Best Drysuits Reviewed 2017 | Scuba Diving

9 New Drysuits Tested and Reviewed By ScubaLab

ScubaLab reviews the newest drysuits of 2017

Kick the Cold
ScubaLab's team of experienced scuba divers evaluates nine new shell drysuits for 2017.

Jon Whittle

How We Test Drysuits

Last September, we asked a U.K. test team to evaluate new trilaminate drysuits because we knew they’d have ideal conditions — the water temperature was a frosty 52 degrees F at the test site, Vivian Quarry, Llanberis, which lies in the heart of Snowdonia, North Wales (check out this behind-the-scenes gallery for a look into the testing process). It was the perfect real-world setting for evaluating the nine suits in several key areas:

CATEGORY CRITERIA
Fit and Comfort Tested both on the surface and at depth, fit is the crucial consideration when purchasing a drysuit. Suits were evaluated on overall fit as well as in specific areas, including the neck, wrists, ankles and torso.
Valve Use All the drysuits were equipped with British-made Apeks valves or Swedish Si-Tech valves — an automatic/adjustable exhaust valve on the upper left arm, and a 360-degree swivel inflation valve on the chest. We rated the general ease of operating, accessing and adjusting both these valves.
Range of Motion The ability to retain as much flexibility as possible is paramount these days, especially for tec divers who need to be able to reach their cylinder valves to conduct shutdowns. This was examined both on the surface and underwater.
Ease of Donning and Doffing In addition to fitting well, a drysuit should be relatively easy to get in to and out of without too much assistance from a dive buddy.

Ease of donning/doffing and comfort/fit results shown are based on a score of 1 to 5 (1 represents poor and 5 represents excellent). For the donning/doffing scores, testers evaluated the overall ease of getting in and out of the suit and zipping up. For the comfort/fit scores, testers evaluated overall fit related to stated size, plus the comfort of seals.

Fourth Element Argonaut 2.0 Hybrid

Valves: Apeks or Si-Tech | Sizes: S-XXXLT
Price: $2,800 | Contact: fourthelement.com

ScubaLab drysuit review Fourth Element Argonaut 2.0 Hybrid

Fourth Element Argonaut 2.0 Hybrid Drysuit
This drysuit uses two materials: flex trilaminate material in the lower section, and a lightweight, breathable Kevlar in the upper half. The Argonaut 2.0 Hybrid is our Testers Choice.

Jon Whittle

The Hybrid in the drysuit’s name reflects its use of two materials: flex trilaminate material in the bottom half, and lightweight, breathable Kevlar in the upper section. The Argonaut is the only suit in this test that uses Kevlar as the actual suit material. In addition, Fourth Element has a new 3-D body-scan system to measure customers. The suit functions exceptionally well. The flex trilaminate on the lower areas is rugged yet stretchy, to give good range of motion. There is little air migration, and the close fit allows you to slice through the water. The suit has a diagonal front-entry zipper, heavy-duty boots, latex neck and wrist seals, internal braces, protective kneepads, and massive twin thigh pockets with internal bungees, D-ring, and Velcro flaps with zippered pockets. For its innovative materials as well as overall performance, the Argonaut 2.0 Hybrid is our Testers Choice.

Apeks Fusion KVR1

Valves: Apeks | Sizes: XXS-XXXXL+
Price: $ 2,625 | Contact: apeksdiving.com/us

ScubaLab Drysuit Review Apeks Fusion KVR1

Apeks Fusion KVR1 Drysuit
This Apeks drysuit is heavy-duty and has a solid feel thanks to its ballistic-strength synthetic fiber skin. The Fusion's outer skin minimizes air movements underwater, making the KVR1 very comfortable.

Jon Whittle

The heavy-duty, ballistic-strength synthetic fiber skin gives this Apeks drysuit a solid feel, but with that comes weight; it is one of the heaviest suits we tested. The Fusion KVR1 is very comfortable, and air movements underwater are kept to a minimum by the fiber outer skin. The exhaust valve is ideally situated on the left upper arm. It has zipper-expandable pockets with internal bungee and Velcro flaps, reinforced knee, forearm and shoulder pads, and a traditional metal zipper, though it is uniquely routed in a semicircle around the upper portion of the chest, which reduces stress on the zipper and limits range-of-motion restrictions. The modular seal-replacement system means you can replace damaged silicone wrist and neck seals. The overall “special forces” look is continued in the Apeks Rockboots, which would be right at home jumping out of an airplane, never mind going scuba diving.

Bare X-Mission

Valves: Apeks | Sizes: XS-XLT (custom sizes available)
Price: $2,799.95 | Contact: baresports.com

ScubaLab Drysuit Review Bare X-Mission

Bare X-Mission Drysuit
The X-Mission drysuit is built to fit snugly and comfortably, and features an adjustable waistband and telescopic torso to further tweak the fit.

