This might be a stupid question, if it is let me know. Does anyone have any experience with using a kayaking type drysuit for scuba? Thanks.
They are different
Drysuits for kayaking are made of waterproof/breathable fabric. They will not stay waterproof at depth due to water pressure. Drysuits for scuba also have a valve to let air in and out. Kayaking and scuba drysuits are not interchangeable.
No can do
Scuba dry suits are much heavier duty and have connection a connection to allow them to be pressurized from the SCUBA tank. If you were to wear a kayaking suit diving, at any significant depth it would compress to the point that it would provide no insulation. You must be able to equalize the pressure inside and outside the suit in order to maintain the loft of your insulation.
Also you need training
Don’t attempt to just use a drysuit for diving without training. You can get what’s known as a blow up. You’re upside down and all the air runs to the feet and you start shooting up to the surface and even with a proper dive drysuit with a relief valve, you need to know how to curl up, drain the air etc. That mistake can be fatal.
Dry Suits are more Techbical
I went diving yesterday and it was cold. Even colder at 80'. My wetsuit compressed and made it feel colder at depth I didn't look at my thermometer to see if it was actually colder. Years ago at Kentucky lake I was there when they brought in a diver who got entangled upside down in a dry suit and drowned. Apparently he ws helpless to free himself due to the inflated drysuit pulling him up and his entanglement holding him down. He died a horrible death in that he was diving with a hooka rig and stayed alive until the gasoline motor ran out of gasoline...diving alone. Those gasoline engines can run for several hours between refills.
Are you thinking about taking up scuba diving? Or do you already have some minor training and equipment and are wondering if you could use a paddling
In my very limited experience with scuba training, outfits start people out with wetsuits for a modest rental fee.
SCUBA diving drysuits
As someone with extensive experience using a drysuit for SCUBA, I’d say using a kayaking drysuit is a bad idea.
SCUBA drysuits have one valve (connected to your tank) for adding air (necessary at depth) and another valve for releasing air (necessary when surfacing).
The standard practice is to use the suit as your bouyancy compensator (keeping your BC as a backup for the drysuit).
Lots of people use (appropriate) drysuits when SCUBA diving but they do take a bit to learn how to use them (a class is a good idea).
for the replies. I am a certified diver but have never used a drysuit. I have seen them used and know that adding/purging air is a component of their use. My thoughts were that the kokatat gore-tex wouldn’t work because of insulation compression but am not totally convinced. With regard to the post about water pressure forcing water through the suit, I don’t think that’s true because gt does not let liquid water pass, only water vapor. If you wore the kokatat and got all the air out of it before diving there would not be any of the bouancy- shifting issues (i.e. inversion) mentioned above.
I realize this is kind of silly, I’m just laid up with a knee injury, I’m bored and thinking too much. Thanks again.
Drysuit for SCUBA
I am an experienced diver and kayaker. I have separate dry suits for both sports. The diving drysuit has air inlet and outlet valves,and is a heavier construction.
Since the kayak suit has no air input, you would be very uncomfortable at about 20 feet of depth from the suit squeeze you would encounter. Physical pain would prevent you from going much deeper.
Also, as indicated in other posts, a dry suit can kill a diver if he does not know how to use it.
Need to be able to add air at depth
"My thoughts were that the kokatat gore-tex wouldn't work because of insulation compression but am not totally convinced."
A dry suit that you can't add air to would get rather uncomfortable at depth and cause (males) to talk in a rather high voice (if you get my meaning).
You need to be able to add and dump air easily/quickly from the drysuit when SCUBA diving.
"about water pressure forcing water through the suit, I don't think that's true because gt does not let liquid water pass, only water vapor"
The kayak drysuits are designed not to let water through up to some amount of external pressure. That is, they are designed to be dry at normal above water pressures.
It is quite likely that a high-quality kayak drysuit will leak when used for SCUBA diving.
The degree of waterproofness for drysuits and tents is measured in pressure as mm Hg. That is, there is a limit to the pressure the material can stand and still be waterproof.
A kayak drysuit is a compromise between comfort and waterproofness. This means that it won't be waterproof in all conditions (eg, at 66 feet deep). Just because a kayak drysuit is waterproof at sea level, doesn't mean it will be waterproof at 66 feet deep.
“Not totally convinced”???
