2SourcesBarsky, S., D. Long, B. Stinton Drysuit Diving – A Guide To Diving Dry. Watersport Publishing, Inc., San Diego, California.T. Joiner (ed.) NOAA Diving Manual - Diving for Science and Technology, Fourth Edition. Best Publishing Company, Flagstaff, Arizona.
3Thermal ProtectionSome measure of thermal protection is necessary for diving - even in warm watersAverage body temperature is 98.6°FTo one degree or another, the body will lose heat in water cooler than body temperature. Hypothermia can occur in water as warm as 91 °FHypothermia occurs when the core body temperature is lower than 95 °F. However, A diver can become incapacitated by chilling - without ever becoming hypothermic.
4Chilling Chilling: Increases fatigue Reduces dexterity Affects short-term memory and the ability to think clearlyIncreases air consumption (a diver’s metabolism increases as the body burns more calories in an effort to maintain temperature)May increase the risk of decompression sickness
5WetsuitsWetsuits are made from foam neoprene. The neoprene has thousands of closed cells containing nitrogen. These cells provide insulation.Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water next to the diver’s skin. This water is warmed by the diver.Wetsuits come in a variety of thicknesses – one mm up to 7mm. The thickness of the wetsuit determines its insulating capacity.
6Wetsuits VS Dry SuitsWetsuits are most effective at 60°F and above - diving in water temperatures 50°F and colder usually requires a dry suit.Table 1 (next slide) indicates that the efficiency of wet suits declines at a much faster rate than that of dry suits during multiple dive days.Dry suits are the most efficient form of passive thermal protection for the diver – they can greatly increase the amount of time a diver can stay underwater.Dry suits afford greater protection against contaminants in polluted water
7Table 1. Thermal Efficiency of Wetsuits vs. Dry Suits WETSUITS DRY SUITSWater Temperature 1st dive 2nd dive 3rd dive 1st dive 2nd dive 3rd dive70°F % % % % 100% %60°F % % % % 100% %50°F % % % % 100% %40°F % % * % % %32°F * * * % 75% %Table is based upon 30-minute dives at 50 fsw, with one hour surface intervals between dives. The * indicates an exposure not recommended unless involved in a contingency situation.
8Wetsuits VS Dry SuitsThe initial cost of a dry suit is greater than that of a wetsuitDry suits require more maintenanceDry suits are more bulky and more buoyant, requiring more weight than wetsuitsMore care is required to manage buoyancy in a dry suit
9Dry Suits – What Are They? One piece suits with a waterproof zipper for entering the suit, attached boots, and seals at the diver’s wrists and neck.Water does not enter the suit.Undergarments are worn under the suit for insulation. The type and amount of undergarments worn determine the level of insulation.Suits have inflator valves – generally located on the chest - for putting air into the suit. They also have exhaust valves – generally located on the upper left arm – for venting air from the suit.
10Dry Suits – 2 Entry Styles Shoulder entry suitZipper for entry located on back. You must have assistance to get in suit.
11Dry Suits – 2 Entry Styles Self-donning suitZipper for entry is located across front of suit, So assistance entering suit is not necessary. However, these suits are generally more expensive than shoulder entry suits
12Dry Suit Types Foam neoprene (compressed neoprene) The same material wetsuits are made ofAdvantagesThe material stretches well, and can be tailored to fit the body closely.Has good insulating propertiesmay require less or even no undergarmentsbeneficial in the event of a leakThe only type of dry suit that is inherently buoyant.Most inexpensive type of suit.
