It promised to be able to follow a set of measurements precisely, and churn out identical drysuits time and time again.
It certainly took a lot of the mistakes out of making a drysuit, and ND was already noted for the high quality of its neoprene suits. However, although I could see the advantages to the manufacturer, I pointed out to Mike that our readers didnt care if a suit was made through space technology or by his granny in an attic with a sewing machine and a pot of glue. It was the final product that counted.
That said, I went away with three suits that all fitted me like gloves. One was in old-fashioned 8mm neoprene, while the others were made of what was then a new material - hi-tech 4mm pre-compressed neoprene.
I make a point of returning products loaned to me on test. How could I be impartial otherwise That said, it is also true that I sometimes get permission to keep for longer any items with which I get on particularly well.
The ND Divemaster compressed neoprene suit was such an item, and I kept it and used it for an extended period, diving a lot around the coast of Britain.
I was very happy with it, and it drew admiring glances from other divers. In those days, it was rare to see an attractively fitted drysuit.
In the autumn of 1996, I moved house. It turned out to be a pretty painless move for me, because I was away on a diving trip at the time.
I remember swimming ashore from a liveaboard in the Med to the island of Lampedusa to phone my wife to ask how the move was going.
The men from the removals company had done a marvellous job, and she and two large pantechnicon-van loads of possessions had been safely installed in our new property.
Thirteen years later, I was browsing in an attic room when I stumbled across a neat parcel ready for despatch. It was not addressed, and I had no idea what was inside, so I opened it.
To my horror, there was the ND Divemaster drysuit. It had been overlooked during the house move, and had spent a further 13 years patiently waiting in my attic to be sent back.
It looked to be in perfect condition. Not only that, but it still fitted me perfectly. Yes, it had not mysteriously shrunk in the intervening years.
I sent it back to Northern Diver to check that it wouldnt let me down. The company took the precaution of fitting a modern ND rotating inflation and low-profile dump-valve, instead of the rather old-fashioned versions it previously had. Then I went off diving with it.

Donning
First, I had to get used to a neoprene that has largely been replaced in neoprene drysuit construction by a far more flexible and stretchy type. I admit that there was a certain amount of anguish involved in pulling it up over my hips and, once I was suitably encased, I noted that it was quite resistant to running in.
Things have changed in other ways since I first used the Divemaster. Instead of my previous pony-tail, helped through the neck-seal with lashings of baby lotion, my polished pate now slipped through without a struggle. No wonder so many divers favour shaved heads.
The cross-shoulder zip worked as well as ever, a tribute to the way it was lubricated with beeswax before it was packed away.

Efficacy
Once in the water, the heavyweight boots meant that there was no inclination for my feet to float up behind me while I was swimming horizontally, yet they were slim enough to fit easily into my fins.
The slim fit of the suit meant that there were no folds of material to impede progress through the water, so I swam without any perceived resistance. The stiffness I had noted on land seemed to melt away.
The neoprene neck-seal needs to be inverted to form a sort of reverse polo-neck. Its very efficient at stopping air bubbling out and water trickling back in the other way, yet very comfortable. The neoprene wrist-seals, though tight, did tend to let a dribble past the sinewy wrist of the hand that was holding my camera.
Once weighted accurately, I needed to add very little air to keep my overall volume the same as I went deeper, so I had no trouble dumping this air through the auto-dump mounted on the shoulder during my ascents.
Best of all, I actually still looked good in it! It fits like a glove, and could well become my favourite drysuit all over again.
It begs the question, do they still make drysuits like they used to The Northern Diver Divemaster suit is still available.

SPECS
PRICE £500 off the peg, £775 made to measure
MATERIAL Hyper-compressed neoprene
SIZES 15 male, 10 female
INFLATION SYSTEM ND swivel
OPTIONS Fly-relief zip, attached dry hood, internal braces, latex cuff-ring system for dry gloves
CONTACT www.ndiver.com
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