Tricks for Staying Warm While Scuba Diving
Staying warm whilst diving is not just about the enjoyment factor. Get too cold and start shivering and you then start eating through your air a lot quicker. Your endurance will drop and you will remember the dive as a bad, short dive rather than another enjoyable experience.
So, what can you do? Well the basic answer is to wear an exposure suit that is appropriate to the water temperature and how well you handle the cold. In water that is not too cold, a 5mm shortie wetsuit may be enough to keep you comfortable throughout the dive.
But, if the dive is slightly colder then you might need more protection and for that you will be looking at thicker and more covering wetsuits. A lot of areas will supply 5mm full length wetsuits for their divers, usually in one piece suits. Because they cover more of your body they keep you warmer.
However, that is only true with a well fitting suit. If the cuffs, ankles, neck or zip area allow a lot of water in and out then the protection is lost. These cuffs, ankles and neck should be snug fitting, although not so tight as to cause you discomfort in the water. By preventing the flow of water in and out of the suit (“flushing”) you are helping to keep yourself a lot warmer.
If you want a little bit more warmth then making sure you are using open heeled fins combined with wetsuit boots are a lot warmer then closed heel, where your foot is exposed directly to the water.
Warmer than the 5mm suit is the 7mm suit. If you are finding that the thinner suit is not keeping you warm then just ask if there are any 7mm suits available. The thicker material should provide a little extra insulation and keep you warmer.
On top of this you can also buy yourself a pair of wetsuit gloves and a separate hood. I have gloves in both 5mm and 7mm, depending on how cold the water is. The thinner gloves are easier to handle gear in so they are my preference, but if the water is very cold then the 7mm gloves provide the protection that I want. Again, gloves and hood should be well fitting and not allow a lot of water to flush through them. Water flushing through them means they aren’t doing their job.
Lastly, if you are going to colder water then you need to look at a semi-dry or even a dry suit. These have better cuffs and seals and should not allow in any water (or very little water in the case of a semi dry). And with a a full dry suit you can also wear a range of thermals underneath them. From basic thermal underwear to purpose made thinsulate suits to keep you snug and warm!