Scuba Dry Suits
1 reviews from the community
Review of "Otter Drysuit"
After a year of UK diving in a wetsuit and spending a lot of time shivering, not able to feel my fingers and running to the car to sit with the heating on full for a hour, I decided it was time to invest in a drysuit.The main choice in buying a drysuit is deciding between a neoprene or membrane type suit. Different divers prefer different things and advise varies depending on who you are talking to.
A neoprene suit is generally cheaper and provides more insulation. A neoprene suit however can be restrictive for movement as it is typically a lot thicker than a membrane and it can be too hot in summer. The neoprene also compresses as you go deeper and therefore changes your bouyancy (a bit of physics there - the amount of lift of an object in water is proportional to the volume of water displaced) this can mean fiddling about with how much air is in your jacket or suit. You can get crushed or compressed neoprene suits which do not compress so mch underwater.A membrane suit is much thinner and is used wearing a thermal undersuit for insulation (basically a body shaped sleeping bag). As they are thinner they are easier to move in and more flexible. They don't compress so do not affect bouyancy at depth. Disadvantages include a lack of protection against cold if the suit floods (neoprene will act like a wetsuit), repairs are expensive and the suit itself costs more.
After weighing up the pros and cons and talking with divers in my club and the local dive shop I opted for a membrane suit which seemed like the more recent technology and I liked the idea of being able to move a bit more underwater.
The Otter Skin MK 2The otter skin Mk 2 is a mid-range membrane drysuit, a lot of features are optional extras and I will stick try to stick to the ones I chose. It consists of a full suit with built in rubber boots, wrist seals, neck seal, entry zip, relief/vent valve, air inlet and some pockets. The suit is made form otterskin which appears to be a secret material.
I had mine custom made as the local dive shop offered a free fitting service where they measured all my dimensions and sent them off to the factory. The whole process took around a month for the drysuit to be deivered, but the fit was perfect and I'd highly recommend going for the custom made version as it doesn't cost extra.Many of the features can be custom fitted where you want them.
I chose to have the vent valve (this is used to release air from the suit as you ascend) on the left shoulder as this is where I usually vent air from when diving with a jacket only. The valve is easy to operate and works by rotating clockwise or anticlockwise to release or seal the valve. As you ascend you raise your shoulder to make it the highest point and air wil disperse through the one way valve.I set the air inlet valve in the centre of my chest, rather than to one side, as this gives me more flexibility to change my set up at a later date.
One pocket comes included with the suit and I placed this on my right leg for storing knives, torches and other equipment when needed. You can opt for a second pocket on the other leg too, but it costs extra so I didn't bother.You can choose between latex or neoprene wrist seals. Both have a risk of leaking and tearing or corroding so there is little difference. I found that a neoprene neck seal is more comfortable so opted for that. The man in the shop asked me to tense my wrist and if a bump off veins show (which it did) told me that latex seals will work better, so I went for latex wrist seals.
The Zip is across the shoulder blades on the otter MK2. Other manufactures offer a front entry across the chest, which means you can do the zip without a partner. As I always dive with other people this disn;t bother me too much. The sip is brass (I think) and seals tightly to stop water etting in. It is quite stiff and needed a lot of wax to get it running smoothly. A secondary zip goes over the top for protecting the main zip. I don;t really see the use in this as the zip shouldn't corrrode anyway.Inside the suit are a set of shoulder braces which mean you can wear the lower half of the suit and leave the top half hanging. These make it a bit of a tangle to get into but are a useful feature.
You can add a pee valve, for when your bladder reaches emergency levels but I didn't bother and haven't had to surface covered in urine yet.I also bought the otter undersuit as part of a package. This is effectivley a sleeping bag which has a zip down the front of your chest. It is also custom made and fits well. It's fleece lined and very warm.
The srysuit is very easy to use. The valves work well and the connection to an air hose fits perfectly. The material is robust and hardwearing and the inbuilt knee pads strenghten the usual area to break first.I have used this suit around the UK for about 20 dives so far, the coldest so far being a water temperature of 3 degrees celcius. On that dive my body stayed warm and only my hands and feet froze as I still use standard wetsuit gloves and a hood (Dry gloves may be my next investment).
As the seals age, it is likley that I will get some leakage into the neck and seals, but this is usual and after a year of diving I haven't suffered any yet.
PriceAs mentioned above I got a free custom measurement. On the otter website this is currently £83, however I beleve if you shopped around you could find a dive shop offering free fitting. the suit itself cost me around £750 and the undersuit around £90. Whilst not the cheapest drysuit around, Otter are highly respected and I can feel the quality of manufacture that has been put into the suit. This price may seem expensive, but it falls well below technical diving gear where a drysuit can cost thousands. For not freezing my balls off it's a price worth paying.
A superb suit that keeps me warm, is well made and very adjustable. If you are a diver, get one! I'm yet to try a dinner jacket under it in full james bond style, but I may well give it a go one day.
Product Information : Otter Drysuit
Manufacturer's product descriptionScuba Dry Suits
Long Name: Drysuit
Genre: Scuba Diving
Type: Scuba Dry Suits
Listed on Ciao since: 28/11/2005