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 O'NEILL VEST & HOOD
OCCASIONALLY I FIND MYSELF diving in water in which a full-length wetsuit is not strictly necessary. It has to be where the water is not only warm but where there is no danger of any uncovered part of me coming into contact with anything painful. So wreck and coral reef dives are strictly full-length wetsuit affairs. I am also a strict believer in the idea that you lose a great deal of body heat through your head, and if I am going to cover anything it will be that first. I remember diving with a guy who wore only his swimmers and a hood. He looked like a bit-player from Pulp Fiction. If I want to be taken more seriously, a vest and hood is the answer.
Appearance The O'Neill 3mm neoprene Wetsuit Vest & Hood represents the minimum amount of neoprene in which I am prepared to dive. Any less, and my BC straps chafe my shoulders. You may think I look like someone from a gay parade in this get-up, but it doesn't mean I'm not a nice person!
Comfort This gear proved very comfortable as long as my unprotected legs or arms didn't clash with a hard surface such as a boat-ladder.
Efficacy Keep your head warm and the rest of you will keep warm. A hood is also useful if you are diving in caverns or wrecks, in combination with a full wetsuit. In fact, being able to pack this hood and vest for those trips where you're not sure if your normal full-length suit will be adequate - such as the Red Sea in winter - is probably is the best reason to buy one. Captain Webb, the first cross-Channel swimmer, kept warm in 1875 with nothing more than a good coating of goose grease and porpoise oil. He may have looked sillier than I did wearing this suit, but nobody argued with him then, and no one dared suggest such a thing to my face 132 years later. I guess if you really cared what you looked like, you'd take up skiing instead.
SPECS O'NEILL WETSUIT VEST AND HOOD PRICE £60 SIZES S - XXL THICKNESS 3mm or 5mm LAYERS Use with a full-length suit as an extra layer. OPTIONS Boots CONTACT www.oneilldive.com DIVER GUIDE