WE DIVING EQUIPMENT REVIEWERS live on the edge. It’s not that an untried regulator might cease to function when we’re more than a quick swim from the surface, nor that a new diving computer has an algorithm guaranteed to see us getting a free ride in a helicopter. It’s the feeling of trepidation, even dread, that we get when we pull a new drysuit out of its box. Why?

It’s not a fear of that inevitable wet patch that forms around the chest because we failed to check that the inflation valve was screwed in sufficiently tightly.
It’s not even the worry that the suit might fill up with water, so that we need to maintain buoyancy with a BC while we shiver our way back to the surface.
It’s the fact that, in the past, we’ve found ourselves alone at home, trapped half in and half out of a drysuit that proved not to fit, and had to decide between calling the boys with the yellow helmets and the big red lorry or enlisting the help of an unsuspecting postman. Such experiences leave lasting mental wounds.
Suffice to say, my post always gets delivered on time, and usually with a knowing smile.
I took the precaution of getting an ex-fire-fighter to stand by when I first tried on the Seac Overdry. Nigel Wade, famed for his performance while attending the big fire at Windsor Castle (he consumed more Big Macs than any other fireman) feigned surprise at the way I just slipped into it and out of it again, whereas I was simply relieved.

The Suit
The Overdry is made from 3.5mm neoprene, although the material felt much thicker. It uses lots of panels to offer a good anatomical shape.
These panels look beautifully stitched, glued and covered on the inside with neoprene tape, and the material is quite stretchy, hence the ease with which I could don it. The stitching would pass inspection by any Savile Row tailor.
The use of both grey and black in the design gives a slimming effect and, goodness knows, some of us need that.
A rotating SiTech inflation valve sits at the centre of the chest, and Seac has chosen to fit the type with the sideways push to operate.
A low-profile auto dump or “constant-volume” valve is positioned high on the shoulder.
The seat has a non-slip finish, and the undersides of the forearms are reinforced with flexible heavy-denier nylon. A heavy-duty BDM cross-shoulder zip is protected by a flap of material that covers it, and is held in place by clever design rather than the addition of any Velcro.
Inside the suit, there are no rough edges to snag. The internal braces are attached with fittings that are flush; the valves have smooth coverings. The material has a jersey-like finish, again helping me to slide in and out so easily.
It was very satisfying.
The conical wrist-seals are of a generous length and made with Smoothskin, so my hands simply glided through.
It was the same with the slippery neoprene neck-seal. Even my big head passed through it in a moment. The seal is then inverted in on itself to give a water-to-air barrier.
There’s a sleek thigh-mounted pocket. It’s not big enough to take much more than a rolled-up DSMB, but it has a tethered D-ring within it and the pocket flap is kept securely closed by a generous helping of Velcro.

The Hood
The hood is excellent. It slips on easily and has a valve at the top so that no exhaled air gets trapped inside it to give the wearer that pointy-headed look.
It’s just long enough, and doesn’t have that extra bit that so many other hoods have, the bit that is intended to tuck under your BC but in fact turns up during the dive and leaves the wearer looking as if he’s wearing a Tudor ruff.

In Use
The only reservation I have is with the sock-ends. These don’t fit easily into a Rock-boot, but neither are they a finished example of footwear with a hardwearing sole. They are simply heavy neoprene socks with a toughened underside.
I can only muse that the designers of the suit imagined a user diving from a hardboat, donning the suit just before diving and climbing straight out of it on leaving the water.
Walking about on the gravel and wooden floorboards covered in chicken wire at the Wraysbury Dive Centre, I was concerned that I could easily puncture the suit through the soles, and amused onlookers by combining them with a natty pair of black Birkenstock plastic sandals.
Apart from this possible fragility, I was very comfortable wearing the suit while not diving. Its flexibility allowed me to get on with complex operations such as rigging a pair of cylinders to side-mount them. It was so soft and spongy that at times I felt I was inside a warm marshmallow.
The most important aspect of any drysuit is that it fits properly, and this one fitted me. It then has to keep the water out, which this one also did.
This sort of suit would be ideal for taking on a liveaboard trip to the Egyptian Red Sea in spring before the water has warmed up, when those misinformed people who thought they’d need only a shortie are missing dives simply because they have turned a pale shade of blue. It’s available at a very reasonable price, too.

COMPARABLE DRYSUITS TO CONSIDER:
Scubapro Everdry 4, £612
Typhoon Neo 3, £679

SPECS
PRICE £475 inc. hood, hose etc
SIZES 6 (S-XXXL)
MATERIAL 3.5mm neoprene
CONTACT www.blandfordsubaqua.co.uk
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