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48-54 F Elios Thickness

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Morone saxatilis
Mar 8, 2003
I was wondering if anyone here dives norcal or similar w/ an open cell suit. I'm not sure wether to go w/ 5 or 6mm. I'd, of course, like a lighter suit w/ less lead if possible. The water temp. ranges from 48F-54F. I'd also like to stay in the water for at least 4+ hours so getting cold isn't an option. The material is heiwa low density. The suit will be two piece, high waist and closed top w/ incorporated hood . Open cell interior.

I know this has been beat to death on this site. I appoligise for regurgetating it...again.... I just don't want to do it wrong and I know some of you can empathise (I have a propensity for overthinking things). It's seems that the cut off for open cell suits is ~10c/50f. I'm looking to bridge this gap so 6mm makes sense. Just when I have my mind made up someone tells me I'm crazy and will die from hyperthermia-sweating to death in my rubbery coffin! I'd love to "push" the suit and use it in Rhode Island and Baja, Mexico. I'm diving a 7mm nylon lined surf suit now and that keeps me warm for 2-3 hours, however I'd like to be warmer to conserve oxygen and get deeper.

Is it better to miss warmer or miss colder. I'll mostly be diving in Norcal for the time being.

-Thanks "for going down this road again" Chris
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Personally for that temperature I would wear a full 7mm, particularly for longish dives, but then I really do not like being cold, and tend to spend a lot of time lying motionless on the bottom. I dont tend to use 6mm, as I find there is not a huge warmth improvemnt over a 5mm. I find a 7mm jacket/5mm trouser is warmer than full 6mm, for about the same amount of buoyancy
Another option that would give you a bit more flexibility in temperature range would be a full 5mm, and an extra 7mm jacket and 3mm trouser. that way you can mix and match; 7mm jacket , 5mm trouser for the coldest water, all over 5mm when its a bit warmer, 5mm jacket 3mm trouser when you can get away with it
I live in Washington state and I get cold pretty easily. I had the same problem as you picking the thickness, but decided on the Elios open cell inside/out, low density 6mm suit, high waist and encoporated hood.
The last time I went diving it was 45(maybe colder) and air temp was high 30's. Needless to say, I froze my but off....but I got a good hour of diving in before I got to the point of shivering. Earlier in the year the water temp was around 50 and I never got cold...not even close, maybe the hands and feet a little, but I felt like I could dive without getting uncomfortably cold for hours.
I would think a 5mm would work just fine, but just to be safe I would step up to a 6mm. You obviously dont get cold easy, and if you are good for 3 hours in a nylon dive suit an Elios suit will increase your dive time 10 fold. Also my 6mm isnt constricting or bulky, very comfortable and is a good compromise between the 7mm and 5mm.
Remember though, I get cold rather easy, if it works for me it should be great for you. Good luck on the purchase....best thing I have spent money on in a long time.
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I bought the 6mm opencell inside/smoothskin outside and wished I would have gone with the 5mm instead.

A little thinner suit would have done just fine and I could drop some lead and move a little easier in it. I also got the low density Hiewa in a high-waisted pant with an attached hood on the jacket.

I think that as long as you go custom, and get an extra 1 or 2mm vest to go with it, a 5mm will be more than enough.

Last time I was out the water temp was hovering just below 40 degrees and the air was in the low 20's- plus there was snow on the ground. I wore the 6m suit without the vest, which I don't think I will ever need as long as I wear the 6mm. I can ice dive in my suit for a couple of hours without getting too cold- as long as I have on the proper socks and mitts.

Just my $0.02

When we went diving up here you saw what I was wearing, Chris- a Picasso 7 mil with the Farmer John pants and attached hood jacket. I've tried hanging out with a five and a six mil, high waste, er, waist suit and it was no fun. Zero.

