Now that you have selected your desired dry suit material you need to consider a few more dry suit construction and accessory details before you are ready to make your purchase. These dry suit details might also change your original dry suit material choice, so keep an open mind.
First you’ll need to consider what seals your dry suit should have. There are two places you need seals, neck and wrists. Without proper seals, your suit would not be watertight, thus defeating the purpose of dry suit. You might wonder now, why there are no ankle seals. The answer is simple, majority of dry suits come with attached boots, so you don’t need to worry about it. The seal material is either latex or neoprene.
1) Latex seals are by far the most popular due to the easiness of its use and maintenance, however, they are very easily damanged and they also do not insulate very well. That said, there are a few maintenance tips and tricks which will increase the longevity if followed, but on that in our next post.
2) Neoprene seals use regular wet suit neoprene with nylon on one side and they are either flat against the skin or they are double folded. These seals are harder to get into, however, they are more durable and very easily repaired. They also insulate and are less likely to let any small drops of water in around your wrist area. One big disadvantage is that they stretch after some tie and they also are more costly and more difficult to repair.
The most expensive, thus most important part of a dry suit are the waterproof zipppers which allow you to slip in and out of the suit.
These watertight zippers need proper care, so they stay waterproof. The main differences are in a way the zipper is positioned on the dry suit. There are horizontal waist zippers, across shoulders zippers, and diagonally from hip to shoulder zippers. What zipper you will select, depends solely on what you are comfortable with. Some people say that a disadvantage of a shoulder zipper is that you need a diving friend to help you zip it up, which is true, but since you are suppose to dive with a buddy, this is not an issue anyway.
Since the principle of dry suit diving is that the suit is filled with air instead of water, it therefore needs inflator and exhaust valves to be present on the suit. The inflator valve, usually on the chest of the dry suit, is used to add air to the suit in short bursts and exhaust valve, usually on left shoulder let’s you remove the air from the suit. There are different types of valves and as always, higher quality comes with a price, so choose wisely. The differences between the valves are minimal, so just make sure it works :). You can also add custom valves to your suit. Very common is for example a pee valve. The pee valve (also P-valve) allows you to pee while underwater, so you don’t have to cut your dive short.
You have a choice between dry or wet gloves while dry suit diving. If you dive in sub 0 degree Celsius waters, dry gloves with an extra under glove are probably a much better choice as your fingers will be useful when you get out of the water, however, if you are in warmer waters you can use regular wetsuit gloves and just vary the thickness or either mittens, all finger or cut off finger gloves. Just make sure you always pull the gloves up over the seals, so you prevent unnecessary leakage into the exposure suit.
As with gloves, some suits have dry hoods which are actually attached to the dry suit itself and it includes an insulator under cap to keep you warm. However, most recreational divers use wetsuit hoods with a neck bib to keep them sealed in.
As mentioned in our previous dry suit materials article, most common version of a boot is attached to the suit itself, so for divers, this is not a concern.