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Naturally blonde - please type slowly
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Seaskin Nova Membrane Front Entry Telescopic Drysuit Review

Ever since I did my PADI OW course on a wet windy day at Saltdean, Brighton in October in a 5mm wet suit, I’ve been diving in a variety of wet, semi-dry and dry suits, all of which had one thing in common – they did not fit. Like most new divers I didn’t prioritise buying a dry suit, mainly because it was a large cost to stump up. Rapidly, I realised that diving in the UK was, amongst other things, cold. So when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend I bought all his dive kit, including the Typhoon compressed neoprene dry suit. Luckily we were the same height and it fitted. Sort of. Anyway, it kept me diving year round and until the zip broke it was ok.

By this time, Garf had been working the DIR magic on me, and on selling my bike to another lovely YDer, I now had a bit of money to invest in new kit as well as a dry drysuit. Still money was tight so the hunt began for the new suit – good value for money but with good quality being top of the list. With the price tag on the DUI TLS knocking it out of the equation, I ended up looking at several other vendors, including the Seaskin website.

After due consideration, and reading threads on YD about people’s experiences of this suit and other like suits, I placed an order for the Seaskin Nova Membrane front entry telescopic drysuit.

One of the first things that drew me to order this (other than the reasonable price tag for a custom fit suit!) is the array of options that you can have, which have been easily and logically set out as you order. The guide to measuring up for the suit on the website was straightforward, and Garf collected my measurements (no funny gags please;-). I was pretty nervous about this, there are various people’s opinions I read about adding on an inch or so to the arms or removing an inch of the legs etc etc. For what it’s worth we stuck totally to the company’s recommendations about measurements, figuring that if it was wrong then at least we’d be able to return it legitimately! I won’t bore you with the measurements but I’m a woman’s size 10 top and bottom, and 5’10”.

I ordered the suit (in blue/black) at £370 (ex vat) & added the optional extras:
Large bellows pockets on left and right thighs - £23 each (x2)
Main body zip cover - £11.90
Warm neck cover - £7.66
SiTech docking system for dry gloves fitted to a Nova - £22.98
SiTech valve system (high profile dump valve & suit inflation valve) - £6.52
Move dump valve for DIR configuration – FOC
Swap standard Apeks nipple for Seatec Fit – FOC
SiTech complete (no gloves) QCP glove lock system - £45.75
Spanner rings for Qcuff system - £2.13 each (x2)
No logos on suit or reflective tape.
Total cost including VAT of £605.22

On ordering the suit I received an email to double check the measurements again before payment was taken and work began. That was a nice touch. This was confirmed and an email gave me a dispatch date of the 26/4/10. I was a little bit disappointed by that to be fair as it was ordered on the 7th March. The estimated turnaround when we enquired by phone was about 5 weeks, so 7 was a bit more than I’d hoped for. To be fair though I rang at the end of the week before it was due to check on the suit’s progress and was given a revised dispatch date of 29th April and it did arrive the next day on the 30th as promised. To be fair the guys at Aqualand were apologetic for the delay…very busy with orders etc etc, and were polite and friendly each time we phoned.

The suit arrived clearly hot off the press as the smell of adhesive was enough to get the whole building high! In addition to the suit, I received some new wax for the zip; talc for the seals; spare membrane patches, thoughtfully in blue and black; and a dry suit inflator hose to fit the Seatec nipple; all packed neatly into a tough drawstring bag.

I put the suit on initially over my jeans and long sleeved top (new Arctics collected on Saturday) and I have to say I was worried that the body was too big at first try, but to be fair Garf thought not. I tried not to get too disappointed until trying the Arctic undersuit on with it. The fit was a lot better but there still seemed to be more room in the top half than I was anticipating. The legs however were a perfect fit, fantastically comfortable, snug but not tight or restrictive, especially good when bending my knees to 90 degrees and more for frog kicking or trim adjustment. I was holding out judgement until I was fully kitted up.

The braces are well placed and even though I’m quite narrow shouldered (even for a girlie) they are comfy and I didn’t feel as if I was being garrotted between the legs to keep them in place.