13Dry Suit Types Foam neoprene Disadvantages Loses buoyancy and insulation value as depth increasesTends to develop leaks over time as cracks develop in the bubble layers and water migrates through the materialMay be difficult to patch and repairMay not last as long as other types of dry suits
14Foam neoprene dry suits (note inflator valve on chest and exhaust valve on upper left arm)
15Dry Suit Types Crushed neoprene Advantages Very tough and flexible Can be tailored into a suit of outstanding fitGood for swimmingHigh insulation valueLong lasting
16Dry Suit Types Crushed neoprene Disadvantages May be difficult to repairMay be heavier than suits made of other materialsMore expensive than foam neoprene
18Dry Suit Types Urethane coated nylon Composed of nylon to which urethane has been applied in order to create a waterproof barrier.AdvantagesLightweightLow costDisadvantagesLittle stretch, so fit is loose and baggy
20Dry Suit Types Trilaminate (TLS) Composed of two layers of tightly woven nylon with a layer of rubber in betweenOriginally designed for chemical warfareAdvantagesLightweight, yet very strongFlexible material, Easily repairedDisadvantagesLittle stretch
22Dry Suit Types Vulcanized rubber Advantages Disadvantages Easily repairedDries quicklyExcellent for diving in polluted watersEasier to decontaminate than other dry suit typesDisadvantagesHas some stretch, but not as form fitting as neoprene suitsHeavy
23Vulcanized rubber dry suits (good for diving in polluted environments)
24Dry Suit Seals – 2 Types Latex – the most common type Advantages Good stretch, so more comfortable – puts less pressure on neck and restsQuick to repairNot as likely to leakDisadvantagesMore easily punctured or torn
25Dry Suit Seals – 2 Types Neoprene Advantages Disadvantages Rugged – harder to tear and longer lastingDisadvantagesDifficult to repairIndividuals with skinny necks may have difficulty getting a proper sealDo not stretch as well and may feel uncomfortableMay fit looser as neoprene becomes permanently stretched
26Dry Suit Undergarments Undergarments increase insulation by trapping air against your body – different materials are better at insulating than others.Undergarments also affectbuoyancy, mobility, andcomfort
27Dry Suit Undergarments Open cell foamSimilar to a sponge in cross sectionLoose fitting, baggy and bulkyFairly resistant to compressionMaintains some insulating properties when damp, but not when soakedWill lose all of its buoyancy if suit floodsLess popular today than competing synthetics
28Dry Suit Undergarments ThinsulateLightweight and quick dryingexcellent insulating properties even when wetRepels waterIs bulky, does not stretch or breathe, and is more uncomfortable than some other materials
29Dry Suit Undergarments Synthetic pile garmentsGenerally made of polyesterHas a tendency to form lint which may block exhaust valvesBuoyantLoses insulating characteristics when wet
30Dry Suit Undergarments Polartec®Good insulating characteristics with little bulkLots of stretch – easy to don and swim inDoes not retain its insulation capabilities once wet
31Dry Suit ValvesMost dry suits today have separate inflator and exhaust valvesInflator valvesPush-button, connects to a low pressure inflator hose running from the 1st stageTypically located on the center of the chest, but can be located elsewhere depending on the manufacturerMust be accessible while diving and easily disconnected with heavy gloves
32Typical Inflator valve with push-button operation located on the chest.
33Dry Suit Valves Exhaust valves Generally located on the upper left arm, but may also be situated on the wrist or chestMost exhaust valves today are “automatic exhaust valves” – that is, they will vent automatically when positioned at the highest point on the dry suitMay also be vented manuallyGenerally, dry suit exhaust valves do not vent air as rapidly as a buoyancy compensator (BC)
34Typical dry suit automatic exhaust valve positioned on upper left arm Typical dry suit automatic exhaust valve positioned on upper left arm. Note the manual vent button in center of valve.
35Dry Suit WeightingWhere weighting is concerned, your goal is to dive with the minimum amount of weight possible and, associated with that, the minimum volume of air inside your suit. This will simplify buoyancy control – a diver with excess weight will have to put a great deal of air into a dry suit to become neutral. When this air shifts in the suit it can create buoyancy control issues for the inexperienced dry suit diver.
36Dry Suit WeightingYou should wear only enough weight to allow you to make a safety stop at the end of your dive (15 – 20 ft) when you have 500 psi left in your tank.
37Estimating Weight Requirements Generally, you will need 4 to 10 lbs more weight than you wear with a 7mm wetsuit. How much weight you need depends on a variety of factors including:The type of dry suitThe type of undergarmentYour personal buoyancyThe type of tank you useAll tanks become more buoyant as the air inside the tank is usedWhether you’re diving in freshwater or saltwaterMore weight is needed to dive in saltwater (Table 2 – next slide)
38Table 2. Adjusting weight from fresh to saltwater Divers weight Additional weight125 lbs lbs.155 lbs lbs.186 lbs lbs.217 lbs lbs.
39Estimating Weight Requirements Check the manufacturer’s specifications for your cylinder to see how the buoyancy changes from the time the tank is full until it is empty. This change in buoyancy must be considered for proper weightingaluminum 80ft3 Luxfer and Catalina tanks are approximately 2 lbs negative when full and 4 pounds positive when emptyFaber steel 98ft3 tanks are approximately 8 lbs negative when full and neutrally buoyant when empty
40Checking BuoyancyAfter removing air from dry suit (see slide 38) and entering water – perform the following:Place regulator in mouth and breathe normally. Vent all the air out of your BC. You should still float.Vent any remaining air from dry suitIn a vertical position – you should float with your eyes at water level with a lungful of air, and you should begin to sink slowly after exhaling all the air from your lungs.If you sink rapidly you are too negative.Add or subtract weights as necessary.Now add weight to account for the change in buoyancy of your tank as you breatheAdd approximately 2/3 the weight of the buoyancy change of your scuba cylinder from full to empty (you may find you have to adjust this slightly).You should be able to become neutral at a depth of 10 feet when you have 500psi of air in your tank.
