Reviews

Seaskin suit repair and rock-boots

This isn’t so much of a ‘gear review’ it’s more of a combined ‘service/gear review’ looking at the quality of service received and some thoughts on rock-boots nailed on.

Dry-suits today tend to be quite ‘robust’ with the only problems typically being ripped latex seals, problem zips and worn out or ill-fitting boots, being a ‘neoprene seal’ man I have never had any issues with seal damage and zip replacement is pretty ‘easy’ with a new zip being a direct replacement for the old part.

The problem repair tends to be new boots, with a new part being grafted onto your suit and the quality and look of some of these repairs which I have encountered has been horrible, with the completed suit looking like a bad cut ‘n’ shut between a Austin Allegro and a FIAT Panda.

With this reservation in mind I sent my old Waterproof Draco to Seaskin to have new neoprene boots fitted, having worn out the built in boots over the course of 2 years and about 600 shore dives. As I pointed out in a separate review I do have a new dry-suit and it’s super-duper but not really robust enough for my liking for dives grovelling about amongst barnacle encrusted rocks after a long walk over rocks, so a repair to the Draco was in order.

The suit was dropped off and following a discussion with the staff at Seaskin my requirements and timescales were agreed, I was more than happy for the repair to take 5 days although the guys assured me it was possible to turn the work around faster should my suit be required for any pre-planned dives. For those not fortunate enough to have a second suite this ‘premium service’ could be just what you need.

When I received the suit I put it on and had a stylistically critical eye give me her thoughts, she was suitably impressed! The new boots were added at an existing seam meaning that there was no ‘obvious’ second joint and the stitching was of the same colour, style and quality as the existing Draco stitching, additionally the fabric coated neoprene used by Seaskin was an almost exact match to the suit, all in all meaning that the repair didn’t look like a repair, excellent!

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and there are many things that look ok, good and great but are in actuality terrible, so how did the neoprene boots work in the water?

With normal 4th element socks the boots are a tight fit and sitting on the boot of my cars I chuntered at this but it became apparent that if the neoprene boots are slack then wrinkles will form under the rock-boots and be a constant source of irritation during the dive. Oh and with neoprene socks you should put down a mat or some protection when getting into your suit and rock-boots, walking about without rock-boots is a ‘bad thing’ and you may well hole your suit, not good in the UK seas.

The ‘repaired suit’ had no leaks from the repaired area and it wasn’t baggy below the knees, so no problem with either wet or buoyant feet, so all in all an excellent repair.

Now for the rock-boots, in general rock-boots aren’t elegant, they are functional and tend to look that way with these rock-boots from Seaskin looking quite agricultural, but are they any good? In a word yes and here are the features that I like!

The toe cap is dipped in plastic so it appears that you are wearing steelies, it might look, well agricultural but when walking to the entry point there is no chance of stubbing your toes and the protection to the fabric offered by the plastic coating means that clambering out, North side of Beadnell Point anyone, means that you won’t rapidly wear through the fabric on barnacle encrusted rocks.

The sole is tough and quite rigid with a simple ‘wavy pattern’ tread which gives good grip in most situations, a problem with most built in boots is that the soles are soft so walking over pebbles or sharp rocks can be painful, this is not a problem in these rock-boots!

Finally the fastenings on these boots are Velcro, now for those of you who think that laces are for grown-ups and Velcro for kids and granddads in diving applications you are soooo wrong.

Picture 010

Other rock-boots that I have seen from such diving luminaries as DUI tend to have long laces which are fastened around the ankle, I am sure that DIR type bods would immediately shorten these laces and seal the ends however divers I have seen with these boots are loathed to do this and end up with huge knots complete with loops which can catch on various snags, not good. If you somehow manage to snag the Velcro fastener then a quick pull and it opens and frees you, however if the loop is caught then its cutting time, not always easy if you are inside a confined area. In summary:-
Velcro=good; and
Laces=not so good (can be bad).

There is not a lot else to say about the boots, they are canvas, won’t rust look robust, read agricultural and are comfortable. I would buy these boots again when I wear them out but I have a feeling that they will give many, many years of sterling service and as for guys who don’t do 100+ shore dives a year… they will last a lifetime.

Richies Rating 10/10 for the service and 9/10 for the boots, not the height of sartorial elegance but functionally ideal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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