Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

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Ron
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Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:31 am

What is the coldest water temperature in which you have used a wetsuit for a sustained period of time, say 30-60 minutes, for SCUBA diving? I don't mean surface water stuff or freediving. 49 degrees F is the coldest water in which I've worn a wetsuit, and I'm kind of curious what the practical limit is for such things. I personally would not dive water any colder. Some of you guys used to ice dive wet right?

What are your stories? How cold have you taken your wetsuit?
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DerekRalston
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:46 am

Right around 40 degrees, but that was a custom made, 1/4" jacket over sleeveless bottoms, so there was a LOT of neoprene to keep me fairly warm. I could feel ever tiny leak in the suit, and that was not at all comfortable!

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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:14 am

I got my ice diving cert in a 7mm wetsuit . The water would have been about 37 degrees or so. These days though, if I do a "cold" wetsuit dive, I pay for it for days in my sinus's. I can however do extended dry suit dives in sub 40 degree water. That does not give me a problem. Pretty much any dive in Lake Michigan past 100 fow will be in sub 40 temps.

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luis
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:26 am

To me the air temperature can become the limiting factor when diving wet, or at least the combination of the water and air temperature, plus the wind factor. Wind-chill is a big factor on our shore dives.

Some divers around here are diving the newer style one piece suits with the attached hood, ankle and wrist seals and zipper across the chest, into water in the low 40’s without an issue. I am referring to suits like my Aqua Lung SolAfx. Some people call this suits semi-dry, but no one around here cal them that (you are wet). I actually prime mine with warm/ hot water before the dive.

This suits truly cuts any water exchange with the outside and they are truly amazing. In the cold water (up to about an hour) I feel that I can be every bit as warm as in any of my drysuits (including my heavy neoprene drysuit). My experience with this suit is only to the mid 40’s, but not because of the water temperature, it is due to the air temperature. I quit diving wet the moment the air temperature is low enough were I am not wearing summer cloth.

In many circumstances I think that the limiting factor can quickly become the air temperature. Coming out of the water into freezing air temperatures and changing while wet is not just uncomfortable, but right down scary. I have had my wet cold hands become so stiff that I was having a hard time changing and breaking down my gear.

With a drysuit I often use wet or dry gloves and in the water my hands seem to be OK either way, but when I get out I have to really try to keep my hands dry.

I always prefer diving wet, but there are times that being dry is just very nice. Changing after the dive in the cold is one of them, like last Saturday the air temperature rose to the mid 30's and the wind was blowing at Ft Williams.
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Herman
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:02 pm

65, after that I'm going some place warm, you guys can freeze your buns off if you want. :)
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SurfLung
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:42 pm

- I dive in water that is 37 - 42 degrees with my 3mm BARE wetsuit and a 3mm Neosport hooded vest. This is at Fortune Pond from 80-130 feet depths. It works for me and I like it (the 3mm BARE). I have some reasoning and theories on why this works for me. It's posted in another thread on this topic.... "Wetsuit Logic" at viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9430
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antique diver
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:39 am

SurfLung wrote:- I dive in water that is 37 - 42 degrees with my 3mm BARE wetsuit and a 3mm Neosport hooded vest. This is at Fortune Pond from 80-130 feet depths. It works for me and I like it (the 3mm BARE). I have some reasoning and theories on why this works for me. It's posted in another thread on this topic.... "Wetsuit Logic" at viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9430



Eben, you should have your DNA tested to see if there are Polar Bears in your ancestral tree!

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ScubaLawyer
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:07 am

Whenever I even think about diving in a wetsuit in really cold water my mind gets all numb and dyslexic. You guys who dive in wetsuits in water temperatures in the 30s and 40s are, in my humble opinion, nucking futs. :lol:

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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:47 pm

Failed Late Season Lake Dive...
Image
- Talk about Nucking Futz... Last Saturday Rich and I were hoping to get in one last dive before the ice froze over. We've dived as late as Dec 6th back in 2015. But there was no ice then.
- But this time I had to make a judgment call... Too much of a "stunt" with the way the thin ice was. In the morning, I figured I should check conditions, thinking it was just a "skin" of ice. But the ice was about an inch thick as I was breaking my way through. And as I got closer and closer to open water, it didn't get any thinner. I got out to about neck deep and still had 20 feet to open water. The ice was thin enough to break through if I was standing on the bottom but I wasn't so sure about it if I was swimming with no bottom to push off. Definitely a potentially unsafe dive with unpredictable overhead obstruction.
- So, we had to call it off. But looking at the picture, you know I am wishing I could go diving!
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luis
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:38 pm

antique diver wrote:
SurfLung wrote:- I dive in water that is 37 - 42 degrees with my 3mm BARE wetsuit and a 3mm Neosport hooded vest. This is at Fortune Pond from 80-130 feet depths. It works for me and I like it (the 3mm BARE). I have some reasoning and theories on why this works for me. It's posted in another thread on this topic.... "Wetsuit Logic" at viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9430



Eben, you should have your DNA tested to see if there are Polar Bears in your ancestral tree!



