When it comes to exposure suits or wet suits and dry suits there are literally hundreds of options to choose from. Personally I’m all about staying warm, and if on an unlucky occasion if something goes wrong you have extra thermal protection to keep you going. Additionally there is nothing like being cold to wreak your dive. In the tropics, I started with a shorty, which was fine for a while, but I found that it didn’t always keep me warm, so eventually I opted for a full length. I admit my purchase was a mistake as I went for a 2.5mm Waterproof W30, which I purchased from Adreno. In hindsight, I should have purchased a 5mm for tropical diving.
For the temperate waters of Victoria I opted for a 7mm semi dry Cressi Lontra. It’s funny when you consider the marketing for these sorts of suits as you are completely wet! During the peak of winter, I combined this suit with an overshorty as the water temperature drops down to around 12 degrees. After two years of wearing a wetsuit I had enough, the climax was when after one dive all my buddies were laughing and chatting and I was sitting on the bench, miserable and shivering. I decided then and there that I was going to invest in a Dry suit. One word of caution, when you switch to a dry suit you become soft. There have been times that I couldn’t be bothered reconfiguring my weights when teaching in the pool, so there I was with thermal undergarments and dry suit teaching in a heated pool.
If you dive in waters below 19 degrees, I do suggest a dry suit investment, you don’t get cold and as a bonus you have a redundant source of buoyancy. You don’t need to spend a fortune on exposure protection, the Cressi Lontra is relativity inexpensive and when it comes to dry suits I managed to pick up a bargain with my Beuchat ‘Baltik for $700 from Adreno. Dry suits can be very expensive and I’m sure you gain some benefit from a $2000 model, but if you are on a budget the less expensive ones will suffice. It’s important to remember that it’s not the dry suit that keeps you warm rather the undergarment, so make sure you purchase one thick enough to cope with the water you dive in. You will need to replace the wrist and neck seals occasionally, the last thing you want if is a broken seal whilst diving. If you live in Melbourne, I highly recommend DKY Dry suits.