Wraysbury Dive Centre has its own such lake, conveniently positioned close to west London. The people are nice, the parking is easy and they trust me enough to give me the run of the place. What a pity they can’t find some way of warming up the water in mid-winter.
You know that feeling. You’re wrapped up warm and dry inside your drysuit with a really good layer of insulation, and then you hit the water and the cold reality of it hits the exposed part of your face and your hands.
So you either opt for dry gloves, which give you all the dexterity of Amir Khan ready for work, or suffer the chill as the water finds its way into a pair of neoprene wet gloves.
So when Jim Standing of Fourth Element sent me a pair of his 4mm neoprene Thermoflex mitts to try, the promise with which they came appeared to be a godsend.

Some say that what separates us from the great apes is the ability fully to touch forefinger and thumb. These warm, thick mitts have separate forefinger and thumb, while the rest of the fingers are allowed to huddle together, keeping warm. Being able to touch forefinger and thumb allows us to do most of the things we need to do under water.
They are a tight fit, and they are of such a flexible material that they almost keep the water out. Well, it certainly doesn’t flush through them. I needed someone to hold them while I forced my hands into them, but once properly donned I felt that I was simply wearing gloves – not dry gloves but damp gloves.
The difference was that in the exceptionally cold water that Wraysbury Dive Centre had kindly provided for the test, my hands stayed warm.
In fact I cut short the dive more out of boredom than discomfort – after all, I’d seen all the “attractions” many times before.
I’m told that these mitts can also be used with conventional woolly glove-liners. I didn’t try that and I have to say that the pair I had in XL had no room for my slim hands (they’ve never seen a day’s hard work in their lives) plus anything else.
The thought of wearing soggy cold gloves after exiting the water is not appealing.
The one mistake I made was that in attempting rather unsuccessfully to free my feet from very close-fitting fins, I took off one mitt, thinking I would get a better grip on the fin’s bungee-strap.
It was at that moment that I remembered just how cold the water was, and memories of childhood, making and throwing snowballs with bare hands in the school playground, came flooding painfully back.
Half an hour wearing mitts with no problem contrasted dramatically with 30 seconds barehanded groping in the shallow water to get my fins off.

Waterproof G1 7mm, £42
Fourth Element Mitt 7mm, £38
O’Three EC Mitt 5mm, £30

CONTACT www.fourthelement.com
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