The saga of my dry gloves continues (see this post). I am still struggling to get them perfectly adjusted. In a recent night dive, the seal separated completely and flooded the glove with 39-degree water. That made for an uncomfortable dive.
What’s important though is a critical lesson. A drysuit is ONLY effective when it is dry and contains air. When those conditions are NOT true, a drysuit is as bad, if not worse, than a wetsuit. Because of the dry glove issues, I have been diving them without the equalization tubes so as to not compromise the integrity of my suit seals. This means my gloves are an isolated airspace. No added air as depth increases. This would not work on deep dives, but in the 40 feet or less test dives at Philips Outdoor Center, the squeeze is not a problem. The loss of insulation, however, is a problem. Even dry, without the additional air in my gloves my hands are cold.
This generalization extends to the entire suit system. When they are dry and full of air, drysuits are warm, but when they get wet inside or they don’t contain enough air, they are worse than diving a wetsuit. I believe it is important to understand the limits and extents of any piece of equipment we use in diving. Drysuits are a great piece of equipment. I love diving mine. They are also more complicated than a wetsuit. When they fail (not if), it can be quite uncomfortable. As I drysuit diver, it is critical to understand how the suit can fail you and what steps you will take to handle that failure, be it a glove failure, an inflator failure, a dump valve failure, or a main suit seal or zipper failure. Got a story of drysuit failure? Share it with us in the comments below.