SEMI-DRY SUIT Pinnacle Stealth
HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELLED A THOUSAND MILES FROM HOME, only to remember suddenly that you left something on the kitchen table I did, and thats how I came to find myself wearing the Pinnacle Stealth semi-dry suit to snorkel in Wraysbury Lake.
     This suit is perfect for use in the Mediterranean, where water temperatures can be quite cruel at depth, but I had forgotten to pack it. So it was fortunate that the water at Wraysbury last August was a warm 22°C.
     Chris and Richard from this inland site are used to me. They know that when I show up, Im likely to be trying out something I would rather not try in front of a large audience.
     The water was balmy but the Pinnacle Stealth was barmy, in that I had to climb into it through the neck seal.
     This isnt too bad if youre snake-hipped, but wouldnt suit everyone. But I slipped in, pulling the surplus 7mm material up over my hips, squeezed my arms into the sleeves and wriggled like hell until I was as snug as a salami in its skin.
     The Pinnacle Stealth has a hood and an almost rigid rubber-covered bib-front that pulls up over the head from the back and fastens by means of a healthy slab of Velcro and two press-studs at the front. ItÔs a complicated bit of manufacturing. Once in, I wondered if I would need the fire brigade to get me out.

Big feet
The idea of this suit is to provide as little opportunity as possible for cold water to flush through it. It achieves that aim. Like other Pinnacle suits from New Zealand, it is lined with a woven Merino wool material that has fabulous comfort and insulating properties.
     I combined the suit with a pair of Merino-lined boots, and found that the seals at the ankles integrated nicely with the boots and the extended ankle cuffs. They allowed my big feet to pass through, but zipped up tightly afterwards.
     Like the Pinnacle Polar wetsuit with its Merino wool lining which got me enthusing in these pages about a year ago, the Stealth has pre-bent arms and legs with reinforced patches inside, where many panels meet. The wrists have smooth chimney-style seals built into the inner sleeves.
     There are tough Kevlar knee pads and similar pads at wear sites at the shoulders, and a thick spine pad for keeping out the chill.
     Thus fitted out, I strode boldly down the ramp into deeper water. I was equipped with mask, fins and snorkel, and 8kg of lead to counteract the natural buoyancy in the suit. And I hardly got wet. In fact, Ive been wetter in some of the drysuits Ive tried.
     A little cold trickle of water made itself noticeable around my skinny shoulders (I should go to the gym more often) and it was only when I finally turned upright to stand up that this worked its way down to wet the rest of me.
     I swam round the lake in leisurely fashion, slipping under to look at the bottom occasionally and scaring the shoals of small fish now in evidence there. It felt almost tropical!

Bacon sandwich
Finally, I decided to come out. There is only so much oxygenating weed one can look at before the need for a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea becomes overwhelming.
     Chris kindly took a photograph of me as I climbed out of the water (using my camera, I hasten to add) and kept making references to Pulp Fiction. Was it because I looked remarkably like the character played by Bruce Willis, or that I reminded him of the Gimp
     I took it on the chin, because I knew I would need his help getting out of the suit. Once my arms were free it proved reasonably easy, but this isnt a suit for those with no friends.
     People enquiring about semi-drys on the divernet forum usually get shouted down by those who insist that it is stupid to get anything other than a drysuit to dive in the UK.
     Well, start writing your letters, Outraged of Tonbridge Wells, because I disagree. Equipped with this suit, you will be warm enough in all but the bitterest of British water temperatures, and surely warm enough in the sea.
     You may get chilled while fighting your way out of it, depending on whether you are out of the wind or not, but I hardly needed to towel off after using it.
     The Merino wool has some amazing qualities, other than its ability to insulate while wet. It doesnt smell, and its kind to the skin with which it comes into contact. The Pinnacle Stealth is an excellent suit and, as befits its name, it comes only in technical black. It all depends on whether youre fit enough to climb in through the neck opening.
     Of course, youre on a hiding to nothing if you dont get one that fits you perfectly.
The Pinnacle Stealth semi-dry suit costs £295.
  • Oceanic SW 01404 891819

  • Divernet
    + Warmest, driest semi-dry youll ever wear

    - You need to be fit to get into it