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How well should a wet suit fit?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Wave Sailor

New Member
Oct 26, 2001
Hi All,
After looking around, I actually managed to find a place that sells Picasso wet suits nearby. A couple hours and several ounces of conditioner later, I have a few observations and a couple questions:

>> The 7mm apnos I tried on felt like it was thinner than 7mm, it took a while before I could convince myself that it was 7mm.

>> Using dilute conditioner solution, it actually wasn't that hard to put on.

>> The top was much harder to take off than to put on.

>> The Xcel one piece polar tridensity jumpsuit w/hood & chest zip, my other favorite, was easier to put on and felt about as warm on land. Although it has a water dam over the chest, I'm concerned about water exchange. The Xcel is also Yamamoto neoprene, and it actually seemed to fit me a little better than the Apnos

>> I tried a size 48 top and a size 50 top. I'm a skinny guy with a waist thats much thinner than my chest, so the size 50 top had about 3/4" play in the small of my back. The size 48 top had about half that. The size 48 top did seem to constrict my breathing just a little, though. But otherwise both tops seemed to fit ok (the 48 was a little snugger).

So my question is, is a gap in the small of your back a potential problem with these suits? Will it allow water to leak in or does the suit seal pretty well anyway?

If there's going to be some leakage I may be inclined to take a risk on the Xcel, since it seems more comfortable, and just use a vest with it to help plug up the zipper. If not, should I get the size 48 or the size 50 top? Using the pull-it-over-you-head-by-the-beaver-tail method of removing the top, the 48 was just a hell of a lot harder to get off than the size 50, so I'm thinking the size 50 may be the one for me even though the size 48 seems to be the right one according to the chart for my height and weight.

And would a suit with the BioThermic lining be worth the extra cash? I know it'll be easier to put on without lubricant, but will it actually be warmer?

Many thanks from an apnea newbie!

The Biothermic lining adds a lot of warmth to the suit, I was diving in 54 F water and was toasty warm and it was only a 5mm suit. (Picasso, with a grey camo pattern - can't recall the name). The best part is that it didn't allow any more water in once I got the insides wet, where as the 7mm scuba suit did when ever I moved my head around to much.

My Picasso suit is also a little loose in the small of my back when I've just put it on but once I get in the water and force all the extra air out it hugs every contour of my body like cheap spandex (this isn't a pretty sight). I suspect this is what a semi-dry suit is supposed to do. As a side note, unless I'm adjusting the hood on the suit I get no leakage (even when I have the hood rolled down).

You also shouldn't pull it by the beaver tale to pull it off, good chance of ripping your suit.

Not that it matters but I drove 8 hours to get my Picasso suit and it was worth it, especially since I had been freediving in a 7mm scuba suit

So, to subjectively answer your questions:

Yes, I think the BioThermic suits are worth the $$

No, I don't think the air space in the small of your back will be a problem (but you won't know until you get it in the water). The suit seals itself very well (the Picasso, can't speak for the other one)

Size wise I can't comment on. My top is a pain to get out of as well and is a bit tight but not restrictive, I could probably put on a few pounds (of muscle) and not feel a difference

David Nesbitt aka Cragrat
Ontario, Canada
ask Roger

I have a 7mm Picasso Camu and love it almost as much as my wife and children. I called Picasso America and was surprised when Roger Yasbeck answered the telephone himself. Over the next hour he took me through all the decisions and I bought my suit without ever seeing one or trying it on. So when in doubt call Roger. He is a truly wonderful person.
Neck, wrists, and ankles must be form-fitting, skin tight, no air gaps. If water movement is permitted in these areas, you will be cold. All diving is a race against time with hypothermia, even in 85 degree water.

Your skin temperater averages 92 degrees. Water absorbs heat from your skin twenty-five times faster than air. With even a seven degree difference, your core temperature can drop to dangerous levels. Especially if you don't wear a hood or beanie. The greatest thermal loss delays, in a wetsuit, come when the suit fits as snugly as possible, keeping out as much water as possible, and is skintight to the wrists, ankles,and neck, and has a good large flap behind the inside length of the zipper to help seal out water seepage down your back.

Uncomfortable to wear? Not when it gets wet! Those things absorb water and stretch. Rule of thumb; if the suit is snug and comfortable when you try it on in the store, you probably need to go down one size. If it dosen't form fit your body, and is just a little difficult to get on, it's too loose.

Also, the anticipated life of a wetsuit, dependent on quality, is about five to six years. They are compressed each time you dive, and over time the cell walls break down and collapse. Eventually, they get so "limber" they offer almost no thermal protection at all.

I owned a Mares full 7mm semidry and it was tops for heat retention, NO water got in, and it had a drysuit zipper. Some kind of waterproof fleece-like lining. Only problem was the 35-40 lbs of weight I had to wear to get under. It was essentially a drysuit without an air valve. You just climbed into the water, and let the water pressure push the inside air up to the neck seal, and burped it . After that, no water inside, and it fit loose enough, thanks to the drysuit zipper, neoprene ankle, wrist and neck seals, that you could wear a bit more thermal protection inside, like poly long johns.

Not for everyone, but cheaper than a drysuit.

I'd love to find as good a 5mm semi-dry, with a drysuit zipper!
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