How to choose the best undersuit for drysuit diving - The Honest Diver (2023)

There are sooo many options for layering up underneath your drysuit… how on earth do you wade through all the info and choose the best undersuit for drysuit diving?! When Maria and Kevin came to Honest HQ to go through biomap measuring for their new Fourth Element Argonaut drysuits, they also wanted some advice to help them decide which undergarments they should invest in.

The thing is, it totally depends on what kind of diving you’re doing. I sat down with Kevin and Maria, we had a cup of tea and started to chat about their diving so I could work out what undersuits would be best for them.

I turned our conversation into this very article! If you ask yourself these 5 questions, you’ll be able to narrow down your choice and find the best undersuit for drysuit diving for you.

1. Do you feel the cold?

Ah, the golden question! Some people are just naturally cold-blooded. When everyone else is enjoying the summer sun in their shorts, these guys are still feeling the cold even though they’re sitting in their hoodies!

(Video) The Best Undersuits For 2021 | Dive Brief

If that sounds like you, you need to consider the best undersuit for drysuit diving very carefully. There’s nothing worse than being cold on a dive, it just spoils the whole experience and forces you to surface way sooner than you want to.

Maria considers herself to fall into this category. Her secret to success will be layering. You should aim to build up a wardrobe of undergarments rather than relying on a single undersuit to keep you warm. When you’ve got lots of items to choose from, you can pick the best combo to suit the dive.

For example, for summer dives (where the water in bonny Northumberland can top 16°c) I’ll grab my Fourth Element Xerotherm top and leggings. As the temperature starts to drop in the Autumn, the Xerotherms become my base layer and I chuck my Fourth Element Xcore Vest on top. In the middle of winter, the water temperature can bottom out at 6°c in the North Sea, or even as cold as 2°c if we’re diving in freshwater. In these more challenging conditions, I layer up with my Fourth Element Halo on top.

Having this approach makes everything super flexible and you can tailor-make your undersuit to match the conditions.

How to choose the best undersuit for drysuit diving - The Honest Diver (1)

2. What type of drysuit do you have?

As I mentioned, Kevin and Maria were getting measured for their custom-fit Argonaut suits. These are made from a trilaminate material – which is essentially just a fancy waterproof bag! This type of suit is super comfy and really flexible but it doesn’t give you any thermal protection. You’ll have to carefully choose the best undersuit for drysuit diving in a trilam to make sure you stay warm, but the good news is that there’s plenty of room to layer up to get the best results.

(Video) Drysuit Undersuits | Top Tips | @Simply Scuba

If you dive in a neoprene suit, you’ll find that the suit itself helps to keep you nice and warm. If you don’t really get bothered by the cold, you might not need anything substantial underneath – I know a lot of divers who only wear shorts and a t-shirt underneath! When the water temperature starts to drop and you feel like you need an extra boost, you’d reach for an extra layer, right? The only thing with neoprene suits is they tend to be a bit more tight-fitting. There’s not a lot of room under there to add layers – especially if you want to add something bulky.

You also need to think about the buoyancy properties of anything you wear underneath a neoprene suit. They’re pretty floaty to start with so adding a floaty undersuit to the mix is going to mean carrying an extra couple of kilos to compensate! I think in these circumstances the Xcore range would be perfect as they’re neutrally buoyant and are just, well, amazing!

3. What type of diving are you going to be doing?

A super important factor in choosing the best undersuit for drysuit diving hinges on how often and how long you spend in the water.

If you’re a fun diver who enjoys the odd dive trip on a weekend then you may find that you don’t feel the cold as much as someone who dives regularly. The more time we spend in the water, the colder we feel as our resistance drops.

Kevin and Maria are active diving instructors. They will inevitably spend more time in the water compared to a fun diver. As a fellow Instructor, I totally get this! When I’m busy teaching students at The Fifth Point I might do 2 or 3 dives in a day (sometimes more if we’re night diving too!)

Dive pros also find themselves moving less than they would on a normal dive. When I’m concentrating on my students I spend a lot of time hovering in the same place while they’re completing their skills. And as you know, one way to warm up when you’re cold is to start moving!

(Video) Drysuit Undersuit Guide

Technical divers also face a similar issue. They spend hours underwater, often at extended ranges where the water temperature is colder too. To choose the best undersuit for drysuit diving on a technical dive, you’ve got to plan carefully. Being cold can slow and impair thinking plus I can’t imagine anything worse than feeling baltic while doing a deco stop knowing that I’ve got no choice but to wait it out. That would be the longest stop of my life!

