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Whilst the primary job of any good diving wetsuit is to give you thermal protection against the cooler water it should also offer protection against the sun, abrasion and stinging marine life. Choosing a top quality wetsuit may be a bit more expensive but the reward in terms of comfort, flexibility, durability and seal quality is definitely worth it.
Perhaps you only dive a few weeks a year when you head off on your holidays and can't decide whether getting your own wetsuit is a good idea or continue diving in a rental suit? As with buying any of your own diving gear, your own wetsuit will fit you better, you'll know the seals fit well for reduced water flushing, you know how it has been cared for and its condition. Using your own wetsuit is by far the better option.
So, which ones are the best. Well, there are countless options out there with models coming in a range of thicknesses and styles but here are our top suggestions.
The Scubapro Nova Scotia is a step up from the normal wetsuit by bridging the gap between the wetsuit and the drysuit. The Nova Scotia uses a shoulder to shoulder dry zip which prevents any water seeping in. Other wetsuits may use baffle layers over their zip to minimise water ingress but a dry zip is only true way of eliminating it.
The glideskin seals and blindstitched Everflex neoprene panels make the Nova Scotia comfortable to wear in waters down as far as 7°C, making it perfectly usable for the diving season in the UK.
The Fourth Element Xenos wetsuit range is available in 3mm and 5mm variants with shorty and full length suit options. The Xenos line was designed to offer an advanced fit using the highest quality stretch neoprene available.
Intended more for the liveaboard holiday, the Xenos was developed to be easy to get on and off and to dry quickly between dives, making it much more comfortable to get back on ready for your next dive.
The Waterproof W30 is a 2.5mm thick wetsuits that is perfect for warm, tropical destinations and comes in full steamer and shorty variants. Waterproof is well known for their excellent quality, ergonomic cut and superb fit, making them efficient at keeping you warm.
The W30 is part of a 'sports' line which means it can be paired with G30 gloves, H30 hood and S30 socks for perfectly matching styling and it is also compatible with the Waterproof WPAD for convenient thigh mounted storage.
The Scubapro Everflex is a diverse range of wetsuits designed to accommodate everything from tropical diving to cooler UK diving. With suits in the 3mm, 5mm and 7mm there should be something to suit most diving situations.
Whilst the specification obviously changes with the neoprene thickness the styling remains constant throughout. The thinner 3mm suit sports a convenient front entry zip whilst the thicker 5mm and 7.5mm suits have a rear zip, neck comfort zips at the front and zippered seals at wrist and ankles.
The neoprene used in the Everflex line is ultra stretchy but also meets very strict P.A.H. (Polycyclic AromaticHydrocarbons) test requirements to help protect divers and the environment.
The Fourth Element Hydroskin Full Suit isn't a thermal suit like a neoprene wetsuit and is designed more to protect your skin against harmful UV rays, stinging marine life and abrasion.
The Hydroskin range is intended for use in tropical waters that are lovely and warm, places where you are much more likely to get sun burn than cold. That being said, another great use for the Hydroskin suit is as a base layer beneath a wetsuit. The ultra smooth fabric, thumb loops and ankle stirrups make sliding into a thicker wetsuit much easier and more comfortable to wear.
The Waterproof W4 range of wetsuits is available in either 5mm or 7mm thick full length suits designed for cooler climates. These suits are expertly designed and crafted as expected from Waterproof.
Attention to detail and comfort are always high prioritises when Waterproof develop a wetsuit. 3D anatomical panels with pre-bent arms and legs provide a more natural fit whilst features such as a neck comfort zip, high quality seals, computer strap anchors and a WPAD dock sets the W4 above the competition.
The Fourth Element Proteus II wetsuit range comes in 3mm and 5mm full length suits and offers a sleek and comfortable fit combined with excellent thermal protection.
The Proteus II uses some key design features to minimise water ingress (flushing of cold water) and maximise heat retention including the legendary hydrolock inner neck seal, large glideskin panels at the wrist, a Thermoflex lining throughout the entire suit and an extra layer of Hexcore lining over the body core. Seams are also double glued, blindstitched and then taped to prevent water seeping in or out.
As with most Fourth Element wetsuits, the Proteus II comes in both male and female cuts and a staggering range of sizes.
The Waterproof W5 is the latest additional to their wetsuit line up and is tailored towards the warm water diver. The 3.5mm thick neoprene has a high stretch rating that allows the suit to fit snuggly without restricting freedom of movement.
Of course the W5 is fitted with an array of high quality features including a comfort neck zip for between dives, flowguards in the arms and legs to restrict water flushing, anti-slip to arms, shoulders and seat areas, DuraTex reinforcement over the knees and elbows and the option to fit a WPAD pocket for thigh mounted storage.
If you are after a warm water wetsuit the W5 is a definite must-have.
The Fourth Element Thermocline One Piece Suit isn't your typical wetsuit. For starters it isn't made of neoprene! Thermocline suits are absolutely perfect for tropical conditions and lend themselves really well for travelling.
The material they are made from is lightweight and, unlike neoprene, can be rolled or folded tightly for space-saving when packing. The garment is windproof, waterproof and breathable to keep you dry and warm during surface intervals and neutral buoyant so you'll need to carry less weight whilst diving.
Conveniently, the fabric is also machine-washable. Put it on a low temperature wash and you won't have any issues with odour build-up like neoprene is susceptible to. The Thermocline range includes a huge choice of other garments as well.
The Sharkskin Chillproof Suit is another popular neoprene alternative which uses a triple layer material comprising a stretchy abrasion resistant nylon/lycra layer on the outside, a windproof technical middle layer and a hollow yarn fleece inner layer for a soft and comfortable finish.
As well as being stretchy and abrasion resistant, the outer layer is also water repellent so helps to shed water. As with the Fourth Element Thermocline, the Sharkskin is neutrally buoyant, fast drying and offers a high sun protection factor as well.
Again, there are many styles of garments in the Sharkskin range to suit a wide range of situations and preferences.
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