Wetsuits vs. Drysuits for Swimming

Swimming, especially in open water, often requires the use of specialized swimwear, which can add some layer of protection more efficiently than regular swimsuits. This is where exposure suits, such as wetsuits or drysuits come in. they offer an improved level of retaining body heat during your period in water. With this functionality, both suits are similar since they effectively keep your body warm.

While performing similar tasks, these suits differ in design and added features. These features are what make it easy to distinguish between them when shopping. And depending on what type of activity you intend to engage in, these differences will determine which suit you will get. This means having adequate knowledge of both is essential, hence this piece on wetsuits vs drysuits.

If you plan on swimming alone, both are handy tools that can give you a varying level of experience. Regardless, they are popular in sports such as wake-surfing, river surfing, or paddleboarding.

Wetsuits vs Drysuits

The main difference between wetsuits and drysuits is in their level of warmth and waterproofing effect provided. You know a wetsuit is not waterproof from its name, which means you will still get wet when using one. Drysuits, however, are made to be completely waterproof, ensuring water stays away from your skin.

Wetsuits, by design, use neoprene material to help reduce the rate at which you lose body heat when in water. On the other hand, dry suits often rely on other undergarments to help keep your body temperature from dropping rapidly.

Today, you can now leverage on new drysuits such as the SUPSkins with wetsuit sport-fitting capabilities. 

ALSO READ: Difference Between Swimsuit and Wetsuit

All You Need To Know About Drysuits

Drysuits are a form of waterproof immersion garment. They come with a loose-fitting and have seals at the neck and wrists to keep water out. Ordinarily, a drysuit in itself does not provide insulation, and as such, you need to wear clothes under the suit to create insulation.

A drysuit uses a waterproof material that is flexible enough to allow for easy movement when in water. And a seal coupled with a sealing method for closing the openings from where the suit is worn. A drysuit’s waterproof material can be from a thin membrane fabric or neoprene; some use both materials.

READ ALSO: Latex vs Silicone Swim Caps

Usually, the neoprene used has a high proportion of tiny enclosed gas bubbles, which improves buoyancy and thermal insulation. The seals come from latex rubber or foam neoprene with the occasional use of silicone rubber. Latex seals are much more effective but susceptible to damage, especially when it comes in contact with oils or oxygen. Neoprene seals showcase durability and will last much longer but are less elastic. This means it allows water inflow easily since they do not seal as effectively as latex seals.

How to Keep Warm in a Drysuit

Most drysuits don’t provide insulation, although newer designs incorporate some form of insulation in their making. To keep warm, you need to have warm clothes underneath your dry suit. And the more undergarments you have on, the warmer you will be.

Again, the colder the water temperature, the more insulation you’ll have to wear. When it comes to picking clothes to wear underneath, it’s best to go for clothes made with insulating materials, even when wet. So materials such as polypropylene, pile fleece, wool should be on your radar. You should do well to stay away from cotton.

Can you swim in drysuit?

Yes, but I wouldn’t advise you to consider it. Dry suits are bulky, have air pockets, and use tight seals, making swimming in them highly uncomfortable. The cumbersome nature restricts freedom of movement; the air pockets mean your buoyancy can be quite unstable with frequent balance changes. Again, its seals can be unsuitable for some water events.

All of these make swimming in a drysuit tricky, especially if you intend to swim laps or cover a far distance. To that effect, drysuits see usage in sports like kayaking, diving, stand up paddling, and wave surfing.

ALSO READ: Difference Between Swimsuit and Bathing Suit

All You Need To Know About Wetsuits

A wetsuit, just like a dry suit, is a garment for water activities that provides thermal retention while wet. Besides helping you retain body heat, it also protects you from abrasion, stings from marine life, limits UV exposure, and contributes extra buoyancy. In the early stages, wetsuits were made using sheets of foamed neoprene without any backing material. Today, they come with a sandwich technique where the foam-neoprene is between thin sheets of more robust materials such as nylon or spandex.

Over the years, there have been considerable improvements in the joining of wetsuit materials. Today, manufacturers use gluing, taping, and blind-stitching to create a waterproof suit with less flushing. Wetsuits come in different thicknesses, depending on the conditions they are for use. Generally, the higher the thickness of the suit, the better it gets at retaining body heat, thereby keeping you warmer.

FAQ: Can You Wear A Pad Under A Wet Suit? 

However, a noticeable downside to thicker wetsuits is the restriction of movement they can cause. Also, a wetsuit specification is usually in its thickness and style. For example, a wetsuit with a torso thickness of 5 mm and a limb thickness of 3 mm is often referred to as a “5/3”.

Can I use a wetsuit for swimming?

Yes, wetsuits are suitable garments for swimming either in a pool or at the beach. They provide many advantages, such as streamlined body shape and reduction of the effects of drag and friction. All of these add up to create an improvement in your swimming performance and speed.

Again, if you are susceptible to cold, having a wetsuit on can help improve your overall experience with water activities. Also, having a wetsuit on is much better than no wetsuit for open water swimming or triathlon events. A downside, however, is that wetsuits might constrain your movement when in water. Other than this, they are fantastic swimwear.

