O three Ri 1-100CCN Dry-suit

I have had this O’three Ri 1-100ccn dry-suit for over a year now and having done a few dives, well quite a few, closer to 200 than 100, I feel that I can give a reasonably unbiased overview of how this dry-suit meets my quite demanding requirements. My dry-suit of choice before I bought this offering from O’three was a ‘Waterproof Draco’ so there are a few interesting comparisons……

Before I start the ‘nuts and bolts’ review, the question that needs to be answered is the timeless conundrum, ‘Is this a dry-suit or a damp-suit’?

Way back when I first started using my Draco, I remember a dive at Plymouth where probably eight divers were using the waterproof suit and at the end of the first dive we agreed that the zip cover, which stated 100% waterproof, was simply wrong with our estimates being 90% to 50%. Well I can confirm that this O’three suit is a dry-suit, even with all neoprene seals I have had no issues with water ingress so on that point have no fear!

If you read my regular dive diary you will be aware that my diving is probably 75% shore diving grovelling about for edibles and recoverables, so for this my dry-suit must have a tough outer coating to stand up to being wedged into barnacle encrusted rocks when I am extricating a lobster. Just as important for my shore dives, it’s imperative that the boots have a good grip and a hard wearing sole.

On the ‘sole’ front, I have to admit that although the boots are far superior to the Draco, I do fear for the toughness of the suit, to such an extent that I am bringing the Draco out of mothballs for my shore diving and simply organising rock-boots. My concerns about robustness were confirmed last year when a seal managed to quite easily puncture the leg of the suit, something that has never happened with my Draco despite during some dives having two or three seals pulling me about wanting to play.

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Seal damage on the 'calf section'

I wrote some time ago that thermal insulation was an issue, whilst I didn’t ever need protection over a set of thermals in my Draco, I do find it necessary to use a HUV in this dry-suit but as a HVAC engineer should this be a surprise?

The insulating properties of Neoprene are driven by the small nitrogen filled bubbles, which as the water pressure increases are compressed and therefore loose some (lots!) of their insulating properties. So if you use an uncompressed suit your thermals will change depending on how deep you dive, whereas in a compressed neoprene suit, your thermal requirements will stay constant but will generally be higher for shallower dives.

Over time we have passed from neoprene to crushed neoprene, then compressed neoprene and hyper compressed neoprene and my honest opinion for normal divers would be that a crushed neoprene dry-suit (my Draco) has good thermal properties and very little change in buoyancy requirements for 95% of today’s diving; it’s that last 5% where the O’three dry-suit comes into its own but with issues on thermal insulation.

The manufacturer offers a service known as ‘off the peg-made to fit’ this enables a range of size options to be covered giving a good snug fit without voluminous sections of suit which can inflate and cause buoyancy and trim issues. The feet straps which are a good idea in minimising air migration to the boots can be a pain in the backside when suiting up but do serve a useful function. In summary, the fit is far superior to my old Draco where the two options I had were due to me sitting between two sizes, unfortunately neither were great so I went for the slightly too short version rather than the much too tall option, it was the lesser of the two evils. However this isn’t an issue which you will encounter with this suit.

A fault which I flagged up with the Draco was the presence of random pads on the dry-suit which served no purpose, with the O’three suit this is certainly not an issue, indeed I believe that the suit would benefit from some pads in areas where there is rubbing from BC straps.

The inflation and dump valves are industry standards but I have had issues with the inflation valve with one valve sticking closed which was exchanged swiftly and without quibble under warranty. My gripe is that the quality of the chrome plating on the nipple of this second valve was very poor and it has all come adrift within a very short time period and its manner of failure suggests that it was coated by hot-dipping rather than electro-plating, never the best way especially in this type of application.

Note the missing chrome plating!

There are several areas which can be customised on this dry-suit: I decided to fit a pee-valve but there are other options such as dry hoods etc. This is a custom dry-suit so take your time in deciding exactly what you want and need from your suit.

The final area to consider is streamlining, now this is a high-horse of mine and I strongly believe that many people confuse stream-lining with snagging hazards and so complain about thigh pockets etc. I always advise people that we are not entering the 100m freestyle when diving rather we will in general be moving slowly over the course of a non-drift dive and when wreck diving travelling very slowly indeed. The Ri 1-100ccn is a very good dry-suit with no extra whistles and bells which may snag or get caught up, one of the issues with my Draco suit was the zip off sections and neck protector, all of these are extra, unrequired and more to snag and go wrong.

As I have already noted I have had issues with certain areas of the suit and I must say that the responses from O’three have been excellent, it’s a truism to say that it’s not the problem that is remembered rather the response.

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A little cuff leakage sorted with Aquasure!

In summary an excellent dry-suit which despite some issues I would purchase again, the only time which I would advise against this suit is if your diving is based on shore dives with walks and dives over and among barnacle encrusted rocks, in this case a cheaper and more robust dry-suit would be a better option!

Richies Rating 8.5/10: Not the best suit for 'scratting' but for any other diving, 'go for it'

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