What Wet Suit Should I Use in Pattaya?
What Wet Suit to Wear in Pattaya?
Often I am asked the question of what wet suit is appropriate to wear in Pattaya for pleasure diving and is it different for different times of the year. A valid question indeed and I would suggest that a wet suit be worn on every dive no matter the conditions or the temperature of the water simply for a little protection.
Anyway, to answer the question of what is the best type of suit of Thailand diving and especially Pattaya let’s look at the basics.
Why do we wear a wetsuit in the first place?
Three reasons for wearing a wetsuit Wetsuit will keep you warm. Wetsuit will give you extra protection from external marine life or corals but also equipment chaffing. Wetsuit will improve your buoyancy at the end of a dive. If your weight belt is dumped and an emergency should occur on the surface a wetsuit can assist in keeping you above the water surface. (Although please note that a wet suit is not intended as a life vest buoyancy device). Keeping warm and your core temperature up is not the only treason for donning a wetsuit. A well fitted appropriate suit will help you also with protection against possible coral and marine life abrasions (possibly consider the Peak Performance Buoyancy Course at Mermaids:) and allow your equipment to sit properly on you without causing you friction or chaffing.
Go Scuba Diving … Not to Hospital – Hypothermia – it is a real risk!
You might not think this is a serious problem, especially to those who only die in tropical locations on vacation or waters above a certain temperature but any water temperature will become cold after a period. However, you will find that the risk of contracting hypothermia is still there even when you are swimming in warm waters at noon. Water is 25 times a better heat conductor than air, making you lose your body heat fast if not appropriately suited and booted. So, the longer you stay in the water, the more body heat you will lose. Hence – we wear suits. Admittedly I think that all of us at Mermaids Dive Center have taken dives in simply swim shorts or swimming suit for the novelty factor. It’s fun and really is quite liberating but I bet there is no diver that will say they did not get a little cold at some point. I recall taking a dive on Christmas day in just swimming shorts for the best reason that I could muster – ‘simply because I could’! It was fun novel and got some nice Christmas underwater shots but boy – I wish I had a wet suit on towards the end of the dive. I could have done with a log fire that evening to truly enjoy Christmas (and let the shivers remind me of the UK at winter).
When one gets cold during a die the dive simply becomes unenjoyable. This is especially true if diving in an area with harsh thermo-climes. Many of us at Mermaids have taken live aboard trips to the Similans and the thermoclimes there are astounding – you can literally lose a few degrees in moments). There are thermoclimes in Pattaya but let’s be prepared and wear that suit.
How does the wetsuit keep you warm?
A thin layer of water forms between your body and the wetsuit. Your body heats the trapped water and the wetsuit prevents the heat from escaping further, hence you have an insulation layer albeit wet – hence the name wet-suit. Because neoprene contains many bubbles the air in them also acts as great insulation. This of course only works if fresh cold water doesn’t constantly flush your wetsuit. This is the reason that a wet suit should fit snugly without cutting off circulation. However, you wish to stop all new cold water running through the suit. Good seals at the arms/wrists, neck and ankles (on long suits) and thighs (on short suits) are essential for a well fitting snug wetsuit. Another thing that influences the warmth of the wetsuit are the manufacturing process stitches.
There are three main types of stitching that go into a suit
The Flatlock, Blindstitch and Overlock.
Flat-lock are deemed worst for allowing water into a suit and, blindstitch are generally the best. Wetsuit Seam Seals Flatlock Stitching This stitch is recommended for use in water that is above 62°. This stitch will lie flat against your body, causing no discomfort. This seam may let in a little water. Sealed (Glued and Blindstitched) This stitch is recommended for use in water that is 55° and higher. These stitch panels are glued and then blind stitched. Blind stitching does not go all the way through the neoprene. Instead the stitch comes out the same side it went in, making it watertight. This glued seam will let in very little water. Sealed and Taped (Glued, Blindstitched and 100% Taped) This stitch is recommended for use in water that is 55 degees and below. This stitch is glued and then blind stitched but it also contains interior seam taping. The interior taping will add durability, reinforce the seam, and prevent any water from seeping through. Generally you’ll get a lot more wear and tear from a wet suit with this particular stitch system and inside taping however it can be a pain when the interior seam gets stuck in the zipper.
