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10 Great tips for scuba diving in winter

Scuba diver descending under ice.

10 Great tips for scuba diving in winter

As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, many divers get ready to hibernate and return to their favorite pastime back in late spring.

If time and budget allow for it, some take this time of year to travel to warmer places.

However, winter doesn’t have to be the worst season for divers. Here is a list of 10 suggestions and activities for scuba diving in winter apart from traveling to exotic places.

1 Use a drysuit

Perhaps this one seems obvious to experienced coldwater divers. However, not everyone is aware of the fact that drysuits will help you feel warm and cozy underwater, regardless of the water temperature.

Diving in a drysuit is not difficult, however, requires practice. If you haven’t done so yet, now is the perfect time for a drysuit diver specialty course.

Here at Social Diving, we offer them year-round and it’s always great fun! 😊

Our lakes are perfect for drysuit diving, as you will get to experience sharp thermoclines (where the water temperature instantly drops significantly) as you descend.

Types of drysuits

The most common drysuit variations are (crushed) neoprene, and trilaminate.
Neoprene is thicker and offers a degree of thermal insulation on its own, meaning you do not need a lot of extra undergarments, etc.

Trilaminate, on the other hand, is much more versatile and gives you a much greater range of motion and customizability. On the downside, trilaminate suits are more expensive and require you to wear thick clothes underneath to stay warm.

Santi Elite Plus drysuits from all sides
Different types of drysuits.

During a Drysuit specialty course, you will learn all about the differences and get to wear one yourself.

At Social Diving, we do all our courses in a premium trilaminate suit. Only the best, you know. 😉

Scuba diving in winter is cold, especially in Europe or North America, but wearing a drysuit will allow you to dive year-round.

So take the chance during winter and try it yourself!

2 Go ice diving

Since we are already talking about diving in cold water, how about taking it a step further and diving under ice?

Experiencing a layer of ice over your head, observing the strange but beautiful geometries and formations from below and diving in absolute silence are all reasons to try out ice diving.

Depending on the outside temperatures, you can find frozen lakes at many different locations.

The best places to try it in Europe are mountain lakes in Austria or Switzerland, as well as Lake Baikal in Russia.

Helmet diver under ice
While this is an extreme example, ice diving in winter is a great experience for intermediate to advanced divers.

In North America, you will find ice diving opportunities up North in the USA, and Canada.

Please note, that a specialty course is absolutely required for anyone wanting to dive under ice!

3 Buy new dive gear

Ah, yes. We all love shiny new dive equipment, right? I’m just as guilty as you on this one, don’t even deny it.

Winter is a great opportunity to buy new dive gear that you have been saving for a while.

With Black Friday coming up in November, and lots of great Christmas and winter sales going on, this is a good time to buy that new computer or fancy pair of fins.

Before that, Amazon’s Prime Day is often a great opportunity to grab some diving accessories at a discount.

Here are some suggestions that also make for nice gifts for scuba divers (well..maybe combine Christmas and birthday gifts…).

Keep your eyes out for the Shearwater Teric, one of the best dive computers out there, as well as the all-new and upcoming Garmin Mk2 Descent smartwatch, turned dive computer.

The Garmin Mk1 is already fantastic and the new version features air integration and some other nice extras.

The Apeks Rk3 are my favorite pair of fins for coldwater diving, and look amazing!

Scuba gear lined up on boat
Don’t we all love shiny new scuba gear? Don’t even deny it.

At Social Diving, we exclusively trust Apeks regulators for all diving activities. From liveaboards in the tropics to ice diving, cave diving adventures, or fun diving at the lake, the Apeks XTX200 is the perfect workhorse.

I also suggest taking a look at the XTX50, which is very similar to the XTX200 but features a rotating turret that allows for more flexible hose routing.

This is very handy for technical divers, as well as everyone who is looking for the perfect Sidemount regulator kit.

If you have taken a diving course with us, you know that we offer two different sets of BCDs. ADV or jacket-style BCDs, as well as backplate-wing (BP/W) BCDs.

Our go-to jacket-style BCD is the Aqualung Pro HD which features integrated weight pockets, as well as an outstanding bang for your buck.

Aqualung Pro HD BCD
The Aqualung Pro HD.

The build quality is great, it is easy to put on, available in all common sizes, and with the aforementioned weight pockets, it simply outclasses most other ADV BCDs out there.

It has dropped in price recently, so grab one while it is on sale.

As you know, I am not a huge fan of jacket-style setups and prefer the modular backplate/wing version for several reasons.

I personally dive a Halcyon one, however, there are many other manufacturers that make quality equipment. Tecline, OMS, and X-Deep are some of the other brands worth checking out.

Naturally, I could suggest some of the hybrids that some of the major brands like ScubaPro, Mares, or Aqualung make, and which are available at all major online stores (and pay nice commissions, I might add).

However, they are just not up to par with the ones I listed above. Sure, they look fancy and the marketing is more streamlined…but if you want something worthwhile, do not buy it.

If you want to get a backplate/wing setup, send us a message and we are happy to find something for you.

Last but not least, if you’re in business for a new, fancy mask, the one I have been using for a while is the Atomics Sub Frame in black.

It looks super nice, fits great, and is just a step up from low-budget masks that essentially do the same thing but not as nicely. Also, their warranty and quality control are superb, essentially giving you free replacements in case anything ever breaks.

Combine it with a mask strap and you’re all set.

My favorite online store to buy scuba equipment is Dive Right in Scuba.

Go check them out!

If you want even more options, look at my recommendations on where to buy scuba gear.

Of course, you can always send a message and we order anything from the manufacturer for you. 🙂

4 Get your equipment serviced

Servicing your equipment regularly is important to keep it working and safe for a long time.

