- What is a drysuit?
- Best Drysuits For Scuba Diving
- How To Choose The Best Drysuit
- Frequently Asked Questions
From well-preserved shipwrecks to thriving kelp forests and iconic tectonic divides, cold water scuba diving offers some of the most amazing sites you’ll ever experience.
Not to mention a lack of crowds.
Without proper exposure protection, you’re going to seriously struggle.
And that’s where a drysuit comes in.
Not only will a drysuit prevent hypothermia. But the right drysuit will also tremendously increase the enjoyment of your dives, lengthen your diving season and open up new diving locations.
Whether you’re ready to buy your first drysuit or you just want to learn more about the best drysuits for scuba diving you’ve come to the right place.
If we had to give a quick answer, the best drysuits are:
- AquaLung Fusion Bullet Drysuit (Best overall drysuit)
- SEAC Warmdry 4mm Drysuit (Best budget drysuit)
- Hollis BTR500 Drysuit (Best mid-range drysuit)
- Waterproof D1X Hybrid Drysuit (Best luxury drysuit)
- Waterproof D9X Breathable Drysuit (Best drysuit for travel)
- ScubaPro Women’s ExoDry (Best drysuit for women)
- Bare XCS2 Tech Drysuit (Best drysuit for customization)
Want to learn more about these options?
Keep reading as below we’ll be reviewing the very best drysuits, so you can make the best choice for your budget and personal preferences.
What is a drysuit?
Simply put, a drysuit is a full length, waterproof exposure suit that keeps you dry when scuba diving in cold waters. Made from neoprene, nylon, and rubber, a drysuit uses a combination of watertight seals and zippers to trap a layer of air between the diver and the water.
A scuba diving drysuit features an inflator valve, similar to the one on your BCD, which allows you to equalize the air inside the suit and finetune your buoyancy. Drysuits also utilize exhaust valves to release the expanding air as you ascend.
How does a drysuit work?
A drysuit works by preventing water from coming into contact with the diver’s skin. Because water conducts heat away from the body 20 times faster than air, a diver who stays dry underwater will lose body heat much slower than when diving in a wetsuit.
Contrary to popular belief, a drysuit alone doesn’t actually keep you very warm. Air by itself isn’t particularly insulating. Therefore drysuits have a loose fit which allows you to wear clothes or other insulating layers underneath.
Why dive in a drysuit?
It’s not always easy to access all those tropical diving destinations that we dream about. Which means that sometimes we have to dive locally in order to satisfy our underwater cravings. And for most of us, diving local means cold water!
What’s more, there are some seriously spectacular cold water dives around the world that can only be reached in a drysuit. A drysuit opens up scuba diving all year round and anywhere in the world.
If you’re frequently diving in water temperatures below 60° F (15° C) then it’s definitely worth buying your own drysuit. Drysuits are well worth the investment and the little time needed to learn how to use one properly.
Best Drysuits For Scuba Diving
Boots or Socks: Integrated boots
Loaded with innovative features at a reasonable price, the AquaLung Fusion Bullet is our best overall drysuit.
The AquaLung Fusion Bullet drysuit combines AquaLung’s patented breathable AirCore lining with a high-stretch neoprene shell. This innovative dual-layer design means that this drysuit is super warm underwater, but remains comfortably cool on land. Even in hot air temperatures. Which is something that no other drysuit can offer.
The semicircular zipper makes this drysuit easy to get in and out of, even if you’re by yourself. And the expandable cargo pockets remain functional without causing much impact to your trim.
What’s more, the ergonomic design of the dual layers ensure that this drysuit remains perfectly streamlined with almost no restriction of movement.
And if that’s not enough, the outer layer of this drysuit can be purchased separately and easily changed. Which means that you can replace the outer shell without having to buy a whole new drysuit.
Although this drysuit has been reinforced for maximum durability so it’s unlikely you’ll need to!
Versatile, comfortable and hard-wearing, you simply can’t go wrong with the AquaLung Fusion Bullet drysuit.
- Dual-layer design keeps you warm underwater but cool on land
- Incredibly comfortable
- Highly flexible
- Streamlined pockets
- Durable & longlasting
- Easy to take on & off
- Lots of zips & velcro due to it’s dual-layer design
Boots or Socks: Integrated boots
The SEAC Warmdry is an ideal first drysuit for any recreational diver who’s ready to commit to diving in colder waters.
A low profile design creates a beautifully streamlined drysuit that’s flexible and comfortable. Made from high-density neoprene, the SEAC Warmdry drysuit provides exceptional thermal insulation without becoming heavy or bulky. The semi-flexible boots allow your feet to move easily and can be turned inside-out for quick drying.
