Most divers buy a drysuit because they know that somehow it will keep them warmer during and between dives. Well, that and it looks cooler than that worn out old wetsuit of yours. What most don’t consider is how a drysuit actually keeps you warm and why it is preferable to the wetsuit for better thermal insulation in all dive conditions. Well, basically it keeps you dry! Yeah, ok you get that….I hear you there! You’re probably also saying “when are you going to get to the point about drysuit glove systems?”…I’m getting their young apprentice! Just let me pave the way here ok? Awesome, moving on.
Cold Is A Factor Of Time
There are two major shortfalls to a wetsuit when it comes to keeping you warm. First off, cold is a factor of time. That “clock” starts the second you introduce water into the wetsuit. You see, a wetsuit keeps you warm by allowing water to enter the suit and it then holds it against your skin and the insulation of the neoprene allows the water to be warmed by your skin. Well, here’s the issue…it’s using your own body heat to keep you warm! Body heat as we know is not something that there’s an infinite supply of, so in lies the “factor of time” here.
Scuba Wetsuits Are REALLY “Cool Under Pressure”
The second major shortfall of a wetsuit is the makeup of the material itself. So, what is neoprene? Well, simply put it is rubber impregnated with air bubbles to make it loftier and more pliable. If you dust off that basic scuba textbook, you will remember that air bubbles and depth don’t play well together. Under increasing pressure, the air bubbles within the material of a wetsuit compress and reduce the overall insulating quality of the suit’s material. So much so, that a wetsuit is basically ineffective for thermal protection anywhere below 100 feet deep. Yeah, no wonder you feel so cold on the bottom!
Being Cold and Hypothermic On A Scuba Dive Is No Fun!
We all know from science class that hypothermia is nothing to mess with. I mean just being cold is no party, not to mention the numbness, paralysis, confusion, and even death following that up. It’s not too hard to see that being warm on a dive is crucial and perhaps a wetsuit is not a long term solution. Not convinced? Take a look at this article on proper drysuit undergarments.
Ok, Finally Moving On To Drysuit Glove Systems…Well, Kinda
So you have a drysuit and proper undergarments for the climate you will be diving in, awesome. How are you protecting your head and hands? Yeah, well sadly hoods haven’t quite evolved to the point of drysuit technology. I mean, we can’t simply throw a bag over our head right? Of course, there are some pretty nice hoods out there that will keep your noggin’ nice and toasty…just not totally dry.
Wait? Really? Are you seriously using neoprene wetsuit gloves with your drysuit and proper undergarments? Wow! That’s like putting cheap used tires on a new Ferrari! Yeah, it just won’t work. If you forgot our little discussion on how wetsuits are ineffective at depth and how cold is a factor of time, do yourself a favor and scroll back to the top and start reading this guide again from the start!
So, How Do Drysuit Glove Systems Work?
Simply put, a drysuit glove system works just like the drysuit itself. It keeps your hands dry and allows you to wear an undergarment glove underneath the sealing glove. With a properly working drysuit glove system, the only part of your body that should be getting wet is your face(and perhaps your head since the hood is neoprene). To make a proper drysuit glove system work, there are a few basic components involved.
Drysuit Glove Rings
The drysuit glove ring system is what actually attaches the dry gloves to the cuffs or seals of the drysuit and form the watertight seal keeping your hands all nice and toasty warm. While some drysuit glove rings require an actual modification to the suit and hard installation, there are quite a few that can install over the existing seals of your drysuit allowing you to switch back and forth between dry gloves, neoprene gloves(seriously, I thought we covered this), or no gloves…yeah I’m talking to the cave divers out there.
Systems like the Glove Lock by Si Tech are the type that snaps in over existing seals. Systems like these literally install and uninstall within seconds(if you’re not mechanically inclined it could take up to a minute…but you get the drift). If you’re a visual person you can check out this video of our fearless leader, Mike discussing a snap in drysuit glove system.
Drysuit gloves, by nature, are rather simple. They are basically PVC rubber gloves that honestly remind me of what my grandmother wore to do dishes and scrub floors when I was a kid. Drysuit gloves are most often inexpensive ranging from 5 to 15 bucks(yeah…really cheap in the world of dive gear!). With that, I strongly recommend picking up a few pairs because they can and do tear and/or wear out…so be a bit more careful when diving those rusty old shipwrecks. Being a simple PVC rubber glove, they merely provide the shell that keeps your hands dry. To keep them warm, you’ll need drysuit glove liners.
Drysuit Glove Liners
Ok, we’re finally to the part that provides the actual thermal protection…the drysuit glove liner. Like with the drysuit undergarments themselves, it’s important to not cheap out and grab a set of cotton gloves from the display at the discount bargain mart. This is crucial because in the event of a glove ripping you’ll want something to wick moisture and keep your hands warm. For drysuit glove liners I would recommend something moisture wicking like a merino wool or fleece…anything but cotton or an inorganic material.
So there you have it. The complete guide to why drysuit glove systems are so much better than neoprene gloves for drysuit diving. If you want to dive cold water, get with it and grab a drysuit glove system. DRIS is here to help with all of your diving needs. Your dive experiences will thank you for it.