
Is water still cold in a wetsuit?
- Yes, the water is still cold when wearing a wetsuit, but the material of the suit insulates the wearer's body and helps to retain body heat, keeping them warmer then they would be without a wetsuit.