WHICH IS BETTER FOR OPENING WATER SWIMMING: A WETSUIT OR A DRYSUIT?
During an open water swimming, exposure suits, either a wetsuit or drysuit, keep your body warm. However, people tend to have varying preferences regarding the costume they prefer for open water swimming.
Both suits provide some similar tasks while in the water bodies, though they have different features that distinguish them. They help keep you warm while in open water. When in one of either suit, the body maintains some warmth by lowering heat loss. Remember that the body will reduce temperatures first when submerged inside the water. Therefore, diving in without proper gear, you get to lose a lot of heat, which could risk your health-the reason why an exposure suit is a must.
In open water swimming, deciding on the quality of a drysuit or wetsuit to wear depends on your requirements or needs. Take your time to understand which exposure suit is suitable and satisfies you. The best part is that they are both designed to keep the body warm; they offer thermal insulation from the water temperatures. In this article, let's look at their key differences to assist you in settling on the gear that will help you accomplish your mission in the open water swimming.
In a swimming event, your body becoming too cold is a massive threat to your safety, and the event planners would dislike taking the risk. As mentioned earlier, either the wetsuit or drysuit will keep you warm underwater. Warmth is the primary reason for wearing a suit. It reduces the rate at which your body loses heat to the water, about 40% of your body heat when in cold conditions.
These suits are designed using different materials; for instance, a good-fitting wetsuit has a rubber neoprene cover. After diving in the water, neoprene material allows a thin film of water via your suit and fills the space between the skin and the inner layer of your material. It is to keep the body warmer to make you comfortable throughout the dive for an extended period and reduce the chances of getting hypothermia.
Therefore, wearing a loose wetsuit will get your body cold. It must be the right fit for it to accomplish its task since, without the insulation, the body will shunt warm blood to the core closing the blood vessels in your skin and extremities. It results in fatigue and muscle cramps. Keep in mind that exposing your body to cold makes you experience disorientation, impaired coordination, and mental confusion. It can cause muscle cramps and fatigue.
On the other hand, as the name suggests, a dry suit keeps your body dry; it uses both undergarments and air temperatures. Suppose you lose the seal; your body will get wet. However, there are additional insulation layers that you can purchase; they help to keep your body heated up even after a seal breaks.
Open water swimming wetsuits are specifically made to fulfill swimmers' needs. With additional flexibility and buoyancy built-in, it helps the growth of natural water bodies. For a wetsuit, the Neoprene compresses as you go deeper in water, thus losing its buoyancy. However, they will keep you afloat if you don't go deep. When tired, roll onto the back and relax; it stops you from sinking.
A drysuit allows you to add more air as it compensates for a tremendous pressure keeping you buoyant. Though, if it compresses, it becomes thinner, thus losing its insulating ability.
A wetsuit calls for very minimal maintenance, besides rinsing it properly. But for a drysuit, it's a whole lot of work. For instance, you have to replace the assisted leaks, seals, socks, or replaced boots, as well as zippers.
However, you can offset all these expenses by the suit's serviceable life. With proper care, the drysuit can potentially last for over 20 years. Even after using it regularly, say over a hundred dives per year. But a wetsuit that is used regularly could only survive for about five years. In the long run, the dry case is inexpensive and can retain resale value. Used wetsuits are damped!
Another critical difference between the wetsuit and drysuit is that a wetsuit offers the diver physical protection against scratches and cuts while swimming in some natural water bodies. In most open water environments, you are likely to bump into stones or sticks, but this suit assures safety.
For this reason, a wetsuit is a perfect fit to use in natural water surroundings, for safety measures, unlike the drysuits.
Drysuits are 100% waterproof; they keep you dry. They are designed with seals in your neck, wrists, and at times on the ankles to keep off water from getting inside the body. However, if alone, it can't provide the warmth that you need. Their main work is to prevent water from entering the body completely. They act as a shell and fit loosely.
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. 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.
Ultimately, as per this guide, deciding on either wetsuit or a drysuit to wear for open water swimming goes down to your personal preference. However, it's recommendable to try on your choice first if you have an upcoming water activity.
If you select a drysuit, take acclimatizing seriously and gradually build the period spent in water; for example, you could begin with one minute in every degree of temp. Put on a silicon hat, be close to the shores, and have company.
On the other hand, choosing a wetsuit is also okay but opt for a fitting one. A loose wetsuit allows water in making your body waste more energy, heating the new water. Bottom line, whichever gear you go for, you will still have fun in the open water swimming.
Also of Interest:
- How to Breathe in Open Water Swimming?
- Best Tips to Select the Best Wetsuit for Yourself
- What's the Price of a Wetsuit? How Much Does It Cost
- Are Triathlon Wetsuits Different?
- Differences between a Wetsuit and a Drysuit