Mar 5

Warming Up After a Cold Dive

By Thomas Gronfeldt

Thomas started diving during college and has since been diving over most of the world: Australia, Indonesia, Iceland, France, and many other places. He is a NAUI instructor and a commercial diver, and participates in environmental and archeological diving projects around the world.

Many cold-water divers know how to insulate themselves underwater, but what about after they surface?

DIVING IN ANTARCTICA

Winter and cold-weather diving can have many benefits: colder water means less algae growth and thus clearer water; different species are attracted to cooler water; and ice diving holds its own set of thrills, incomparable with other types of diving.

Most dry suit and ice-diving courses will teach you how to combine dry suits and undergarments for optimum insulation during the dive. But once you reach the dive boat or the shore significant heat loss sets in, and you’ll need to get out of your dive gear and into normal clothes as quickly as possible.

The following step-by-step guide is based on my own experience from numerous cold-weather dives, and includes the methods and gear I’ve found most useful. Feel free to modify to your own liking. I’m assuming a diver will be in a dry suit for this scenario.

Stuff you’ll need: 

1. A pair of convertible fleece gloves, where the fingertips can be exposed, also known as “shooting gloves.” I use a set from a German manufacturer called Mammoth, but something like this would work fine: http://www.mountainhardwear.com/bandito-fingerless-glove-OM3746.html

2. A fleece hat. I use the Xerotherm Beanie from Fourth Element, but any fleece hat or beanie will work. fourthelement.com

3. A two-piece base layer(s). Combine a very thin layer with long legs and arms next to your skin with one or two thicker layers. I use a two-piece version, split into a pair of trousers and a sweatshirt-style top, rather than a one-piece unit. You’ll see why below. I prefer Fourth Element’s series of trousers and sweatshirts, made of a fast-drying fleece. I usually wear some form of performance (skiing) underwear (long-sleeved shirt and long-legged trousers) along with either the Fourth Element Xerotherm (for not-so-cold water) or the Arctic (for cold water) or both (for very cold water). fourthelement.com

4. A good jacket, preferably a hard-shell outdoor jacket, like one mountaineers would wear. These are lightweight and give excellent protection.

Step 1: You’re out of the water, and you’ve removed your scuba unit, but don’t remove your gloves and hood. Even if you’re wearing wetsuit versions of both, they still offer substantial insulation against the cold air, especially if there’s a bit of a wind. Disassemble as much of your gear as you can with the hood still on, or at the very least, transport the scuba unit to wherever you’ll be taking off your gear and square it away as best you can.

Step 2: Get out your bag of clothes. I store mine in a waterproof duffle bag, and as I’m kitting up before a dive, I place all my clothing in this bag, along with a fleece hat and a pair of fleece gloves with removable fingertips. Unzip the bag now, with wetsuit gloves still on, but don’t take out any clothes just yet. That’ll only make them wet. But unzipping the bag after you take your gloves off can be very tricky.

Step 3: Remove your hood and gloves, and quickly unzip your dry suit zipper and step out of it. You’re now in only your insulation layers as mentioned above.

Step 4: Quickly step out of the insulation trousers (this is why you want it in the two-part version), but leave your performance underwear on, and step into your “civilian” trousers, socks and shoes. Leave the insulation sweatshirt on, unless it has become wet (keep a spare sweatshirt handy, just in case), and put on your jacket, and the fleece hat and gloves.

Step 5: Expose your fingers so you can disassemble any gear you need to. A headlamp can come in handy if you’re doing night dives. Now disassemble your gear, pack it up, and get a hot drink. The gloves and the hat will quickly wick away moisture from your hands and hair, helping you dry and warm up, and the material will help with insulation. Once you’re done packing your gear, cover up your fingertips again and have another hot beverage.

The whole process takes less than five minutes, not counting disassembling the gear, and trust me, you’ll be the envy of every shivering, cold diver nearby.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Latest entries
Jul 24

Planning Diving Vacations Made Easy: Book Now!

divebooker we invite you to join

We invite you to check out Divebooker.com – a brand new way to plan and book your diving online! All you need to plan your diving can now be found... Read More

Jul 24

The Mindful Diver: Part III

Relaxing on the beach

In this 3-part series, we’ll delve into scuba diving’s relationship with mindfulness, and how to use the practice to become a better diver. In the previous installment of this 3-part... Read More

Jul 23

Diving the Conestoga River

Horse Farm in Lancaster PA with brook in foreground and blue sky

The hills of Lancaster, Pennsylvania hold untold treasures for divers By Terry Papavasilis Among the rolling hills and lush green countryside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania lies a secret, hidden in the... Read More

Jul 22

Please Don’t Feed The Fish: How To Overcome Seasickness

Woman getting seasick on boat

By Juanita Pienaar As a diver, you’ll generally spend more time on boats than you will exploring the underwater world. Feeding the fish, mal de mer, seasickness — call it... Read More

Jul 21

Just How Smart Is The Smart Console?

smart console

  How many times have you tried and failed to get your buddy’s attention underwater? Most of the time it’s just to point out something of interest that they missed,... Read More

Jul 20

Scuba Cartoon: Longer Dives

July1

Ever grow a beard while underwater?  This is the 43rd of our scuba cartoon series by Jerry King. Let us know what you think and submit your own if you... Read More

Jul 19

Top Dive Spots For Big Animal Encounters

whale

There are many places in the world where divers can see specific large marine animals, but only a few locations offer the opportunity to see many different kinds of animals... Read More

Jul 18

The Dangers of Ghost Nets

ghost net

Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been abandoned by fishermen or lost in the ocean, and they’re a big, yet relatively unknown, problem for marine life. The Olive Ridley Project was... Read More

Jul 17

Secret Spot: Saint Helena

island of St Helena

by Mark Stevenson Where in the world is Saint Helena? So apt a question was this that it became a marketing slogan for the tiny island in the South Atlantic off... Read More

Jul 16

Kalinga Ornata Nudibranch

featuredimage

by Dustin Adamson   The Kalinga Ornata Nudibranch is one of the rarest nudibranchs to ever be seen. One will most likely go an entire diving career without seeing this... Read More