Tips and Tricks to Enjoy Cold Water Diving

Many areas are starting to lift their stay-at-home orders but travel is still widely restricted. If any good has come of this past year in the world of scuba, it has forced avid divers to explore their local diving scene. With half of the globe currently in the middle of the winter season, many of these newfound dive sites can be quite chilly. Do not give in to the cold and store away your dive gear until next year. With a few tips and tricks, you can stay in the water this winter and continue to enjoy cold water diving! Read on to find out more.

What is cold water diving?

There are many different definitions for 'cold water diving', but generally speaking it is any dive with water temperatures below 60 °F (15.5 °C). That might sound chilly, but going cold water diving opens up a world of incredible destinations and dive experiences.  

Where is the best cold water diving?

You can experience the thrill of cold water diving at dive destinations worldwide. Our top cold water diving experiences include:
  • Ice diving in Russia at Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world.
  • Exploring rich subpolar waters along Argentina’s Patagonia coastline.
  • Experiencing some of the world's best WWI wreck diving at Scapa Flow.
  • Winter diving in Austria for glassy waters, ice diving, and snow-dusted landscapes.

6 great tips to enjoy cold water diving.

1. Wear the Correct Exposure Protection.

The first rule in cold water diving is to not skimp on warmth. A thicker wetsuit may be harder to get on but that is no reason to tough it out wearing a thinner suit. Research how cold your local diving gets and choose an appropriate level of exposure protection. You may need a hood-integrated 7mm wetsuit or even a drysuit. A drysuit is an excellent option, especially because it will keep you warm underwater and when you are hanging out between dives. EXPLORE ALL YEAR - JOIN SSI'S DRY SUIT DIVING PROGRAM.

2. Use a Steel Cylinder.

Using a steel cylinder may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cold water diving. However, it is a great tool to help offset the increased amount of weight needed when using a thicker wetsuit or drysuit. Wearing a steel cylinder is like adding 5-8 pounds (2-4 kilograms) onto your weight system since they are negatively buoyant, both full and empty.

3. Ensure a Proper Fit.

Nothing says cold better than a rush of chilly water down the back of your wetsuit! Ensuring your equipment fits properly is critical when diving in cold water. Your wetsuit should be a snug fit and all drysuit seals must fit flush against your skin.

4. Stay Warm on Land.

There is nothing worse than starting your dive already cold. One of the best tricks to enjoy cold water diving is to stay nice and warm before the dive and during the surface interval if doing multiple dives.
  • Wear appropriately warm, dry clothes, shoes, and a hat during gear set up.
  • If boat diving, set up your equipment before the boat leaves, so you can stay warm and relaxed during the boat ride.
  • Invest in a warm dive or "swim" jacket to keep warm between dives. Look for hooded, fleece-lined, windproof, and extra-long styles.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to make cold water diving more enjoyable. Do not let the long, chilly days of winter keep you land-locked. With a few modifications and an adaptable attitude, you can enjoy exploring the underwater world every day of the year. READ MORE: ICE DIVING AT ITS BEST IN EAST GREENLAND.

5. Warm your dive gear.

If you are diving in a wetsuit, soak your suit, hood, and gloves in warm water beforehand. Even better, pour warm water into your suit once you have put it on. Not only does this feel wonderful, but it also prevents you from wasting precious body heat warming up the water between your skin and the neoprene.

6. Watch your air.

You will consume a bit more air than usual when you go cold water diving as your body works hard to stay warm, so keep a close eye on your gauges.

7. Shorten your bottom time.

Don't wait until you are shivering and freezing cold before beginning your ascent. Not only is that uncomfortable, but it can also lead to hypothermia and makes for a miserable safety stop. Instead, plan a shorter dive time from the start and get out of the water when you are still warm.

8. Put your hat on!

When you end your dive, get out of the water, remove your hood and put your woolly hat on. Keeping your head warm makes it so much easier to tolerate the cold whilst you get changed. If you can have a coffee or tea on standby as well, even better.