Think about it. What’s the easiest way to purge the air from your dry suit? You walk into the water, lift the neck seal and you come out looking like a prune. That’s with only surface pressure, so just imagine how much your insulation will compress at 2 or more atmospheres. At any depth, you will have essentially no insulation unless you can force air into the suit, which is why diving dry suits have the appropriate valves.
Don’t do it
If you do some research you will find all SCUBA bag or neoprene dry suits have a valve to which a LP hose is attached to inflate the suit. Without this a bag dry suit will collapse and provide virtually no insulation. It would be kind of like sleeping in an 800 fill power down sleeping bag without a pad.
Obviously if you are adding air to the dry suit you are changing your buoyancy. You will need to have the same capability to vary the inflation and deflation of the dry suit the same as you do your BC.
You can do top water activities with a SCUBA suit but not the other way around.
I am not experienced at all with dry suits so I have a few questions.
Doesn’t a dry suit normally provide little or no insulation? I thought that the plan was to add insulating layers under it based on the expected water temperature. From scuba.com:
“One of the great things about a drysuit is that you can use it in a broad range of water temperatures. All you need to change is the insulation (underwear) you wear beneath the suit. Your insulation will vary according to the water temperature and your activity level. For example, during the summer months in Southern California, you might be able to dive with nothing more than a cotton sweatsuit underneath your dry suit…”
So maybe it’s the insulation layer that compresses reducing it’s insulating effectiveness? Doesn’t a wet suit compress just as much?
Also, If a dry suit compressed against your skin at 20 feet, then isn’t it just like a wet suit that is normally against your skin? Why would there be enough pain to stop you from descending further just because the suit is made of dry suit material and not wet suit material. I would also assume that the insulating layer underneath would be compressed against the skin but using something comfortable and snug should keep this from being a problem. Could a wet suit be used for insulation making this problem go away (since it also get’s compressed against the skin when used alone)?
I don’t know anything about this subject and I’d like to hear more about these two effects. Obviously, there are other more obvious reasons not to use the wrong suit when diving.
==> "Doesn't a dry suit normally provide little or no insulation? I thought that the plan was to add insulating layers under it based on the expected water temperature."
Yes, that's pretty much true. (There are drysuits with shells that do provide insulation.)
"So maybe it's the insulation layer that compresses reducing it's insulating effectiveness?"
Yes, but you can add air in a SCUBA drysuit and counteract the compression.
==> "Doesn't a wet suit compress just as much?"
The wetsuit becomes thinner (less insulating) as you go deeper. Note that the wetsuit is made from a thick piece of rubber that has air bubbles embedded in it. As you go deeper, the air bubbles get smaller. A drysuit is basically a balloon. It has one air bubble and you are inside that air bubble. As you go deeper, that air bubble gets smaller and -you- get squeezed.
Because a SCUBA drysuit allows you to add air to the bubble, you can expand the bubble and maintain the insulation and keep from getting squeezed.
==> "Why would there be enough pain to stop you from descending further just because the suit is made of dry suit material and not wet suit material."
Keep in mind that water leaks into a wetsuit. This leakage avoids the squeeze you get with a drysuit.
==> "I would also assume that the insulating layer underneath would be compressed against the skin but using something comfortable and snug should keep this from being a problem."
You have to add air to maintain loft (that is, insulation) as you go deeper. Anything stiff enough not to be compressed by the considerable pressure of being underwater would not allow you to move very well!
still a stupid question
First of all, thanks for all the responses. Secondly, I am not going to do this (maybe). This really is just a silly MacGyver type of thought experiment.
Neoprene rubber does compress with depth and therefore loses insulating ability. Most of the insulation of a wet suit is from the warmed water trapped between the suit and your body. In fact, I have a 3mm freedive suit that lets in almost no water. If I leave it that way (dry) I can feel the cold water through the suit and get chilled very fast. I have to let water into the suit through the neck, instant cold water, then it warms up from body heat and I'm good to go.
As far as the kokatat, I am still not convinced it won't work, here is why:
You would have to wear some fleece underwear for the actual insulation. This would compress with depth, but to what extent? I don't know, that would be an issue, but maybe one that could be solved by simply adding more insulation.
I don't buy the suqeeze = pain idea. When you are under water everything gets squeezed equally anyway- outer layer, inner layer, body, etc. In order to feel "squeezed" your body would have to be staying the same volume and it's not, it is being squeezed as well as whatever you are wearing, especially if there is no air in the suit. I am pretty sure you are not going to feel any squeeze, certainly no pain. Maybe I'm wrong about that but that is what makes sense to me.