The suit came without gloves fitted (option). I bought Homebase own brand chemical resistant gloves in medium which are £4.49 as my solution and fitted them at home. We got directions from the SiTech pack that comes with the Quick Cuff system but had to supplement those with online instructions. It was a bit fiddly to get the system fitted but pretty simple once you’ve done it once. The initial downside is that the docking system is quite bulky and adds an extra 1” or so to the length of the arms once the gloves are added. I was now a bit worried the sleeves would be too long. Another thing to check on again in the water…

Another solution you can do is attach the dry glove permanently to the suit. I haven’t figured out how yet as I don’t want to do that at the moment, but what I do know is that it would reduce the baulk of the plastic connections but a good 1-11/2”, thereby shortening the overall arm length without having the cut the fabric of the suit at all.

The Quick Cuff system is simple and brilliant. The latex wrist seals wrap around a plastic ring which is pushed into place inside the docking system without dismantling any other parts. It’s so easy you could change the seals if needed on a boat in a couple of minutes. Mind you, with the dry gloves you really don’t need them, but for me it’s a belt and braces approach in case I’m a numpty and don’t lock the dry gloves in properly. Maybe I have small wrists but I would say the seals that came with the suit aren’t the tightest but they are so easy to change and I’m using dry gloves so it doesn’t matter to me at present. When Garf had figured it out, it took him less than 2 minutes to swap out a seal.

Strangely, the neck seal on the other hand was strangulatingly tight! I consider myself to have a pretty small neck (it’s only 12”) but my face turned a lovely tomato red and I felt pretty light headed within minutes of having the suit on, which Garf announced could result in a total magnificence failure if not resolved. I don’t really like the idea of cutting the seal down so elected to stretch it overnight around a small 14” saucepan. Perfect for comfortable all morning and two dives in the suit the next day!

The other big worry to me when I ordered the suit was the sock size. I elected to get the compressed neoprene socks with a rock boot solution rather than boots put onto the suit, but stressed about what size to order. Usually I’m a UK 42 (size 8) but can vary anywhere between 41-43. The size choice was a 41/42 or 42/43. I nearly erred on the larger size to take into account the Arctic socks for comfort, but I went for the 41/42. I didn’t want to end up with over sized socks, and then oversized boots and my feet waggling like mad to make frog kicking movements but not actually moving anywhere as I have done for the last year whilst wearing Garf’s “one day I’ll be thin enough to wear this” suit! I’m really glad that I made that decision, the socks are a wiggle to get on first time round but they’ve seated in really well and by the third try on they fit really easily.

After reading multiple threads on YD about the best solution for rock boots, I went with the suggestion of buying Hi Top Converse Allstar boots. I have to say the sales assistant in JD Sports was bemused to see me asking for size 10 shoes then coming back to find me halfway into a dry suit!

So, fully kitted out I went to Wraysbury to check it out in the water. I have been to date a bit of a faffer when it comes to kitting up. I’ve always blamed it on the kit not being quite right and a bit cobbled together, but to be honest, I’d begun to think that I was just a bit of a faffer for the sake of it. Interestingly, in fully new kit today was the quickest and least faffy kitting up I’ve ever done. (Almost like someone thought this configuration stuff through!!)

The pockets have eyelets in them for putting bungee loops on to attach the spare mask, SMB, wet notes etc., as well as being perfectly placed on the side of the thigh with the bottom of the pockets at exactly my fingertip level. Naturally, Garf had some jet black bungee ready and waiting.

I chose to get the warm neck cover. What a winner. The cover is the perfect size to tuck the bottom of my hood into tidily (a new waterproof Hydra vented hood), preventing the long hose from snagging in an OOG donate. Nicely tucked away I also benefit from the 5mm neoprene hood and the warm neck cover, bonus. I’ve never had a warmer neck!

Despite the baulky appearance of the dry glove attachment to the suit, I had no trouble putting on my harness and the sleeves felt just right in length despite my earlier doubts. Connecting the dry gloves to the docking rings was easy too.

Having the dump valve moved for the DIR configuration was great too as it is placed in the ideal location on the left arm, so that when you’re horizontal in the water only the slightest tilt will release gas from the suit. I didn’t realise just how much of a difference such a slight adjustment would make during the dive.

