Scuba Diving Clothing FAQ

1. How do you stay warm when you are not in the water?

If you are travelling to and from diving sites then you do need to pack some warm clothes.  It can get quite cold out on the water with the wind chill factor and also if you get wet from spray or rain.  It is important to dress in layers so that you can easily adjust your clothing if it gets cooler/warmer.  Start with a base layer of a synthetic material that is designed to wick away perspiration and water from your body.  This will help to keep you dry and comfortable in most conditions.  Over this wear pants and a t-shirt or vest.  You can then add jumpers and jackets to this for cooler conditions.  If trying to stay warm between dives, a wind breaker over a wetsuit will reduce wind chill factor.

2. What sort of jacket should I wear out on diving trips?

You may have to travel a few hours by boat to reach your diving destination.  It is important to have a good all weather jacket so that you can keep warm and dry whilst you are travelling and waiting around.  Invest in a good quality, lightweight waterproof jacket with a detachable fleece lining.  This can be adapted for most weather conditions and will keep you warm and dry.

3. Do I need to wear a hat out on diving trips?

You can get quite cold out on diving trips as the wind chill factor out on the water can cool temperatures down even on warm days.  To help keep you warm and also protect your head from the sun it is important to wear a hat or cap.  Almost 60% of your body heat is lost through your head so it is important to protect this area to help prevent getting cold whilst you are sitting through briefings or travelling to your dive site. When diving in warm and sunny climates, a hat whilst diving is a must for protection from the sun. A wide brimmed style hat is best to provide shade for the face too, not just cover for the top of the head. Sunscreen applied to the face will also protect from sunlight reflected off the water, up under the cover of the hat.

4. Can I wear my normal beach clothes out on dive trips?

You can wear regular beach clothes on dive trips in warmer weather conditions.  In tropical waters you may also be diving without wetsuits wearing just normal bathing suits.  However you do need to think carefully about sun protection as when you are out on the water there is no shade and you can burn very easily.  Make sure you take some clothes to cover up with during the day and also a hat to shade your head.  If you are diving in cooler weather conditions you should take some warmer clothes with you and a waterproof jacket to keep you warm and dry.

5. What shoes do I need to wear on diving trips?

You need comfortable shoes if you are travelling by boat to your dive destination.  Moving around deck is much easier if you have flat shoes with a good grip to the sole.  Flip flops are alright on land but not very practical when you are moving your kit around and carrying out basic tasks on board as they can represent a trip hazard.  If the weather is bad when you are travelling to and from dive sites you may need to invest in a pair of all-weather boots.  Wet feet can be very uncomfortable and can make you feel cold so it is important to keep dry and warm as you may be travelling and waiting around for a long time between dives.

6. How can I protect my face from spray out on the water?

It will not always be nice and calm when you are travelling to and from your dive sites. Spray driven up by the wind and the boat can be quite unpleasant if it keeps blowing in your face.  You may want to invest in a really good pair of wraparound sunglasses or a set of ski goggles. These will keep the spray out of your face and eyes and help you see more clearly if you are carrying out basic tasks around the boat. If possible, avoid positioning your self at the boat’s bow, or near the forward section of the boat, where spary is most likely.

7. Should I wear gloves on diving trips?

Salt water can be very drying on skin and in cooler conditions your hands can get very cold.  This can make your hands numb and make it difficult to set up your kit once you have arrived at your dive destination.  Keep your hands dry and warm with waterproof gloves.  You can get thin 1mm to 2mm neoprene gloves that you can also wear in the water.

8. Is it worth investing in foul weather gear for diving trips when you will be spending most of your time underwater?

If you are going on a diving trip then realistically you can only expect to spend a few hours actually in the water diving.  A large percentage of the time will be taken up in travelling by boat to your destination, sitting through briefings and debriefings and setting up your gear.  This is why it is a good idea to invest some money not just in your wetsuit and dive gear but also in your regular clothing as well.  It is unlikely you will be diving in any bad weather conditions but you could run into some rough weather as you are travelling to and from dive sites.  Foul weather gear is very effective at keeping you warm and dry and is well worth paying extra money for.  This apparel is waterproof, breathable and offers effective thermal insulation.  You may only need to wear foul weather gear now and then, but when you do you will be glad of the additional protection it can provide against rough weather conditions.

9. Are cotton or synthetic clothes best for diving trips?

Cotton is very effective at soaking up water.  This is bad for diving trips as spray from the water and any rain showers could leave you soaked and shivering.  Synthetic fabrics are designed to repel water and dry very quickly so if you are going out on the water these materials are the more sensible option.

10. Will my wetsuit keep me warm out of the water?

Wetsuits with material linings on the outer surface are not good at blocking wind chill. These are the general style of suit used in scuba diving, and in cold or windy conditions should, when possible, be removed and warmer clothing out on, or at least covered by a windbreaker to lessen the wind-chill effect. They will however keep you fairly dry if it is raining or there is heavy spray from the water.  You can wear your wetsuit whilst you are travelling to dive sites. However if you have a thicker wetsuit these are not so flexible so it can be uncomfortable wearing them for long periods of time.  It is best to invest in some all-weather gear to wear out of the water to stay dry and comfortable.