Wetsuits are essential gear for surfers and scuba divers alike. But while they both allow water sports in colder temperatures, surfing and scuba diving wetsuits have distinct differences when it comes to design, construction, thickness, and features.
Understanding the key variations helps select the right wetsuit tailored for surfing or scuba use. Let’s dive into how these specialized wetsuits differ below the surface.
##Intended Use and Fit
Surfing and scuba wetsuits serve unique purposes:
- Designed for flexibility to move on surfboard
- Snug fit to keep water out when paddling
- Seams placed for unrestricted range of motion
- Cuts allow quick entry and exit
- Engineered for thermal protection while submerged
- Abrasion resistance important underwater
- Travel smoothly with fins when kicking
- Cut for buoyancy and easy gear donning
Wetsuit criteria centers on suiting each sport’s needs. Surfers prioritize flexibility while scuba divers want warmth.
Thickness and Insulation
Thickness impacts warmth and comfort:
Surfing Wetsuit Thickness
- 2/1 mm (2mm torso, 1mm arms/legs) – summer
- 3/2 mm – spring/fall
- 4/3 mm – winter/cold water
Scuba Diving Wetsuit Thickness
- 3 mm – warm water
- 5 mm – cool water
- 7 mm – cold water
- Even thickness throughout for thermal balance
Scuba wetsuits require more insulation, especially evenly across the body. Surf wetsuits target warmth in the torso.
Construction and Materials
Modern wetsuits utilize innovative material technologies:
Surf Wetsuit Materials
- Neoprene – standard nylon-based rubber
- Limestone neoprene – flexibility and stretch
- Hybrid neoprene – blended for warmth and performance
Scuba Wetsuit Materials
- Standard neoprene
- Merino-lined neoprene – added warmth
- Drysuit material (trilaminate or vulcanized) – maximum insulation
Surf wetsuits focus on flexible and stretchy fabrics. Scuba suits insulate using the thickest and warmest materials.
Key Features and Attributes
Specialized features suit each sport:
Surf Wetsuit Features
- Flexible seam placements
- Strategic seamless paddle zones
- Low drag exterior panel design
- Maximum arm and shoulder stretch
Scuba Wetsuit Features
- Kneepads for comfort underwater
- Ankle cuffs to seal out water
- D-ring zipper pulls for easy donning
- Hood included for added warmth
Surf wetsuits allow unrestricted arm mobility. Scuba suits seal out frigid water and include integrated accessories.
How a wetsuit impacts buoyancy also differs:
- Minimal built-in buoyancy
- Stretchy material somewhat reduces sinking
- Surfers want to maintain low profile in water
Scuba Diving Wetsuits
- Increased buoyancy needed when diving
- Flotation compensates for gear weight
- Strategic paneling prevents sinking
- Helps achieve neutral underwater buoyancy
Minimal flotation in surf wetsuits while scuba suits incorporate buoyancy by design.
Prices range across both wetsuit types:
- Budget: $100 – $200
- Mid-range: $200 – $400
- High-end: $400+
- Budget: $200 – $300
- Mid-range: $300 – $600
- High-end: $600+ (drysuits)
Scuba wetsuits cost more for added tech and insulation. High-end surf wetsuits rival mid-range scuba pricing.
- Surf wetsuits focus on flexibility, mobility, and performance to maximize wave riding.
- Scuba wetsuits prioritize warmth, buoyancy, and protection when diving below the surface.
Consider the differences when selecting a wetsuit tailored for surfing versus scuba diving. Choose the one purpose-built for your water sport!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a scuba diving wetsuit for surfing?
It’s not ideal. The thicker neoprene and tighter fit will restrict mobility. A surf-specific suit works better for paddling and wave riding.
What thickness wetsuit is warmest for surfing vs scuba diving?
For surfing, 4/3 mm is warmest for winter use. For scuba diving in cold water, 7 mm provides the most insulation when submerged.
Why are scuba diving wetsuits black?
The black color absorbs sunlight warmth when skin diving near the surface. It also camouflages divers from prey underwater.
Do surf wetsuits and scuba wetsuits have different sizing?
Yes, surf suits fit snug for flexibility while scuba suits run a little looser to layer under. Refer to specific size charts when purchasing.
How tight should a surf wetsuit vs scuba wetsuit fit?
A form-fitting surf wetsuit allows mobility. Scuba wetsuits can afford slightly looser fit for gear but still close-fitting for warmth.
Do you wear underwear with surfing or scuba wetsuits?
Either a swimsuit or wicking base layers can be worn underneath both types of wetsuits to protect skin from irritation. Avoid cotton underwear.
How long do surfing and scuba wetsuits last?
With proper care, both types typically last 1-3 years before seams weaken. Higher-end models may get 5+ years of use before needing replacement.
How should you wash and store surfing and scuba wetsuits?
Rinse with fresh water after use, dry inside out, avoid direct sunlight, and store flat to help wetsuits maintain elasticity.
Now you know how surfing and scuba diving wetsuits differ below the surface! Use this knowledge to pick the perfect wetsuit for your water adventures.