How do Drysuits Work? Everything You Need to Know

Drysuits are full-body, waterproof suits that seal a layer of air between the diver and the water. These suits are designed to keep you dry or basically avoid freezing underwater. Moreover, these definitely differ from wetsuits. Generally, it can be said that drysuits are much more complicated than wetsuits. It’s because the former has special features that the latter doesn’t have. In this blog post, we’ll dwell into how do drysuits work with regards to those features. Furthermore, make sure to stick around until the end for we have additional information about the differences between drysuits and wetsuits.

How do Drysuits Work?

First, take note that you must wear any insulating layer under your drysuit. It’s because your drysuit will really keep out any water, but it doesn’t have additional insulation. For this reason, put on any material that will help in keeping you warm underwater. Appropriate undergarments range from thin, moisture-wicking base layers to full body suits of fleece, cotton, and other synthetic materials. Other divers also opt for multiple undergarments for different environments with varying temperature.

Next, you’ll observe that a drysuit has rubber seals around the neck and wrists parts. Moreover, these seals or gaskets have two parts each. There is the inner seal as well as the outer seal which both have flexible rubber membranes. These membranes certainly fit tight around the skin which prevents water from entering. At the same time, the suit can go with the diver’s movement because the said membranes are flexible.

Going down to the feet part of the drysuit, you’ll have two options. Some drysuits have the same seals or gaskets for the neck and wrists. At the same time, some drysuits have sock-like material attached to them. These socks are still made from the same material as the suit, so water will really be prevented from entering. Moreover, you’ll need to wear special boots over the socks for additional safety underwater.

Furthermore, when diving with a drysuit, you certainly must monitor and adjust the volume of air inside it. Moreover, take note that the said air is compressible. The main concept that you must remember is that while descending, the air in the suit is being compressed. For this reason, you must offset the compression so that you won’t be shrink-wrapped as you go down. On the other hand, while ascending, you must release the expanding air from the suit. This will prevent an uncontrolled ascent that is definitely hazardous for you.

Drysuit’s Inflation and Deflation

Photo Credits: Joi Ito/ Flickr

A drysuit has a power-inflation valve responsible for inflating it. Moreover, the said valve is disk-shaped and is usually on the diver’s chest. In addition to this, the valve is also connected to the regulator through a low pressure inflator hose. You just need to press down on the valve in order to fill the drysuit with air.

On the other hand, a drysuit has a second valve too which is for deflation. Moreover, this second valve is usually on the diver’s left shoulder. To use this deflation mechanism, position your body in a way that this valve is at the highest point. Then press down on the said valve to open it.

Drysuits vs Wetsuits

Without a doubt, the difference between a wetsuit and drysuit is one of the first things to know if you are an amateur diver. Your diving suit is going to be your protective attire when you are already down there. For this reason, you must know what to wear between the two which is dependent upon certain factors.

Factor #1: Temperature of the Water

For starters, the most important factor in deciding whether to wear a wetsuit or a drysuit is the water temperature. Basically, you should opt for a wetsuit if the water temperature is higher than 60° F or 16° C. On the other hand, choose a drysuit if the water temperature is lower than 60° F or 16° C. Just take note that this is the standard. Other divers do take into consideration their own tolerance to cold.

Factor #2: Insulation Ability of the Diving Suit

Next, another factor is the insulation. Insulation simply pertains to the act of insulating or stopping the passage of heat. Of course, stopping heat loss is the goal of diving suits. Indeed, another difference between drysuits and wetsuits is their insulation ability that is dependent upon the materials which they are made of. Basically, a wetsuit keeps you warm when wet. On the other hand, a drysuit keeps you warm when dry. This is the more in-depth explanation: a wetsuit traps a thin layer of water between your suit and your skin. Then your body will naturally warm up that thin layer of water to something close to your body temperature. Clearly, that results to you staying warm. However, a drysuit isn’t designed to keep you warm on their own. This kind of suit keeps all the water out. It means that you will be completely dry underwater.

Factor #3: Material of the Diving Suit

Furthermore, drysuits and wetsuits do differ too in terms of the materials to which they are made of. Basically, a wetsuit is made from closed-cell foam neoprene, spandex, neogreene, ariaprene, and yulex. On the other hand, a drysuit is made from vulcanized rubber, foam neoprene, crushed neoprene, and heavy-duty nylon. Moreover, and just like what is being implied above, a wetsuit isn’t waterproof while a drysuit is.

Factor #4: Fit of the Diving Suit

Moreover, drysuits and wetsuits have different fits. Your scuba diving attire is a wetsuit if it’s skin-tight. It’s designed like that because if it isn’t, the thin layer of water will rapidly be replaced by cold water from the ocean. What this actually entails on your part is that your body will definitely use a lot of energy to heat up those cold waters. Then you will absolutely end up being so cold. On the other hand, it’s a drysuit if it’s loose. It’s designed like that for you to be able to wear insulating undergarments underneath. There are valves in the suit that you can use to control the insulating layer of air between the suit and your skin. Furthermore, take note that you can add gas while descending. Conversely, you can release gas while ascending.

Factor #5: Mobility Allowance for the Diver

Another difference between drysuits and wetsuits is their allowed mobility for the diver. Basically, you can move quicker when wearing a wetsuit and a bit slower when wearing a drysuit. This is a no-brainer since wetsuits are skin-tight while drysuits are baggy. Moreover, this is also the reason why wetsuits are better for cold water surf sports. The one wearing it can really move around freely. On the other hand, drysuits are for kayaking, standup paddling, as well as wakesurfing. Additionally, drysuits nowadays have better designs that allow them to be more comfortable.

Factor #6: Inherent Buoyancy of the Diving Suit

Buoyancy is also a factor differentiating drysuits and wetsuits. First of all, buoyancy pertains to the ability to float in water. Basically, a wetsuit compresses with depth and in turn lose some of their inherent buoyancy. It certainly gets thinner too and then slowly lose their insulating capacity. On the other hand, a drysuit has more inherent buoyancy. It’s because it allows the diver to add air to compensate for the increased pressure at depth.

Factor #7: Required Learning for the Diver

Another difference between drysuits and wetsuits is the required learning to use them. Basically, a wetsuit has almost none. On the other hand, those who will use a drysuit needs to learn things such as controlling buoyancy and weight setup. For this reason, really be informed on how to use a drysuit because you don’t want to risk your safety underwater.

Factor #8: Versatility of the Diving Suit

Moreover, drysuits and wetsuits vary in terms of versatility. Take note that you can definitely use drysuits in warm water, but you can’t wear wetsuits in very cold water.

Factor #9: Lifespan of the Diving Suit

Furthermore, another difference between drysuits and wetsuits is their lifespan. First, take note that your diving suit will last depending mainly on how you take care of it. On the other hand, a wetsuit typically has a lifespan of about 5 to 10 years. However, a drysuit typically has a lifespan of about 15 years or more. It’s because they are designed to be used in various environments unlike the wetsuits.

Factor #10: Price and Cost of Ownership of the Diving Suit

In addition to all mentioned above, drysuits and wetsuits have different purchase costs. It’s truly a no-brainer that drysuits are more expensive than wetsuits because of their complex design. Drysuits have valves as well as seals or zippers and a lot more!

Also, the cost of ownership is different between drysuits and wetsuits. Again, obviously, the cost of owning drysuits in the long run is much higher than that of owning wetsuits. As you dive over and over again, you are wearing off your suit. For this reason, a drysuit needs its seal and boots or socks to be replaced. Furthermore, it may have leaks that need to be attended to. The bright side of drysuits is that they are intended to last. Despite all the maintenance, they will stick around you. However, a wetsuit can already be worn off with just a few number of dives. Because of this, you may need to buy a new one again. You see, this is actually where these two diving suits are sort of meeting at the middle.

Factor #11: Maintenance Demands of the Diving Suit

Lastly, drysuits and wetsuits have their own maintenance needs. Maintaining a wetsuit consists of soaking it in warm freshwater after each dive. Do that for at least 20 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with clean freshwater afterwards. Next, leave it to air dry with opened zippers. Now, keeping them entails you to store them lying flat or on a hanger in a cool place with no direct sunlight. Through this, permanent creases will be avoided.

However, maintaining a drysuit is much more complicated. First, rinse it with clean freshwater after a dive. Next, clean the zippers thoroughly and carefully for they are the most delicate parts of the suit. Then leave in an upside down position to air dry. Then afterwards, you have to lubricate the zippers to prevent perishing. In lubricating, you can opt to use various products that are recommended by diving supplies companies. Additionally, the most common used lubricant is the beeswax. Finally, store the drysuit on a hanger in a place with no direct sunlight.


Important thing to consider when going diving is indeed the suit that you will be wearing. Bear in mind that it serves as your shield underwater. For this reason, you really must think about the right kind to wear. Once again, there are two kinds of suits for scuba diving: the wetsuit and the drysuit. This post has focused upon drysuits. After reading, you surely know now that these drysuits have technicalities that you shouldn’t just brush off.