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Resident Serbian Sniper
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Alright,before we start let me make one thing clear that has really struck me.I think that at times we can read about a bit of kit,that we own,on a forum.It may get a slagging off and we then begin to wonder if we're using the Devil's toothbrush or something.Thing is,even if other people slate it,if it works for you and you have no problems with it,don't worry because someone else does'nt rate it..even if it's the Pope!
Right,handbag swung back here we go!Many here may have heard/discussed suits with me before,as then all I can do is recount my experiences.
I got my suit by "accident".I was tring to pull a fast one and the only reason I got measured up etc.for the ND one was that I thought I could get it for free(the Old Man warned me then not to bother with it but...).Even then it would've been too bloody dear!Fort Bill used to have their suits supplied by ND for comm.courses.If you bought one through Fort Bill while on your course you got a discount.Now my mate lived near ND so he went to be measured etc.before he started his course(with Fort Bill's blessing),collected his suit and went to do his course.Fort Bill were then going to invoice him..and did'nt.So,living nearby I thought I'd try it.Did'nt work,cost me £500 odd quid (then)for 1 MTM(must've been for John Merrick,certainly was'nt modelled on me),commercial grade(shite,rock hard)8mm neoprene suit.1st mistake they'd made was to put a cuff dump on it,which was a no-no and they'd been told not to put it on initially.Instead of replacing the sleeve,they put a bloody big O ring on it which was great for catching on everything in sight till I removed it.The kevlar knee pads(Fisher Price grade)wore through after 2 weeks work.The suit felt really stiff but "I thought" it'd loosen up..mmm.The fit was'nt excellent but I thought it was me and that commercial suits must be diffeent to rec.type ones.
From the outset it leaked,the cheap nasty Apeks suit inflation valve failed 3 times in 6 months,usually with spectacular results but a sod when you're trying to work.(I cured that by fitting a Si Tech)
Other leaks abounded however,but I was working 6 days a week and could'nt get it back to them.The wrist seals were appaling and leaked with glee at the slightest wrist movement,even the use of Greys did'nt stop it.When I got it back to them they reluctantly agreed to replace the wrist seals,altough they disputed the age of the suit (but it had worked every day for 5 months and we'd been concreting to).
It still leaked and it was more than inconvienient,they'd "pressure tested" it when repaired and assured me it was OK..it was'nt.We eventually tested it properly,by turning it inside out and filling it with water.It leaked all down the spine,I pulled the hot glue cover off the seam to discover that only the stitching and a small amount of glue on thre outside of the joint was holding it together.I repaired it myself and it was Ok till the crutch and under arm joints began to fail,them I just aqua-sure'd it.
The suit remained as stiff as an old cadaver,and the main zip had also failed to free up despite loving attention,my super reckoned the zip was a 2nd of some sort after trying to give it the benefit of some 40 yrs experience.It eventually failed on a job.
I actually wrote to Mike Armitage(the owner) about it,nicely actually,as I remember going to ND as a kid with the Old Man when it was a little terraced shop.I got no reply or response to phone calls.
I noticed others' had problems with theirs' which were taken for granted.Most had them as they got them as a discount with Fort Bill.That stopped when Fort Bill dropped them and started testing Helly Hansens(Oban Divers)suits,I don't know what they use now.I'd been warned by others not to get one,but as it was p[ossibly for free.My ,mate was so appalled by mine he bought a Viking rec.suit (£70 from Diving and Marine Services in Urmston)which was superb.On some jobs more experienced divers had Poseidon unisuits which also seemed very good,there were also some O 3's starting to be used and they were good too.
So that's it,I've known a few who have had no probs with their ND suits,but I know far many more who've had experiences like mine.I certainly think there's better around for the money,especially now,in terms of service,materials fit etc.
I 've still got it,I use it for gassing Badgers.Seriously among my mates(both of em!)ND is not regarded highly at all,in fact it's a standing joke.I go thee for glue though,they pull faces when you ask for "enough to repair one of your suits".I know,in hindsight certainly I should'nt have accepted it in the 1st place or insisted on a replacement.I'm older now,and a little bit wiser.Despite experienced people warning me off I was reassured by their reputation,personally,it was a mistake.
Ahem,hope this helps!Hobby.
 

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Likewise not wanting to get into protracted kit debates, but this is my two cents worth:
I bought my ND *mm Neo suit cos that was what everyone was recommending at the time (I'd  just joined the club as a novice and had no experience of diving or kit plus the club had arranged for ND to visit and measure up). MTM was reccommended - a bad idea as there is barely room for a decent fleece underneath, however except in deepest winter I found it warm enough. Main zip - no probs whatsoever to date, nor with the pee-zip. leaking inlet valve - yes, April in Loch Fyne brrrr......, that WAS a pain. Leak in one leg/boot which resulted in DWH replacing the boots - apparently a common occurence they said. Neck and wrist seals fine, better than my current Otter Hammerhead wrist and neck seals.

