DOG TRICKS: I swear I didn’t pee in my drysuit…
Written by Kathy Long, Diver & DUI Web Systems Manager
If you are fairly new to drysuit diving you might find yourself unzipping your drysuit and wondering if you’ve done the unthinkable. “That’s a lot of moisture and this suit is supposed to be dry.” Or another question may be, “I feel damp – did my drysuit leak?”
According to Wikipedia, maximum sweat rates for an adult can be up to 2 to 4 liters per hour. It’s a good thing we divers are kick back and not working that hard! Still, just imagine opening up even a half liter bottle of water and dumping it inside your drysuit. Duplicate this event 2, 3, or 4 times a day and, well, you’ve got some explaining to do ;).
Within minutes of closing your waterproof zipper the air inside your suit will reach 100% humidity. If the average person gives off one cup of water an hour while at rest, just imagine the sweat inducing efforts divers can produce when actively swimming for an hour. Not doing that much movement while diving? Remember just getting ready to dive produces lots of energy. No matter what, you’re sweating inside that drysuit.
During your dive the water/sweat will migrate through the insulation to the inside of your drysuit. It will condense here because the drysuit will be colder than your body temperature. Think of how water vapor will accumulate on a cold window in the winter. This same process is taking place inside the drysuit. You will notice a film of moisture on the inside of your drysuit and a layer of moisture on the top of your DiveWear insulation.
Special note: Do not wear cotton insulation under your drysuit. Cotton will absorb the moisture and reduces the insulation dramatically. That is why you never wear a cotton t-shirt under your insulation while diving. It will get wet, stay wet and you will get cold.
Let’s assume that your drysuit does not have a leak. How do you minimize the feeling of dampness? Wear a high quality wicking base layer. This will pull moisture away from the body. There are many types on the market. DUI offers ECODiveWear. It’s comfortable and is made from 75% recycled material.
DiveWear made with fleece or Polartec PowerStretch will also wick the moisture away from the diver. After your dive the fleece can have a feeling of dampness especially on the outside of the garment. If possible, hang the garment in between dives to dry completely. This will allow your DiveWear to offer the greatest insulation for your next dive. Just think, if you took that garment and mopped up a spilled can of soda, you wouldn’t want to dive with it until it was dried out.
If you are wearing one of DUI’s Thinsulate DiveWear, Xm250 or Xm450, you’re in luck. Thinsulate is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water. The inside lining is designed to pull the moisture away from the body. It’s best to wear a base layer under your Thinsulate to absorb body oils and it’s really easy to wash.
Have the option of getting out of your drysuit between dives? Hang up your suit leaving the zipper open. Turn the arms inside out which will allow the moisture to dry. Condensation should dry quickly.
How to tell if it’s more than you? One side of your suit is appreciably wetter than another. If you can literally ‘wring out’ your DiveWear chances are you have a leak. Water sloshing in your boots? Probably a leak.
Remember that there are two obvious places drysuits leak. The seals and the drysuit zipper. It is a common mistake to leave the drysuit zipper open a tiny, tiny amount. It’s okay – we’ve all done it! This will cause a significant leak. Or not setting your seals properly will also cause a leak. If you think it could be either of these issues, dry your DiveWear, make necessary adjustments and dive again
Bottom line the chances are you will feel ‘damp’ after your drysuit dive and the reason is – it’s all you baby!