John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.
WETSUIT CRESSI SUMMER 3MM
OFF TO THE TROPICAL BORDER BETWEEN Sudan and Egypt at the height of summer, I knew I wouldn't need too much in the way of thermal insulation with an anticipated water temperature of 32-33°C. The hard nuts among you would have dived in just your swim-shorts or bikinis, but I dislike strapping diving gear directly to my flesh. It always seems to chafe. Not only that, but I was expecting to do some digging (don't ask!) so I wanted to take the lightest-weight suit I could. In the event, a Cressi Summer 3.5mm full-length suit arrived in the office at just the right time.
Appearance The Italians aren't coy about looking stylish. An Italian-designed wetsuit will always make the most of your figure, even if it has seen better days, as mine has. The super-soft and stretchy neoprenes now available to manufacturers make this even easier to achieve, because whatever your shape you have a suit that clings where it touches, and that's everywhere.
Comfort It's always easy to pull on a drysuit in the cool of your own home. But what about pulling on a sticky suit still wet from the previous dive, when you yourself are drenched in your own fluids as your body desperately bids to keep cool in the midday heat of an Egyptian summer? I found that the flexibility of the suit, combined with zips at both wrists and ankles, made this no problem. I experienced no discomfort whatsoever getting ready for a following dive, and I stepped out of the suit easily enough when I got back onto the boat. It became part of me under water, and I had no discomfort from any of my other dive gear.
Efficacy With those ankle zips closed over the tops of my boots, the long back-entry zipper done up properly over the comfort flap, and the collar fastened with the Velcro tab supplied, I was well protected from that initial shock of the plunge from the swim platform of Emperor Elite. Warm it may have been, but there was still a drop of 20?C between the ambient air temperature and the water. I was neither too hot nor too cold. On a vertical ascent after a long dive, I could feel bubbles of trapped air passing up from my legs past my torso to escape via the neck. This told me that not a lot of water was getting inside the suit thanks to its close fit. It certainly protected me from the stings and arrows of outrageous plankton with which I collided during long hours in the water. I'd say it was just the job for the conditions.