Full-Body Wetsuit – When and Why You Need It When Diving

By  //  June 27, 2023

Diving is a fun and fulfilling activity, but it can also be dangerous. A full-body wetsuit offers extra protection from dangers lurking in the water—both visible and invisible.

Let’s discover everything about wetsuits and why a full-body one is important.

What Are Wetsuits?

A wetsuit is a form of protective gear worn by divers, surfers, and anyone who wants to take extra care while in the water. Most people who wear a wetsuit find themselves in colder temperatures.

Most wetsuits are made of a rubbery material called neoprene. When thinking of rubber, your mind may wander to items such as tires and erasers. However, neoprene is a thick yet flexible material that protects swimmers and divers from extreme cold. It insulates body heat and prevents discomfort and even hypothermia.

What Types of Wetsuits Are There?

Full-body wetsuits are typically the most worn type of this gear. They cover the entire body, including arms and legs. Since their primary purpose is to protect the people wearing them, having the most coverage is a popular decision.

There are two other types of wetsuits available to aquaphiles. Shorties are the opposite of full-body wetsuits. This gear covers the torso with short sleeves on the arms and legs. Farmer John or Farmer Jane is a combination of shorties and full body. This wetsuit has short sleeves and complete leg protection or vice versa.

Wetsuits, in general, do not cover hands, feet, or heads. Divers who want this coverage would have to acquire a wetsuit package.

What Is a Wetsuit Package?

Wetsuit packages provide gear and accessories necessary to be fully protected from the water. A wetsuit can only cover the arms, legs, and torso. A wetsuit package would come complete with the wetsuit itself, gloves, boots, and a head covering.

Some brands offer extra accessories to finish off the look. However, gloves, boots, and a head covering are the most essential—especially for colder waters.

Experienced divers and seasoned professionals recommend purchasing a wetsuit package from the same brand. If your wetsuit comes from one company, the gloves and boots should be manufactured by the same one. This ensures compatibility across the gear to keep you safe.

Why Wear a Full-Body Wetsuit?

There are several types of wetsuits, but a full-body wetsuit can offer the most protection. At first glance, most people would think that the biggest threat to the body is the water temperature. However, there are other things in the ocean that can prove dangerous, including:

  •         Reefs and rocks
  •         Jellyfish and other wildlife
  •         The sun and sunburn

The full-body wetsuit is ideal for diving in cold waters—usually anything below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your location is on the cusp of that range, there are several thickness levels of the suits you can choose to match the environment. These range from 7 millimeters (mm) to 3 mm.

Besides protection and insulation, there are many reasons to wear a full-body wetsuit. The neoprene material of the gear allows for better buoyancy. This makes the wearer float better.  It also enhances speed. The material acts to repel water and keep the diver as dry as possible, which allows them to swim through the water with more ease.

When to Wear a Wetsuit

It is always a smart idea to wear a wetsuit, especially when the water temperature is less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is warmer than this, then the diver can choose to wear one or not depending on the importance of performance.


If the water is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, then wearing a wetsuit and its accompanying accessories (gloves, boots, head covering) is still optional but highly recommended. Anything colder would require a wetsuit and its accessories to stay safe.

You should also consider your sensitivity to the cold. If you have a higher endurance to cooler temperatures or vice versa, adjust accordingly.

How to Know Which Suit Is Best for a Dive

The best suit for a dive depends on the water temperature. Shorties are ideal for temperatures higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Farmer John or Farmer Jane works well for waters that are a little cooler than this. However, once it hits below 70 degrees, then the full-body wetsuit should be worn.

If you do not want to purchase a new wetsuit for every temperature, you have other options. Wetsuit packages have a variety of thickness levels. As such, you can select the wetsuit style you prefer. Then, choose the thickness based on where you would be diving.

Below are the thickness levels that divers and swimmers commonly purchase for their wetsuit package:

  •         7 mm
  •         5 mm
  •         3 mm

Some brands offer 0.5 mm, 1 mm, and 2 mm options for warmer waters. Keep in mind that these suits are more likely to come in the Shorty or Farmer John/Jane style. Other brands have in-between sizes, such as 6 mm and 4 mm. However, they are not as common.

The 7 mm is ideal for water temperatures lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  Meanwhile, 5 mm is ideal for temperatures between the upper 40s and the mid-50s. Wetsuits with a 3 mm thickness should be used for temperatures within the upper 50s and 60s.

As you search for the right wetsuit package, remember that the thickness of the accessories is not going to be the same as that of the wetsuit. Let’s say that you shop for a 5 mm wetsuit. You should also shop for 3-4 mm gloves for enhanced flexibility.

How to Find the Right Wetsuit

Where you shop for a wetsuit determines the overall experience of your dive. Many brands offer full wetsuits packages, but some provide better customer satisfaction to help you find the right fit. 

Here are some things to consider when looking for the best brand for a wetsuit package:

  •         Shopping in the store versus online  
  •         Price guarantee
  •         Free shipping
  •         Easy returns
  •         Overall price

There are some benefits when you shop in a store versus online. The clerks can help you find the right package for you. If you are shopping online, consider free shipping and easy returns with a price guarantee on packages. These perks are beneficial if you do not get the right fit the first time.

Finally, consider the overall price for wetsuit packages. Expect to pay a decent sum for high quality but beware of overcharging.

The Bottom Line

A full-body wetsuit is protective gear for all shapes and sizes—from 7 mm to 0.5 mm. Contact us for more info about the importance of being safe in the water.