A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, I was part of a DIVER test team that trekked out to the Egyptian border town of Taba. We took 15 sets of regulators down to 50m twice a day for a week; the water temperature was around 24°C, and after a few days I was feeling the cold – my wetsuit just wasn’t up to the job.
The rest of the team were members of Hertfordshire BSAC, and all three of them wore Oceanic Shadow 5mm wetsuits with a Shadow shorty over the top. I remember thinking that the suits and Buddy BCs they wore looked almost like a uniform marking them out as rufty-tufty British divers, but they certainly stayed warm throughout the project.
I’m quickly getting a reputation for my inability to assess water temperature and exposure protection. I dived in my old 5mm wetsuit in Gozo last year when everyone else was sporting the latest in drysuit technology, and no doubt I’ll be freezing my bits off on the next trip too – or will I
The Oceanic Pioneer Jumpsuit in 5mm superstretch neoprene could be the answer to my dilemma. As with the now-redundant Shadow, if the water’s colder than anticipated it can be built as a system with the addition of a 5mm shorty.
The shorty can be worn over the full wetsuit and will give a total of 10mm of snug warm neoprene covering your important parts. Just remember to add some more lead to your weightbelt as your buoyancy increases.

The Design
The Pioneer is constructed using liquid seal technology on the outer seams, which are hollow blind-stitched internally with small stress discs at the joints for strength and durability.
The inside of the suit has a plush thermal lining that makes getting in and out of it a doddle, and adds to the thermal properties. Clever little sealing skirts at the forearms and calves are designed to minimise water- flushing, and a double-seal zipper flap with a substantial velcro neck closure will help in this endeavour too.
O-ring wrist and ankle seams finish off a sealing system that’s designed to keep you warm. The whole suit is super-stretchy, so should fit a variety of body forms. It will also fit where it touches, which in my case was everywhere!
The chest panel is made from an anti-abrasion wear-resistant material. High-grip printed knee, elbow and shoulder areas complete the package.

In the Water
“I’ve probably got this wrong again,” I thought, as I entered the chilly summer waters of Berkshire’s River Kennet at dusk, following a scalding hot and humid day.
I was intending to photograph barbel, which would require at least an hour’s submersion.
I had put the full suit and shorty on and was feeling pretty hot as I entered the river. My teeth were gritted in anticipation of that cold flush of water down my spine as it flooded through the suit – but surprisingly, it didn’t happen.
A slow migration is the best way to describe it, and it felt pretty good, too, slowly bringing my body temperature back to normal.
Despite being heavily clad in thick rubber, my movements didn’t feel restricted and I could go about my business with ease.
The only criticism I can make is that the knee sections would benefit from higher-wear pads to prolong the life of this suit.
An hour searching the riverbed for barbel flashed by, and not once did I think: “I’m getting too cold to continue the dive”.
However, my hands felt frozen – you’ve got it, I wasn’t wearing gloves. Will I ever learn

SPECS
PRICE 5mm Men’s Jumpsuit, £220. 5mm Shorty, £132, available as a set for £346.49. Ladies’ Jumpsuit £215, but set price the same.
SIZES Male: S, M, M/L, L, XL, XXL. Female: XS, S, M, M/L, L, XL. The system is also available with a 3mm jumpsuit and shorty.
CONTACT www.oceanicuk.com
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