Scuba gear review: Whites Fusion drysuit

Perhaps it is just local pride, but nowhere I've been diving, nowhere in the world, compares with California. The abundance and variety of sea life you can encounter underwater from Carmel to Catalina is without compare. The cold water, however, takes some getting used to.

My solution for the last five years or so: the Whites Fusion Drysuit.

Representing a newer design idea in drysuit tech, Whites uses two shells: the first inner shell is basically a bag made of "DryCORE," a waterproof, airtight, very durable but very flexible material. The second shell is an over-suit of lycra and neoprene. The first shell holds air around your body and the over-suit squeezes it all down and keeps it streamlined.

The Fusion is easy to put on. You simply step into it and essentially roll it up your legs, and over your torso. The fit is fairly amazing and it is extremely comfortable, like a warm water 3mm wetsuit. There is no bulk and no heavy material to limit your movement. If you wear a really thick insulating layer with the suit, that can get in your way, but otherwise my movement in the suit is not constricted.

I highly recommend the Fourth Element Arctic undergarment for California. I had used an insulating layer that came with the drysuit, and it was not very good. Instead, I prefer the Fourth Element Arctic. It seems to cover our California temperature range perfectly, and does a brilliant job of keeping me warm. The Arctic also takes very little weight to sink. I find I'm diving with far less lead when I dive dry.

Seals and zippers with this suit are standard industry stuff, and made with the same quality you get with most other manufacturers. The seals are fairly field-replaceable if you have the spare and some glue with you. Whites also makes a whole series of easily swappable outer-suits. I've been diving the simplest and lightest "Sport" shell and love it. Pockets might be nice, but thus far I haven't seen a reason to upgrade.

While diving in a drysuit will keep you a lot warmer, the change in buoyancy takes some getting used to. There are certification courses for drysuit diving and the one-on-one advice you'll get in those sessions is invaluable. Finding yourself inverted with your legs full of air and fins poking above the surface is both scary and embarrassing. If you are in the San Francisco Bay or Monterey areas of California, or can get here from elsewhere for one-on-one sessions, I recommend calling Bamboo Reef.

Link: Whites Fusion Dry Suit

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  1. I had to double check if I was reading Boing Boing when I saw this. Pleasantly surprised.

    I also dive a White Fusion drysuit - but actually there's a newer suit that's a step cheaper - the Fusion One. Usually retails for about $1000 or so - which is a good deal as far as dry suits go. On the down side, it's a back zip and you can't get pockets or the quick replace locking seals. The seals and zippers are the same quality you'd get on the Fusion Sport/Tech/Bullet. They've also recently come out with a women's cut of both the Fusion One - called the Fusion Essence, and a women's version of the Fusion Sport - called the Fusion Fit.

    So far I've got about 40 dives on my suit in everything from 33°F to 84°F water - just change out the undergarments and you're good. Neither my wife nor I have had seal problems or leakage, so that's been excellent.

    The lycra/neoprene shell works really well for keeping you streamlined and provides quite a bit of give in the sizing. This also makes it a fairly friendly dry suit for new divers because you don't get as much air in your feet - at least compared to when I've been in tri-laminate suites. However, the lycra shell also makes it a bear to dry out. After a dive you need to essentially rinse the whole dry suit and then hang it inside out than right side out to get it completely dry. My friends with tri-laminate suits just hose em down and they're dry in 10 minutes. Overall I'll take a nicer suit in the dives even if it means I need to let it dry out for a couple of days in the bathroom after a dive.

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