In Florida, we can dive all year long! It’s not like ice diving up North and we don’t have to worry nearly as often, about our regulators free-flowing or being damaged by the cold. The Adventure Outfitters family is from the Midwest and there was a time when we would laugh at the “cold” winters here in Florida, but our blood has thinned diving all the time here and we’re always looking for the best ways to stay warm during the winter. Here are some things we have learned along the way while working under water:
Picking Out the Right Wetsuit
One of the easiest ways to say warm in Florida is to prepare yourself with a warm wetsuit! Not only can you get cold with the incorrect wetsuit, when the heat escapes the body, you can lose more than 60% of your energy! The goal of a wetsuit is to catch any outbound body heat and covert it to thermal energy.
We find that when the temperature hits the low 70s (similar to the 72-degree springs), it’s time to switch to a 5mm suit. Although we have used 7mm suits in the past, the technology in wetsuits has improved greatly and a 5mm is much easier to move in/use in our Florida environments.
There are a few different types of wetsuits to look for. One is an open cell-style suit. These are usually very porous, delicate and are meant to fit tightly around the body, requiring lubrication (either conditioner or baby shampoo) to get it on. They also usually include an attached hood, adding another layer of warmth. Another type of wetsuit is a closed cell-style suit. This is the most common and made of neoprene. These tend to be a bit more rigid than the open cell-style suits which make them last longer and help withstand the different activities that we do here in Florida! Both are great suits but just used for different purposes. The open cell suit is often used for freediving because of its insulated and streamlined properties but their delicate fabric makes them hard to take on and off. The closed cell-style suit is not quite as warm but easier to take on and off, holds up a lot longer than the open cell and you can also customize it for warmth depending on what type of diving you will do!
If you dive a lot like we do and might have tears or holes in your wetsuit, it might be time to get a new one. The longer you use a wetsuit, the less integrity the fabric/neoprene has. We carry both open cell and closed sell wetsuits.
Accessorizing for Warmth
Now that you have chosen the right wetsuit for yourself, you can use accessories to help take the edge off. We have found several accessories that help with the cold including: gloves, hoods, vests and more but here are some that we like best!
The hooded vest: We’re not partial to a hood since it tends to be tight around the neck. Instead, we recommend a hooded vest! It keeps the dreaded water from coming down the back and adds another layer on your core without adding the bulkiness to the arms and legs of the wetsuit. A hood needs to be tight in order to keep water out and is uncomfortable for some. A
hooded vest takes away that discomfort by creating a seal along the face instead of the neck.
Socks and Boots: I know it sounds silly but adding an extra layer with the correct socks really helps keep your toes toasty! Adventure Outfitters carries a few different types of socks including 1.5mm and 3mm-thick socks, that are not only warmer but also make wearing boots more comfortable! Make sure you have high-top boots also that are at least 5mm. We also carry an Ultrawarmth Celliant® 5mm boot from BARE that is unbelievably cozy!
Gloves: Gloves are a given when water temperatures get low but often with our Florida activities, big, bulky gloves get in the way. Try a latex or dentex or nitrile spearfishing glove instead that can add warmth but also keep the dexterity in your fingers. If you are worried about being able to handle a reel or line, consider cutting the fingertips off a pair of your gloves to keep the deftness of your hands. These types of gloves are usually less expensive and generally substantial for the temperatures that occur here in Florida.
Another layer can add another barrier for the heat from your body to have to escape through. There’s nothing wrong with adding a skin to the inside or a shorty to the outside of your wetsuit. Just remember, to only add that layer with a closed cell-style wetsuit. Adding an extra layer might even make it easier to slip on that bulky 5mm.
Prepare for Out of the Water Before and After the Dive
It’s all good until we get back on the boat and that chilly wind hits our wet wetsuits. BRRRR! Be prepared! Try to set up your gear ahead of time so, you don’t waste precious time on the surface. At the shop, we have boat coats that add not only a warm, inner fleece layer but act as a windbreaker on the outside. Try to bring warm clothes to change into during your surface interval or try to warm up in the car. Also, remember to EAT! The best way to get more energy is to fuel your body from within. Also, avoiding alcohol and caffeine the night before/day of.
What about Flushing with Warm Water or Peeing in Your Wetsuit Mid-Dive?
Others may suggest flushing your wetsuit with warm water in between dives or urinating in your wetsuit mid-dive. We do not recommend this. Although temporarily, it can make your feel much better, in the long-run, dumping warm water or peeing in your wetsuit (there are those that do it, and those that lie about it!), is counterproductive. The warm water tricks your body into thinking that it’s no longer in a cold environment, so, when the cold water eventually floods your wetsuit, your body isn’t prepared, and it can take even more energy to warm up your body within again.
Making the Switch to a Drysuit
We’re not ice diving or dealing with the temperatures off the West Coast but everyone is different. If you are just plain, tired of the cold then why struggle? Using a drysuit during the winter months, especially if you will use it all winter, in Florida is perfectly acceptable. Adventure Outfitters can even teach you how to use your drysuit beforehand with the Drysuit Diver Course. The class is one pool session and two open water dives and goes over the skills needed to safely use a drysuit. We also go over maintenance of a drysuit and how to keep it in good condition during those summer months. We carry several brands of drysuits (BARE, Dive Rite, Hollis and more) to help you pick out the best one that fits your needs. There are several different price points and positives and negatives to different types. Stop by or give us a call and we will help you with selecting your own!
New Warmth Technologies
Science is always helping divers in the SCUBA industry to stay warm! New power-headed vests are coming out from different vendors and newer, better, more-flexible hoods and vests are appearing on the market.
Adventure Outfitters currently carries the BARE Ultrawarmth Celliant Technology collection which uses 13-thermo reactive minerals embedded in the fabric of the material to convert wasted body heat into thermal energy and reflect it back to your body. This process improves circulation and temperature regulation—for a warmer, more comfortable dive, and more time in the water. This technology is found in the Women’s Evoke, Men’s ReActive and Velocity Ultra Wetsuits, Hooded Vest, Hoods, and Boots which can all be found at our store located at 4316 S. Manhattan Ave. Tampa, FL 33611.
For more information on warmer equipment or for continuing education, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 813-832-669.