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Find the perfect wetsuit for beginners with our ultimate buying guide!

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In part 5 of my „Ultimate guide to buying dive equipment for beginners“ series, I will give you tips, tricks, and recommendations on buying a wetsuit when you’re new to diving.

Use the table of contents to read to the sections you are interested in most or jump to another part of the series.

Best scuba wetsuits for beginners

These are my personal recommendations for the best scuba wetsuits for beginners.

I have added recommendations for each thickness and type so you can pick one that fits your needs.

If you are looking for semi-dry suits, scroll down.

Best 3mm wetsuit for beginners

Cressi Fast 3mm

Comfortable, flexible, and extremely durable

The new Cressi Bahia 3mm uni-fit is my recommendation for an inexpensive yet quality 3mm wetsuit for beginners.

It’s a back-zip suit that is easy to put on or off and will serve its purpose well.

Yes, there are 3mm wetsuits out there that have nicer zippers or a fancier design.

However, I think 3mm suits are usually not meant to be the main suit for heavy diving duties, and as such, I don’t think it’s worth spending 400€ on one.


The lack of ankle zippers means better insulation at the legs and will keep you warm a little longer.

Flushing at the neck zipper is minimal and there really isn’t anything else I can tell you about this suit.

If you are looking for the best bang-for-your-buck 3mm wetsuit for beginners, the Cressi Bahia 3mm is my top pick.

Best 5mm wetsuit for beginners

ScubaPro Sport Steamer 5mm

Flexible, and great quality

ScubaPro makes some super solid wetsuits and I especially like the Sport Steamer 5mm.

Not only is it a super comfortable fit, but the Sport Steamer series is also one of the warmest I’ve dived in.

The Sport series comes in 3mm, and 5mm, and this one is the perfect ratio between cost, warmth, and flexibility.

While most other 5mm wetsuits are only suitable for temperatures down to about 20°C, this one is rated for 10°C – 18°C! To be honest, if you do plan on diving in water this cold, get the ScubaPro EverFlex Steamer 7mm, as this will be much more convenient and safe.

Nevertheless, a 5mm wetsuit is super flexible and always a good investment for every beginner scuba diver and is also available as a women’s edition.

The suit features a back-zip with minimal water exchange and the cuffs are easy to get in and out of. Plus, the design is really nice!

The only drawback I found was that it doesn’t come with a hood, so you’ll have to buy your own.

If you want a super flexible, comfortable, and top-rated 5mm wetsuit, you cannot go wrong with the ScubaPro Sport Steamer 5mm!

Best 7mm wetsuit for beginners

ScubaPro Everflex 7mm

Comfortable, flexible, and extremely durable

It’s unusual for me to recommend the same brand twice in a best-of listing, however, the ScubaPro Everflex 7mm deserves the top spot for 7mm wetsuits for beginners.

Warmer than any other wetsuit out there, you will not feel cold again on your next dive.

My personal favorite has always been the AquaLung SolAfx, however, it has been discontinued and is not available online anymore. Since then, the Everflex has rightfully taken this pot.

Just like the Sports series, it is really comfortable while offering great insulation and flexibility.

We hand them out to students when diving in really cold water, while diving in winter, and even during altitude dives during the summer.

While not technically a semi-dry suit, it has extra layers underneath the cuffs that reduce water exchange immensely.

There is a women’s edition out there that will fit the ladies better and looks even nicer, in my opinion. Sigh…those biased design teams… 😄

As mentioned before, ScubaPro suits don’t come with a hood, so I suggest you get the Bare Ultrawarmth one on top.

One last neat feature I really like is the extra zipper on the neck to adjust how tight the suit fits around the neck. If you ever get too warm, you can just open it to let some water in and cool down.

If you want a comfortable, flexible, and extremely durable 7mm wetsuit that has stood the test of countless dive schools around the world, get the ScubaPro Everflex 7mm.

Best semi-drysuits for beginners

These are my personal recommendations for the best semi-drysuits for beginners.

I will add a dedicated post about them in the future, as they are really a different approach to traditional wetsuits with different use cases.

