The Design
The Sector I had on test was the 5mm version, a minimalist suit built from O’Neill’s super-stretchy Ultraflex DS Neoprene.
The seams have been kept to a minimum and are blind-stitched, then sealed with a urethane strip on the outside. This is designed to give a flexible but watertight seal, and the maker calls this an “Exterior Fluid Seam Weld”.
The suit features a back-zip fitted with an interior neoprene shield and has a standard nylon webbing pull-cord to aid zipping or unzipping. The neck has a Glideskin section in a shiny neoprene rubber designed and placed for an optimal seal to reduce water ingress and consequent flushing.
The ankle- and wrist-seals employ the same Glideskin material but it’s rolled into an O-ring at the cuffs, again to reduce water flow. To assist in the warmth department the torso area has a short-pile fleece material lining, which O’Neill calls its Firewall insulation.
The knees are protected from abrasion with the addition of tough yet flexible “Krypto Knee Padz”, and a single key-pocket and tasteful screenprinted livery complete the Sector.
It comes in no fewer than 17 sizes, including short versions in the popular M, L and XL sizes (hoorah!).

In Use
After donning the Sector on the boat, for the first time in what seemed like many years I felt secure that my choice of exposure protection actually matched the water conditions.
To my embarrassment I’m normally seen struggling with a drysuit when sensible divers are in shorties, or risking hypothermia in a rash-vest and shorts when a 7mm suit would be far the more sensible option.
That feeling of self-satisfaction soon evaporated after 10 minutes’ standing fully kitted up in the blazing sun. Waiting for the skipper to position the boat had me cooking like a boil-in-the-bag portion of rice.
On entry I expected to receive immediate relief as the cool waters bathed me and seeped into the now very warm interior of the suit. I was proved wrong.
The suit seams and seals lived up to their waterproof rating, leaving me no option but to pull the neck-seal away from my skin to facilitate a big inrush of water.
The shock was immediate but so was the reprieve from the heated inner sections of the Sector. Note to self: “Stay in the shade right up to the last second before jumping off the boat”.
The 5mm Ultraflex DS Neoprene is actually quite spongy, resulting in an increase in the amount of weight needed to get the suit (and me) under water. I actually had to add 3kg more lead than normal to my weightbelt.
That done, however, the O’Neill was a pleasure to dive in, proving to be one of the most flexible 5mm suits I’ve taken diving.
The neoprene was so stretchy that my movements were unrestricted, and I was able to perform every task with ease.
I’m also pleased to be able to report that the suit was a perfect match for the Red Sea’s water temperature and, after my teething problems, kept my body toasty-warm without any further cooking for three one-hour dives a day for a whole week.

Proof of the longevity of this suit is the fact that Elite Diving’s instructor and guide Alec Jones (pictured) has, like other dive professionals in this area, been using the Sector 5mm for well over two years. His suit has seen out some 1500 dives and, though a bit scruffy around the edges, still looks in good condition.
Most importantly, it continues to maintain a seal, and keeps his core temperature stable throughout his daily underwater activities.
The neoprene has compressed a little because of the number of pressure changes to which it has been subjected but Alec tells me it’s as flexible and comfortable as the day he purchased it.
For the record, the 5mm Sector I was sent to test was a size XLS. This equates to wide and short, and fitted my rotund profile perfectly.

PRICE £200
TYPE Back-zip full suit
MATERIAL 5mm Ultraflex DS neoprene
KNEEPADS Reinforced Krypto Knee Padz
POCKETS One internal key-pocket
SIZES 17, from 2XS to 4XL with three “short” options