In diving one of the first major purchases that a new dive will make is a wetsuit. They are generally a lower budget item for divers beginning to get serious and are tired of waring suits other divers have peed in. This problem I am about to address is more common in cold water because of the necessity of a wet/dry suit. Often while shopping a sales person will try to recommend a dry suit because of its benefits of being dry, and costing more than a wetsuit. After adamantly refusing this option some shops and sales persons will tell you about a magical “semi-dry suit“. It is half the cost of the dry suit that you just saw but twice the cost of the wetsuit that you were considering. This is a lie and they are lying lairs, there is no such thing as a “semi-dry suit“. Don’t be fooled obviously there are things marketed as “semi-dry suits” but a suit that keeps you semi-dry just doesn’t exist. In diving there are two options for diving wet or dry, you can’t be sorta dry or kinda dry that is wet. Would you buy a semi-dry phone case? I have a feeling that that might not cut it if you wanted you phone to continue working.
So whats the difference, what makes these suits seem better than a traditional wetsuit. Nothing at all, it is a perceived improvement because of the belles and whistles and higher cost. The purpose of a wetsuit is to trap a layer of water inside the suit so body heat can warm it up and keep it trapped for insulation. This can be achieved by any wetsuit that fits properly, “semi-dry suits” try to forgo this design by super charging the seals at the ankles, wrist and neck to resemble dry suit neoprene seals. Now there is nothing wrong with doing this to a suit, it does make the suit more of a hassle to deal with, but in theory not degrade the purpose of the suit. A common error that divers can make with theses suits is assuming that it does not let water in the suit there for it does not need to be a snug fit, “semi-dry suits” fit is as important as wetsuits because they are wetsuits. The intention is to reduce the flow of water in and out of the suit with these super charged seals, and most of these suits do this very adequately but the question is do they earn the title of “semi-dry”. My issues with these “semi-dry suits” is not weather or not they work, most are very good suits. The issues lies with the deception to the customers, and the higher cost of the suits. Semi-dry suits are glorified wetsuits, they sound fancier and give a false perception of higher quality.
Keep in mind next time your find yourself looking for a new wetsuit, and the sales person tries to sell you a “semi-dry suit” remember to ask if you will be dry or wet in the suit, and whatever answer you get thats what kind of suit it really is.