This is what I'm not so sure of. My very limited understanding about a real dive drysuit is that the air valves were to control bouancy, not for insulation or anti-squeeze. With the kokatat, I would simply use my b/c to control bouyancy.
Maybe it's like running a class 4 w/w in a 17 foot sea kayak- it's not designed to do the job, everyone will think you're a nujob, but it'll do in a pinch.
==> "Most of the insulation of a wet suit is from the warmed water trapped between the suit and your body. In fact, I have a 3mm freedive suit that lets in almost no water."
Not true. The water is kept warm by the thickness of the wetsuit. It -is- important that little new (cold) water gets in (in the same way that it's important to keep your winter coat closed). A thin latex suit would keep water out but it would not keep you warm.
People use different thicknesses of wetsuits for different water temperatures. Your 3mm is only useful for warm water.
==> "You would have to wear some fleece underwear for the actual insulation. This would compress with depth, but to what extent? I don't know, that would be an issue, but maybe one that could be solved by simply adding more insulation."
It compresses a lot. Notice how easy you can compress fleece. It would compress by about 50% at 33 feet.
You -could- compensate by adding more insulation but there is a limit to how much you can add. Another way, is to add more air. Adding/releasing air is also easy to do (you can't add or remove extra insulation underwater).
==> "I don't buy the suqeeze = pain idea."
It's not exactly "painful". It's just uncomfortable. It's an odd feeling because the suit becomes stiff and makes it harder to move around in.
==> "I am pretty sure you are not going to feel any squeeze, certainly no pain."
You can feel the squeeze by standing in water with your kayak drysuit. A foot or so of water is enough to demonstrate it. Now, think of what it would feel like at SCUBA depths of 33 feet, or 66 feet, or more.
==> "In order to feel "squeezed" your body would have to be staying the same volume and it's not, it is being squeezed as well as whatever you are wearing, especially if there is no air in the suit.
A fact taught in basic SCUBA classes is that it is air (gas) that gets compressed and that solid tissue doesn't compress. A major purpose of the SCUBA regulator is to deliver air at a pressure that matches the increased water pressure at depth so your lungs don't get squeezed.
"My very limited understanding about a real dive drysuit was that the air valves were for bouancy, not insulation or anti-squeeze. With the kokatat, I would simply use my b/c to do that job."
Adding air serves all three purposes. Drysuit divers use the drysuit for bouyancy. One reason is they do so is so they only have to manage one air bladder (the drysuit). And they can't avoid having to manage the air contained in the drysuit. (Indeed, it used to be common for drysuit divers to not use a BC at all.)
The reason you have to have a relief valve for the air in the dry suit is the same reason you have to keep your mouth open when you decrease your depth.
==> "Maybe it's like running a class 4 w/w in a 17 foot sea kayak- it's not designed to do the job, everyone will think you're a nujob, but it'll do in a pinch."
It's a little like that. It's quite possible that a kayak drysuit would work for shallow depths. It's unlikely that the suit would hold up for very long for normal SCUBA depths.
Note that not only does the kayak suit not have easy ways to add and release air, it isn't strong enough to hold up to the pressure changes. A SCUBA drysuit is constructed with much more strength (there is a lot more glue holding the suit together).
what I wanta know is
can you paddle with a scuba drysuit?
(And what do divers do without a pee zip?)
with the comparison of running Class 4 with a sea kayak. There is a chance you will survive. If you try to wear a bag dry suit regardless of the amount of insulation you have an almost certain chance of dieing. There was an article in one of the recent scuba mags about a guy wearing a scuba bag suit that somehow or another didn’t have the inflator hose connected properly. He sank like a stone, panicked and died.
You have a clear choice here. Save some bucks or save your life.
If so it’s been done - in fact the relative newbie paddler that was in the water for some hours in the “I almost died” story from the Pacific Northwest had been put into one by his more experienced friend. That said, we’ve pulled up here and there on the same bit of shore that was being used by scuba divers in the winter, and those suits looks awfully heavy and stiff. Not that they wouldn’t work at all, but the comfort level may not be there.
I am not recommending it.
You have to know what you are doing using a SCUBA drysuit. But, like many things, it's not black and white. It's quite likely that an -expert- with lots of experience would be able to manage to do it.
To be very clear, it's a BAD IDEA to use a kayaking drysuit for SCUBA!
Note that there are all sorts of potential dangerous using a 17 long sea kayak in Class IV white water too. (Pinning hazard, anyone?)