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.
Henderson - Thermoprene 3mm
|Inherent Buoyancy||< 1 lbs.|
|Seams||Glued and blind-stitched|
|Sizes||12 men’s, 10 women’s|
Budget friendly, this 3 mm is made from Thermoprene, a high-quality neoprene with excellent stretch. Glued and blind-stitched seams are reinforced in the crotch with stress discs, and the Thermoprene stretches to fit. Gained a few pounds since last season? Don’t sweat it; the suit will expand and include it. This suit is as comfortable as can be and offers excellent range of motion. The neck is raw-cut nylon with an adjustable Velcro closure, and wrist and ankles come with Lycra-trimmed cuffs. The adjustable neck kept intrusion to a minimum, and the seams held tough against leaks. Wrist and ankle cuffs fit snug, but their sealing properties are minimal. Beneath the zipper, a smooth-skin underflap seals against a padded smooth-skin panel that runs along one side of the track to create a seal/spine-pad combo that slows seepage to just a drip or two. Also included are abrasion-resistant, thermally bonded Freedom Flex kneepads.
Pros: Good stretch, efficient zipper seal, good price
Cons: No neck, wrist or ankle seals
A lot of stretch, a lot of comfort, for not a lot of cash.