In retrospect, I would have bought a membrane - but you know how it is when its all new, you go with the recommendations of those who have experience, however £350 inc pee zip and no problems until the suit was 2 years old so I feel I can't really complain too much.
Chee-az
Steve
 

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A short fat well off crap cave diver. Likes wrecks
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I have an Otterskin Membrain suit that I picked up second hand for £250. It was fantastic. Then at lundy after about 60 dives in my posesion it leeked. The cause was the boots which were welly type. They kind of fell apart and leeked every where. The wrist seel was also snaged and split on the last day so I sent it up to Otter for new seels and boots. When it went it had thin laytex seels that were very comfortable. Whilst Otter had it they sent me the good news that the zip was leaking. This was a surprise as it had never leaked before but the presure test aparently showed up a leek. So new boots, new seels and a new zip. 230 quid later it was back in my TLC. Boots were great, nufortunatly that was about all you could say. The wrist and kneck seels looked suitable for a child and sure enough I couldent breath when I put it on and had to cut about an inch off the kneck seel. My hands went knumb first dive and I had to cut about an inch (yes an inch) off the cuff seels to eventualy allow blood to flow. The cutting of the kneck seel was dificult and the edge ended up more raggid than I would have liked and guess what. It split and leeked on the third dive.

I fear my wrist sels will suffer a similar fate as the edge on them isnt perfict and a small fault line can cause a big failure.

The cause of all this is the 2mm thick seels they are so tough (and way to small). The old seels were thinner more comfortable and had never been trimmed.  

Oh yes my old zip was the talk of the club the way it glided open and closed. The new zip involves two stong men and a pair of plyers to get to work.

My superb Otterskin has been reduced to a leaky mess and I am pi##ed off.

I will be on to Otter but dont expect much joy. I should have just sent it back streight away pointing out I dont have 2" wrists and a 4" kneck

Mark Chase    
 

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I think you might be surprised with Otter, if you don't get any joy ask to speak with JJ, he makes the suits and is one of the owners. They are usually very supportive, mine had wrist seals done twice, the 1st time who ever did them guessed the size (they were neoprene) the 2nd they were perfect.
Good luck
 

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Sounds like you have the HD seals that i was on about.  They took ages to stretch over some wine bottles.  The zips are a bit sticky at first, but ours are working loose already.

My suit has the lighterweight seals so Otter do do them.  Why not send it back and ask for those to be fitted FOC as you didn't want HD seals?
 

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I had a ND suit stiff as a board, bust a gut to get in or out of, took a week to dry, leaked like a sieve, eventually junked it, emailing ND was a waste of time no reply.  
 

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I have a Polar Bears Discovery suit, have had it almost 6 years and am quite satisfied with it, although I know others have bad experience of them. I did have to replace the zip, though, and I've also replaced the neck seal. As regards the zip, I recommend a heavy duty zip. They are not all that more expensive and are a lot more robust. If you can, get Viking's conical neck seal. It's very long, so you can tuck it inwards about an inch. Mine is perfectly dry, which the original seal wasn't. It's also a lot more robust. It did feel a bit tight the first few dives until I got into the water but that soon stopped. I would never cut or stretch a neck seal unless it was absolutely necessary. Far better to put up with what feels like semistrangulation for a few dives imho. If you DO cut them, use a scalpel or similar. The slightest nick in the edge wil unfailingly develop into a tear after a while.
Drysuit boots seem to be a sad story. Just about everybody I know has had punctures or cracks, often at the seams.
By the way, Viking's rubber drysuits are probably the most hard-wearing suits you can get (with the possible exception of DUI's crushed neoprene, which cost a fortune, at least here in Sweden). They are very heavy, though, and, in my opinion, as ugly as sin!
Finally, Hobby mentioned Poseidon's Unisuit Exclusive. I've had one of those and hated it. It leaked at the neck and wrists (I called it the world's most expensive semidry) and the long, round-the-neck, zip was very vulnerable to breaks. Also, self-donning isn't as easy as Poseidon would make out. Most people seem to ask their buddy to help them close it half the time. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes impossible.
I'm no expert on drysuits but that's what I've learnt about them so far.
 

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Hobby,
I remember buying my first dry suit off ND he was running them up on sewing machine in the back bedroom of his terraced house £180 can you believe it?. As time progressed ND's reputation grew and at the time they were the best and the after sales second to none.  I think Mike Armitage went on to being involved in other things ie his Rib manufacture and racing etc,and was increasingly seen less and less at the factory and apparently less involved with the business.

Bigger of course isn't always better,I've found the after sales service of late to be mediocre, and have previously had to argue over premature failure and defects to my suit, hose inflator, when in the past your diving experience would have been accepted and the defect rectified by Mike or Carol "without" the Spanish inquisition.

Personal opinion is that Divers Warehouse have the edge, I have in the past taken my ND suit to Bradford for a more speedy and better value repair. I've had nothing but a positive experience at Divers Warehouse.
 

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I have a ND Vortex membrane suit, never had a problem with it and is fine for the admittedly undemanding diving that I do.  My only complaint is the neoprene boots are quite buoyant and my feet tend to float even though I wear ankle weights.
I also have a ND Omega 2 piece semi-dry which I really like, it's comfortable, warm and well made.
 
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