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.
Body Glove - EX3 3 mm
|Seals||360-degree neck, wrist, ankle|
|Seams||Glued and blind-stitched|
|Sizes||9 men’s, 5 women’s|
|Price||$199; EX3 Freedive model, $219|
Body Glove’s anatomical cut is supported by stretchy Magna Flex panels in the torso, shoulders, lumbar area and knees to increase flexibility. We found they delivered on ease of entry and a great overall fit, although the cut is a bit large overall. Inside, Thermolite panels in the torso create a heat-insulating interior, and Superflex stretch kneepads provide good protection to the lower legs. Seams are triple-glued and blind-stitched using a two-stitch machine that prevents unraveling. The neck is 360-degree Glideskin, while wrist and ankle cuffs use Glideskin O-rings. Hardware consists of a zipper that’s about 25 percent shorter than a standard model. This gives an increase in range of motion, and the zipper is outfitted with a nylon underflap and double overflaps. The neck, wrist and ankle seals are excellent; however, the zipper doesn’t have any water-blocking features beyond the underflap and overflaps. Bonus: Body Glove also offers a Freedive version of this suit that sports a 5 mm chest pad for loading a spear gun.
Pros: Efficient neck seal, superb range of motion, decent price
Cons: No zipper seal
With a sealing zipper, you’d be batting a thousand with this suit. Still, so many features at a midrange price equal a pretty good value in our book.