A man wearing a wetsuit is surfing. We want to know what are the differences; diving wetsuit vs surfing wetsuit?

Thinking of hitting the water, and want to keep warm? Then you’ll need a wetsuit! But there are many considerations when choosing the right wetsuit for your in-water activity. So how do diving wetsuit vs surfing wetsuit differ and why?

Learn more about how a wetsuit works and why it works.

Diving Wetsuit vs Surfing Wetsuit

diving wetsuit vs surfing wetsuit infographic

There are many differences between a diving wetsuit vs surfing wetsuit. They are contrasting activities and the wetsuits are designed to be used in different conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the differences.


Scuba divers immerse themselves completely underwater. Divers and their equipment are subjected to water pressure which affects a wetsuit’s material. At the surface, we are at 1 Bar / Atmosphere, but at 10 meters, we will be under 2 Bar / ATA. This means the wetsuits are subjected to twice the pressure at 10 meters in depth. Scuba diving wetsuits are made to be compressed under pressure. The neoprene material used for scuba diving wetsuits is sturdier and denser. This does, however, make the neoprene stiffer and thicker.

Surfing wetsuits are lighter and more flexible. This is important for surfers as they will be moving their arms, legs, and bodies while surfing. The neoprene in surfing wetsuits will be stretchy, allowing for great movement and flexibility. It will also protect the surfer from the wind.


Scuba divers will also be more prone to the cold temperatures. By fully submerging your body in water, you lose a lot of body heat; up to 25 times faster than on the surface. Divers make minimal movements underwater; this is to conserve energy and air consumption. They will need thicker wetsuits and warmer wetsuits for this reason.

Surfers though, are extremely active and will spend their time paddling on the board, getting up and down, and moving their bodies around. This exertion and the movements will keep you warmer for longer. Surfing wetsuits are, therefore, thinner and not as warm.

Wear and Tear

Scuba diving wetsuits are under constant wear and tear. There will constant rubbing from the BCD straps, backplate, belts, buckles and more. With this in mind, the neoprene of a diving wetsuit has been designed for heavy use.

On the other hand, surfing wetsuits will mostly get wear and tear from contact with the surfboard. This means you might find a surfing wetsuit with elbow and knee pads. You might also get a surfing wetsuit with a reinforced rubber grip for the chest area.


The seals on the wrists, ankles, and neck may differ too. Surfers are constantly battling the waves, with water rushing at great speeds. For this reason, the seals on a surfing wetsuit are usually quite tight and are made of a rubber seal. This limits the amount of water flushing in and out of the suit.

Check out our tips on how to clean your wetsuit at home.

Surfing Wetsuit vs Scuba Wetsuit – Can you use them for the other activity?

At the end of the day, both wetsuits will give you protection from marine life, cuts, scrapes, harmful UV sun rays and will keep you warm. But they are designed for different uses. You can use a surfing wetsuit for scuba diving, but the neoprene material will wear out faster due to the extreme pressure from being underwater. It won’t be as warm either. And yes, you can wear a diving wetsuit for a surfing trip, but the material will be quite thick and you may find your cool moves are quite limited!

The Lowdown

Wetsuits can be quite an investment. But if you plan on hitting the waves, or go scuba diving frequently, then we would recommend getting a wetsuit for each activity. While you could use each wetsuit for the other activity, you would just be shortening the lifespan of the wetsuit which means replacing it more often. Treat yourself, and get a funky, brightly colored surfing wetsuit, and a sleek, James Bond-esqe scuba diving wetsuit. You’ll love it!