I was also impressed, having struggled for ages to connect my dry suit inflator hose to the valve on my old suit, how easily I could attach the two things. I looked carefully and realised that inflator valve has been moved to the left of midline. For me this made life just that little bit easier again.

I know it’s not strictly part of the dry suit, but the Converse boots were a top choice. Fitting perfectly in my Scubapro Jet fins, I had no waggle of foot without fin and bizarrely for the first time ever my frog kick appeared to be almost efficient. I didn’t have any issues with resistance around my ankles and forgot they were on in the water. Even better than that, surely they surpass the Rule 6 requirements. They just look damn cool!

The worries about the top being too big…I have to admit it Garf was right. It’s ideal. I easily reached my valves in and out of the water with only my incompetence to blame now when failing to complete valve drills. It didn’t feel baggy in the water at all, it shouldn’t really, I try to run my suit pretty tight.

Overall, I’m stoked. It’s a well thought out, well made suit and I think I’ve got excellent value for money. Nice little touches like the cover to keep the crotch strap tucked out the way have been added. I kept bone dry and warm all day despite the hideous weather out of the water. The material is thicker than that of the Protec Explorer or DUI TLS, but to be honest, I’m a novice and, unlike Garf who appears to be glued into place in the water, I’m likely to find myself rubbing up against something I shouldn’t sooner or later so that suits me. Plus for me in the UK every little bit of warmth protection helps. The legs are a great cut and the top half despite looking a bit baggy is perfect on the functional side. If I could make one small improvement, that’d be to put a horizontal seam at the waist level so the excess material sits a little better, but that’s cosmetic I think. Functionally it’s brilliant and I can’t wait to dive the arse out of it.

Score out of 10: 9.75 – Had to knock of a bit for slower turnaround than I had hoped and a less than perfect cosmetic look to the top! ;-)

hope this helps someone as when I was looking at buying the drysuit was my first major expenditure and it's a scary thing measuring yourself as you don't know if you've made a £600 disaster until it arrives!

Imogen















 

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Dive tart, just can't say no :-)
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Yep mine has done 300 dives now and still going strong, have had new boots and seals fitted and after all that it's still not as bad looking as the bloke inside it. Good review Imogen, glad you are happy with enjoy your diving.
 

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Got almost the same suit coming in a few weeks. It's always good to read a positive review.
 

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nice review, got a seaskin ultra coming. im just keeping my fingers crossed it arrives in time for my anglesey trip mid june
 

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Nice write up, the sea skin suits do look great… its just a shame they take so long to make them. I really wanted one but was not prepared to wait 9 weeks for it so have gone for an Otter instead, testing it next week and really hope I don’t regret my impatience….
 

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Naturally blonde - please type slowly
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Discussion Starter #10
Nice write up, the sea skin suits do look great… its just a shame they take so long to make them. I really wanted one but was not prepared to wait 9 weeks for it so have gone for an Otter instead, testing it next week and really hope I don’t regret my impatience….
I don't know about the 9 week wait, but it was worth the 7 weeks for me. Didn't look at the Otter suits but i'm sure it'll be great :)
 

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Naturally blonde - please type slowly
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Discussion Starter #11
Move dump valve for DIR configuration? Never heard of that before
I haven't looked for it with other suits as I'd pretty much decided on the Nova right away. DUI and Protec suits place the dump valve in the best location for DIR configuration without giving you another option, whereas others don't seem to offer the option. Protec apparently has stopped trading now though. ON my old typhoon suit I didn't realise it but I had to rock quick a long way to lift my left arm into the right position and come out of horizontal trim (or there abouts ;-)) to dump gas from it. Moving the valve for DIR configuration shifts the position back a bit on your arm so when you're flat in the water all you have to do is tilt you left arm up without altering trim to dump gas. One of those things that most people are likely to say they don't have any problems with anyway, but I didn't notice there was a better way until I tried the new position.
 