41Donning a Dry SuitLubricate the seals with pure talcum powder (do not use scented talcs which contain oils that can damage seals). This will allow you to get through seals easier. Soapy water may be used as well.Remove all watches and jewelry including earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings. Any of these may tear a dry suit seal.Once lower body is in suit, put on and adjust suspenders. They should be taut, supporting the lower part of the suit, but not tight. There should still be some stretch in them.
42Donning a Dry SuitWhen putting hands through wrist seals, extend fingers (including thumb) and squeeze them together – this will give your hand the smallest diameter for getting through the seal.With your free hand, either grab the outside of the seal and pull it over the hand inside the suit, or alternatively, slip two or three fingers of the free hand inside the opening of the wrist seal and pull the seal over the hand inside the sleeve. In either case, do not dig your fingernails into the seal.Insure no undergarments extend through seal.Ideally, at least two inches of seal should be in direct contact with your skin.
43Donning a Dry Suit Neoprene wrist seals May be either cone-shaped or designed to fold under.If the seal is cone-shaped, insure that it is pushed far enough up the arm to insure a sealIf the seal is meant to be folded under, then insure that at least 2 inches of material is folded under the top layer of neoprene
44Donning a Dry Suit Latex neck seals To spread the neck seal, reach through the seal with both hand and spread the neck seal by pulling against the palms of your hands. Avoid digging your fingers into the latex. Pull the neck seal over your head.Insure that long hairand collars are notcaught in the seal.
45Donning a Dry Suit Neoprene neck seals Position your head at the base of the seal, then, with your hands on the outside of the seal, pull the seal over your head. When the seal reaches your chin, fold the material inside itself.
46Donning a Dry SuitInsure both inflator and exhaust valves work before entering water.Vent the suit.After closing all zippers, it is necessary to remove the air from the suit. This will both make the suit more comfortable to wear on deck, and prevent air from escaping from the neck and creating a leak upon entering the water.Squat down, cross your arms over your chest and either manually open the exhaust valve, or let air out through the neck.
47Diving a Dry Suit – Check for Leaks Do not dive if your suit is leaking. Upon entering the water, take a moment to check for leaks. If any leak is found, take the time to fix the problem – a small leak on the surface may get worse at depth, and will certainly continue throughout your dive.
48Diving a Dry Suit – Venting air From the Suit To start the dive, vent all the air from your BC then vent the air out of your dry suit via the exhaust valve.If you have an automatic exhaust valve, open it all the way and leave it open throughout the dive. If your automatic exhaust valve is located on your upper left arm, then lift your left elbow out of the water (thereby making the exhaust valve the highest part of the suit) while keeping your arm bent and your hand pointed towards the bottom. You will hear air hissing out of the valve.
49Diving a Dry Suit – Descending and controlling buoyancy As you sink through the water column you will begin to feel “squeeze” on your body. Add just enough air to relieve the pressure and control your descent using short bursts.Control buoyancy at depth using only your dry suit. Do not add air to your BC to control buoyancy – it is very difficult to control buoyancy when you have air in 2 separate compartments – controlling both air compartments simultaneously is an advanced skill and is not recommended for the novice dry suit diver.
50Diving a Dry Suit – Controlling buoyancy Maintain a minimum volume of air inside the suit – there should not be a large bubble of air inside your suit, nor should you notice massive air shifts as you change position
51Diving a Dry Suit - Ascending If you have an automatic exhaust valve – insure that it is open before ascending.If valve is located on upper left arm (the standard location) – then raise it so valve is higher than rest of suit. Keep your lower arm pointed down -Do not extend the rest of your arm higher than the valve or air will rise to your wrist and bypass the valve.If you are not using an automatic exhaust valve, then, again, raise your arm so the valve is at the highest point and use your other hand to push in on the valve to vent air.
52Diving a Dry SuitIf you are using an automatic valve and find you are ascending faster than you should, raise the valve higher and air should vent faster. If air still isn’t venting fast enough, vent the valve manually by pushing down on the valve.Inflate your BC at the surface – it is more comfortable to move on the surface this way rather than inflating your dry suit.
53Dry Suit LeaksSmall amounts of water may enter your dry suit through seals. Flexing your wrists and turning your head allow water to enter around pronounced tendons. This is normal, and can be avoided with knowledge and practice.
54Diving a Dry Suit – A Warning Do not lift heavy weights by inflating your dry suit or BC – if the weight drops you will become dangerously buoyant
55Diving a Dry Suit – Emergency Techniques Stuck inflator valveAn improperly maintained inflator valve can stick open – this will cause your suit to inflate continuously.You should attempt to disconnect your inflator hose immediately, and vent excess air through the exhaust valve at the same time (this can only be done if you have an automatic exhaust valve if you have a manually operated valve then disconnect the hose first, then vent the manual exhaust).
