Perfect Wetsuit Thickness for Every Water Temp

The Perfect Wetsuit Thickness for Every Water Temp

A guide to choosing the correct exposure protection for scuba diving

Wetsuit diagram


A lot of factors affect how warm or cold a diver feels on a dive, but doing your homework about a destination's water temperature is a good place to start in figuring out whether you need a skin, 3 mm, 5 mm, 7 mm or drysuit to be comfortable. And keep in mind that some destinations have an abrupt thermocline — the surface water temp may be drastically different than the temp at depth. Dress for that temp, and don't forget to pack a few layering items, like a vest and hood. If you surface from the first dive of the trip chilled, you can always layer for extra warmth.

Bruce Morser

The colder the water, the thicker the wetsuit. But how cold, and how thick? Many factors enter into the wetsuit thickness equation. First, there’s the personal. Everybody has a different body thermometer, based on gender, age, health, body fat, metabolism and individual comfort level.

Then there’s the diving itself. How many dives you make, how deep you go, how long you stay, not to mention the topside conditions — all of these make a difference. Given that, here is a general guide to choosing the correct thermal protection:

Water Temperature For Warm-Blooded Divers For Divers Prone to Cold
85 Degrees F (29 C) and Above Dive Skin 2 mm to 1 mm shorty
80 to 84 Degrees (26-28 C) 2 mm shorty to dive sking 2 mm to 1 mm fullsuit
73 to 79 Degrees (22-25 C) 3 mm fullsuit to 2 mm shorty 5 mm to 3 mm fullsuit
66 to 72 Degrees (18-21 C) 5 mm to 3 mm fuillsuit 7 mm to 5 mm fullsuit
50 to 65 Degrees (10-17 C) 8/7 mm semidry to 7 mm wetsuit Drysuit
Below 50 Degrees (Below 10 C) 8/7 mm semidry or drysuit Enjoy the water from the nearest coffee shop.

Get More: Beat the Chill — Pro Tips for Staying Warm while Scuba Diving

Need a new wetsuit? Check our Wetsuit Buyers Guide

Tips: How to maintain your wetsuit

Learn about types of neoprene and more in Wetsuits: From Head to Toe


More Stories