Your activity level during a dive
Your body size
You should always wear more insulation in colder water and lighter insulation in warmer water. Your level of activity can be a good indicator of how much insulation you should wear during a scuba dive. The more active you are during a dive the more heat your body generates and the warmer you remain throughout your dive. Larger scuba divers may need less insulation than smaller scuba divers and small, muscular scuba divers may need less insulation than larger scuba divers. It is important for you to try different amounts of insulation in differing water temperatures to determine what you need.
Some scuba divers need more insulation than others, regardless of activity or size. Some scuba divers can dive in tropical water wearing only a lycra body suit, commonly known as a dive skin, while others need a 2mm wet suit. Some scuba divers can dive in cold water wearing only a 6mm wet suit, while others need the protection of a dry suit. If you are scuba diving in water below 55F (12.7C), a dry suit is the warmest type of thermal insulation available.
Dive skins, wet suits and dry suits also protect your skin from cuts, scrapes, abrasions and stings which can occur while you are scuba diving. A simple brush against specific forms of coral and fish can cause painful irritations and burns on bare skin, but may not be noticeable or even occur, if your skin is protected.
See our choices for wet suits