People are always going on about the special difficulties of diving in British waters. If you can dive in Britain, you can dive anywhere, they say. Well, the waters around Canada arent that clever, either. They are cold, and there are tides and currents! You also run the risk of getting eaten by a grizzly or a polar bear when you come up.
So a drysuit from British Columbia has just as much credibility in my book as any made in Britain. The Canadian Bare CD4 Pro neoprene drysuit is in fact made in Malta and distributed by Suunto of Finland, but then its not that warm in Scandinavia either - or the Med in winter for that matter.
Bare suits are made by FitzWright Europe, part of FitzWright of Canada, and owned by Suunto. No-stitch technology is used to make these neoprene suits, with seams glued and taped only. Is this why they are called Bare
The CD4 Pro is made of 4mm neoprene with a cross-shoulder zip, comfortable 3mm neoprene neck seal and long latex wrist seals.
Kevlar knee-pads and light- and radar-reflective patches are standard. The suit tested came with 7mm neoprene heavy-duty boots and a thigh pocket. A swivelling inflation valve is located at the centre of the chest and a low-profile constant-volume auto dump on the upper left shoulder.
So what do you want in a drysuit The first thing I want is to be kept dry! Then I want a suit that allows me to swim without restriction or causing friction burns to any part of my body.
Finally, I want a suit that makes me look like a good advertisement for our sport. I dont want people taking one look at me and thinking that diving is simply too uncomfortable.
Youve probably noticed that I never mentioned keeping warm. Thats normally the job of the undersuit, though a neoprene drysuit does offer some inherent insulation of its own.
One summer day I headed for Wraysbury Dive Centres lake near London, armed only with the minimum-weight undersuit. I was tempted to use this neoprene suit alone against my bare skin but decided against for reasons of comfort rather than insulation.
Neoprene suits are rarely dry. Dont expect them to be and you might be agreeably surprised. The Bare CD4 did let a few trickles in past the neck seal, even though it was scalp-wrenchingly tight to pull over my head.
The seal is a tube of neoprene which has been inverted rather like an inside-out polo-neck to obtain the best contact possible, and its very comfortable once properly round the neck.
The latex wrist seals certainly held the water at bay. In fact, had the suit flooded, it wouldnt have been the end of the world. I would have used it as a wetsuit!
As it was, I just felt like a baby that needs a nappy changing.
If anyone asks me which is the best drysuit, I usually say: One that fits you! I was quite lucky that the off-the-peg Bare CD4 Pro sent to me did fit. So I quite enjoyed my outing, even if the water was not at a chilling winter temperature, when being Bare-suited would definitely be preferable to being bare-arsed!
Available in a range of off-the-peg sizes, Bare drysuits cost from £550.

  • Suunto Diving UK 01420 587272, www.suunto.com

  • Divernet
    + Some insulation and buoyancy even when fully flooded

    - No made-to-measure option for awkward shapes