Bare Velocity 8/7mm

Great fit, classic design, and excellent thermal insulation

Bare is one of the best and most famous scuba manufacturers out there and is well-known for absolute quality scuba gear.

The Bare Velocity is the best semi-drysuit for beginners who want to dive in cold water, but don’t need a full drysuit.

It features a dry zipper on the front which truly will not let any water into the suit. I think front zippers are the way to go when talking about semi-drysuits as back zippers tend to be too stiff and limit your range of motion while diving.

The hood is already attached which means less water exchange in the neck area and a tighter seal. Bare has put some time and effort into designing the cuffs and they are super durable.

It’s not a full-blown drysuit, however, a great pick for anyone looking for a much more affordable option. It is only slightly more expensive than the top-of-the-line 7mm wetsuits and the extra 1mm you get on top, in combination with the dry zipper is worth the money.

If you want the best semi-drysuit for beginners out there, get the Bare Velocity.

Waterproof SD Combat 7mm Semi-Dry

Waterproof SD Combat 7mm Semi-Dry

Made for the harshest diving environments

Waterproof is a household name in the industry and the SD Combat 7mm semi-dry is their top offering.

It’s the most durable semi-drysuit I have ever used and will keep you warm even in very cold water.

It feels almost like a drysuit and will serve you well for years to come.

Waterproof makes some really nice exposure suits and the SD Combat is my favorite.

They clearly designed this with coldwater divers in mind who are looking for something other than a drysuit. As such, the SD Combat looks like a drysuit, and features a leg pocket, knee pads, as well as extra seals at the cuffs.

Please note: This is a premium semi-drysuit meant for serious scuba divers and those who aspire to become one. As such, the price tag is just below introductory prices for neoprene drysuits and cannot be considered cheap.

If you are a beginner looking for a semi-drysuit that will last for years to come, the Waterproof SD Combat semi-drysuit is worth the investment.

Where to buy a scuba wetsuit as a beginner?

These are my top picks for buying scuba wetsuits for beginners online. Of course, the best option is always to buy from your local dive store or directly from your scuba diving instructor.

Dive Right in Scuba

My top pick for buying scuba gear online

Based in the US, Dive Right in Scuba offers a large inventory, super great support, and will be your one-stop shop for anything scuba diving.

Scuba.com

My top pick for buying scuba gear online

Another large retailer based in the US, Scuba.com (previously LeisurePro) offers very competitive prices and carries all major scuba brands and items.

Amazon

Perfect for scuba gear and electronics

No introduction is needed on this one. Amazon carries a large inventory of scuba diving equipment, most notably accessories, ABC sets, and dive computers.

Types of exposure suits

Underwater our body loses heat 25 times faster than on land.

Therefore, we use exposure suits to stay warm underwater and protect ourselves from the environment while scuba diving.

There are three different types of suits available that I will explain further later: Wetsuits, semi-drysuits, and drysuits.

Wetsuits and semi-drysuits are usually made of neoprene. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material that has great insulation capabilities while being very sturdy and lightweight.

Wetsuits

Against common belief, most people do get wet during a dive, even when wearing a suit.

Most scuba divers use wetsuits made of neoprene between 1 and 7mm in thickness, depending on the water temperature.

Wetsuits add extra layers of thermal insulation while trapping water inside of the suit. During the dive, the water inside heats up, basically turning it into a mini bathtub.

Still, you get wet, and eventually colder, as the water is exchanged inside of the suit, especially through the ankle and wrist openings.

Shortys

A subtype of wetsuits is the shorty. It covers your torso, however, not your arms or legs. They are often used in super warm water, or as a replacement for an ice vest.

Generally, I am not a fan of them, and instead, recommend getting a thinner full body suit, if you feel too warm.

I’ve just seen too many people hurt themselves on rocks or corrals in a shorty, and they cannot be used in most diving environments.

Naturally, the thicker the suit, the warmer you will be. Below I added my recommendation for three different wetsuit thicknesses, depending on where you prefer to dive and how cold you get.