Jon Whittle

It’s not often that a drysuit can be described as snappy, but the X-Mission (also available in a colorful red-and-black combination) looks as if it were made by a clothing designer. Already built to fit snugly and comfortably, an adjustable elastic waistband allows you to tweak the fit further. In the water, there is limited air movement, and its nylon rip-stop trilaminate material doesn’t hinder movements. We thought the exhaust-valve positioning was a little suspect — it was much farther down the upper arm than normal — however, in a trim position, with arms relaxed in front, you can vent the suit with little effort. The X-Mission has a telescopic torso and diagonal front-entry plastic zipper, and benefits from large thigh pockets with internal bungees, drainage holes, Velcro flaps, latex wrist seals, neoprene neck seal, reinforced kneepads, internal braces, and heavy-duty boots.

Camaro Arc Tec 2.0

Valves: Si-Tech | Sizes: XXS-XXXXL
Prices: $1,795 | Contact: camaro.at

ScubaLab Drysuit Review Camaro Arc Tec 2.0

Camaro Arc Tec 2.0
The Camaro Arc Tec 2.0 is an incredibly lightweight drysuit — it doesn't feel like it weighs much more than a 3 mm wetsuit.

Jon Whittle

The first thing you notice about the trilaminate Arc Tec 2.0 is how lightweight it is. Equipped with latex wrist and neck seals, and neoprene booties (which would require Rockboots for heavy-duty use, but their rudimentary soles would suffice on a liveaboard), it doesn’t feel that different in weight to a 3 mm wetsuit. It manages this while adding zippers on the forearms and calves, which aid with donning gloves and boots. The Arctec 2.0 has a unique front-entry style, where the zipper flaps down over your lower torso and is then secured around your body with two straps. It ensures a good fit, and grants a wide range of uninhibited movement. It has computer retaining straps on both forearms, light protective kneepads, and a zipper-expandable Velcro-closing pocket with internal bungees, which isn’t huge but would take a spool or reel with little trouble. It’s a sweet travel drysuit.

Hollis BTR-500

Valves: Si-Tech | Sizes: XS-XXXL
Price: $1,349.95 | Contact: hollis.com

ScubaLab Drysuit Review Hollis BTR-500

Hollis BTR-500 Drysuit
The BTR-500 is a nice drysuit to look at, but it isn't just for show — this Hollis suit is durable, flexible and a dream to get on and off. The Hollis BTR-500 was our Best Buy.

Jon Whittle

The classy color combo of the BTR-500 sets off the finish of the butyl trilaminate material nicely. However, it isn’t all show and no performance — the material incorporates an abrasion-resistant, nylon rip-stop external lining for added durability. The internal lining of this drysuit has a patented coating, which maximizes water integrity and seam-tape adhesion, but it also makes the BTR-500 a dream to get on and off . And because all the panels are cut on the bias of the material, you get increased stretch and flexibility. It is equipped with neoprene booties ( rubber boots are an option), latex neck and wrist seals, protective kneepads, internal braces, and expandable pockets with internal D-ring, Velcro flaps, and drainage holes. Though the suit has a diagonal front entry with a flexible composite zipper, it’s critical that you get the right size because the BTR-500 doesn’t have a telescopic torso.

Hollis DX-300X

Valves: Si-Tech | Sizes: XS-XXXL
Price: $1,999.95 | Contact: hollis.com

ScubaLab Drysuit Review Hollis DX-300X

Hollis DX-300X Drysuit
The Hollis DX-300X was designed by tec divers for tec divers. This heavy-duty drysuit combines a durable outer layer of Cordura ripstop with 12 layers of central butyl for warmth and an inner layer of silk-weave polyester for easy donning and doffing.

Jon Whittle

The DX-300X is a heavy-duty trilaminate drysuit that shows its technical-diving heritage. It combines Cordura ripstop as the durable outer layer, 12 layers in the central butyl part for long-term water integrity, and an inner layer of silk-weave polyester providing ease of donning and doffing. It has a telescopic torso, diagonal front entry, double-thickness kneepads, 5 mm neoprene booties (which will require Rockboots), Si-Tech quick-replacement silicone neck and wrist seals, internal braces, and expandable pockets with internal D-ring, Velcro flaps, and drainage holes. Thanks to the design of the DX-300X — and the fact that the material is cut on the bias, as with the BTR-500 — maneuverability is very good, with little restriction to range of movement. The Si-Tech system to the neck and wrists means that you can save a dive by quickly and easily replacing a damaged seal in the field.

