THE ROWS OF UNDRAPED European sun-worshippers who make a pilgrimage to the shores of the Mediterranean might imply otherwise, but the waters can be quite chilling once you are more than a few metres from the sun-warmed surface.
Preparing to visit Ibiza in June, I wisely packed a drysuit, only to discover that Mares had sent me a 2nd Skin semi-dry combination to write about. It would be a little churlish to leave it behind, I thought, so into my bag went the Mares offering, alongside the previously packed and reliably warm drysuit/undersuit set.
The press release for this new Mares product describes the target-buying-group as any divers who visit the waters of Italy, so I guessed I wouldnt be going too far amiss a little further to the west.

2nd Skin Shorty
Thanks to modern, highly flexible neoprene, a suit can be skin-tight and still be possible to get into. The 2nd Skin lives up to its name.
First I needed to put on the 1.5mm 2nd Skin Shorty. This is quite difficult to slip on, because it has a Metalite inner layer that reflects back body heat and sticks like glue. It has soft neoprene Glide Skin seals at the thighs and neck, and really does fit like a second skin.
With a zip diagonally positioned across the chest, a neck-seal and long Lycra sleeves, the shorty already made me feel quite hot under the Spanish sun.
A little red hood is built in, and despite sounding as if it would make you look like someone off to visit her granny, this can be pulled over the head to make you look a cross between someone from the Spanish Inquisition and a cartoon super-hero. I wore my regular hood on top of this.

2nd Skin Suit
The main suit is a one-piece design that pulls on over the Shorty. It is made from similarly super-flexible 6mm-thick neoprene, and the zip is at the back.
This is one of these modern plastic waterproof zips called a Silver Seal TiZip. It doesnt allow any water to pass. It is also impossible to pull closed on your own, so a dive-buddy must be called into play.
Theres additional padding along the spine, which adds comfort when using one of those modern lightweight BCs that have no hard backpack, and also adds to the insulation.
There are also dual-cone seals integrated within the wrists and ankles to form a barrier to water flushing through. The ankles have zips to help us guys with big feet. Knee-pads of anti-scratch Polyurethane flex with the suit.
The inner surface of the suit is of a plush material that is soft, smooth and said to be durable. The collar has a pressure-relief zip to take the strain off your throat when enduring long RIB rides. Of course, this is pointless if youre using the 2nd Skin in conjunction with the 2nd Skin Shorty, because that has a collar that rests across your throat, and is hard to access once the top layer is in place.
Once I had got both parts on and the zips closed, it really did feel like a second skin. There was certainly precious little room for any water in there with me.
I expected to look heroic, and was disappointed to see in the photographs that I looked anything but. Somehow, it wasnt flattering. Oh, for some super powers!
At least tall, handsome Luigi, who worked for Puntadive and had recently treated himself to the same suit combination, didnt look that cool in his, either.

In The Water
The water close to the island of Ibiza was 16° at a depth of 30m or more during June. This is not very warm. However, I must say that although my hands were perishing cold, other parts of my body seemed to manage very well.
As promised, very little water actually got to me, so any heat loss suffered was through the combined 7.5mm of neoprene.
Did I swiftly swap to my drysuit for following dives Not immediately. I was using twin cylinders that were of a stocky 12 litres and made of steel. This put a lot of weight close to my shoulders.
I was concerned that I might have had trim problems with this set-up in combination with a membrane drysuit. I remembered what had happened when using a Poseidon Discovery that had all its weight lashed high up on a steel backplate earlier in the year. It continually turned me head-down.
So I stayed with the Mares 2nd Skin, and all seemed fine. Provided you can find one to fit you perfectly, for performance, Id give it 10.

COMPARABLE SUITS TO CONSIDER:
Pinnacle Polar 7, £348
Scubapro Nova Scotia 6.5, £339
Fourth Element Proteus 7, £254

SPECS
PRICE £255, shortie £60
SIZES 6 for men
THICKNESS 6mm plus 1.5mm
COLOUR black/grey/red
CONTACT www.mares.com
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