How to choose the best undersuit for drysuit diving - The Honest Diver (2)

4. What’s your budget?

I’ve been banging on about building a whole wardrobe of items so you can customise your undersuit. But let’s be honest, that’s gonna be expensive. Unless you’ve got a big budget, it’s going to be impossible to buy all the layers that you need. My advice? Build your wardrobe over time.

If you’re investing in your first undersuit, start with a good quality allrounder. The Fourth Element Arctics are a perfect example. We use them in the school at The Fifth Point and they help keep our students toasty warm all year round.

You’ll notice the Arctics come in a onesie style and a two-piece top and leggings bundle. They’re both great options, but I love the two-piece as it kinda looks like normal clothes. You can still go down the pub with these on after your dive and not get too many funny looks! Plus having separate tops and leggings will help you be more flexible with combos later on.

As soon as you’re ready, or you’re starting to feel the cold, add to your collection. Over time you’ll have the best undersuit for drysuit diving in every condition!

(Video) HOW TO STAY WARM WHEN SCUBA DIVING | Beginners guide to what to wear under a Drysuit | SCUBA DIVERS

5. Do you want to protect the ocean with your undersuit?!

You know that we’re passionate about protecting the ocean here at The Honest Diver. I couldn’t write this article without mentioning how AMAZING the Fourth Element X-Core range is.

First of all, they perform brilliantly – all of the Honest Team wear them. And actually, we first found out about the X-Core vest when Nic was thinking about getting a heated undersuit. The guys at Fourth Element convinced her to try the X-Core and wow, it’s crazy how warm it keeps you. When they released the X-Core leggings, we were chomping at the bit to try them and they’re just as good!

But the thing we love about them most… they’re ocean positive. The X-Cores are made from 76% recycled polyester and REPREVE® – a fibre manufactured from recycled post-consumer waste like plastic bottles. You’re literally wearing trash that could have found it’s way to the sea and contributed to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that enter the ocean every single year!

On top of that, the Polartec® fabric that’s used in the range (the bit that helps keep you the toastiest) holds Blue Sign® and Oeko-Tex® certificates to prove that harmful chemicals are minimised or eliminated completely where possible and the water is treated to make sure it’s clean before it’s released from the factory.

EPIC! And the reason it scores so highly on our eco-rating!

I hope that’s helped you work out the best undersuit for drysuit diving, but if you’ve got any questions just give me a shout! We can chat over email or if you prefer we can set up a video call to go into more detail and I can actually show you the undersuits too! I’m here to help and give honest advice 🙂

(Video) Scuba Basics: Everything You Need To Know About Drysuit Diving


How to choose the best undersuit for drysuit diving - The Honest Diver (3)



How much weight do I need with a drysuit? ›

As a general rule of thumb, most people will need an additional 4 to 6 pounds of weight while diving with a dry suit compared to what they wear with their normal thermal protection while diving in the same waters.

How should I dress for a drysuit? ›

Even though dry suits seal out water, it is possible to get wet from your perspiration or a leak; so as with other outdoor sports, the best types of clothing to wear under a dry suit are clothes made from materials that insulate even when wet. This includes polypropylene, pile fleece, wool, etc., but not cotton.

What do you wear under a drysuit diving? ›

You must select your clothing depending on how cold the water is. Do you have a thick Neoprene dry suit? Then if the weather is warm and the water is (relatively) warm, a thin underlayer like a sweater and sweatpants are probably sufficient.

How do you know if a drysuit is too tight? ›

They should get within 3 or 4 inches of each other before there is binding. It's ok if the suit is a little tight across your back when your elbows are touching. Generally speaking, less room in a drysuit is better – lots of extra space inside a suit is hard to heat and can make for a 'colder' suit.

How do I calculate how much weight I need for diving? ›

Weigh Yourself

In freshwater, most divers need 6 to 8 percent of their body weight in added weight, whereas in saltwater (which is denser and will add buoyancy), this figure is closer to 8 to 10 percent. This number is a good starting point to further calculate your weight amount.

How do I know what weight belt to get for diving? ›

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling : How to Calculate Diving Weight - YouTube

What kind of boots should I wear with a drysuit? ›

Turbo Boots

These boots are attached directly to the drysuit with a sneaker-type sole and ankle straps. These are preferred by divers who prefer a smaller boot or who like not having to carry an extra set of boots. It is also popular with divers who like maximum ankle flexibility for finning.

