That said, it comes as a bit of a challenge to tell you about the Procella Mistral Pro semi-dry suit. That's because, although well designed, it seems to have nothing unique about it at all. I was off to a wintry northern Egyptian Red Sea, which, contrary to the beliefs of those who turned up with me armed only with 3mm shorties, is quite a way north of the Tropic of Cancer. This is where the daytime heating and night-time cooling of the desert shores results in a wind that prevails from the north and can give you an icy blast while climbing out of a wetsuit on the aft deck of a boat. I wanted to use a warm suit. The Mistral is a wind that blows off the Alps and cools down the shores of the Cote D'Azur in winter. It blows nobody any good and divers in the Mediterranean make good customers for warm diving suits. The Mistral is also a semi-drysuit from Procella and is simply made, using 6.5mm neoprene. That's as thick as a good old-fashioned neoprene drysuit. It has an integrated hood and a diagonal front zip, which I found a refreshing change from all the suits with rear zips I have used recently. This proved especially important after a long dive, returning to a chill wind and a full bladder. Aahhh, the relief of that front zip!
You know what they say about men with big feet? They need ankle zips or they can't get their feet through the gap. This suit has ankle zips, which proved easy to fasten over the Procella Tempest boots provided to go with the suit. There are long areas of smoothskin neoprene at both wrists and ankles. The main zip also has a large flap behind it to discourage flushing. All done up, the effect was to seal me in hermetically, so that the only way out for any trapped air was through the seal that bonded the hood to my face. This made for a little time spent in the shallows when the suit had dried overnight, while I waited for this tiny amount of air to evacuate, but I found it worthwhile because I had to wear extra lead to accommodate the buoyancy of all the thick neoprene. Thanks to the insulation provided by the Mistral, I had no problems getting into my gear and throwing myself in the water at each sunrise. I did 18 dives, mostly on wrecks, and kneepads took care of wear and tear. Only a small amount of stitching appeared to have suffered, so it looks as if the suit will be good for many trips yet. The secret to using any wetsuit or semi-drysuit is to get one that fits you snugly. The Mistral is available in six off-the-peg sizes at£130.