WETSUIT Oceanic Shadow Titanium
I have to spread my favours! When other manufacturers complained that I was seen too often wearing a Mares suit, I got one from Cressi. Now its Oceanics turn to get the limelight, and I expect I will get remarks about that too!
The Oceanic Shadow Titanium follows the trend in wetsuit systems that allow you to build up your insulation layer by layer. You know how difficult it is to choose the right suit to take to a destination that you havent visited before. Some people say: I was OK with a 3mm shortie, others insist that nothing short of your thick neoprene drysuit will do.
The Shadow comes as a 5mm one-piece, a 5mm shortie, a hood and interlocking boots. You can wear one part of it, some of it or all of it. The choice is yours.
In keeping with modern wetsuit design, this suit has contoured knees and elbows with high-stretch neoprene in areas at the back of the knees, the underarms and the crotch. This means that it does not feel so restricting.
There is heavier-duty material at points of wear such as the shoulder pads of the jacket, and there are rubberised knee-pads too. For extra warmth, the spine pad and kidney areas are of double thickness and the neoprene has a titanium layer both to the inner and outer face to add to its insulation properties.
The construction seems to be of high quality. For example, all the seam joints on the inside are reinforced with 25mm discs. This suit looks unlikely to fall apart too quickly.
A thick suit can feel cold when water flushes through it, but to prevent this, there are seals at the ankles, covered by a zipped seal. The Shadow hood is designed to integrate fully with the rest of the suit and has a smoothskin seal long enough to mate with the collar and top seals of the one-piece base layer. A vent at the top lets out any exhaled air gathered by the hood.
I like to have my arms and legs covered when I dive. For bathwater conditions you could use the shortie section on its own, but this is really designed to go over the top of the one-piece for winter Mediterranean-type conditions, giving you the full monty.
In fact, fully dressed with all the options, there is around 15mm of neoprene down your spine. I felt that I would have been confident enough to use it in the sea around the coast of Britain, provided there was someone standing by with a warm towel when I took it off!
The boots, which have rubber-covered toe-caps, are also designed with ankle seals and these integrate with the ankle seals of the one-piece suit. In this way Oceanic has almost entirely done away with water flushing through.
I had some reservations about these boots when I first saw them because I felt I would never be able to get my big feet through the small opening. My fears were unfounded, because they proved sufficiently stretchy and became the first zipless boots I have ever worn successfully.
The Shadow suit can be summed up in one word - flexibility. It is both extremely flexible to wear and gives you the flexibility to wear exactly the right amount of insulation for any conditions that you might encounter. Of course, its not a substitute, in British waters, for a good drysuit!
The Oceanic Shadow Titanium suit comes in three pieces in stock sizes, in styles to suit both men and women. It costs £240. The boots are sold separately and are available in a full range of foot sizes at £27 per pair. The hood alone costs £18.
  • Oceanic SW 01404 891819, www.oceanicworldwide.com

  • Divernet
    + A system suit that gives you flexibility

    - You have to buy the whole system