Do you get hot in a dry suit? ›

Depending on the dry suit you select, the suit normally does not keep you warm. Common dry suit material like Trilaminate, vulcanized rubber, coated fabric, and even crushed neoprene suits have little insulating properties.

How cold can you dive in a drysuit? ›

While you need to take your own tolerance to cold into consideration, most scuba divers use a drysuit when diving waters below 60° F/16° C. Some divers can tolerate temperatures as low as 50° F/10° C in a 7mm double-layer wetsuit while others put on their drysuit when diving waters below 75° F/24° C.

What causes a dry suit squeeze? ›

Drysuit squeeze is a type of barotrauma or pressure injury to the skin that is caused by a failure to add air to your drysuit during descent. While descending, the volume of the air spaces is reduced and trapped in the folds of the suit.

How long does a drysuit last? ›

Dry suits, with proper care, can last 15 – 20 years or more. This is using the suit on a regular basis- say 100 dives a year. A wetsuit seeing that much use may last five years. In the long run, a drysuit may actually be less expensive.

Do drysuits keep you dry? ›

A drysuit, as the name indicates, keeps you completely dry by ensuring that no water gets into the suit. It can be made out of foam neoprene, crushed neoprene, vulcanized rubber, or heavy-duty nylon. It's also fully sealed and uses a combination of wrist seals, a neck seal, and a waterproof zipper to keep you dry.

How tight should my drysuit neck seal be? ›

For the neck seal, position the seal as low on your neck as possible. It should be snug, but not tight. If you are new to drysuit diving, a snug neck seal may feel a bit uncomfortable out of the water. Once in the water, a properly timed neck seal is comfortable.

What size drysuit do I need? ›

Wetsuit & Drysuit Sizing
SizeXS 2/4ML 8/10
Weight90 – 105130 – 140
Chest31 – 3336 – 38
Waist23 – 2528 – 30
Hips33 – 3538 – 40
2 more rows

How do you stretch dry suit gasket? ›

You have three options to relieve a tight neck gasket:
  1. The gasket will loosen up a bit after you wear the dry suit or top 5-10 times.
  2. Stretch the gasket around a jug overnight and keep it stretched until you put the suit on. ...
  3. Trim a little off the end of the gasket which will make it permanently wider and looser.
6 Mar 2018

How much lift does my BCD need? ›

It said something to the effect that one should choose a BCD with 10 or so pounds more lift than the total weight worn. As an example, it said a diver who wears 30 pounds of weight should have BCD with at least 40 pounds of lift.

Can you scuba dive if you are overweight? ›

No, there are no scuba diving weight limits. At least, there is no official bodyweight limit. Diving is an inclusive sport, it can be done by anyone from 13 years old and up regardless of age, weight, or size. So no, it doesn't matter if you are a very thin person or a fat diver.

How much weight should I add to a 3mm wetsuit? ›

Assuming your base weight came from a fresh water pool in a 3mm wetsuit, you would typically add between 4 lbs - 7 lbs of weight, if you're wearing a 3mm wetsuit.

How much weight do you need to free dive? ›

The general rule of weights is: 5% of your body weight wearing a 3mm wetsuit when spearfishing, freediving and snorkeling. 10% of your body weight wearing a 5mm wetsuit when scuba diving.

Do you need a weight belt for diving? ›

Weight systems are a necessary part of Scuba diving; for those who are not aware, divers are buoyant. Even with the weight of your equipment, it's really difficult to reach depths while diving when your very anatomy makes you float.

Do you wear socks with drysuit? ›

Some dry suits have boots and some have socks. With most suits you buy from the shop you cannot choose if you want boots or socks. With brands that make customised dry suits, you usually do have this choice.

How do drysuit boots work? ›

Drysuits work by enclosing the wearer in a layer that is 100% watertight. The rubber seals, or gaskets, around the wearer's neck and wrists are typically two parts: an inner and outer seal.

What's better wet suit or dry suit? ›

Wetsuits that are skin-tight are ideal for cold water surf sports because they allow you to be more athletic than drysuits. Drysuits, on the other hand, are completely waterproof, but not designed for warmth if used alone. Drysuits keep all water out completely like a shell and fit loosely like a big ski jacket.

At what temperature do you need a drysuit? ›

Drysuits are usually used when diving in colder waters with temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Some divers will also choose to use drysuits when they need to dive for extended periods of time.

