If you’re getting into Northern California’s cold Pacific Ocean then you’re going to need a thick wetsuit. Most divers cover themselves with 7 millimeters of neoprene from head to toe.
Your wetsuit won’t keep you from getting wet. Water usually makes its way into the suit, but your body heat will warm the water up in a short time. Some divers also pee in their wetsuit when they first get in to warm it up.
Here are three top-rated wetsuits for abalone diving on Amazon:
The SEAC and Cressi wetsuits are two-piece. You first put on the bottom portion on first, which features an overall-like tank top built in. Then you pull over the top portion and snap them together.
The O’Neill wetsuit is all one piece, which makes it much more water resistant. The O’Neill wetsuit features a similar tank top design that you put on before pulling the rest of the suit over the top of your body.
Wetsuits are tough to put on and take off because they are skin tight. Some use a product called Suit Juice to lube themselves up before slipping on their wetsuit. The reviews are mostly positive, with the only complaints focused on the sprayer bottle that the lubricant comes in.
The ocean will beat the hell out of your gear, so it’s best to spray your stuff down with the hose after every trip. Algae, bacteria, salt, pee and god knows what else will end up on the inside and outside your wetsuit, so use a shampoo like this one from M Essentials to knock out the grime.
As you can tell from the photos above, you will still need to purchase gloves and booties to protect your hands and feet from the frigid waters.
One piece of gear down, many more to go. My checklist has the complete rundown of what you need to go abalone diving.