A new take on a warm-water wetsuitI recently tested the Everflex C-Zip 3/2mm wetsuit from Scubapro, which is also available in a 5/4mm version.
The most significant change in this suit is the method of entry. Abandoning the traditional back zip, this suit instead features a wide neck opening, which rotates open and closed. The diver pulls a neck cover over his or her head, which then zips closed across the chest. The design makes the suit much lighter than traditional wetsuits, as the zipper is often a large portion of a wetsuit’s total weight, especially in warm-water suits such as this one.
With a design inspired by surfing wetsuits, Scubapro says this suit will keep a diver warmer than a suit of equal insulation with a back zip, and allow for greater maneuverability. Other features include Glideskin cuffs on ankles and wrists for easier donning and doffing, and I-Safe straps on both wrists, allowing divers to secure watches, computers or compasses.
The first thing I noticed was the suit’s lightweight nature. When I checked my gear at the airport it was six pounds below the limit, which was at least a few pounds lighter than usual.
I spent a week diving the Red Sea in this suit, with water temperatures in the low 80s, though the night dives were cooler and one early morning dive was only 70 degrees. Never did the suit seem too cold, which is impressive considering its thickness. Whether this insulation is due to the C-Zip opening or the wetsuit’s material I don’t know, but overall the wetsuit kept me warm.
The novel opening takes a bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, getting in and out of it was far easier than other wetsuits I’ve had. Whether it allows for more maneuverability is hard for me to say, as I always dive with a back plate and wing setup, and the aluminum plate means that my torso is somewhat fixed.
The suit’s thin material also means that a diver will need fewer weights. In fact, in spite of the Red Sea’s high salinity, I dove without any additional weight. The weight of my tank was more than enough to allow me to descend.
All in all, this is a very promising design, and the new C-Zip opening works quite well. The thin material on the arms and legs, where the suit is only 2mm (compared to 3mm on the torso), means that you’ll need to be somewhat careful when putting it on to avoid tearing it. Unless you’re completely enamored with traditional back-zip wetsuits, this new design is well worth considering as a warm-water wetsuit.