1. The 10 best scuba diving wetsuits at a glance
  2. Why you need a scuba diving wetsuit
  3. What to look For in a scuba diving wetsuit
  4. The best scuba diving wetsuits reviewed

The 10 best scuba diving wetsuits at a glance

SCUBA WETSUITTHICKNESS OPTIONSPRICEOUR RATING
Cressi Morea 3 mm$4.7
Cressi Maya2 mm$4.7
Waterproof W505 mm$$4.7
Bare Nixi3-5-7 mm$$4.8
Bare Evoke3-5-7 mm$$$4.8
Scubapro Everflex1-3-5-7 mm$$$4.9
Sharkskin ChillproofSkin$$4.6
Mares Coral1 mm$4.6
Lavacore JumpsuitSkin$4.5
Fourth Element Proteus II3-5-7 mm$$4.6

Why you need a scuba diving wetsuit

Wetsuits keep you warm (obviously)…

Water conducts heat away from the body 25 times more efficiently than air. It’s rare that a we dive in water temperatures that are the same as our body temperature, and even warm, tropical water can seep heat from our body even after a short dive.

If you are diving in warm water that’s 27 °C (80.6 °F), that’s still 10 °C (18.6 °F) below your body’s temperature. The first stage of hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops just  1-2 °C (1.8 – 3.6 °F). So, it’s a common misconception that people only suffer from hypothermia in very cold water. Wetsuits help your body retain heat, even in tropical conditions.

…so that you can dive even longer

It’s a fact that warm divers have a longer bottom time than divers jumping in with a rashguard and boardshorts on. When you’re warm, your body spends less energy producing heat. This keeps you from guzzling your gas too quickly and helps you focus fully on your dive.

Like we all learned in our open water course, shivering signals the end of the dive — even when your computer says it’s okay to stay down.

What to look for in a scuba diving wetsuit

Steamer versus springsuit versus farmer Jane

Steamers are full-length wetsuits and springsuits usually have short arms and legs or long arms with short legs.

Steamers are warmer and offer more protection against sun exposure, stingers, and chill. Springsuits are great for tropical diving in water where there’s not likely to be many stingers.

Farmer Jane wetsuits are two pieces, with an overall-style wetsuit layered under a long-sleeved jacket.

Thickness

One of the most important things to look for in a wetsuit is the thickness. Wetsuits are typically measured in millimeters. The thicker the wetsuit, the warmer it tends to be. If you’re in between wetsuit thicknesses, it’s better to go with the thicker wetsuit when scuba diving. It’s easy to cool down by flushing some water into the wetsuit through the neck, but very hard to heat up once you’re cold.

If a wetsuit is advertised with two thicknesses, such as a 2/3mm, this usually means that the core of the wetsuit is 3 mm while the arms and legs are likely to be 2 mm.

The downside to thicker wetsuits is that they tend to be less flexible and more difficult to put on than a thinner wetsuit.

Temperature guide

85 °F (29 °C) and Above Exposure suit – 2 mm springsuit
80 – 84 °F (26-28 °C) 2 mm springsuit – 2 mm steamer
73 – 79 °F (22-25 °C) 3 mm steamer – 5 mm steamer
66 – 72 °F (18-21 °C) 5 mm steamer – 7 mm steamer
50 – 65 °F (10-17 °C) 8/7 mm steamer – drysuit
Below 50 °F (Below 10 °C) Drysuit – are you crazy?

Back zip versus chest zip

Back zippers are more common than chest zippers in scuba diving wetsuits because there is no real incentive to opt for a chest zipper. A back zip opens up the wetsuit more than a chest zipper, making it easier to get into.

Chest zippers are becoming popular in surf wetsuits because they don’t let in as much water when a surfer wipes out. Since scuba divers don’t encounter the same pummeling situations as surfers, a back zipper is ideal.

Seams and stitching

When you’re finding the best scuba diving wetsuit, it can be confusing to choose between the many types of seam stitches. Flatlock, overlock, blind stitch, double blind stitch, glued, taped… which type of wetsuit stitching is the best and does it really make a difference?

Here is a quick rundown on the types of stitching for scuba diving wetsuits:

Overlock: This stitch is the least effective at keeping water from leaking into a wetsuit and protecting a wetsuit’s seam. The overlock stitch rests on the inside of the wetsuit and may cause chaffing. Best for warm water.

Flatlock: A flatlock stitch is when two pieces of material are stitched together in a way that leaves the seam flush. The bulk of the thread is on the outside of the body, making it very comfortable. Best for warm water.

Blind stitch: Blind stitching is the best type of waterproofing stitch for scuba diving wetsuits. In a blind stitch, the material is glued together and then stitched on the inside of the material. Double blind stitching is when the material is stitched on both sides. Best for cold water.

Glued: Glued seams are glued together as an extra waterproofing reinforcement. Best for cold water.

Taped: Taped seams are are an extra reinforcement on the outside/inside of the seam. Best for cold water.

Fit

The fit is the most important aspect of a scuba diving wetsuit. Wetsuits will only keep you warm if they are snug against the skin, with no folds or loose sections. If there is a pocket between you and the wetsuit, it will fill with water — making the point of wearing a wetsuit in the first place pretty useless. Check that there are no pockets or folds around the armpits and torso area. If a wetsuit is too long, you can fold the extra length.

