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 - 3mm Elastek Full
|Seals||360-degree neck, wrist, ankle|
|Sizes||16 men’s, 13 women’s|
Made of Elastek full-stretch neoprene throughout, Bare uses an anatomical pattern to improve fit. Inner elbow flex panels contribute to overall flexibility and comfort, which our testers found offers plenty of stretch for easy donning. The zipper is shorter than most; this makes it a little easier to zip up, and it increases range of motion when bending over to pull on fins. Flatseam-stitched seams are used, as are contoured 2 mm smooth-skin Glideseal neck seal with an adjustable Velcro closure. While the flatseam stitching leaks, the suit’s sealing system can’t be beat. The contoured 2 mm Glideseal collar seals all but a couple of inches in the back of the neck, and wrists and ankles each use efficient 3 mm Glideseal O-ring seals. At the back, Bare uses a water-blocking G-Lock zipper with stainless-steel slider backed by a nylon underflap and double overflaps. A finger loop at the base provides leverage for zipping.
Pros: Shaped fit, excellent sealing system
Cons: Leaky seams
Lots of sizes and stretchy anatomical shaping means chances are excellent you’ll find the right fit. The suit’s superb sealing system is offset by its leaky seams, but this is still a good tropic wrap.