OMS San Diego

Valves: Apeks | Sizes: XS-XXL
Price: $1,799 | Contact: omsdive.com

ScubaLab Drysuit Review OMS San Diego

OMS San Diego
The Sand Diego is a trilaminate telescopic-torso drysuit from OMS. This drysuit's fit was spot on and the suit we tested came equipped with DUI's patented ZipSeals — which allow scuba divers to easily swap out damaged neck or wrist seals on the fly.

Jon Whittle

DUI now owns Ocean Management Systems, and was behind the design of this trilaminate, telescopic-torso drysuit. The San Diego has a diagonal front entry, heavy-duty rubber boots, protective kneepads, internal braces, and two thigh pockets with internal bungees, drainage holes, and Velcro flaps with zippered pockets. The drysuit we tested was also equipped with DUI’s patented ZipSeals — in this instance, comfortable silicone. You don’t want to miss a dive due to a torn neck or wrist seal, and with the ZipSeal system, you can swap out a damaged seal for a fresh one in literally a matter of minutes. The cut means that it boasts clean lines, but it also allows for as much free range of motion as you’d expect when you are in a drysuit. The dipped neoprene boots were warm and comfortable, providing support yet also giving you the ability to make minor ankle movements when finning.

Scubapro Evertec LT

Valves: Si-Tech | Sizes: M-XXXXL
Price: $1,955 | Contact: scubapro.com

ScubaLab Drysuit Review Scubapro Evertec LT

Scubapro Evertec LT Drysuit
The Evertec LT is the lighter version of Scubapro's original Evertec drysuit. Air movements are easy to control while scuba diving thanks to the location of the exhaust valve on the left bicep — when you are in a good trim position venting happens with little effort.

Jon Whittle

The original Evertec was a bit on the heavy side, so Scubapro designed the LT — lightweight — version. In fact, thanks to its neoprene booties — which will require Rockboots — it is one of the lighter drysuits we tested. The Evertec LT is a telescopic torso, diagonal front-entry suit. It features durable Kevlar kneepads, internal braces, computer retainer on the left arm, latex neck and wrist seals, and two thigh pockets with internal bungees, Velcro flap, and drainage holes. It is equipped with a center-press inflator instead of a side-press variant. It is easy to get on and off , and movements are relatively unhindered by the rip-stop trilaminate material. Air movements within the suit are easy to control when you are underwater, and the location of the exhaust valve on the left bicep means that when you are in a good trim position, venting happens with little effort on your part.

Waterproof D9X Breathable

Valves: Si-Tech | Sizes: XXS-XXL Price: $1,995 | Contact: waterproof-usa.com

ScubaLab Drysuit Review Waterproof D9X Breathable

Waterproof D9X Breathable Drysuit
The D9X is a little heavier than Waterproof's previous version of the drysuit, but that's because it is more robust. The D9X uses abrasion-resistant quadlaminate Cordura nylon and additional reinforcements have been added in places that get a lot of wear and tear.

Jon Whittle

The D9X might not be quite as lightweight as its D9 predecessor — due to the use of abrasion-resistant quadlaminate Cordura nylon material and reinforcements that have been added in the seat, knees and arms — but it’s still not as heavy as other drysuits in this test. The extra reinforcement in areas that get a lot of wear and tear, even during normal use, is appreciated. The D9X Breathable features a telescopic torso with a diagonal front entry incorporating a TiZip plastic zipper, heavy-duty rubber boots, comfortable latex wrist and neck seals, internal braces, and large dual thigh pockets with internal bungees and Velcro flaps that can hold a good number of accessories. Once on, the fit and flexibility of the D9X Breathable was a highlight. Valve location was spot-on once we assumed the horizontal-trim position, and there was little to no restriction on range of motion.


Drysuit Accessories

Bare Sealtek Dry Hood

Price: $49.95 | Contact: baresports.com

Bare Sealtek Dry Hood for drysuit scuba diving

Bare Sealtek Dry Hood
This hood from Bare will keep your head warm while scuba diving in a drysuit.

Jon Whittle

The exterior seams on Bare's 7 mm hood are sealed with liquid seam tape and use a ring seal system designed to reduce water penetration.

Hollis AUG 450 Undersuit

Price: Top $139.95 Bottom $139.95 | Contact: hollis.com

Hollis AUG 450 drysuit undersuit undergarment

Hollis AUG 450 Undersuit
Stay nice and warm while drysuit diving with this undersuit from Hollis.

Jon Whittle

This Hollis two-piece undersuit wicks away body moisture while the 450-gram high-density stretch fabric minimizes bulk.

Hollis Canvas Overboot

Price: $89.95 | Contact: hollis.com

Hollis Canvas Overboot drysuit diving

Hollis Canvas Overboot
These drysuit boots from Hollis has a number of nice design features.

Jon Whittle

This lace-top boot features a number of diver conveniences, including a fin-strap catch on the heel and drain holes on the side for quick drying.

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