How Long Do Survival Suits Last

How Long Do Survival Suits Last? 7 Things to Know

How Long Do Survival Suits Last?

A survival suit can come in handy in an emergency at sea or in the event that you find yourself in cold water for long periods of time. But if your survival suit isn’t working properly, it’s not going to do you any good when the time comes to use it.

A survival suit can help rescue teams locate you easier in open water. It can also help keep you warm and stay afloat at sea as long as it is working as it should. Read on for how long survival suits last and seven things you need to know to get the most out of your suit.

How Long Does a Survival Suit Last?

Survival suits, or immersion suits, are a type of special watertight diving suit that is meant to protect the diver from cold water. They typically have thermal insulation built in that acts as an extra layer of protection during extended periods in the water.

On average, a survival suit will last three to seven years. This is generally dependent on how often the suit is used, as well as how well it is taken care of. With proper care, a survival suit can last over ten years.

How to Make Your Survival Suit Last

A survival suit is an essential safety tool to have on hand in the case of an emergency. However, your suit needs to be in good condition to work the way it is supposed to, and having to replace it often can lead up to a hefty sum. Here are seven things you need to know to help your survival suit last so you can get the most out of it.

Have Your Survival Suit Inspected Frequently

Regardless of if you are using your suit often or it’s stored away, immersion suits should be inspected every month. Check that the zipper is working okay and that there aren’t any holes in the suit. If your zipper need lubrication, non-petroleum-based products such as beeswax can make sure your zipper is operating smoothly.

It is also recommended that survival suits be inspected by a certified immersion suit service and inspection facility every one to two years to endure that the suit meets operational readiness. These inspections include checking the suit, storage bad, and accessories and conducting a pressure leak test.  If your suit is older than five years, these professional inspections should happen more often.

Take Your Immersion Suit on Practice Runs

Practicing putting your suit on will get you into the habit of doing it properly so that you aren’t causing damage to the suit. This can also increase your confidence, so you aren’t stressed out when it comes time to don your survival suit.

Practice putting on your survival suit laying down since this is most like the way you will do it at sea. Put your feet in first, followed by your weakest arm, then the hood. Your strong arm goes in last before you zip it up.

Survival Suits

Storing Your Survival Suit

Proper storage plays a significant role in how long your survival suit lasts. Make sure your suit is cleaned and completely dry before putting it away.

To store, lay the suit flat on a clean surface with the zipper open. Next, roll the suit from the bottom up, folding the arms across once you reach the top. Once rolled, the suit should be placed in its bag with all closures sealed. Storage in a clean, accessible area until next use.

Shake Off Excess Water After Each Use

It’s important not to let your suit sit in saltwater. After using, rinse the suit down inside and out, then shake the water off.

To dry completely, hang it in a clean space indoors. Avoid drying your immersion suit in the sun. Direct sunlight and extreme temperatures can cause damage to the fabric and lower the life expectancy of your suit.

Clean Your Survival Suit Regularly

Your survival suit should be thoroughly cleaned after every use. For general cleaning, simply rinse the suit both inside and out with fresh water. If the suit comes in contact with oil or grease, you can use a mild detergent or household soap. Avoid abrasive scrubbing or strong cleansing agents that can damage the fabric.

After cleaning, turn the suit inside-out and hang it to dry on a sturdy hanger inside.  Once the inside is dry, flip the suit back to its original state, and return it to the hanger to dry.

Avoid Jumping into the Water with Your Suit

When entering the water wearing your survival suit, it’s best to avoid jumping in as this can cause damage to the suit. Lower yourself gently into the water instead.

Get the Right Size

This might go without saying, but if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s not going to work as it should. Just like life jackets, your survival suit needs to be fitted for you. If it’s too big, the suit can ride up over your head and become a safety hazard. Too small, and you risk stretching or tearing the suit or not being able to get it on at all.

It’s best to avoid online shopping in this case and purchase your suit in person. Bear in mind that there is no universal size. Many manufactures make suits tailored to fit different body types, so make sure to try it out before you buy.


Hypothermia can quickly lower your chances of survival in the water. Having a well-functioning survival suit could greatly improve survival time and make rescues more successful. While the U.S. Coast Guard requires immersions suits on all documented vessels traveling in waters north of 32 degrees, it’s a good idea for all boats to have one on board in the case of an emergency.

However, to be effective, your suit needs to be in good condition, and you need to know how to use it. Proper care and use can help your survival suit last well over ten years and ensure that you’ve always got the best safety gear available.