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should warmth be sacrificed for weight?

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New Member
Oct 6, 2004
hi all!
i'm still in the process of trying to decide what thickness of wetsuit to get. just to fill you in, i dive in water that ranges somewhere between 16 and 22 degrees c, and i get cold fairly easily. a two hour session would be normal[in my scuba wettie, though i still feel the cold] though longer would be nice if warmth permits. i'm ordering an elios open cell and thinking maybe a 3mm suit with an extra vest of say 2 or 3mm would suffice. one of my primary concerns apart from warmth is the amount of weight i'll need to wear. i'm not using full length fins at the moment[cressi freefrogs-which might be 2/3 to 3/4 the length of normal fins] and therefore find excessive weight fairly difficult to drag around. i have been using a scuba wetsuit of 5mm that requires 6, 3 pound weights[thats about 8kg], maybe less if diving deeper and so i'd like to get away with less if possible. i'd imagine that if i went with an elios 5mm with high waist rather than long johns as per my scuba suit, i might get away with less weight-also mid density neoprene may require less? or i could go for 3mm pants and 5mm jacket.

i'm aware this is a long and possibly rather complex post to follow, but if anyone has gleaned the essence of what i'm trying to say, i'd appreciate any responses that may help me to decide which wettie to get.

thanks in advance,

All of this is of course highly individual.

Do you mean that 16 degrees is the lowest on the bottom, or surface temp? Here the water rarely even reaches 22 on the surface. Bottom is allways more or less 4 c. I have 5mm suit and I find it quite warm enough. 3mm would definetly be too cold.

With a 5mm elios suit I use about 2 kg of weights, which makes me neutral at about 15 meters. 5 kg was way too much (the most I've tried).

Also keep in mind, that an open cell 5mm tailor made suit is much warmer that a factory fit scuba suit of the same thickness. I have a 7mm scuba suit, which has douple neoprene on the torso (making it 14mm) and its actually colder than my elios.

It's hard to give a definitive answer, but in those waters I could imagine my self on a 3mm. But as you said, if you get cold easily...

Anyway, with a 5mm suit a normal person shouldn't need a huge amount of weights. Most I've seen is 1-4 kg (most people here have 5mm suits)

As far as should warmth be sacrificed for weight? I would say no. If you're too cold, it makes diving a pain. If you have some extra weight, all it does is makes getting there a bit harder, but in water, you won't even notice a few kg.

I usually lug around 10-15 kg of lead (weight belt, neck ballasts, bottom weights for the rope) in a backpack. You get used to it after a while ;)
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cheers for the input simo!

since i'm yet to get deep in my freediving [for me thats below about 12 m] i don't really know how cold it gets on the bottom. people say that it ranges between 16 and 22 degrees[and they might just be the weather people]. how do you measure the bottom temp?
if the water is say 18 degrees on the surface it will more than likely get below 10 degrees c deeper than 15m correct?[feel free to correct me here, i'm just having a wild guess!]. also the main reason that i have been wearing so much weight is because i have been shallow water diving less than 7 m most of the time, and still need to be neutral at those depths.

thanks for the input simo and anyone else!

With a 5mm Elios (yamamoto, high waist), I need 14lbs (6.4kg) of weight to dive properly.

My general rule for suit vs. temperature:
21C+ = 3mm
16-20C = 3/5mm (3mm pants, 5mm top)
9-15C = 5mm full
< 9C = 5mm full with heat packs
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Dam... Eric that is a lot of weight....

You use that for spearfishing or also for freediving? I train always without weights even when wearing a 7mm. If I go out for 'fun' then I wear weights. In the Vancouver competition I was also diving without weights.

The temperature scale you use is simular to what I had in mind but generally I dive longer on thin suits to train the body/mind for a higher low temperature tolerance.

Greetz Pim

With 6.4kg (14lbs) in my 5mm, I'm good to about 55m; beyond that, I need to reduce the weight, otherwise I'm too heavy down there. I have never been spearfishing before...
thanks for the tips all!

i've decided to get a 3mm suit plus a 5mm jacket and extra 2mm vest.hopefully this should cover all my shallow and deeper water concerns.

all the best,

One last thought, rather than a 2mm vest how about a larger double lined 3mm vest that you could wear on top of your jacket, that way you wouldnt comprimise the water sealing properties of the open cell suit :)
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I wear a 3mm Elios (waist pants) and a 3mm vest over top that will keep me in the water for 3 hours in 18C while spearfishing. For shallow hunting (max 10 metres) I wear 12 lbs and for deep diving I wear either zero or 2lbs.
For water 12-16C I have a 5mm Picasso (long johns), an extra hood plus the 3mm vest and I'm good for 2 hours or so. 16lbs lead for hunting.
Under 12C I'd wear the 5mm and 3mm top, the 5mm longjohns and dry gloves which make all the difference believe me! 16lbs lead.
This is all fresh water. I'd probably add a kilo for salt water.
In your temps I'd buy a 3mm Elios with waist pants and an overvest that you can take off just before each deep training dive. The Elios suits are incredibly warm when custom fit.
Erik Y.
It is SO important to feel comfortable when diving. More weight on the belt is a small price to pay for longer dive times, better safety and more enjoyment.

I'm getting a warm suit soon!

Eric at what depth are you neutral? I think rather shallow?

Are you quick in 'deadfall' and then push hard on the return or are you that positive bouyant. For me with 3mm bottom and 5mm top and without weight I'm neutral on 20..25m (fresh water), I used to wear lots of weights but in training NO weights anymore.....

Ciao Pim

ps, without weights long diving times are possible it is just getting used to....my max is 4:05 on a 20m dive.
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Originally posted by naiad
. More weight on the belt is a small price to pay Lucia

On that note I should add that I built a weight harness out of a biker's water pack and a piece of weight belt. You don't feel it and it's centered over the top of the lungs, so balance is good.
Erik Y.
My 'tuppence' worth...

I use (in seawater):

7:5 when the temp is <12oC with 10lbs
5:3 when the temp is >12oC (rare!) with 4 lbs

In FW weights change to:

3 lbs
0 lbs

This is to acheive Neutral bouyancy at about 6m.

These may seem 'light' but that is because I dive FRV.

5mm Elios Medium Heiwa < 10oC with 10-12lbs
3mm Elios Medium Heiwa > 9oC with 7.5lbs

Generally neutral at 15m
thanks everyone!

i was greatly struggling how i could cover the differing dive situations i dive in with just one wetsuit[i.e.both shallow and warmer and deeper and cooler]. i decided to get the 3mm and a 5mm jacket as well as a vest as i already said. i'm thinking that maybe just having a 3mm and a 5mm would be the way to go, but the budget[who am i kidding, its the wife] wouldn't approve.anyway, all your comments were very encouraging, convincing me even further that i chose right.

cheers all, and keep em coming!