Welcome to the Cave Diver's Forum.
Neoprene Dry Suit Fit
I just picked up a used dry suit. It's made out of 6mm non-crushed neoprene. It was custom made for the guy, but we are very similar in size. It is in excellent shape, and has already been in many caves (Wakulla, Diepolder II and III, EN, etc, etc, etc.)
My question is, how should it fit? I am 6'2", as is he. I am a bit bigger boned (literally, not figuratively) than he is, and I am sitting at a ripe ol' OL playing weight of 275 currently. He was 245 when dived it. I sit around 250 most of the rest of the year. It fits me like my wet suit, except the added complication of built in boots, and particularly tight neck and wrist seals. It is tight around my ankles, calves (both of which wont loose much size out of season), thighs, butt, waist (all of which WILL loose size out of season). Had some air space around my upper arms, and upper chest. The neck and wrists were particularly tight. My face began to swell slightly while test fitting it in the house. I have a larger neck, but there seems to be plenty of extra length that could be removed to give a looser fit (and I do know that the seals are supposed to be folded back under on them selves).
Thanks in advance.
I've never trimmed a neoprene seal but I have stretched them over a tank neck, etc to loosen them up. I would not recommend trimming as
they are bottle shaped rather than conical in shape so trimming them off does not neccesarily make them smaller - it just reduces the skin-in sealing surface. Wrist seals can be stretched over a suitably smaller container, bottle, glass, etc.
You do need to get the seals sttretched enough to be comfortable however before you try to dive it.
The 6mm neoprene will provide a good deal of insulation, even at depth (despite a couple decades of DUI propoganda stating otherwise) so the fit question is closely linked to what you plan to wear under it.
I did lots of deep alpine lake diving (bottom temps around 35 and several thermoclines to about 60 degrees as you went up) and lots of inland commercial diving (often under ice or just after ice out) in neoprene dry suits and used two different suits. The normal 1.5-2.0 hour run time dives with most of the deco in "warmer" water were done with just the suit and a thin wicking layer underneath. This suit was snug fitting - almost like a wet suit and swam much the same way.
The commecrcial dives were usually longer and 6 to 8 hours in the water with occassional breaks were not uncommon, so the suit was cut larger to accommodate a heavier under garmet (200 gram or and 400 gram thinsulate).
For warm water diving (like most FL cave diving) I used to switch to a trilam with fairly thin undergarments, before I got a Fusion which is flexible enough in terms of fit to accomommodate pretty much anything and still swim well.
Overall, I suspect you'll do fine with just the suit and a thin poly propelene or similar undergarment to wick sweat away and avoid the clammy feeling you'd get otherwise.
In general, since the insulation is in the shell, you feel warmer as the inside of the suit is not cold. That same effect also reduces condensation in the suit. A snug fitting neoprene drysuit also swims much like a wet suit, with less need to tend the gas volume and much less tendency to "bite" with suit squeeze. As such they are well suited to cave diving as long as the 6mm insulation is not too much for you.
My 5mm fits like a loose wetsuit, perfect.
Sounds like the neck seals may need to be trimmed, and yes you can trim them a little. It is hard saying as I do not know the current length or how much your neck will shrink with your weight fluxuation. If you can dive it like that and you like it, get some latex seals.
Wow. Thanks for the detailed response.
I never even planned to dive dry. I have spend years in springs/caverns in a 3 mm shorty, no hood. I would get chilled after an hour, but only sitting still at a safety stop out of the sun. I finally decided to go with a 5mm full and hood in anticipation of getting my cave cert. I typically have to vent my hood a bit so I don't get too warm. The dry suit was one of those deals I could not pass on, especially because there was such a good chance of it being a good fit for me. There is no built in hood, so I would still be able to vent a bit if I do get warm. I don't know that I would wear an undergarment at all... maybe just something like under armor heat gear (designed to wick sweat). If I can find something with full feet, I bet it goes on a lot easier! I had shorts and a wife beater on when I put it on last night, and the loose clothing became a problem. It took me 10 minutes to get in, and another 5 to get out... WITH HELP!
I will try to stretch out the seals a bit. I figure a tank boot from a old 72 might work best, and I can probably hang it through the hole. I have some pvc I can cut up to stick in the wrists, probably not a bad idea to keep it hanging that way so air can circulate.
Something like this should be fine, right?
As others have stated stretch the seals. I would start with a light fleece undergarment, dive it and see what she does.
My neck does get smaller in the off season, but mainly due to muscle atrophy. My neck takes a lot of abuse during the season, grows around an inch or so due to it.
Originally Posted by Jay
This is as tight as my 5mm wetsuit, but harder to don and doff because of the feet and entering at the top of the shoulders rather than the lower back. My GF decided it would be funny to video me trying it on. I have to admit, it's pretty damn funny. If I was a little more bold I might post it (but I'm not, so I wont, don't worry).
Are latex seals that much nicer than neoprene?
Was the recommendation of a light fleece undergarment in response to my second post? I can't tell as they were a few minutes apart.
Originally Posted by RAL
From your description it sounds like you really do not have much room to spare. You do not need much undergarmet with a neo suit, some use none. One of the best diving drysuits I owned was my first, a Emperial bubble suit, dating myself here. It was a bugger to get on and off and I used light cotton thermals, because that was all I could fit with (no miracle fibers back then). At any rate it dove like a wetsuit and was plenty warm for Puget Sounds 48 deg water.
Originally Posted by Greenwood_60
It has a fabric lining, so I may try it with nothing.
You know, I lived (grew up) in the Pacific NW for 15 years and never knew there was diving! Although I did start with snorkeling around in the muck in Lake Whatcom and the glacial waters of Lake Wenatchee.
By metaldector in forum The Fill Station
Last Post: 05-07-2010, 07:53 PM
By ssmdive in forum Gear, Equipment & Tools for Cave Diving
Last Post: 12-10-2009, 01:16 PM
By jeffb78 in forum Main Forum
Last Post: 09-01-2006, 07:12 PM
By tcotton in forum Gear Exchange
Last Post: 02-03-2005, 02:49 PM
By imported_admin in forum Gear Exchange
Last Post: 10-18-2004, 10:28 PM