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.
BARE - 3/2 Velocity Full
|Seals||360-degree neck, wrist|
|Sizes||16 men’s, 13 women’s|
The Velocity makes use of a Progressive Stretch design that strategically places panels of three different materials throughout the suit for increased flexibility, and a smooth-skin panel in the chest area reduces evaporative cooling while topside. Thinner neoprene in the legs plus ankle zips makes this suit a speedster going on, but cuts down on its thermal properties. A lumbar panel makes the Velocity even more flexible and perfect for pike dives or a back roll. A 2 mm Glideskin neck seal wraps almost all the way around the neck and secures with a Velcro closure. Wrists have rolled Glideskin O-rings, and the ankles have rolled nylon edges. The neck seal keeps water out while swimming, and the wrist O-rings are also effective. The zippered ankle cuffs leaked only slightly, as did the flatseams. Other details include hermo-bonded kneepads and a noncorrosive zipper flanked by a nylon underflap and double overflaps.
Pros: Effective lumbar stretch panel, neck seal
Cons: Thinner neoprene in the extremities, no zipper seal
Stretchy performance for the cirque du ocean. However, due to its 2 mm extremities and flatseam stitching, you’re not going to stay as warm for as long as you would in other models.