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.
Camaro - Seamless Hydronomic 3mm
|Inherent Buoyancy||1-2 lbs.|
|Seams||Double-welded and taped|
|Sizes||6 men’s, 5 women’s;
in the future, 16 men’s, 8 women’s
Although it’s made with four-way stretch neoprene with elastic X-Tend flex panels in strategic areas, this suit relies more on shaping than stretch for a contoured fit. Nonslip shoulders and Supratex kneepads provide protection in high-wear areas, and seams are double-welded and taped. This finish has a good feel against the skin, and seams are watertight. Guarding the neck is a super-soft 270-degree smooth-skin neck seal, which also does a pretty good job (plus it’s comfy). There are no wrist or ankle seals; instead, openings are zippered and backed by gussets. This makes climbing in and out of this suit a cinch, but it’s also the suit’s weak points when it comes to water intrusion (gloves and booties help to keep the seepage to a minimum). A G-Lock zipper — backed by a smooth-skin underflap and double overflaps — is another bright spot, and there’s even a webbing loop to aide in donning.
Pros: Watertight seams, efficient zipper sealing system
Cons: Weak wrist and ankle seals, pricey
With excellent seam construction, an excellent zipper system and a pretty good neck seal, this suit is almost perfect. With better attention to wrist and ankle openings, it would be a prizewinner.