What is a drysuit?
A drysuit is a full body garment that is designed to keep the wearer dry when immersed in water. Clothing of some sort such as stinger suit is normally worn underneath a drysuit and this will also remain dry throughout the activity. A drysuit is suitable for water temperature between -2 and 25°C or 28 to 77°F.
What makes up a drysuit? Most drysuits are made up of several key parts:
- Fabric body of suit (Arms legs etc),
- A sealable way of entering the suit (Zip),
- A method of sealing the extremities (Neck, wrists and ankles),
MATERIALS AND BODY CONSTRUCTION
The body of a drysuit is, in the main, made from one of three different material types. Drysuits used for surface sports such as sailing and kayaking tend to be made from waterproof breathable fabrics and are very flexible. The panels are sewn together then the seams are normally sealed with seam sealing tape. This tape is applied by a seam sealing machine that heats up the tape and applies it to the seam through a series of rollers. This results in a strong and flexible seam that is watertight.
Drysuits used for diving are normally either made from crushed neoprene or a 3 layer material (sometimes referred to as membrane material). Crushed neoprene is similar to the material that wetsuits are made from expect that it has been compressed or partially flattened. Different manufacturers have different ways of doing this. 'Membrane' material is normally a tough material like Nylon on the inside and outside with butyl rubber in the middle.
There are some surface drysuits that are made from membrane type fabrics. These are popular with emergency services as the material is more robust than a breathable garment. The down side of these garments is that they can be less comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Because the wearer needs a way to get into this completely sealed suit it is necessary to put an entry zip in the product. This cannot be just any old zip, but must be a special type of zip called a "dry zip". There are 2 main types of dry zip, commonly referred to as metal or plastic. Dry zips have teeth that fit very closely together to keep the water out.
Generally speaking metal zips are able to stand up to higher water pressures before leaking and are favoured on diving drysuits where the extra water pressure at depth poses a greater challenge to staying dry. Some surface sport drysuits also use metal dry zips.
Plastic drysuits tend to be more flexible and have a lower cost than metal zips and perform very well indeed on suits for sports such as kayaking and sailing. They are still uncommon on diving drysuits as most diving suit manufacturers prefer to rely on the extra resistance to water pressure given by metal dry zips.
The zips can be located either across the shoulders at the back of the suit, or diagonally from one shoulder down to the opposite hip. These two styles are commonly referred to as 'rear entry' or 'front entry' respectively.
In cold conditions it is hard to beat a drysuit for keeping warm in the water. Even thick wetsuits struggle to keep you anywhere near as warm and comfortable. Drysuits tend to be more expensive than wetsuits though and are beyond the reach of many beginners.
When spending time on the beach or in the pool, always protect your skin and those of your loved ones by covering up with full body sun guard swimsuit for children and full body sun guard swimsuit for women.