I have an abundance of dive shops around (with some great deals on suits) and was wondering if dive suits are just as good as surf suits.
The only difference I’ve been able to dig up between the two is that a dive suit has a different neoprene which better withstands the pressure/compression experienced in diving. I’d think that would actually make a dive suit better (ie: warmer and more durable) than surf suits, but… does it?
dive suits are way comfy these days
thay restrict movement much more than a surfsuit
In my experience, dive suits are usually warmer due to increased thickness and layering (two piece suits). They do keep you snugly warm but you pay a big price in flexibility which translates to way more work paddling etc. Surf suits are engineered to be more flexible with multi thickness suits, super stretchy rubber etc. Also if dive suits were just as good we wouldn’t have two different industries. That said, my first “surf suit” was my 7.5 mm body glove two piece dive suit. In it, I was a complete cork and paddling was HELL! Though I was never cold. If your not paddling much or don’t want to shell out the bucks for a cold water surf suit… go for it!
I assume that you’re not talking about winter on the Great Lakes, because that’s ice not water. For early summer or late fall, you can get many diving wetsuits that are in the 3 - 5mm range which are very flexible. Try and get a one-piece. The two-piece dive suits normally have “Farmer John” bottoms which can be very bulky with the jacket. There are even some 1-2mm diving wetsuits, and also full coverage rash guards. Diving gloves are too bulky, and hoods will let water down your back (unless attached). Most diving boots are OK, and easier to get on/off than surfing types.
`I’ve been using dive gloves for a few years now; maybe I’ve been lucky in finding a good product, but the quality is way better than ‘surf’ gloves and less expensive. Got mine at Steele’s, in Berkeley…nor-cal.
I was talking to a friend of a friend who makes dive suits. He was saying they prefer to use less flexible neoprene and it’s getting harder to find. He also was saying the’re looking at surf suits as being ahead of the game with in terms of flex and cuts and zips and stuff. So probably stick to a surfing one?
The best wetsuit, for surfing, (for me, anyway) was a lightweight one piece long farmer john. I had total freedom of unresticted arm movement, and excellent warmth. Have one custom made for you. Mine fit so well, that after a long session I would still have large areas that remained dry inside the suit.
The above described suit was made with 3/16th inch divesuit material, with nylon both sides. It was thicker than the then standard 1/8th inch surfing wetsuit, and provided an advantage of better thermal efficiency, as well as floatation. It had ankle zippers, and a zipper up the back. Closest thing I find today is a short john. You lose a lot of body heat through your legs, so not as good as a longjohn, IMO.
Dive suits use a denser neoprene to resist flattening under pressure. They also typically use longer zippers that will reduce your flexibility, especially while bending your torso.
In the long run you’ll be much happier in a suit designed for surfing.
At the time my custom suits were made the ONLY difference between dive or surf applications was total thickness, and nylon both sides. Same density, at that time. Be assured I suffered no disadvantage, because of the wetsuit design, or construction. After 1979, I bought off the rack.
I agree that in the 70’s and 80’s there wasn’t a big difference, but that can’t be said today. I am a product manager for a scuba equipment manufacturer, and one of my roles is to design wetsuits. I spend a significant amount of time working with the different materials and foams (neoprene) used for constructing both diving and surfing suits.
In a 3mm suit made from stretch neoprene the difference wouldn’t be very noticeable, but it would be in a thicker suit.
If there is a dive store close to you and they carry a brand that makes suits for both diving and surfing they may be able to order you one even though they don’t carry it as stock. In the long run you will be more comfortable in the surf suit.
Thanks for the info guys.
Flexibility is the one other thing I heard mentioned elsewhere as well. I guess I’ll have to go check them out first hand. But ya, surfsuit it will probably be. I might check out dive booties and gloves though. Some insane prices on those currently.
PeteC- Thanks for the laugh -“that’s ice, not water”. Fall/Winter here like winter anywhere else is the best time to surf. It’s like a switch got flipped Sept 1. The lakes have been getting 5-6 foot conditions at least once a week now.
This is today’s wave map: