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What's the difference between a wetsuit and a drysuit?
There are a number of differences to consider. One of the most important is the type of material the drysuit is made of. Unlike the soft, supple material of a wetsuit, the drysuit material is more durable and not as stretchy. The idea behind a wetsuit is to allow minimal water flow, controlled by the snugness of the suit. Although you get wet, the suit is snug enough to not let water flush through, allowing your body heat to warm up the water, keeping you warm through out your dive. With a drysuit, no water is admitted into the suit through the seals that we place at the neck and wrists. With the entire suit sealed up your body heat is locked in the suit. The drysuit is made a little big, allowing enough room for you to wear an undergarment to add extra warmth if needed.

Why Custom?
The fit of any suit is crucial to the final warmth of the suit. There are some people who are able to fit nicely into a stock suit, but for those of us who don't, a custom suit is the only way to assure warmth and comfort in the water. If you are not warm and comfortable, it could have drastic effects on your water sport. We have seen people totally giving up on the idea of diving due to the misery of the cold and not having a suit that fit them right. With a custom suit we take about 55 of your measurements and make a pattern from scratch. With our measuring you and seeing the suit on you during the preliminary fitting, the suit is guaranteed to fit you as needed, to assure making your sport more enjoyable. Unfortunately, that guarantee is not promised with our remote custom suits.

Why not a drysuit for everyone?
When approached for a custom drysuit, we interview the customer to determine whether or not the drysuit is the right thing to be wearing. There are those who have come in wanting a drysuit simply because their friends have one and they'd like to be able to say that they dive in a drysuit as well. The questions we ask include "Do you get cold in the water?", "What is your dive profile like?", "Are you one to cover alot of area in your dive, or do you sit in one place taking photographs?", and "When you are at a party, are you the first or the last person to put on your jacket?". We do not like to sell a drysuit to someone who does not get cold easily. Although hard to believe, it is possible to overheat, which can prove to not be safe. Also, if you are a brand new diver, we recommend that you wait until you've had at least a couple years of diving under your belt before tackling the new skills needed for drysuit diving. There are many things to consider before making that kind of an investment.

Why not one type of suit for everyone?
Part of customizing a suit for someone is understanding that not everyone is the same as far as their needs are concerned. There are those who don't get as cold as others and those who freeze their tails off just looking at the water. Keeping that in mind, we have a number of options to choose from and a staff who can help you determine what would suit your needs the best way possible. Just know that the type of suit that works well for your buddy may not be what's best for you.

Can I measure myself or have someone else measure me for a mail order suit?
With our measurement instructional video, it is possible to get one of our custom suits remotely. Provided the video is followed carefully, and the measurements are taken properly, we can make a suit to fit those measurements. We cannot, however, guarantee the perfect fit with the remote suit like we can if we measured and fitted you ourselves.

Does a wetsuit have to be tight?
A wetsuit should be snug like a second skin, but not tight enough to be cutting off your circulation. If the suit is loose, it will defeat the purpose of keeping you warm by allowing cold water to flush in and out of the suit. If you are in warmer waters, it may not matter to have water flushing through, it may even be refreshing.

What should I wear under my suit?
With a wetsuit, we recommend a simple swimsuit. If you are to wear shorts, make sure they are not big & baggy as they will just bunch up in the suit, causing discomfort. If you want to wear more than just a swimsuit, a snug lycra skin would be good. It will also help getting in and out of the suit, and it can be washed with the rest of your laundry. If you are wearing a drysuit, it would depend on the individual. We have some people who don't need to wear anything at all, and then there's those who wear thick, full body underwear. We can help you determine what you would need before you are measured. It helps if you are in whatever you are going to wear inside the drysuit, or something comparable. Then, we can accomodate accordingly while making your pattern.

What's the difference between a neoprene drysuit and a shell drysuit?
Neoprene drysuits usually do not require substantial underwear, due to the nature of the material (6.5mm thickness). Shell suits are made from either a laminate of nylon and plastic or polyester and rubber (vulcanized), which have no insulative qualities, therefore, substantial insulative underwear is needed for cold water use. Buoyancy will be different for both in that one is low volume and the other is high volume. Hydronamics (the way we move through the water) will be signficantly different for a suit that is smooth on the outside and a suit that looks like a prune.

Why is rinsing the suit so important?
Rinsing the suit is imperative to making sure the suits lasts to its full potential. Salt crystals that dry in an unrinsed suit will damage the suit. See our care and maintenance page for more information on how you can help your suit live a long, healthy life.

Can I clean my suit with detergents and/or in the washer & dryer?
Detergents are not recommended for cleaning your suit. If you need to wash your suit, we suggest a mild dish soap such as Ivory or Palmolive. Use very little soap mixed with a lot of water and be sure to rinse it all out. As far as the washer and dryer are concerned, this is a definite NO-NO. We have seen so many suits come in for repair of damage caused by the machines. The blades of the washer may not seem to sharp, but they have torn many suits. Putting suits in the dryer will result in burning of the nylon and neoprene which deteriorates the strength of the suit. The only way to fix these areas, if possible, is to replace the material, which can be very expensive.

Does my suit need conditioning?
We do not recommend any commercial conditioners. As noted in our care & maintenace section we suggest using a water soluable silicone spray. It will condition the suit and keep it supple for the next use. Be sure not to use anything from an aerosol can as it most likely will contain chemicals which will eat away at the neoprene.
 
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A Little Background on Otterbaysuits.com