There is more to getting into your wetsuit than you may think. Here at Mermaids Dive we fully stock suits for all shapes and sizes with all sorts of configurations. There are essentially two different types of zippers: back and chest zippers. The back zipper is the classic solution with the zipper going down the length of the spine with a long cord attached so you can zip yourself in and out. The advantage of a back zip is that, of the two zipper positions, it is typically the easiest to enter and exit, which can be a big deal when on a rocking boat or changing somewhere awkward. The disadvantage is that water can get through the seams on the back zip, which in cold water can become a major deterrent (think ice cubes down your back).
Some wet suit manufacturers have devised their own flush guard technologies to reduce this from happening. This is the most common type of wet suit zipper.
Chest Zippers – The chest zip wetsuits are entered through a zippered cutout around the neck and you drop down into the suit through the neckline, finally pulling the neck cut over your head and zippering at the chest. Chest zips are the trickier of the two types to enter and exit when you are wet. The chest zip is better at keeping water from penetrating the suit both through the seams and the neckline. The chest zip may also be a more comfortable fit with a snug neck that is less likely to cause rashes and a zipperless back with a greater level of flexibility. Sometimes back zipper suits can cause issues with the tanks bumping on the zip rungs causing irritation.
How should my wet suit fit?
Fit is a very important aspect to consider when deciding on investing in a wetsuit. If your wetsuit does not fit properly it will not be able to keep you warm or allow you the flexibility you need for diving. It will feel uncomfortable under your equipment and do you no favours. A wetsuit should fit like a second skin with no bunching in the arms or legs. It needs to fit tightly to your body in order to keep a thin layer of water between your body and your suit. If it is too loose too much water will flush between your suit and your body resulting in you getting cold very quickly on a dive. A wetsuit should fit snugly around your neck and it is not uncommon for divers to wear a rash guard/vest under the suit to stop neck abrasions.
Fit checklist – after you have your wetsuit on there should be no excess room, including the torso, crotch, shoulders, and knees. A proper fitting wetsuit will be somewhat hard to put on when dry. Lift your arms over your head and stretch out your shoulders. This move should only be slightly restricting. If you feel a lot of pressure during this movement then the suit is too small. You should be able to squat down and move your arms easily. Different brands of wetsuits have different styles and sizes of fit. So if you find a great wet suit that fits you in a certain size do not automatically assume that all other wet suit manufacturers goods will fit you as suitably. Mermaids staff can assist in gaining you the correct fitting wet suit for al shapes and sizes.
What are the Different Types of Wetsuits?
Full Length Wetsuit
Full wet suits can be found in many different thicknesses made for different water temperatures. Full suits cover the entire body including arms and legs up to wrists and ankles. A full wet suit such as this offers great protection and if fitted correctly can be extremely warm and comfortable. We find that the wreck divers in Pattaya opt for the longer full wet suit to avoid abrasions on the rusty wrecks that we have in Pattaya bay and Samesan fishing village.
A neoprene suit made with short legs and arms that is primarily used in warmer water temperatures and ideal for Pattaya. A 3mm can literally be worn all year around for most divers. The 3mm Short dive wet suit is provided within the training programs offered at Mermaids. The 3mm shorty is included as standard but can be upgraded to any other suit that we have or can gain from our Phuket suppliers (Dive-supply). Mermaids hold stock of and sell dozens of different types of wet suits, rash vests and other scuba dive underwater apparel.
A neoprene vest made with about 2mm thick neoprene that has no sleeves, primarily used to keep core body warm. Many divers wear these over the top of a wet suit or indeed underneath. For those that dive on holiday during the hot seasons it may not be worth it. For the professional divers that work in one are all year that do notice the few degrees difference throughout the year this the wet-vest can be a good option and additional.
Short John Wetsuit
A neoprene suit that is a mixture between a shorty suit and a long john suit primarily used in warmer water temperatures. These type of suits are available at Mermaids but are not so popular. Generally tropical divers would prefer some more shoulder protection. Your equipment can chaff with this type of suit (without a rash vest) and also on the surface before and after a dive you can get quite sunburnt (depending on dive destination of course).
Long John Wetsuit
A spring suit that covers your legs and body but is without sleeves. Wetsuit Top A neoprene top half that is made of 0.5mm-1.5mm thickness that is primarily used for warm weather water sports and dives. This type of suit might be combined for use with another suit possibly shortie.
