If you’re Dan La Due you dive year round, whether the ocean, the lake, or places like Mermet Springs. And I know we point out that Dan dives year-round, a lot… but he tends to be the one who started this tradition. That and it’s fun to pick on Dan. He dishes it right back, don’t worry!
The thing is, I wouldn’t ask him for recommendations on diving wet suits in year-round water. I saw him dive in a 1.5 Mil at Mermet Springs off a dare. Okay, so you could ask him, he is an assistant instructor after all… but. Haha.
Seriously though, there are different types of wet and dry suits for different water conditions. So, what would we recommend?
Wet and Dry Suits for Diving in Beaver Lake
What is the purpose of a Wet Suit?
A wetsuit is worn for thermal protection as well as protection against the elements. The form-fitting neoprene that a wetsuit is made out of minimizes water flow next to the diver’s skin, helping to retain heat at the same time.
Based off of the previous information, for the most part, a 1.5 Mil isn’t good for Lake water. But I say that, in July and August, there is such a variety of temperatures going on, you just might use one then. You could possibly even get by with a shorty in the dead of summer here in the Midwest.
For the most part, the 1.5 Mil was created by SCUBAPRO to use in tropical waters such as the Caribbean or Indian Oceans for example. We have some divers who get warmer while diving… this would be a great option for them as well.
The 3 Mil or the 3/2 MIL are the options for summer for most people at the Lake. First off, what’s the difference between a 3 MIL and a 3/2 MIL? In a 3 MIL, the suit is 3 Mil all over from neck to ankle to wrist. A 3/2 MIL your chest/body cavity is a 3 MIL protection while your arms and legs are a 2 MIL protection.
So, a 3 Mil for sure could be used June, July, August, September, and possibly early October. It truly depends on how warm the summer is. You can also add a hooded vest to your 3 Mil wetsuit and get by in May and even later in October. Part of that depends on you and how cold you get.
A 5 Mil wetsuit is typically the thickest we recommend… usually. Obviously, there are exceptions. There’s always an exception to the rule. There is a 7 Mil but a 5 makes you start to feel like the Marshmallow man so 7 makes it even worse. It adds that extra warmth though.
Back to the 5 Mil though… this is the go-to wetsuit for most divers in April, May, October, and even November here in the Midwestern Lakes. Now, that may change if you go further North in the Midwest, but for southern Midwest, this works fairly well. It’s also a great suit for a lot of divers at Mermet Springs as well. And just like the 3 or 3/2, if you need a little extra warmth, add a hooded vest.
These particular suits are the winter parka of diving suits. You wear thermal underwear with them, and they keep you dry, as the name suggests. The way to change up the warmth of a drysuit is to change up the underwear you wear inside the suit. Lighter weight = cooler, heavier = warmer.
And always remember, don’t pee in your dry suit or everyone will know. Just a fair warning!
So which suit is best?
Truthfully, that’s a good question. It all depends on the person diving and how they respond to cold/heat of the water. Included in that is the air temperature and time of year as to how it affects the lake. Finally, it is a personal preference.
I started out mentioning that Dan dives year-round. He typically dives a 5 Mil in the colder months. Deb, on the other hand, dives a 5 Mil in February in Cozumel while others dive a 3 Mil. If you are unsure, we suggest you do 1 of 2 things.
- Always come talk to us. We can help. We’re trained in that.
- Rent/buy multiple sizes. Make sure you have both or all with you. Then, try them out in different water conditions.
Keep in mind, 75˚F on land feels a lot different than 75˚F in the water. Always be prepared and know you’ll get colder, faster in the water.