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DRYSUITProtec Explorer
DUI MADE ITS NAME IN THE 80s with a drysuit design that was, quite frankly, the best. The company combined that with a material that seemed almost indestructible.
     Success was assured, until manufacturing costs put the suits from this now California-based company beyond the reach of most of us.
     Lately we are seeing a plethora of DUI-style suits from other sources arriving in the marketplace. Protec is a small business based on Merseyside and makes an unashamed and inexpensive copy of such a suit.
     The Protec Explorer has most of the DUI features, including the telescoping torso that allows the diagonal-zip front-entry suit to be pulled over the head but then made neat with a tuck and crotch strap; internal braces to hold it all up while you get dressed; conical latex neck and wrist seals; and a neoprene collar over the neck seal.
     Its front dryzip is made neat beneath a flap closed with a second conventional zip. All the seams are double-stitched, glued and double-taped on the inside, and there is a choice of three different materials. These include a polyester trilaminate, a 350gsm nylon trilaminate and a rather shiny lightweight (240gsm) nylon trilaminate. I was sent a suit made to measure in the lightweight material.
     Now, I have to admit that I made a bit of a mistake. I was expecting to take this suit to a wintry Red Sea and use little in the way of an undersuit. Instead, I found myself squeezing into the Protec suit in early spring-time Capernwray. So it was cut for a figure other than one wearing a bulky undersuit.
     Lets draw a veil over the effort I put into getting into the Protec suit when I first tried it on, and the amount my Weezle undersuit was compressed and hence the reduced insulation it might have offered me.
     Instead, lets look at the fact that I was actually able to close the zip all on my own. This was because the start of the zip and the end of it were both within reach. Thats a first, and now I can stop saying that there is no such thing as a self-donning suit.
     However, the penalty was that the aperture through which I had to climb was a little smaller than I really needed. I could have done with a longer zip. We had to call the fire brigade when I wanted to get out of it.
     Longevity is not something for which I can easily test. I still smart from the memory of another suit I once tested that was fine for me, and I said so. Little was I to know that the people who bought it on my recommendation would within six months find they had drysuits that leaked like sieves.
     I cannot tell you whether the material used by Protecs manufacturer is man enough for the job. So if you buy one of these suits and have problems with durability, you have his phone number!
     The Protec suit also comes equipped with comfortable Gates neoprene boots, reinforced knee-pads, a fairly useful thigh-mounted pocket, and a chest-mounted Apeks rotating inflation valve.
     The suit I tried was fitted with an Apeks low-profile auto-dump, though I understand that a cuff-dump, so popular with divers north of the M62, is an option.
     The point of a suit like this is that it gives you the possibility of diving in a drysuit but to be streamlined, as if in a wetsuit. So the measurements I sent reflected my intentions to dive in water of around 22ÂC rather than 7 or 8Â.
     I used the Protec suit while doing trial dives with half a dozen DPVs. This is quite a good test for a drysuit, because the seals get subjected to a strong flow of water.
     In the event, I didnt use my own undersuit for these dives in the Protec, but I am happy to report that the one I borrowed stayed bone-dry.
     I had to borrow a second undersuit after the other drysuit I was using ended up as wet on the inside as it was on the outside, such were the strenuous conditions.
Of course, I write about the specification of the suit I was sent to try. Because Protec is almost a one-man-band operation, I am sure that paying customers can have almost any personal modifications they care to specify.The Protec Explorer costs £690 in all three sizes and fabrics. Its not a cheap suit - but it is about the third of the price of the equivalent DUI suit.
  • Protec 0151 639 1390, www.protecdrysuits.com


  • Divernet
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    + A successful and proven design at an attainable price


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    - Durability needs to be proven