Time to Test
The 14 brand-new 3mm wonders sent in for this year’s round-up got a rigorous working-over in the ScubaLab shop. We stretched the arms, pulled the legs, tugged at zippers. We turned them inside out, took note of the finish work and attention to detail. Then we hauled them down to our test pool where 75-degree water awaited us—well within the operational range of a 3mm wetsuit, yet just cool enough to easily feel the leaks.
ScubaLab staff, staged on the pool deck, donned each suit, checking to see how easy it was to pull on and self-zip. Then we went through a series of squats, body bends and arm reaches to assess each suit’s comfort and range of motion. Checking to see that all seals and closures were snug, we then slowly entered the water, taking note where we felt leaks, i.e. through the seams, or at zipper, neck, wrist and ankles. Once fully-immersed, we checked for water entry at the ankles and wrists during feet-first descents. Then we shifted into standard swimming mode and checked for water scooping at the neck. Finally, using the same test diver to assure consistency, we performed a buoyancy check to give us a general idea of each suit’s relative inherent buoyancy.
AQUA LUNG - Aqua Flex 3mm Jumpsuit
|Inherent Buoyancy||< 1 lb.|
|Sizes||13 men’s, 10 women’s|
This suit is made of Aqua Flex four-way high-stretch neoprene, which, according to Aqua Lung, has three times the elasticity of standard neoprene. Our testers found it pulled on effortlessly and offered a wide range of motion. The Comfo-Neck front panel offers some additional comfort in the neck area, and the prebent anatomic legs are outfitted with molded kneepads and deliver plenty of lower-leg protection. Boosting seam strength are internal stress discs both at seam intersections and the crotch. The flatlock stitching is plenty comfortable, but also a bit leaky. A 270-degree smooth-skin seal with an adjustable Velcro collar at the neck was effective and nice against the skin, even if it didn’t offer a full 360 degrees of protection. Wrist and ankle cuffs are trimmed with high-stretch nylon, and a noncorrosive zipper with metal slider is reinforced at its base and backed with a nylon underflap and double overflaps.
Pros: High-stretch, decent neck seal, good knee protection
Cons: No wrist or ankle seals, leaky seams
You won’t find many suits this easy to don and doff or that offer such freedom of motion—perfect for the lazy diver in all of us.