WETSUIT ONeill 3000X 3mm
AFTER AN EXTREMELY COLD sojourn in the waters of the Red Sea in January, when even my woolly-lined wetsuit and hood provided insufficient thermal insulation, and I had to borrow another 7mm jacket to go over it,the Editor kindly sent me to the Caribbean to warm up and recover.
  My confidence in my ability to choose the right suit firmly dented, I packed a Chill Cheater undersuit and a Fourth Element layer to go over the top of the 3mm ONeill 3000X wetsuit that I took to write about for these pages.
  I neednt have bothered.The warm waters of St Vincent flooded over me like a comfortable bath and the ONeill suit was perfect.
  Not only that, but it was so comfortable that I hardly felt I was wearing a suit, thanks to its super-stretch neoprene and tailored cut.
  Mind you, I had to go commando (thats without any shorts underneath) because every lump and bump was clearly defined. With my shorts in place it looked as if I had an old newspaper stuffed around my waist. With so little rubber to displace, and a small steel tank on my back, I hardly needed any lead weights either.
  Wow! I could get hooked on this diving nonsense!
  The Californian-based manufacturer has initially concentrated on selling its products to surfers and boarders, and you know what a lot of posers that lot are. No wonder the suit looks so good.
  So many suits are made in the Far East nowadays, and this one is no exception. However, the quality of stitching that comes out of its Thailand workshop is something to behold. So often I write about a suit Ive used only to find that the stitching starts to unravel just after the publication of my praise. It certainly wont happen in this case.
  Not only that, but the suit is designed such that there is no stitching in those areas subject to stretching and stress.
  The 3000X has a zip up the back, combined with an underlying smooth-skin comfort-flap. Its a true wetsuit, so there are no wrist or ankle seals, but it is nicely trimmed.
  It fitted me so snugly that I was hardly wet when I climbed out of the water. But it wasnt difficult to put on because it stretches so easily. Its got sexy soft rubber knee-pads, too.
  I used the 3000X in conjunction with ONeill FX-5 5mm boots. These have a silky soft lining and grippy but rather thin soles. I found they were a little uncomfortable when I went ashore to do a bit of rock-climbing in them, but in the water they were as slinky to wear as the suit.
  I got a friend to photograph me running down the beach at Young Island. One of the onlookers later asked me if I was a professional model.
  He said he was impressed at the way I could run! That was flattery (I know it wasnt irony because he was American), but I put it down to the appearance of the suit. A coating of black rubber can hide so many defects.
The ONeill 3000X super-stretch 3mm wetsuit costs £99 and the FX-5 5mm wetsuit boots cost £30.
  • ONeill, www.oneilleurope.com

  • Divernet
    + Good stretch for easy donning. Great fit
    + High-quality finishing

    - None