:lol:

Yep... after Eben most recent post, I think you are on to something. :lol:
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Bryan
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:46 pm

I turned on the furnace after looking at that picture...

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luis
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:10 pm

Hi Eben,
Were you using 3mm wetsuit in that recent picture… wow!
I start shivering just thinking about 3mm wetsuit in any temperature under 70F.


Temperature tolerance, specifically to cold, but also to heat, varies a lot per individual. It is affected by metabolism, built in insulation (AKA “bioprene”), conditioning, acclimatization, and background, etc.

By background, I am referring to people that are historically from northern climates are none to have develop more resistance to the cold through generations. I have read that Inuit natives can tolerate working in icy water with their bare hands. Individuals with Scandinavian background are also know to have a tendency to tolerate the cold better.


I am native to the Caribbean and even though I have lived in Maine for close to 30 years and I consider myself as acclimated as I will ever be, I still have problem keeping my hands or even feet warm. My circulation just shots off to my extremities when they get cold.

I have been an alpine ski patroller for about 28 years and many years ago I was a volunteer wilderness rescue member. I have learned a lot about trying to stay warm while working in the outdoor winter environment. I have loved it, but it has always been a challenge.

My alpine ski boots have had some kind of electric heat for at least the past 25 years. It has been interesting to see the evolution of the batteries in that time period.

It is also interesting that many sleeping bags are rated to a certain temperature. In general we always look at that temperature rating as just a relative number to compare two different sleeping bags relative insulation properties. The actual temperature rating only applies to a “standardized test dummy” and we even question how standardized is that test.

I think my warmest sleeping bag was rated to -10F, but to me it was just right inside a snow cave. The temperature inside a snow cave tend to stay around 30F if the air is not circulating too much from the outside.
Luis

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swimjim
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:55 pm

Yep, Eben being a Minnesotan is predisposed to being cold tolerant. Even more so then I am and that's saying something. When I was little we used to get in Lake Michigan swimming just after ice out. I remember wading into the lake and getting "used to it" and then swimming rock to rock in water over our heads. This was mid March, but we were kids and loved swimming particularly underwater. It was the way we grew up and I wouldn't have it any other way.. Those were the days for sure! :D :D

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SurfLung
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:35 pm

So "Genetically" would you say a Minnesotan is a more advanced human or a more primitive human? Or maybe we're a "trans-Human"... something at another level of development entirely... And does that include out minds? Maybe being nuts enough to do stuff in the cold?

I want to thank you guys for not mentioning my finely tuned Bio-Prene insulation. :)
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luis
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Re: Coldest wetsuit temperatures?

Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:44 pm

If you want to talk about nut… think about a Caribbean guy playing in winter alpine environments and even ice diving… :)


Talking about ice diving.
About 7 or 8 years ago I was visiting Puerto Rico and went to my old dive shop, Divers Service Center. I was talking to my old boss, the owner (well he is actual not as old as I thought he was). But he is still as nutty as he always was. He was telling me a story about all this talk about ice diving got him to where he wanted to experience what it was all about… (did I mentioned I was in PR?). Well the nutty Alberto (yeah, that has always been his nickname) decided he was going to buy a truck load of large block ice. By a truck, I mean a big delivery truck full of large blocks of ice.

They delivered the block ice right on to his swimming pool! :shock: He tried to cover the entire pool with the blocks of ice. It didn't work the way he expected (no surprise there :roll: ). But, he said it was great! It was like diving in a “cocktail”! :lol:

OK, if you don’t know Alberto, this is probably not a funny as it is to me. But I know Alberto well (even though that I have not seen him in over three decades) and I can just see him in the water with the ice blocks all around him… And yeah he is still as much of a Nutt as I remember him… And yes, the image of a large Cocktail with Alberto swimming in it is hard to describe...
Note: I am sure there were probably a few other cocktails involved.


Now that I think about it… when it comes to nutty… we are just amateurs. :)

Actually doing stuff in the cold is just what you do when that is what you have handy.
Luis

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