If you’re looking for a great budget drysuit that’s easy to use and provides exceptional warmth, then the SEAC Warmdry 4mm is the best option for you.
- Excellent thermal protection
- Great value for money
- Sturdy pocket
- Comfortable seals
- Flexible & lightweight
- Boots don’t provide much grip
- Sizes come up a little small
Boots or Socks: Socks
The Hollis BTR500 is a great mid-range drysuit for both recreational and technical divers. Although the red and black color combo might not be for everyone, you cannot deny the high-quality performance of this drysuit.
Not only does Hollis’ patented inner lining ensure that this drysuit remains completely watertight, but it also makes getting in and out of it a breeze. And the external trilaminate material is super tough making it incredibly resistant to tears and punctures. Each section of the drysuit is cut and connected to increase flexibility and stretchiness, making this one of the best membrane drysuits for range of movement.
The Hollis BTR500 is a robust yet flexible drysuit that’s reliable and long-lasting.
- Highly durable
- Very easy to get on & off
- Abrasion & tear resistant
- D-rings inside pockets
- Only available in red & black
- Thigh pockets are bulky
- No integrated hood
Material: Patented hybrid material
Seals: Latex, Silicone or Neoprene
Boots or Socks: Integrated boots
If you’ve got the budget available, this innovative drysuit from Waterproof is most definitely worth the investment.
The Waterproof D1X Hybrid drysuit is the very first constant-volume, insulated drysuit. The patented material of this unique drysuit provides the lightweight flexibility of a membrane suit with the thermal protection of top quality compressed neoprene.
Tested in the Antarctic, the Waterproof D1X Hybrid drysuit offers unbeatable comfort and protection, even in the harshest of conditions. A soft 3D mesh lining provides optimal warmth and the abrasion-resistant boots offer 5 times more grip than regular integrated drysuit boots. A neck ring allows you to easily replace the seal with neoprene, silicone, or latex.
Combining creative design and unrivaled performance, the Waterproof D1X Hybrid is hands down the best drysuit on the market.
- Ultra-flexible & warm
- Easy to change neck seal
- Tough & durable
- Sleek & stylish design
- D-rings inside pockets
- Heavier than most drysuits
Boots or Socks: Socks
If you plan on travelling to the world’s best cold water diving destinations then the Waterproof D9X Breathable drysuit is your perfect companion.
Not only is this drysuit ultra lightweight but it’s also super comfy and built to last. Made from strong laminated materials, the Waterproof D9X Breathable drysuit offers excellent protection from abrasion without adding weight. The adjustable braces ensure a snug fit whilst the seam-free crotch offers extra comfort.
And if that’s not enough, Waterproof also includes a repair kit, mesh bag, and low-pressure inflator hose with this drysuit.
- Wide range of sizes available
- Mens & womens fit
- Breathable fabric
- Easy to get on & off
- Not as flexible as other drysuits
- Can feel a bit baggy
Boots or Socks: Integrated boots
Designed specifically for women, this ScubaPro ExoDry is stylish and form-fitting. Despite its sleek design, ScubaPro has not compromised on comfort or functionality.
Made from high-density neoprene, this drysuit resists compression which means you’ll have minimal buoyancy change and excellent insulation, even at depth. The heavy-duty latex cuff and neck seals provide a reliable, water-tight fit.
With sturdy, integrated boots and a thick neoprene hood, the ScubaPro Exodry will protect you against all the elements, both in and out of the water. Depending on the water temperatures, this drysuit still provides reasonable warmth without undergarments.
If you’re a female diver looking for a great value and comfortable drysuit, then the ScubaPro ExoDry is a solid choice.
- Stylish & form-fitting design
- Great value for money
- Wide range of sizes
- Compression resistant
- Good thermal insulation
- No tall sizes available
Seals: Latex or Neoprene
Boots or Socks: Integrated boots
If you’re looking for a high performing drysuit that you can customize to suit your needs then look no further than the Bare XCS2 Tech drysuit. With this drysuit you can choose exactly the fit, seals and boots you want.
Choose between compressed density neoprene boots or compression-resistant neoprene soft boots, latex or neoprene wrist and neck seals, and tall or short fit. The ultra compressed neoprene of this drysuit is so flexible it’ll fit like a glove without restricting your movements.
The no-stitch seams of the Bare XCS2 Tech drysuit are double glued and heat sealed for superior insulation and optimal streamlining. Plus the thigh pocket is designed to lie perfectly flat when empty further reducing drag.
And if that’s not enough, Bare is so confident in the quality of this drysuit that they offer a lifetime guarantee. When it comes to fit, quality and longevity, the XCS2 Tech drysuit is hands down the best drysuit available.