Differences Between Wetsuit and Drysuit

Asides from the significant difference mentioned above, here are some other differences that can help in your wetsuits vs. drysuits comparison: 

1. The fitting

Wetsuits have a snug and tight-fitting design on the body. This makes them ideal for cold water sports since it provides insulation. On the other hand, drysuits have a loose-fitting to allow for wearing under clothes, which adds to their bulky nature.

2. Buoyancy

In terms of wetsuits vs. drysuits, this is another functionality that they differ on. Drysuits allow you to leverage on its entrapped air for buoyancy while also compensating for the increase in pressure as you go deeper. This is suitable if you are engaging in deep-sea or ocean diving events. On the other hand, wetsuits will compress as the depth increases, making them lose a bit of their inherent buoyancy. As this occurs, the wetsuit becomes thinner and less effective at insulating the body against frigid temperatures.

3. Cost

Before now, drysuits had a high price tag attached to them. Thanks to the introduction of new materials and more manufacturers, the price has gone down. Today, you can buy an excellent drysuit for as much as how much you buy a quality high-end wetsuit. And since one drysuit can cover the need for multiple wetsuits, it is a worthwhile investment. Wetsuits are still considerably cheaper and cost-effective if you won’t be performing in waters of different temperatures. 

4. Weight in water

A wetsuit trumps a drysuit at the surface since it has a much lesser weight. But when used in diving or at great depth, the somewhat bulky nature of drysuits becomes advantageous. This is because, unlike a wetsuit, its buoyancy remains nearly constant, either with increased or decreased pressure. But with a wetsuit, compression occurs, making you overweight. this makes for an excellent difference between wetsuits vs. drysuits.

5. Varying conditions

A dry suit is usable in several sports events and under nearly all conditions. You can count on the drysuit from icy water to swimming under ice and warm waters. This allows you to add as many insulating underclothes you wish to suit the prevailing weather and water conditions. A wetsuit is limited, although you can have underwear on.

6. Maintenance

This is another segment where the wetsuit trumps the drysuit again. Wetsuits often require little to no maintenance after each use other than proper rinsing to wash away salt and chlorine. Drysuits, on the other hand, require extra care after each use. You have to replace the seals, boots, socks, and zipper and check for leaks that need attention. All of these add extra costs and mean you spend more to maintain.

7. Life expectancy

An average drysuit with proper care can have a life expectancy of about 15 – 20 years or more if you use your suit regularly. A wetsuit, on the other hand, with an equal amount of usage and care, will only last for about five years. Even though a drysuit is more expensive and requires high maintenance than a wetsuit, it outlasts the wetsuit in terms of durability. Also, drysuits have a reasonable resale value which is a good source of funds for purchasing a new one, unlike wetsuits which don’t get much resale after use.

What is the Best Wetsuit for Swimming?

The best wetsuit for swimming should offer you a layer of insulation against cold waters, some buoyancy, and protection against marine life and floating debris. Also, it should remain flexible, especially at the knees, shoulders, and hips, to accommodate any stroke style you choose. That said, below are a few wetsuit products to try out:

1. Hevto Wetsuits Men’s 3mm Neoprene wetsuit

Hevto Wetsuits Men Pluto 3mm Neoprene Full Scuba Diving Suits Surfing Swimming for Water Sports (ML4B-Red, 3XL)


This wetsuit is made from Neoprene SBR and Nylon Fabrics and has a thickness of 3/2 mm. it is a full wetsuit with long sleeves to provide ample coverage for the entire body.

2. XUKER Women Neoprene Wetsuits

XUKER Womens Wetsuit 2mm 3mm, Neoprene Wet Suits for Women in Cold Water Full Body Dive Suit for Diving Snorkeling Surfing Swimming Canoeing (Blue 3mm, X-Large)


This wetsuit also provides full-body coverage and uses a stretchy neoprene material in combination with double-lining elastic nylon fabric. It also has anti-abrasion knee pads and is suitable for use in various sporting events.

ALSO READ: Leotard vs Swimsuit (The Differences)

Is a drysuit better than a wetsuit?

In a comparison between wetsuits vs drysuits, there can be no winner across board. Wetsuits and drysuits have specific qualities that make each suitable for different conditions. Deciding which is better will depend on what you intend to do or what water sport you wish to participate in. For deep-water sports or a long period of staying in the water, having a drysuit is your best option. It keeps you dry while also compensating for the change in pressure due to depth. On the other hand, surface sports like surfing can rely on wetsuits to get the job done. Regardless, personal preference often takes precedence when deciding on which to use. 

Conclusion – Wetsuits vs. Drysuits

When it comes to wetsuits vs. drysuits, differences abound. And although both wears are for use in water, they often have different practicality. Drysuits keep you dry but can still get your undergarments wet from precipitation and condensation, while wetsuits keep you warm but still allow water flow. Interestingly, the range of use of both garments is massive. This makes shopping for the right one for you a whole lot easier.


You may see some products here which has either been used by us or independently selected by (obsessive) editors. As an affiliate of Amazon, Anything purchased through our links may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. 

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