Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for shopping guide for best drysuits

If you enjoy scuba diving, you’re probably acquainted with the ins and outs of wetsuits. But if you want to dive year-round or in locations with colder water, a wetsuit can’t provide the most comfortable diving experience. Instead, you need a drysuit to help keep you warm and put an end to your shivering and chattering teeth.

A drysuit is a full-body waterproof suit that provides a layer of insulation to keep you warm in cold water. It typically uses a layer of air to serve as insulation between you and the water, which also provides greater buoyancy when you’re diving. This added insulation prevents you from losing body heat, so you’re able to stay comfortable for longer periods. However, many divers choose to pair their drysuit with insulating undergarments to increase their comfort in cold water.

When shopping for a drysuit, you’ll want to be sure to choose the right material, size, zipper location, and other features that make your suit as comfortable and easy to wear as possible. Our handy buying guide has all the tips you need to choose the ideal dry suit for your next dive.

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Custom-made drysuits are available that are designed to fit your specific body measurements, but they cost considerably more than off-the-shelf suits.

Key considerations


There are two main types of drysuits: neoprene and membrane. Neoprene is the same material that’s used for wetsuits, but the neoprene used for drysuits is thicker, and it’s crushed or compressed to create a suit that’s entirely waterproof. Neoprene drysuits offer great warmth and can eliminate the need for insulating undergarments, but they can also be heavy and thick. As a result, your range of motion may be somewhat limited while diving.

Membrane drysuits, also known as shell or trilaminate drysuits, feature several thin layers of material that are laminated or glued together. They have a thin, lightweight construction and are extremely flexible, providing a wide range of motion. However, membrane drysuits don’t offer much in the way of insulation, so you need to pair them with undergarments that can help keep you warm.

Many divers feel membrane drysuits are more versatile because they can also be used in warm water without undergarments. Neoprene drysuits, on the other hand, are usually too warm to wear in tropical waters. The thin, lightweight design of membrane drysuits also makes them easier to pack when you’re going on a diving trip.

Some budget-friendly drysuits are made of polyester and spandex, but these don’t offer much insulation. If you opt for a drysuit made of polyester or spandex, additional undergarments are required if you’ll be swimming in extremely cold water.


For the sake of your comfort, buoyancy, and balance in the water, getting the right drysuit size is crucial. Most manufacturers offer general size categories from XS to XXL. Look for a sizing chart that provides measurement information. In most cases, each size will have a height and weight range as well as measurements for the chest, waist, and inseam.

Ask a friend or family member to measure you while you’re standing in a relaxed position in regular clothes and bare feet to make sure you get the most accurate measurements.

Front vs. back zipper

Drysuits have zippers to make it easier to get in and out of them. The zippers are heavy-duty and waterproof, but the location of the zipper varies from suit to suit. Some suits have the zipper at the front; others have the zipper at the back. A front zipper typically runs diagonally across the torso, and a back zipper usually runs along the back of the shoulders.

Drysuits with back zippers are the most traditional option and offer a clean look on the front of the suit. However, most people need another person to help them into the suit because it’s not easy to close the back zipper on your own. A front-zipper suit offers you the freedom of donning your suit without any help. In the end, though, it’s really just a matter of personal preference; both types of suits perform the same way in the water.


Seal material

Drysuits have seals at the wrists and neck to prevent water from getting inside. The seals are usually made of neoprene, latex, or silicone. Neoprene seals typically offer the most durability, but the material can stretch over time. Neoporene is also thicker than the other materials, and it can sometimes be a challenge to get your head through a neoprene neck seal.

Latex and silicone seals are more flexible, which makes them easier to take on and off. They’re also easier to replace than neoprene seals if damage occurs, though they’re more prone to tearing.

Air exhaust valves

With a neoprene drysuit, air is used to create insulation between the layers, which can cause your suit to expand or balloon up as you ascend. The suits have valves that allow you to slowly release air when this occurs. However, some suits also have valves that allow you to add air to the suit on your descent so you can address changes in air pressure in both directions.


Many drysuits have some type of attached covering for your feet. Some suits have neoprene socks; others feature lightweight booties. The socks are usually thinner, so if you dive in areas with rocky terrain, you may prefer a drysuit with booties instead of socks.

Not all drysuits come with foot covering. You may need to purchase separate boots to wear with your suit. If you have particularly large or wide feet, you may have a harder time finding attached socks or boots that fit comfortably. In this case, a separate pair is a better option.


Some drysuits feature pockets that allow you to carry gear and equipment. The pockets are usually zippered to make sure you don’t lose anything while you’re diving.

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Did you know?
Pockets on the thigh of your drysuit are usually easier to reach than those on the arms.

Drysuit prices

Drysuits vary in price based on material, size, and features. The price for a size large suit could be anywhere between $35 and $3,200, depending on product specs.

Entry-level drysuits: The most affordable drysuits are made of polyester and/or spandex. They usually don’t have many special features. Expect to pay between $35 and $425 for such an entry-level drysuit.

Mid-range drysuits: Mid-range drysuits are usually membrane suits. They typically have a variety of special features, including pockets and attached socks or boots. Price ranges from $425 to $2,250 for this kind of suit.

Pricier neoprene drysuits: The most expensive drysuits are usually made of neoprene. They have a variety of special features, such as pockets, air exhaust valves, and attached socks or boots. The cost ranges between $525 and $3,200.


  • Unlike a wetsuit, a drysuit should have a slightly loose fit. You should have the ability to wear undergarments beneath your suit for added insulation.

  • If the wrist and/or neck seal stick to your skin as put on your drysuit, try dusting your skin with talcum powder to absorb excess moisture.

  • If you’re having trouble with the zipper on your drysuit, apply some beeswax or zipper-specific lubricant to help it slide along the track more easily.

  • Don’t leave your drysuit out in the sun to dry after a dive. Instead, find a shady spot to hang or lay out the suit.
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In addition to diving, you might want to wear a drysuit for kayaking, wake surfing, and stand-up paddling.


Q. What’s the difference between a drysuit and a wetsuit?

A. A wetsuit is designed to keep you warm in the water, but it’s not meant to keep you dry. A drysuit, on the other hand, can provide insulation that helps keep you warm, but its primary purpose is to keep you dry. Drysuits usually have a looser fit, so you’re able to wear insulating undergarments beneath the suit for added warmth.

Q. What should I wear under a drysuit?

A. Most divers or water sport athletes wear insulating undergarments designed specifically for use with a drysuit. Opt for pieces made of pile fleece, polypropylene, and/or wool because they can help keep you warm even if they get slightly damp from sweat or a leak in your suit. Avoid cotton undergarments, which aren’t effective at keeping you warm once they’re wet.

Q. How should I clean my drysuit?

A. Always consult the manufacturer's instructions included with your drysuit for the proper washing procedure, as it can vary from suit to suit. However, most drysuits can be washed in the washer on cold with a mild detergent and an extra rinse cycle. You could also hand wash the suit with cold water in your bathtub. Don’t put a drysuit in the dryer, though. Instead, allow it to air dry.

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