- Ultra flexible
- Superb fit & warmth
- Reliable & sturdy seals
- Very little compression at depth
- A little heavy for travel
- That we can’t find any more cons!
How to choose the best drysuit
Drysuits are not the cheapest piece of scuba diving gear. So it’s important to consider a few things before buying your own.
Best Drysuit Material
Recreational drysuits come in 2 main materials; neoprene or membrane. Which drysuit material you choose depends on your personal preference and the type of diving you plan on doing.
Membrane drysuits (also referred to as trilaminate, laminate, and shell suits) are made up of 3 or more layers of fabric which make them waterproof.
Membrane drysuits are very robust but they don’t offer any thermal protection. So it’s important you buy enough undergarments to keep you warm underwater. They generally have a looser fit than neoprene drysuits so you can add more insulation underneath.
If you will be diving in varying degrees of cold water then a membrane suit offers you more flexibility to adjust your undergarments to the different temperatures.
What’s more, because membrane drysuits are thin they’re super lightweight which makes them ideal for traveling. Plus they’re easy to clean and quick to dry.
As the name suggests, neoprene drysuits are made from neoprene, just like a wetsuit. However, unlike a wetsuit, a neoprene drysuit will have a lining on the inside and outside which makes them fully waterproof.
Neoprene wetsuits are significantly thicker and warmer than membrane drysuits, which means you need fewer undergarments to stay warm. Neoprene drysuits are also more form-fitting and flexible which many divers find more comfortable.
However, due to their thickness neoprene drysuits are much heavier and bulkier. They’re also easier to puncture than a membrane drysuit. Plus the bubbles in the neoprene will have an effect on your buoyancy when diving deeper.
More expensive neoprene drysuits will undergo a process of crushing or compression to make them thinner and more durable. A compressed or crushed neoprene drysuit is even more flexible and has less effect on your buoyancy as the bubbles are also compressed.
Best Drysuit Seals
The seals are arguably the most important part of your drysuit. Typically you will have 3 seals on your drysuit; one at the neck and two at the wrists. But there may also be seals around the ankles. Or around the face, if the drysuit features a fully integrated hood.
Drysuits seals come in 3 different types; latex, silicone, and neoprene.
No drysuit seal will last forever but each type has its pros and cons. So let’s take a look…
Latex drysuit seals are effective, affordable, and very flexible. However, they can feel tight and they’re more liable to tear. Latex seals will also stretch and degrade over time. Plus they’re no good if you’re allergic to latex!
Silicone seals are a great alternative for a membrane suit if you’re allergic to latex. They’re incredibly comfortable, provide an excellent seal, and are easy to change. But silicone seals are quite fragile and require a ring system to be attached to the suit.
Neoprene seals are the toughest and provide even pressure against your body. However, they’re not as effective or stretchy as the other seals. You may need to fold a neoprene seal to make it fully watertight.
Best Drysuit Zips
Drysuits can have front entry zips, U or back zips, and shoulder zips. The location of the drysuit zip is down to personal preference and whatever you find easiest. A front zip is easier to close by yourself but a back zip gives a more streamlined look.
You can also add a P-valve to most drysuits, aka a pee zip, for an additional cost.
Drysuit Socks or Boots
Once you’ve decided what material you want your drysuit to be made of, it’s time to think about your feet. Drysuits will either come with built-in socks or boots.
Built-in Drysuit Socks
Some drysuits will end in a thin neoprene sock. Although waterproof, these socks are not thick enough to protect your toes from the cold. Nor sturdy enough to protect your feet from rough ground.
With this style of drysuit, you will need to wear rock boots. Rock boots come in a variety of styles and sturdiness to suit the environment you’re diving in.
Rock boots are easy to repair and replace. Plus they have a tighter, more custom fit which makes your finning much more efficient.
However, they’re heavy to travel with and are an additional cost on top of buying the drysuit. You may also need to go up a size in your fins to accommodate your rock boots.
If you’re looking for a reliable pair of rock boots, we recommend the Bare Force 1 rugged drysuit boots. With their heavy-duty sole, easy lacing, and superior fin strap stability these are a great drysuit boot for all environments.
Built-in Drysuit Boots
The majority of drysuits come with built-in boots. The leg of the drysuit simply ends with a boot. These built-in boots will be made from the same material as the drysuit and will feature some sort of sole for grip.
Built-in boots are easier to put on, lighter to travel with, and significantly more affordable than rock boots. However, they usually don’t fit as well and are harder to replace.
Frequently Asked Questions
How cold can you dive in a drysuit?