If your wetsuit is too tight, you risk ruining the seams or feeling pinched in places while diving.

Female-specific wetsuits tend to have extra material in the chest, narrower shoulders, and wider hips than male wetsuits or one-size-fits-all types.

Can you use another type of wetsuit for scuba diving?

There’s no rule against using another type of wetsuit, like a surf or kitesurf wetsuit, for scuba diving. Any wetsuit is better than none. The wetsuits are virtually interchangeable except for a few slight differences in style and cut. Surf wetsuits generally have more flexible arms while scuba wetsuits might have reinforced knees or a non-slip section for dive computers on the wrist.

For very cold water, scuba divers must wear a drysuit. A thick surfing wetsuit won’t be warm enough for very cold scuba diving temperatures. Neoprene is filled with small nitrogen bubbles. Since surfers only stay at the surface, they aren’t subjected to the compression (and therefore loss of warmth) that scuba divers do.

Freediving wetsuits are typically made from closed-cell neoprene, a material that is much more fragile than open-cell neoprene. Since scuba divers handle so much extra gear, you’re at higher risk of ruining your freediving wetsuit should you choose to dive with one. We do not advise scuba diving with a dedicated freediving wetsuit.

It’s best to get a scuba diving wetsuit if that’s what you plan to mostly use it for.

The best scuba diving wetsuits reviewed

Cressi Morea

Materials: Neoprene with nylon lining
Thickness: 3 mm
Zip: Back
Special features: Rubber pads on chest, knees, and shins; seams both glued and sewn

Pros: Cut is ideal for women of most body types, very durable, stylish, high stretch, multi-use
Cons: Tends to run large

Amazon| LeisurePro

Cressi Maya

Materials: Neoprene with nylon lining
Thickness: 2.5 mm
Zip: Back
Special features: Seams both glued and sewn

Pros: Flexible, perfect for tropical water, cut is ideal for women of most body types, durable, multi-use
Cons: Lacks rubber protection pads

Amazon| LeisurePro

Waterproof W50

Materials: Neoprene, nylon, and spandex
Thickness: 5 mm
Zip: Back and legs
Special features: Reinforced shoulders, seat, and knees, anti-slip wrist to keep dive computer in place, personal accessory dock

Pros: Very warm, flexible, easy to put on and take off,
Cons: Bunches under armpits on petite divers

Amazon| LeisurePro

Bare Nixie

Materials: Neoprene
Thickness: Available in 3, 5, 7 mm
Zip: Back
Special features: Multiple color choices, glideskin collar, ultra-flex neoprene

Pros: Stylish, very flexible, can be used for multiple sports
Cons: Size tends to fit taller divers

Amazon| LeisurePro

Bare Evoke

Materials: Ultra-flexible neoprene
Thickness: Available in 3, 5, 7 mm
Zip: Back and ankles
Special features: Celliant infared technology helps circulation and warmth, glideskin collar, abrasion-resistant kneepads, all seams glued and stitched

Pros: Multiple colors, one of the warmest wetsuits on the market, very flexible and easy to put on
Cons: High price point

Amazon| LeisurePro

Scubapro Everflex

Materials: X-Foam nylon II neoprene
Thickness: Available in skin, 3, 5, 7 mm
Zip: Back
Special features: Minimal seams, extra insulation around the torso, double-blind stitched outer seams, single-blind stitched inner seams, rubber kneepads

Pros: Very comfortable, flexible, durable, easy to put on and take off, water-tight
Cons: White variation may discolor or stain easily – especially when hung on rust

Amazon| LeisurePro

Sharkskin Chillproof

Materials: Micro-fleece inner lining, nylon/lycra blend outer lining
Thickness: Skin tight
Zip: Back
Special features: Anti-microbial material, odor resistant, slick surface perfect for layering under thicker wetsuit, water-repellent finish

Pros: Protects against sun exposure, wind, and stingers, less buoyant than neoprene, machine washable, easy to put on and take off
Cons: Might be too thin for colder water – discolors after heavy use

Amazon| LeisurePro

Mares Coral

Materials: Nylon II neoprene
Thickness: 1 mm
Zip: Back
Special features: Foot stirrups and thumb loops to help with layering, rubber knee pads, Velcro collar

Pros: Easy to put on and take off, protects against sun exposure, wind and stingers, great for layering under thicker wetsuits, affordable price
Cons: Runs very small – consult size guide

Amazon

Lavacore Jumpsuit

Materials: Inner fleece and nylon
Thickness: Skin
Zip: Back
Special features: Foot stirrups to help with layering, wind-proof middle layer, anti-microbial fleece

Pros: Protects against sun, wind, and stingers, perfect as a base layer,
Cons: Sizing is not true to size – check chart

Amazon| LeisurePro

Fourth Element Proteus II

Materials: Neoprene
Thickness: Available in 3, 5, 7 mm
Zip: Back
Special features: Neoprene panels, durawear patches in knees, shoulders, waist, glideskin ankles and wrists

Pros: Extremely warm – even as the 3 mm, flexible, stylish, easy to put on and take off
Cons: Neoprene can get a bit stiff if gone unused

Amazon

Did we leave any of your favorite models off of the list?

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