If you are not planning to dive for a few weeks, now is the time to get it looked at by a specialist.

For regulators, once every year or two is suggested by the manufacturers to retain the warranty.

For BCDs, a visual inspection should happen every now and then, and full service after about five years.

Scuba diver in drysuit diving in lake
No diving without proper servicing.

We sometimes get equipment that hasn’t been looked at for 5-10 years or even longer and it can be shocking that people still dive with it.

From rust to missing filters and broken O-rings, we have seen quite a bit.

Keep in mind, your life depends on your equipment underwater, so do not take this lightheartedly.

5 Take (online) seminars

Even as an experienced diver, you can never stop learning. We offer seminars and workshops online and offline on different topics.

For some of them, you don’t even need to leave the house!

Learn more about your dive equipment in an equipment specialist course or get a Nitrox certification for your next dive vacation.

Check your local dive center and see if they offer anything fun and make use of the time you are not diving outside (refer to suggestion number 1 on how to avoid that, though).

6 Read diving books

If you are like me, you love reading books about everything and anything. This applies to scuba diving, as well.

Here are my favorite scuba diving books, which you should definitely check out if you are looking for suggestions.

Open book on beach
Reading books is not only relaxing but a good way to learn more about your favorite hobby.

There are also dozens of online and offline magazines for scuba divers that regularly post content. Browse our blog, reviews, guides, and articles, if you want to read our very own, too. 😃

7 Watch a scuba diving movie

Are you more of a “visual” type? If reading is not to your liking, how about watching a movie or documentary instead?

Check out the 10 best diving movies in 2022 for some inspiration.

For documentaries, my go-to online streaming service is good old Netflix. They have absolutely gorgeous films there and regularly offer new ones.

While the same quality is not always given, it is worth checking it out.

Besides documentaries, they also show some of my favorite scuba diving movies of all time. And no, I am not talking about Jaws here…

If you are an Amazon Prime user, check out their offerings at Prime Video. While I don’t find as many good options as above, they do sometimes release some real gems.

Not a Prime user? There is a free 30-day trial you can sign up for.

Who knows, maybe you will feel so inspired after watching it that you decide to go for some scuba diving in winter and try out that drysuit course I suggested above. wink wink

8 Go indoor diving

Indoor diving is fun! Don’t trust me? Then it’s time you try it yourself!

There are many indoor diving centers around the world, and Europe especially features some really impressive ones like the Y-40 in Italy or the Dive4Life in Germany.

Of course, there is also the now deepest pool in the world in Dubai.

Diving indoors offers some great opportunities, especially for inexperienced divers. The water is always clear, never changes temperature and most locations have put some really cool stuff underwater.

Divers Indoor Pool
Indoor diving is great to practice and keep diving in winter.

How about diving in a sunken airplane at Gasometer in Duisburg, Germany, or exploring a 40 (!) meter deep pool at the Y-40 in Italy?

Best part? You will not need a drysuit, even when scuba diving in winter.

If you want to join one of our Social Diving trips sometime, check out our travel page for the newest dates or send a message.

9 Make new logbook pages

Let’s be honest. There are conflicting opinions on how and if to use a logbook.

At Social Diving, having a logbook is required if you want to join us on a dive or take a diving course.

I think logging your dives is not only a good way to track your experience and use it as proof when visiting new dive spots but also serves as a tool for social interaction.

Logging together, exchanging stamps and signatures, and reviewing your experience this way should be part of every dive you do.

Of course, there are plenty of mobile apps out there which automatically save all the dive info off of your dive computer.

To me, however, this still doesn’t replace a handwritten one like the one below.

If you are feeling creative, why don’t you take the time you aren’t scuba diving in winter to design some new logbook pages?

It is fun, and creative and I often catch myself looking through some of my favorite dives I have logged in the past.

It doesn’t matter whether you have done 10 or 1,000 dives in your life, everyone appreciates nice-looking logbooks.

As an instructor myself, I enjoy looking at the logbooks of my students and checking out the cool places they have been to.

I suggest you take the time to design your own ones. If this doesn’t really do it for you, check out the Social Diving logbook pages we have in our shop, or look at some of these ones online.

10 Go for a decompression chamber ride

I saved one of the best ones for last, on purpose.

Most people don’t know that it is possible to book a ride in a decompression chamber and experience how diving down to 50 meters (165ft) on air feels.

As you know from your Open Water Diver course, the maximum recreational diving depth is 40 meters.

The reason is that once you drop below about 30 meters, many people experience symptoms of nitrogen narcosis.

If you have done some deep diving before, you know the metallic taste in your mouth, the tunnel vision that sets in, and the feeling of being “drunk”.

As you can imagine, at 50 meters these symptoms can be severe.

Inside of hyperbaric oxygen chamber
You can experience a ride in one of these…without getting DCS before.

A ride in a decompression chamber under the supervision of trained and experienced medical personnel will demonstrate in an impressive manner what can happen to divers underwater.

The best part is, you can focus completely on the experience without worrying about tank pressure, navigation, or even dive planning and decompression.

It is all done for you!

Although not super cheap, this is truly an eye-opening experience for everyone and yes, you may even log this as a dive.

If you want to experience this for yourself, give your local decompression chamber a call. They are usually happy to offer rides for clubs or larger groups and you might catch an open seat.

Or join a Social Diving excursion when we next visit a decompression chamber.

Conclusion

Scuba diving in winter might be different from the summer and require some adjustments and creativity.

However, as you have seen, there is plenty to do for scuba divers in winter and the temperatures outside do not necessarily keep you away from your favorite hobby.

Do you go scuba diving in winter? Let me know in the comments and tell me your tips and favorite dive spots in winter!

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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