So you’re a drysuit diver, but you’ve been using wet gloves. And now, maybe because you’re moving into colder water diving, or maybe just because you’re tired of numb fingers when you surface, you’re looking to move into dry gloves. The easiest option is the ring-attachment quick-dry glove type, as produced by a number of manufacturers. Here we’ll take a closer look at one of these, SI Tech’s Quick Gloves.
How does it work?
The system is deceptively simple: a spanner ring is fitted inside both the gloves and the sleeve of the drysuit, and the cuff is placed in the outside. The tension between the cuff and the spanner ring creates a watertight seal; the cuffs attach to each other, and thereby attach the gloves to the suit. A large O-ring creates a seal between these two.
What’s in the box?
I tested the Quick Glove, part of the SI Tech range of Dry Glove Systems. Inside the box are all the necessities for mounting the system to both gloves and the drysuit. It contains an assortment of rings in various sizes, all color-coded, so you can choose the size that fits your glove and suit. Also included are the cuffs themselves, which are one size-fits-all. A small bag of accessories contains an extra set of O-rings for the cuffs, some lubrication for them and two small rubber tubes, which are to be placed under the drysuit latex seals to ensure that air can move between the suit and the glove to help with equalization. Gloves and liners are not included, and must be purchased separately.
Mounting the system
I’ll be honest: getting the rings and cuffs in place isn’t easy. I spent almost 45 minutes getting them in place, and even managed to break one of the rings in the process (there are spares in the box). There’s no real trick to getting things right (that I found, at least); it’s just a matter of messing around with it until they have a secure, straight fit, without too many creases and folds in the glove or seal material between the spanner and cuff. Excessive creases can let in water, so make sure everything is reasonably smooth. Get it wrong, and the only thing to do is start over. But once the system is in place, it does seem to fit very securely. There really isn’t any need for shop assistance; patient divers can mount these cuffs themselves.
Donning the gloves
Getting into my drysuit was a bit trickier than usual, as the cuffs were fixed and didn’t allow me to stretch my seals as much as I normally do to get my hands through — maybe this will make my seals last longer. But a bit of wiggling, and I was in. Putting on my BCD was also a bit more cumbersome, especially as I dive with a tech setup and the non-adjustable chest straps were a bit tricky to get the cuffs through. But it wasn’t too bad, and soon I was ready to put the gloves on. Don the Quick Gloves by first putting them on and then squeezing the cuff together to form a seal. Other systems use a bayonet mount, and honestly, I’d have felt more secure with one of those. But once I got the hang of how to wiggle them into place, I was ready to go.
Diving with the system
My first dive was a 50 percent success, in that one of my gloves stayed dry and toasty, while the other flooded immediately, and the equalization tube proceeded to let the water seep into the rest of my drysuit. My only choice was to suspend the dive after only a few minutes, and even then, my entire right arm was soaked.
My dive buddies and I inspected the setup, and decided the problem was most likely the cuff, which must have been crooked and hadn’t formed a seal, most likely because I didn’t squeeze it together the right way.
After drying out I made another dive, having mounted the gloves a bit more carefully this time, and that seemed to do the trick. Both hands stayed dry and warm in the 50-degree water. I was wearing a thin, waterproof glove and a medium-thick liner, and was fine throughout our 1-hour dive. Equalizing the gloves on descent is easy; simply raise your hands above shoulder level for a few seconds. On ascent you simply lower them below chest level. Tactile sensitivity is dependent on the type of glove and liner you choose, but my setup didn’t reduce mine noticeably; on the contrary, my fingers didn’t go numb near the end of the dive as they often do.
Removing the gloves in this system requires you to screw a ring towards the cuff, which then pushes the two sides of the cuff apart, allowing you remove the gloves. Turning it can require some force, but I wasn’t worried that it might overstretch and break parts of the mount or my suit. But it didn’t pose any problem on these two dives, at least.
My test dives showed that, like with any new piece of equipment, this glove system also comes with a learning curve. Mounting and dismounting isn’t difficult, but does require a few tries to get right. Once you nail it, though, the system works tremendously, and is very user-friendly. And for someone like me, who experiences numbness and pain if my fingers get too cold, due to an old frostbite injury, these gloves are a treat. Mounting the system for the first time can, as mentioned, be a bit labor intensive, but nothing too cumbersome. The Quick Glove is definitely worthwhile if you dive cold waters.