Drysuits are usually used for scuba diving in waters below 60° F (15° C) or if planning to dive for extended periods of time.
Remember water conducts heat away from your body 25 times faster than air. So even if the water isn’t below the typical threshold for drysuit diving, many divers will opt for a drysuit to make sure they’re comfortable.
What temperature you need for diving in a drysuit will completely depend on your personal tolerance for the cold. Some divers are happy diving in a thick wetsuit in water temperatures as low as 50° F (10° C). While others will reach for a drysuit as soon as the water drops below 75° F (24° C).
So it really depends on how much you feel the cold and how long you’ll be in the water.
How tight should a drysuit be?
The seals of a drysuit should be a snug fit but not uncomfortable. If you’re new to diving in a drysuit, a snug neck seal might feel a little uncomfortable out of the water. But once you’re submerged, a properly fitting neck seal is comfortable.
The main body of a drysuit should not be tight. A drysuit needs to be loose enough to allow you to wear enough insulating layers and move freely. If the drysuit becomes tight when adding undergarments or moving around then you should go up a size.
What should you wear under a drysuit?
A drysuit will keep you dry but not warm. It’s waterproof and windproof but doesn’t provide any insulation. If you don’t wear anything under your drysuit you’ll probably get rather cold! So you should wear additional layers underneath your drysuit to keep you warm.
Although a drysuit seals the water out, it’s still likely you’ll get a little damp from perspiration or if there’s a tiny leak. Therefore the best type of clothing to wear under a drysuit is made from materials that still insulate when wet. Anything made of fleece, wool, or polypropylene is great. But not cotton.
For diving in extremely cold water, it’s recommended you wear a one-piece undersuit. This is basically a sleeping bag with arms and legs that you wear underneath your drysuit. With varying thicknesses available you’ll be nice and toasty throughout your dive.
Do you wear a BCD with a drysuit?
The only reason you add air to your drysuit to equalize the pressure inside the drysuit at depth and help keep you warm. You want to have the minimum amount of air inside your drysuit, just enough to be comfortable and prevent a drysuit squeeze.
How long does a drysuit last?
If you treat it right, a good quality drysuit can last you 10 years or even longer. Taking proper care of your drysuit, before, during and, after diving, is essential if you want your drysuit to last you a long time.
Which is better: a wetsuit or drysuit?
This mostly depends on the temperature of the water you’ll be scuba diving in. And a little of how much you struggle with the cold and your experience level.
A drysuit will keep you much warmer than a wetsuit. However, because of their tight fit, wetsuits are more comfortable and offer significantly better flexibility and mobility than a drysuit. What’s more, drysuits are a little trickier to use, especially for beginners.
What’s the difference between a drysuit and a semi-drysuit?
Simply put, a drysuit keeps you dry and a semi-drysuit let’s water in.
A semi-drysuit is more similar to a traditional wetsuit. Made from neoprene, a semi-drysuit features seals that are designed to minimize the amount of water exchanged in the suit. Whereas a drysuit is made of heavier duty materials and has better, tighter seals that keep the water out completely.
Semi-drysuits are designed for diving in cold water. Drysuits are for diving in even colder water. A drysuit will keep you much warmer out of the water and in between dives than a semi-dry or wetsuit.
How do you use a drysuit for scuba diving?
Scuba diving in a drysuit requires you to learn a few techniques. To begin with, drysuits can be a little tricky to use, from putting it on to controlling your buoyancy and getting the weights right. But once you’ve got the hang on diving in a drysuit it’s pretty much the same as diving without one.
The main difference when scuba diving with a drysuit vs a wetsuit is that you’ve now got another airspace to consider. Not only will you need to equalize this airspace, but it will also have an impact on your buoyancy.
There are also a few potential problems that can occur when diving in a drysuit that you need to be familiar with. As a result of these additional skills, it’s recommended you complete a drysuit certification before diving in a drysuit
Although it’s not strictly mandatory to get a drysuit certification to go diving in a drysuit, most dive centers will ask you for proof of certification before doing a drysuit dive or renting one.
What’s more, getting properly trained on how to dive in a drysuit will save you a lot of frustration. Not to mention that the incorrect use of a drysuit can seriously jeopardize your safety underwater.
A good drysuit for scuba diving is a worthwhile investment if you’re frequently diving in colder water. There’s really is nothing that takes the joy out of diving faster than being freezing cold.
And when looked after properly, these drysuits are sure to keep you warm and toasty for several years to come.
So now you know all of the best drysuits for scuba diving it’s time to make your choice!
Which drysuit did you pick? Have you tried diving in your drysuit yet?
Let us know your experience below.
Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime.