Last night, I had a chance to take the dry suit class with Off the Wall Scuba. They recently got 3 new SeaSoft dry suits in their rental program and I was looking forward to trying them out. I find myself doing a bit of local quarry diving and the idea of a dry suit was looking appealing. But given the cost of a dry suit, I really wanted to try before I buy.
Prior to the class, the only other dry suit I had tried on was the Whites Nexus 3 suit. It was OK. Again, it was my first time in a suit, so I didn’t have much to compare it to. The latex seals seemed a little uncomfortable to me. I later talked to a Whites rep at the DC Dive Show about the suit. I asked him about the maintenance on the seals. He said that they occasionally have to be replaced and to replace the neck and wrist seals were around $350. For someone new to diving who isn’t sure what they will be doing, it seemed like a costly investment.
Then about two weeks ago, Bruce Justinen of SeaSoft did a dry suit presentation at Off the Wall Scuba. I learned a lot about dry suits. I also had the chance to try on SeaSofts suit. I was immediately amazed at how much more comfortable SeaSoft’s suit felt. I also liked the idea of a neoprene suit over a trilam suit for it’s thermal qualities. I only want the dry suit for cold water diving. I’m not interested in one for warmer water. I don’t mind getting wet, it’s the cold that bothers me. I also liked the seals on the suit. They were WAY more comfortable than the latex seals and didn’t look like they would rip or break down as quickly as the latex. But I also wasn’t sure how well they would seal since they didn’t feel like they squeeze you as much as the latex.
As a result of that seminar, Ken was able to get 3 of the dry suits into his rental program. I told Ken that I wanted to be one of the first to try the suit. Last night, I had the opportunity. Myself and two other open water students did the dry suit class. I’ve heard people say that once you go dry, you never go back. I think I can see why.
The suit was very comfortable. Maintaing buoyance control in the water was very easy (given that I only have 10 dives in my log book and I didn’t have any problem at all). The arm mounted vent is really nice and very easy to use. One of the skills you go through is using the vent to quickly purge the air from the suit. Ken took us to the bottom of the pool and held us down while he over inflated the suit a bit. You then had to get the air out within 10 feet of water. If you surfaced, you tried again. He commented before the class that this is sometimes a hard skill to learn. Well, all three of us nailed the exercise the first time. You just easily raise your arm and the valve worked beautifully.
There were really only two "issues" that I had with the suit. None of them were major. The first issue was that the inflator valve sat a bit too close to the chest strap on my BC. I need to see if I can make some adjustments to the BC to correct that or see if SeaSoft can move the inflator when they make the suit. The second issue was that I found if I occasionally made a strange movement with my hands, I would get a tiny amount of water leak in at the wrist. However, these motions usually created a weird trough in my wrist and I think I would have had the leak in any suit I tried. It really wasn’t significant and the motions weren’t things I would normally be doing at depth anyway.
So now I’m really thinking that the dry suit may be the better investment over a 7mm wet suit. I’m looking forward to trying the suit next weekend at the quarry to see how I like it. I’m interested in seeing how much warmer it keeps me than the 7mm wet suit and to see how it feels at depth. Somehow, I think I’m going to really like it!