Let me just begin by saying that I’m not a cold-water diver. So a recent trip to the Azores, where water temperatures were hovering in the low-60s F (16 C), had me worried that I’d freeze to death before I actually got the chance to see anything on a dive. I decided to dial my exposure protection up to the next level. Wearing a 5 mm farmer John wetsuit along with a 5 mm hooded bodysuit over the top of it, my core had 10 mm of neoprene protection. But something was missing, and that’s where the Lavacore women’s L/S shirt came in.
I put the garment on under the farmer John, and then put the bodysuit over the top, effectively giving myself another 2 mm of thermal protection. With a stretchy fleece lining, the shirt helped keep me warm at the surface, too. It’s warm without being too bulky, and I was able to easily pull on the full wetsuit top over it. The thumb loops in particular came in handy here. You can also tighten the shirt at the bottom with a drawstring loop pull.
The shirt’s got three layers: the outer layer is made of flexible, neutrally buoyant, water-repellent, hypo-allergenic neoprene. It’s stretchy, too, so you shouldn’t have any problem putting it on. Word to the wise, however: the shirt runs a bit small, so order a size up if you’ve got anything larger than an A-cup. The middle layer is windproof but breathable, which means it’ll help protect you against the wind and will also wick moisture away from the body, an essential feature in a scuba undergarment. The inner, fleecy layer shares the wicking properties. It’s also antibacterial so it won’t get stinky. It’s also machine washable, which will take care of any lingering odors that may occur after a week’s diving.
Lavacore Women’s Long-Sleeved Shirt
- Neutrally buoyant
- Extra protection from the cold, both over and underwater
- Thumb loop for easy donning (and it stays in place under a full wetsuit)
- Soft fleece lining makes it more comfortable
- Although it’s water-repellent, the same fleece lining takes a while to dry out
- Runs small. Order one size bigger than you think you need, especially if you’ve got a large chest.
Overall, I thought the shirt was great — it added a layer of warmth underwater and at the surface. It didn’t dry out as quickly as I’d like at the surface, but it was perfect under heavier thermal protection, and would also be great alone under the farmer John in warmer water.