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Naturally blonde - please type slowly
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Discussion Starter #12
Out of interest, why did you have no logos and no reflective tape?
I didn't know how big or where the placement of the logo(s) would be and didn't want to have any thing to clashes with the big blue H's on my harness ;-)
Reflective tape I didn't really see the point of...tbh if you need it for other people to see you underwater then I think you're too far away from your team members and I carry a big torch/SMB so that any one on the surface can find me...
 

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Atomic Blonde and Midjit Idjit
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Great review Imogen. I have had my Seaskin over two years now and love it. Despite going to the factory to be measured, I too suffered an awful excess of material on the top when I received the suit. I took mine back personally to be altered and am very happy with it.
 

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Thanks for the useful review. I'm currently considering buying a seaskin suit so you review is helpful.
Just to balance that i'll add my experience with a nova membrane.

The suit was ordered in November 2007 and arrived in February 2008 and first dived that month so its just coming up to 4 years old. In that time its spent a lot of time not being used as ive been abroad (stored in a wardrobe, indoors, seals talc'd, properly stowed etc) and its done roughly 250 dives.

So far in terms of repairs its needed new boots, a new zip, 17(!) leak repairs, 3 new sets of seals (ok those are expendable. i can live with that). This was when the suit was at most 2 years old with only 120 dives on it. When returned the bloke on the phone commented its "just about worn out now".
In addition to those official fixes ive fixed about that number of leaks myself and have also had to glue a seam where the stitching and glue over a 3" strip just came apart. Im currently out of the water AGAIN as i think now both seams on the chest side have gone as im getting soaked in 20 mins in the pool from both those areas so that needs fixing before i can dive. So far its cost me 6 diving days in the last 8 weeks.
In total ive spent nearly half the initial cost on the suit on getting the thing repaired and haven't had a properly dry dive for near 2 years. It needs more repairs done but im reluctant to spend even more money on it as it seems as you fix one hole 2 more sprout up - the material is just falling apart along with the stitching and glue.

Some people seem happy with them (as indeed i was for the first year or so, it looked great, fitted well) but for me at least it was a false economy - the lifespan is nowhere near what id expect off a drysuit and once it started to age it went downhill very rapidly.

If i ever do manage to get it to a divable state im more than happy to "demo" it to anyone at a local dive site if anyone wants to see it!
 

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Just to balance that i'll add my experience with a nova membrane.
Doh - just when I thought I'd made my mind up. Perhaps I'll go to Weymouth after all this weekend and have a closer look at the O'Three suits.
 

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One bad tale verses a raft full of good ones isn't really balance.

Choose your budget, that always helps,

under £800 seaskin

£800 - £1200 O3

£1200+ DUI...

Personally I have had no issues with my Seaskin, a friend of mine bought two so he has a spare for when his main suit goes off for cuffs etc

I would have no hesitation in buying again and I have had all of the above and more in my time...
 

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I tried on a mates O'Three Ri2-100 last night - it nearly fit (it's a shame it didn't as he does not use it any more). I like the way it stretches when you move - I find my tri-lam can be a bit restrictive. I think it is all going to come down to fit. I don't like my ND suit as the legs are too long and the arms are too long - the couldn't shorten the legs enough because of the knee patches and would not shorten the arms at all.
I've spec'ed a seaskin suit at £620 (without dry glove system) and an O'Three suit a at £1,116 (without gloves) - so the comment about buy two is not far off. I guess it comes down to whether the O'Three can be tailored off the peg - if not then I'd need to add an extra £250 to have to made to measure and then it's out of my price range. If I get the seaskin I might have enough left over to buy an OSTC dive computer :)

I'm not normally this indecisive but having spent £550 on an ND suit 4 years ago, then £120 on new seals for it 2 years ago and then £90 on new socks and still hating the suit - I'm keen to make the right decision.
 

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. I guess it comes down to whether the O'Three can be tailored off the peg - if not then I'd need to add an extra £250 to have to made to measure and then it's out of my price range.
If this helps...the off the peg didn't fit me (shoulders on the large were too small) and I'm too far away for a MTM. I called O3 with my measurements and they tailored an Ri1-100 off the peg for me, it fits perfectly they did a great a job. I Would not make the slightest adjustment to the suit sizing I got.
 
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