A light shirt made out of Lycra and is used to protect against sun and sometimes worn under a wetsuit to prevent rash. These are always a great idea. They offer a lot more protection on chaffing. If you wear a shortie wetsuit then they can protect your arms from getting sunburnt but also act as a good rash guard for minor abrasions. Mermaids hold a huge stock of rash vest for males, females and children – they are very popular. Wetsuit thickness Wetsuits come in different thicknesses and people always wonder:
What is the right thickness for diving in Pattaya?
Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters and is described with one or usually two numbers. For instance 2 or 3/2, 4/3, 5/3 or 5/4/3, 6/5/4. These numbers represent the thickness of the neoprene used in the wetsuit. If there is only one number that means that there is only one neoprene thickness throughout the whole wetsuit. If there are two numbers that means that the wetsuit is thicker in some places than in the others and if there are three different numbers that means that there are three different thicknesses. So a 3/2 wetsuit means that the wetsuit is 3 millimeter thick in some places and 2 millimeters thick in others. All numbers are explained in that way. Generally you’ll find the chest area would have a thicker neoprene size. Many divers can go all year around in Pattaya with a 3mm shorty suit but some decide on a slightly thicker and/or long wet suit.
What is the right length of suit for diving in Pattaya?
Mermaids have a huge stock of wetsuits for adults and children alike from brands such as Pinnacle, ScubaPro, Aqualung etc – the shorty dive suit included within the training programs are 100% fine for diving Pattaya and taking training. However we do suggest upgrading to a long suit if you intend to dive the HTMS Khram, HTMS Kut or the Hardeep ship wrecks that we have locally in Pattaya and Samesan. So in Short – what wet suit should I have for diving in Pattaya? If you are diving between the months of January through to August then the 3mm shorty wetsuit that is provided within the dive internships is perfect for your training. If outside of these months then still maybe a 3mm but a long suit would be more preferable. As a personal recommendation I would suggest a 3-5 mm Long Suit for your diving in Pattaya and most of Thailand. We do have wrecks and they are rusty – protect yourself against them. We do have stinging hydroids in many parts of Thailand and dive sites in Pattaya – protect yourself from them also! Jelly fish – you know as well as I do that jelly fish don’t chase you but if you swim into them then the extra length suit will have paid for itself already:) The choice is yours – Mermaids Dive have the wet suit stock!
Gloves are always a very good idea for a diver also. Some divers and conservationists argue that by a diver wearing gloves it tempts them to touch more coral and essentially cause damage. This in my view is a very shallow argument as it comes down to the responsibility of the divers themselves. If you’re prone to touching things that you should not then maybe diving is not for you. I find wet suit gloves a very good idea to wear when diving in Pattaya or any area really. The reason for Pattaya is that there are so may great wrecks to be diving like the Hardeep and Khram and generally you descend at the beginning of a dive down a line. Of course you use the line to ascend also. It is not uncommon for jelly fish or other critters to get lodged on the line. By wearing gloves it simply removes one more thing to think about under water. Dive gloves can also come in very handy not just for warmth but also in currents if you are required to hold on to a rock etc – it can save cuts and abrasions. Wrecks tend to be rusty and if you need to hold on at any point you’ll avoid cuts with gloves. Stinging hydroids like to attach themselves to wrecks and other things that you might touch – wear gloves – they can save a lot of pain. Gloves are provided along with a scuba dive kit for employment in the Mermaids scuba diving internship programs in Pattaya. Gloves can also allow you to avoid wrinkly hands in some cases also.
If you wear gloves however there is still care to be taken. I recall a dive that I took on the Hardeep wreck in Samesan in 2007. On ascending the buoy line I placed my hand on some jelly fish tentacles that had become wrapped around the line. When I surfaced from the dive I took off my mask and turned it around to the back side of my head (as any good diver should do to show they are not in distress) – I had water in my eyes so gave them a rub. Ouch! I’d just rubbed jelly fish tentacles on to my face – that taught me a good lesson! Now I never get stung on the hands or face:) I only needed to be stung the once to know how to ‘hand’le gloves.
Divers that like to take night dives often opt for a long suit and gloves. It simply makes the dive a lot safer if you are to bump into anything. Having good protection increases diver confidence.