56Diving a Dry Suit – Emergency Techniques Improperly functioning exhaust valveAn improperly maintained valve, or a valve that has become clogged during a dive may fail to exhaust airIf your exhaust valve fails, you should immediately stop your ascent, if possible. Rotating or manually operating an automatic valve may get it to work. Little can be done to get a manual valve to work properly once clogged.If your valve still does not function properly try to ascend an anchor line or some other fixed object while venting air by opening a neck or wrist seal – you will get wet doing this. If doing a free ascent, be prepared to vent air rapidly through the neck or wrist seals.
57Diving a Dry Suit – Emergency Techniques Losing weight belt at depthWill cause you to become very buoyant with an extremely fast ascent - It is doubtful you will be able to vent enough air through the exhaust valve to get control of the situationWork to stop your ascent and be prepared to vent air from your suit from the wrist seal or neck seal.
58Diving a Dry Suit – Emergency Techniques Rapid ascentYou may slow your ascent dramatically by holding your ankles rigid with your fins parallel to the bottom (the fins act as “water brakes”), arching your back, and holding your arms out parallel to your body.Another technique for slowing a rapid ascent is to swim horizontally, so your body presents a greater surface area.
59Diving a Dry Suit – Emergency Techniques Righting yourselfIt is possible for excess air to move to the feet of your dry suit, potentially making it difficult to return to an upright position.To right yourself in such a situation, tuck your body into a ball, give a slight kick, and roll to an upright position. Once you are upright immediately vent your suit through the exhaust valve to regain control.
60Diving a Dry Suit – Emergency Techniques Complete dry-suit floodingOccurs only rarely, possibly from the complete failure of a zipper, blow out of a neck seal, or the destruction of a valve. Total flooding of your dry suit may cause you to become negative depending on what kind of undergarments you are wearing.Usually you will be able to achieve neutral or positive buoyancy by inflating your BC.A flooded dry suit may make it extremely difficult to exit the water – someone may have to puncture the leg of the suit to drain water.
61Removing a Dry SuitRemove a latex neck seal by sliding the fingers of each hand down between your neck and the seal, grasping firmly, spreading the neck seal with your hands, and lifting up.Remove a fold-under neoprene neck seal by first unrolling it, then firmly grasping the edge of the seal and pull the seal up and over the head.
62Removing a Dry SuitTo remove a latex wrist seal, insert 2 fingers under the wrist seal with the fingernails against the wrist, slide the fingers down past the seal, grasp the sleeve of the suit, and pull your arm out of the sleeve.To remove a neoprene wrist seal – simply unfold it and follow the instructions above for wrist seals.
63Maintenance of Dry Suits Rinse dry suits thoroughly – especially the valves and zippers. Close the zipper and the seals with rubber bands to prevent water entry. Operate valves as you run water over them – rotate automatic valves and push the inflator button several times.Dry a suit out of the sun – you may need to turn the suit inside-out if it is wet inside.
64Maintenance of Dry Suits Zipper lubrication – zippers should be lubricated either before or after you dive. Use bees wax or paraffin wax – never use silicone spray or grease on your dry suit zipper. (Also, be sure to remove any excess paraffin wax – otherwise it will cause deterioration of latex seals if let in contact with the seal for long periods of time)Close the zipper and only lubricate the outside – if you lubricate the inside dirt will collect and cause the zipper to fail.A thin film of wax is sufficient
65Storage of Dry Suits Follow manufactures recommendations Store away from electric motors and other producers of ozone – ozone deteriorates latexAvoid storing in direct sunlightNever use metal hangers – they cause creases and rustDo not bend zipper in storage – roll suit with zipper open
66Dry Suit Accessories Gloves Wet gloves are most common – essentially wetsuit gloves pulled over the tops of wrist sealsDry glovesConnected to suit with cuff ringsWarmest gloves, but prone to floodingWork only with latex seals
67Dry Suit Accessories Hoods Wet hoods are most common Semi-dry hoods Can be attached to suit or separateSemi-dry hoodsNeoprene – attached to suit and seal around face
68Dry Suit Accessories Dry hoods Insulating hood Warmest hoods Latex hood attached to suit that seals around faceRequires separate insulating hood worn underneath latex hoodWill not work with a beardInsulating hood
69Dry Suit Accessories Ankle weights ½ - 3 pound weights attached to each ankleHelp to keep feet down and retain trim underwaterMay help for beginners, but NOT a necessary item for dry suitsFatiguing during long swims
70Dry Suit Accessories P – valves Allows for underwater urination Most convenient for males with condom catheterAvailable for females, but not as convenient or easy to use – requires shaving and lots of adhesiveAdult diapers are the alternative
71Dry Suit Accessories Pockets Many styles and attachment points availableCreates drag underwater
72Dry Suit Accessories Argon inflation systems Requires separate inflationbottle and 1st stageArgon is more dense thanhelium or air, and providesbetter insulating qualities