Cold water wetsuit advice

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Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby youtz.808 » September 10th, 2019, 7:39 pm

Hi all, I'm relatively new to this forum although I got into the sport a couple years back. I was born and raised in Hawaii, so I started doing some reef spearfishing there with friends. I'm in college now up in Michigan and brought up my essential gear (mask, fins, 90cm gun, etc.) and improvised for the rest (float, etc.). There's a lake a couple miles from my dorm (not one of the Great Lakes; I'm in southern Michigan) and I've already hit the water a couple times this semester and brought back some fish. Only problem is that the weather is starting to cool down, and being from Hawaii, I thought the water was cold enough already. I'm planning on getting a wetsuit in the hopes of extending my personal fishing season by a month or two, hopefully, and start it up again as soon as possible after it starts to warm up again in the spring. I've never used wetsuits before and I'm not sure what thickness I should get. I was hoping a 5mm would allow me to dive up through October or so, although I was considering a 3mm due to the fact that I would be able to still use it when I go back home (to Hawaii) over breaks. Should I go for the thicker suit dedicated to "mainland" use, or err on the thinner side to be able to use it year round? Any general wetsuit/ lake diving/ cold weather diving advice is welcome too, as I know very little about any of these!
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby castronova » September 11th, 2019, 4:54 am

It's hard to tell what you need without knowing water temps and a lot will come down to your cold tolerance. I can tell you that being an island guy myself even thinking of diving in a lake in Michigan makes me want to put on a 5mm.

My advice would be to get the suit for exactly what you intend to use it for. Getting a 3mm and still being cold but maybe being ok elsewhere is a partial solution to multiple problems with none being solved completely.

My comfort range is really small. I have a 1.5mm, 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and a 5mm. I either use them in whole or mix and match. One reason is to keep the warm but also just as important is to not overheat when working hard.

Knowing you are in college I assume funds may be limited. The 5mm I have I bought used on this forum for $150 and it was as advertised and works great. I would suggest going the used route and get the thickness you think you need. Worry about the suit for your break when you get to that point.

What size are you?
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby youtz.808 » September 11th, 2019, 5:22 am

castronova wrote:
What size are you?


Based on various sizing charts I've checked, I seem to be a medium tall/long. I'm about 6', weigh 145-150 lbs, ecto body type.

Thanks for the advice!
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby NaClAddict » September 11th, 2019, 6:52 am

I have a 7mm Picasso for $100. Not sure how cold it gets out there but most of us in Cali upgrade to a 7mm in winter when the water drops to the low 60’s -upper 50’s.
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby youtz.808 » September 11th, 2019, 12:29 pm

NaClAddict wrote:I have a 7mm Picasso for $100. Not sure how cold it gets out there but most of us in Cali upgrade to a 7mm in winter when the water drops to the low 60’s -upper 50’s.


What are the measurements and condition? Is it hooded as well?
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby NaClAddict » September 12th, 2019, 6:28 am

It’s got a hood. I forget the measurements but I’m 5’10, 195 lbs and very stocky. I think the suit would fit you perfectly. It was just a little too tight for me. I’ll look up the size when I’m home. I put a few minor finger nail tears in it trying to get out but will glue them up. I wore the suit 2 times before I figured out a 48” chest and 17” neck just weren’t compatible with this suit. FYI it’s a base model so no seals around the ankles, wrists, or face. I personally never felt they did much anyway.
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby youtz.808 » September 19th, 2019, 12:41 pm

NaClAddict wrote:It’s got a hood. I forget the measurements but I’m 5’10, 195 lbs and very stocky. I think the suit would fit you perfectly. It was just a little too tight for me. I’ll look up the size when I’m home. I put a few minor finger nail tears in it trying to get out but will glue them up. I wore the suit 2 times before I figured out a 48” chest and 17” neck just weren’t compatible with this suit. FYI it’s a base model so no seals around the ankles, wrists, or face. I personally never felt they did much anyway.


That'd be great if you think it'd fit me. I am pretty skinny, but if you don't think it'd be too loose I'd be interested.
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby NaClAddict » September 19th, 2019, 8:16 pm

After looking at the charts I think you’re too skinny for this suit. I’d hate to sell you a suit that doesn’t fit well.
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby PTandspear » May 11th, 2020, 6:33 pm

I would go 7mm all the way IMO to extend your season, and if you're not in too much of a hurry, get a custom Polosub! I think I spent around 400$ and you could probably go cheaper with a standard black suit. I am just a little thicker at 5'11 and 170, but off the rack suits still just don't fit great. Btw I am from Montana originally and dove Flathead which is a big, deep lake. I could go 7mm year round because I get cold easily, just flush a little in if you're too warm!
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Re: Cold water wetsuit advice

Postby chris oak » May 12th, 2020, 7:03 am

what is the water temp that you are going to be using it for?

I use a 5mm when it's 64 and up. Anything below 62 and it's always a 7mm for me.

And you should probably stick with a maker you are familiar with if you are mail ordering it. If you swing by so cal I know some of the dive shops here will let you try them on but anytime I'm ordering a suit online it's a gamble. I fit perfect on the spetton and usually wear a M, and other suits it might be a L. But any other european suits are almost always too small. On the immersion suits I had to order a XXL once which was crazy.
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