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.
Riffe - Cryptic Camo 3mm
|Inherent Buoyancy||2-3 lbs.|
|Seals||360-degree neck, wrist, ankle|
|Seams||Glued and blind-stitched|
This farmer-john/hooded-top combo is old-school in design, but with a modern feel. Aimed at the spearfishing (or serious photo) crowd, it comes in Reef Camo or Blue Water colors. Suit material is high-grade nonpetroleum neoprene with four-way stretch polyurethane and Terylene on the outside, and a smooth-skin titanium lining inside. Includes an attached hood, kneepads and chest pad for spear-gun loading. Climb into the john, pull on the top like a hooded sweatshirt, fasten the beavertail and you’re ready to go. This suit is so comfy it begins to feel like a part of your body. Seams are glued and blind-stitched on the outside only with stress disc reinforcements and spot-welds for added strength. Extended smooth-skin on wrists and ankles and a smooth-skin face seal on the attached hood are all outstanding. Combined with the smooth-skin interior, the entire suit is one big sealing system. Of course, there’s no chance for water to seep through the zipper; there isn’t one.
Pros: Perfect sealing system, plenty of thermal protection
Cons: Maybe too much thermal protection for some, plus it’s pricey
Absolutely the best sealing suit of this review, and surprisingly flexible and comfortable. It would definitely be our choice for extended range diving in tropical waters.