Semi-Dry Suits

Semi-dry suits are technically wetsuits with extra features to lower the water exchange rate. This includes extra cuffs at the feet and hands, dry zippers, and extra suit thickness.

You will still get wet though, although less than in a pure wetsuit.

Some believe this is just a little marketing gimmick of manufacturers to sell their high range wetsuits for more, however, many divers do prefer semi-dry suits over wetsuits.

Drysuits

In contrast to the above two types of exposure suits, drysuits will keep you…well…dry. Completely. There are many different types and buying a drysuit is a topic of its own.

Drysuits are much more expensive than wetsuits, and only necessary if you are a really frequent diver who likes to dive in cold water a lot.

Why buy a wetsuit as a beginner?

I own a boatload full of wetsuits of all types, as well as extra semi-dry ones.

I enjoy knowing who has worn them, that they are cleaned regularly, and I know exactly which one will keep me warm during the dive I am about to do.

Just like when buying dive boots, it’s also just more hygienic to own all the equipment pieces which I wear on my skin.

If you are exceptionally tall or big, it will also save you the hassle of trying to fit into one of the rental ones available.

Wetsuits aren’t usually very expensive, and cheap ones can be bought from around 150-200€. You might even be able to snatch up a few ones during clearance sales for much less.

On the other hand, consider the drawbacks before buying a wetsuit as a beginner.

They take up A LOT of space in a suitcase, can be quite heavy, and you will not find a „one suits fits all environments“ one.

Using a 7mm semi-dry in 32°C water at Raja Ampat is no fun, while diving in a 5mm wetsuit in the Atlantic will be a miserable experience.

Therefore, I recommend looking at buying wetsuits only once you have a clear idea of where you enjoy diving the most.

Buying a wetsuit for beginners

The most important aspects are comfortable fit, the right thickness, as well as the quality of the material.

I am personally a big fan of the Austrian manufacturer Camaro and my first exposure suit was actually their Stingray semi-drysuit.

They have an incredible 5 year „no questions asked“ repair policy and their suits fit like a charm. Oh, and they also look super mega cool.

Not affiliated with them by any means, I just really like their stuff.

The right fit

Wetsuits need to be tight without feeling uncomfortable. The tighter they are, the better they will reduce water exchange and the warmer you will feel underwater.

Pay attention to the neck area. Many wetsuit zippers are located at inconvenient places and start to rub after a while. If you can, try the suit on during a dive and see if it feels nice.

The right thickness

You will never be wrong with a 5mm wetsuit if you tend to dive in warmer waters mostly.

They are not too hot in sunny places while keeping you warm even when water temperatures drop to 20-22°C. If you get cold easily, a 7mm might be the better choice.

Semi-drysuits are always a viable option, however, they are not recommended at places with outside temperatures of above 30°C.

For anything colder than 16°C, I suggest looking for semi-drysuits or a full-blown drysuit.

1 or 3mm suits are reserved only for the warmest of dive spots and are not recommended at water temperatures below 26-28°C.

Front vs Back Zipper

When buying a wetsuit as a beginner, you have to choose between a front zip and a back zip version.

Person schließt Verschluss an Neoprenanzug
Choosing the right wetsuit zipper is important.

The following tips are my personal observations, and I have found some other sites which propose the total opposite. In the end, it is up to you which you prefer.

As a rule of thumb, front zippers are easy to get in, however, you will probably need help getting out. They tend to feel more comfortable during the dive, as no zipper presses against your back.

Some argue that they are more prone to flushing, as they do not seal the neck as tight as back zippers, however, I have never had this issue personally.

Back zipper suits often require someone to help you zip the suit, however, are easy to get out of. In addition, they often look a little nicer, as the zipper isn’t visible on the front.

While some argue that they prevent flushing better than front zippers, I haven’t noticed any difference, yet.

I don’t think you should worry about it too much, and instead pick the one that fits best.

Conclusion

This concludes this beginner’s guide to buying a wetsuit for scuba diving.

It’s always a good idea to try out different ones before deciding which one to pick.

You can also check out my recommendations for the best wetsuits in 2022 for more suggestions.

If you have any questions or need help finding the right one for you, leave a comment below.

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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