Otter Britannic Superskin Drysuit

What with one thing and another I am looking at changing from a neoprene to membrane drysuit, I am hoping that a more pliable suit makes manouvering with my 'aging' back a tad easier, so where to go? After some investigation and talking with other divers it was time for a trip to Bradford!

Part One (ordering and sizing)

I arrived at the main facility on spec and was met with a hearty greeting and confirmation that I would need to be measured up as there was nothing 'off the peg', oh and my need for neoprene seals meant that it would have to be made from scratch.

Once furnished with a cup of coffee the measurements started and seemed to go on and on, but if it's going to fit then you do need it to fit and to be honest it only took five minutes and this was mainly passed 'chewing the fat' about the state of the UK dive industry and specifically the demise of a few dive shops, the passing of some will be mourned, others not so.

Having specified various options, such as pee zip, neoprene seals, kubi dry-gloves, etc I was pleasnatly surprised to recieve a delivered price of £1,250 in about three weeks which I was more than happy with, so with 'plastic' having changed lets look forward to this parcel landing with a thud on the door-map!

Richies Rating 10/10; thats for the orderig process and costs, I shall update this post when I have had a few dives in my new suit, so hopefully by late summer I should have racked up about 100 dips and be able to take a view.


Part Two (initial diving)

It's a long time since I have worn a membrane drysuit so thefirst couple of dives were for weighting and acclimitisation purposes, well mainly......

I did find it strange that the first time that I tried on the suit it wasn't a struggle to get my head too and then through the neck seal, this is down to a correct fitting so my first point is that to do this suit justice you really do need to be measured up. The second thing that I learned was that when putting on you had to go left arm first then right arm and then when taking off, in finest Haynes fashion reverse the procedure, it is all down to the zip going from left shoulder down to right hip. Oh and the last configuration point, the chest inflation valve is located to the right side of your chest so you should think about moving the inflator hose to that side of your regs.

I bought the version with thigh mounted pockets and a pee zip, firstly the pockets, great, nice and spacious with zips rather than zelcro which is great but the relativley small toggles were awkward to find with gloves and I need to fit something a tad larger and easier to locate with a single hand when you are groping for a bag with a kicking and upset lobbie in your hand. And the pee zip, I went for this rather than a pee valve because I have found that the valve offers the possibility of leakage and do you really need toi pee mid-dive? Probably not if you are correctly hydrated rather than overloaded, which brings it's own risks. The only problem with the pee zip is the additional rigidity around the tittering at the back! I guess that this is driven by the type of shore diving I do with long walks and the presence of a zip. If you are only a boat diver this wont be an issue but if you are a keen shore diver you might think about this.

Finally my version is fitted with Kubi gloves, I think that these are great but pleeeeease ensure that you lubricate before your first dive, I didn't and it was a chew taking them off!

For winter or cold water diving I have started using a Santi undersuit and it is great for warmth, the problem is that it does somewhat restrict my mobility and I did have an issue that I needed assistance even with the chest zip to get the suit off, with my summer thermal insulation I have no such issue and feel confident on being able to don and doff the suit quite easility on my own.

On the subject of insulation during my first summer dive (In April, silly twisted boy) in cool water of 7.8degC there was a cold rush to the extent that I thought that I had sprung a leak, fortunately this wasn't the case and it's simple physics, I only wear the Fourth Element Arctic leggings and with the suit offering zero thermal protection I had that sudden rush. Not that it was too bad and at the end of an hour dive I was 'ok' and not chilled.

During my first dips I was very happy with the additonal flexibility afforded in a membrane suit, reaching cylinder valves could be done quickly and easiliy with no need to brace and 'go', throwing arms backwards to grasp something in the right area and then walking your hand about to find valves etc. 

Richies Rating 9/10; thats for diving in the initial configuration, The pockets could do with a bigger toggle, which I will fettle and the pee zip can be an issue on those longer walks, but an excellent suit with a further rating at the end of the year

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