Can you swim in a dry suit? ›

Some divers will prefer wearing a drysuit for out-of-the-water activities due to their restrictions. In cold conditions, when the temp has restricted the wetsuit's movements, a drysuit could be favorable for the task as well.

How do you dive in a drysuit? ›

Diving tutorial UCPA #12 - How to use a dry suit - YouTube

Does your hair get wet in a dry suit? ›

We do not advise buns or high ponytails as they will be quite uncomfortable under your hood, and bunches or twin braids can make a dry suit removal more difficult. Please be aware that your hair is going to get wet, so please bring a towel if you prefer drying your hair afterwards.

Can you use a drysuit in warm water? ›

To help divers get the most of their warm water dive vacations, DUI has created a drysuit designed especially for them. It is made with breathable/waterproof trilaminate material with M3 Technology giving you the protection you need in the water yet comfortable to wear out of the water, too.

Is dry suit diving worth it? ›

Why You Should Dive In A Drysuit - YouTube

Can you wear a wetsuit under a drysuit? ›

Of course, a wetsuit under a drysuit can't be beat as the drysuit is better at warding off the wind chill effect. I always wear polar fleece under my drysuit.

How do you do a front entry drysuit? ›

Quick Tips | How to Put On a Drysuit - YouTube

Can you swim in a drysuit? ›

In cold conditions, when the temp has restricted the wetsuit's movements, a drysuit could be favorable for the task as well. Therefore, if you don't water any cold water to get inside your body, a drysuit is the way to go due to its waterproof features. A wetsuit will have you wet; it lacks waterproof characteristics.

Whats the difference between a wet suit and dry suit? ›

Wetsuits use a layer of water (that is warmed by the wearer's body) to help keep the body insulated, while drysuits use a layer of air and are fully sealed to prevent water from entering and coming into contact with the skin. The latter has the advantage here, as water conducts heat over 20 times faster than air.

Do you need a BCD with a drysuit? ›

Contributor. For Buoyancy control, you must use the BCD. The only reason to put air inside the dry suit is to stay warm and to avoid being pressed at depth. You should use a minimun amount of air inside your dry suit, just to feel comfortable and avoid folds of the suit which will mark your skin under pressure.

How long does a drysuit last? ›

Dry suits, with proper care, can last 15 – 20 years or more. This is using the suit on a regular basis- say 100 dives a year. A wetsuit seeing that much use may last five years. In the long run, a drysuit may actually be less expensive.

Do you float in a drysuit? ›

Because of the drysuit's design, air is present inside the suit. This will keep you buoyant in the water so you spend the majority of your time gently floating on the surface of the water. If you choose a drysuit, we recommend wearing thermal underwear under your suit.

How do you get out of a dry suit? ›

How to Remove a Drysuit - - YouTube

How do you use a drysuit? ›

Diving tutorial UCPA #12 - How to use a dry suit - YouTube

How do you apply kokatat drysuit? ›

How to put on a Kokatat swift entry drysuit - YouTube

What temperature do you need a drysuit? ›

Drysuits are usually used when diving in colder waters with temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Some divers will also choose to use drysuits when they need to dive for extended periods of time.

Do drysuits keep you warmer than wetsuits? ›

Both are designed to keep you warm and the main difference is in the material and functionality. Wetsuits are made of rubber neoprene and are designed to keep you warm when wet, but unlike drysuits, they are not waterproof. So, if you have a loose fitting wetsuit you will get cold.

How much does a drysuit cost? ›

You can get into a decent entry level suit for around $1500 (USD). This may not cover the cost of an undergarment, so make sure to ask your sales person what accessories are included with the suit and which ones you will need to add to the overall cost.

Do you wear anything under a wetsuit? ›

You should know that wetsuits are designed to keep your body warm underwater. Some scuba diving gurus advise that you wear nothing under a wetsuit for it to perform its purpose optimally. Wetsuits are designed to feel comfortable on the body even when you are not wearing anything or wearing something.

Do people surf in dry suits? ›

You certainly could use a drysuit for surfing, however, drysuits that are available on the market today are not necessarily designed for surfing. Typical (loose fitting) dry suits are made for either cold-water kyaking or diving.

Will wet suit keep you warm? ›

Wetsuits are designed to let in water but not to let it out. This means that the water that is accumulated in your wetsuit will heat up to match your body temperature and act as a thin layer of protection to keep you warm.


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