Anything less and you'll be in the water less, it's simple math.
I would personally freeze the friggin butt off in 40 degree water with my 6mm suit. Jon, you must have some serious cold resistance.
The vest option is a good idea, thought about it myself, but I think if I had to do it all again I would still opt for the 6mm. I like the idea of having my one weight belt set up and not having to screw with it, like I would if I were to odd options like a vest for cold days/thinner top for warmer days.
Like I said before, if you are good for 3 hours in a nylon....dont worry a 6mm will work just fine. But on the same hand you have good cold resistance and might be fine in a 5mm.
I haven't done a long enough dive to really say, but in the 20 minutes I spent in 38f water in my elios 5mm black shadow suit there was no indication of cold. In fact I was warmer in the water as it was quite windy and around 24 f on the surface. Elios recommends picking up one of their 2mm vests, with or without hood, if you want extra warmth - they also have neoprene shorts to help with core coverage - both of which can be worn outside. I'd go with the 5mm and supplement as needed - more adaptable to use the 'layering' approach. My resistance to cold is good, despite very little body fat - just from years of no wet suit here in northern michigan. I can pretty much adapt down into the upper 50s with no suit -comfortable in the water - but shake for a couple hours afterward :)

However - with the elios suit for the shortish time I was in very cold water there was no hint of my needing to adapt at all.
Fondueset said:
I haven't done a long enough dive to really say, but in the 20 minutes I spent in 38f water in my elios 5mm black shadow suit there was no indication of cold.

You're right. That wasn't long enough. 20 minutes gets me to where I start to dive.
I suggest this def: buy the 5mm Elios and go for a dive. They are really well built suits. If you are cold in your comfort zone, pick up a 3mm vest and maybe a scuba hood to go over top or a hooded vest. Wear the vest over the top of your suit so you don't get water channels inside, plus the vest over top helps to keep the water out of the suit.
Up here in Canada when it's cold I also wear Dry Gloves- the blue ones you can buy at a fishing shop and mount a bell cuff on the wrist. The squeeze is minimal- wear a cheap nylon liner inside. If my hands get cold I'm done, and these greatly increase my in water time.
Erik Y.
I'm not exactly sure how to phrase this, but do extremties get cold? I know in the mamalian diving response that blood is shunted off from the arms and legs and kept in the body's core. However as freedivers we spend the majority of time on the surface while breathing. Is the only trick to keep the body's core warm? Is a 2mil vest over a 5mil suit about as warm as a uniform 7mil? Does the addition of a vest add warmth linearly (5+2=7)?

I would love to get a 5mil and use a hooded vest over the top b/c it gives me a lot of flexibility for different temperatures. However I'd rather do it properly then try and get one wetsuit for everything.
The "custom" cut elios is much warmer than a standard cut wetsuit. This is why I would have dropped down to a 5mm, from my 6mm, if I had to do it over agian. Of course the only thing I had to compare to it was my 5mm and 6.5mm off-the-peg freediving suits which are no where near as warm- even if they are farmer johns. My 3mm, custom cut, elios is easily twice as warm as my off-the-peg 3mm Picasso suit. Getting the right cut, and the right rubber, makes all the difference

Erik, Do those blue gloves really work??
I had thought about them, since I have worn dry gloves with my drysuits for years, but wasn't sure how the squeeze would effect them. Right now I am pretty happy with my Picasso 3-finger mitts, but the drygloves are tempting.

Jon said:
Erik, Do those blue gloves really work??

They work great, especially for a skinny guy like me who's hands freeze fast. The squeeze is not a problem down to the 20 metre max I've had them at. If you find they're too tight at depth, you just inflate them before the next dive and you're ok. It's night and day! I swear by them in the cold....you will notice a huge difference. Plus you can fire a gun and wield a knife.
I know all the scuba guys up here will never go back to wet gloves after using a good dry setup.
Erik Y.
I guess I'll go ahead and try and snag a pair.

With my drysuits I always used the Viking dry gloves, since they were a LOT cheaper than the blue gloves. What is the best price that you have found on them so far?

Jon I paid too much for mine intially from a dive shop, but have since found that you can just buy a 10$ pair of gloves from a boat/fish/electrical supply store, then buy the bell cuffs (like on a drysuit) at the local MEC store. MEC is the Canadian equivalent of REI in the States....I suppose any kayak shop would have them too. They sell the glue too. Incidentally that's where we (in Canada) buy our 3mm pre-fit neoprene gloves for about 15$!
Check this US store:
Erik Y.
..and I saw that your wife pulled the goalie again....congrats on the little Jon on the way :)
So in these despearte times of NHL-less-ness you canucks have to resort to droping hockey analagies in everyday conversation :rcard.

I'm actually a big hockey fan. They have a third meeting scheduled for this week! :ko Most promissing stretch all 'season'.
LOL! I'm not a huge fan, but Canada doesn't seem the same without hockey.
I'm no commie, but I vote for the salary cap.
Erik Y.
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