ONE OF THE GENUINE DIVING QUESTIONS most commonly asked on Internet forums concerns which suit might be needed for a particular diving location. Its a question I frequently ask myself while packing for a dive trip, and I only wish I knew the answer.
The latest buzz-word among the purveyors of diving thermal insulation is layering.
I remember when I was kid being told by my mum to wear an extra sweater because it was cold outside. We didnt call this layering - we called it being sensible.
My mum may be long gone, but I remember her words. While I might try to pack a suit that seems on the face of it to be about right, I know that getting chilled during a dive will equate to misery, so I pack something extra that I can wear beneath it if needs be.
I admit it, Im a wimp. Im the one wearing the drysuit in the Red Sea in midwinter, when some hardy souls wear nothing more than the 3mm shortie the fellow in the dive shop told them would be all theyd need for tropical diving.
I usually have too much work to do between dives, such as writing this, to be able to charge up with heat from the sun like a lizard on the sundeck. I need to keep warm.
Over the years, Ive found various answers to what to wear under my wetsuit. The ONeill Thinskins Hyperfreak is the latest Ive tried.
Yes, I know the name is a bit embarrassing, but you could just ask in the shop for one of those ONeill tops, and hold up a picture cut from this magazine.
The manufacturer says the Hyperfreak is made from its most gooey, gumballistic Ultraflex neoprene. You could say its really soft and stretchy. Like so many things in this modern world, its made in China but the marketing is American.
The Hyperfreak can be used for diving but, addressing the much bigger watersports market that includes kite-surfing, windsurfing, surfing, canoeing, water-skiing and the like, ONeill provides a utility pocket together with a draw string so that it can be pulled tight to the body at the hips.
Though a size L, at first glance the garment looked too small for me. But I rolled it on and found that it fitted perfectly, and was soft and comfortable.
I had previously asked my daughters young French teacher to wear it for the pages of this magazine, and it seemed to fit her perfectly too. She is certainly not as big as me, and a darned sight more shapely.
Then I got my wife, who is certainly of very different dimensions to me, to wear it. She fitted it too, despite her chest profile. Such is the Hyperfreaks elasticity, or gumballistic nature.
My wife observed that it was refreshing that the long sleeves were of adequate length, and that the collar felt nice against her throat.
The seams are all stitched in such a way that the garment is silky on the inside. In fact it feels a lot warmer than a thickness of 1.5mm would otherwise indicate.
This product makes an ideal travelling companion for use under another suit, or it could be used when scuba-training in a pool.

Comparable tops to consider:
Oceanic Comfort Skin, £25
Scubapro Hybrid, £53
Chillcheater Long Sleeve Top, £55

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