Henderson Aqua Lock first impressions

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Thunder Struck

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I picked up a Henderson Aqua Lock 7mm suit from my LDS the other day. I'd been out of diving for a number of years and my old cold water wet suit was, well, not gonna happen. It was a two piece farmer john and jacket. It flushed water like I had a hose down the back. I purchased it along with a new hood and gloves, both 5mm, also Aqua Lock.

I wanted to see where I was at weight-wise with the new Henderson suit. So I threw it on, along with my booties, (4th element Amphibians) and hopped into my pool. Immediately I noticed that there was almost no water flushing through the suit despite my moving around. The suit has liquid taped seams as well as a decent flap behind the zipper which the neoprene also covers up to where the teeth come together. So next thing was to slap on the hood and gloves. I needed some assistance from my wife to get the hood properly under the neck line given the lack of flexibility from the thick neoprene. With the suit, hood, gloves, and booties on I was starting to get real warm, real fast. Outside air temperature was 90-something. Donning my backplate and tank (XDeep Zen w/ a low pressure steel 95) I jumped back in the pool to start a weight check. For me (6'2" 210#) it took 16lbs of lead in the integrated weight pockets to get neutrally buoyant all the way down to 250 psi in the tank in my 5' deep pool.

Range of motion wasn't terrible. I could swim around with my hands and arms in a breast-stroke fashion under water and kick my legs easily enough.

The way the wrists and ankles work is they are made of two thinner layers of neoprene. The idea is you roll back the outer layer so that the uppers of your booties or wrist section of your gloves fit between the two sections of neoprene to further limit water entry. I did notice that the band for my Genesis Centauri dive computer is grossly undersized. My old Suunto Spyder has a band extension for just such suits. Even an 11" NATO strap doesn't have much spare slack. I have a stretchy strap that works a little better (and should work with the wetsuit compression) and have just put a 17" long NATO strap on order.

The quick dry lining seemed to work well. Thee water quickly runs down to the liner in the lower parts of the arms and legs when left to hang. After leaving it to hang outside overnight it was bone dry inside and out the following morning with the exception of the dual layered sections of the wrist and ankles.

Donning and doffing the suit isn't overly difficult. For my size I fit quite well into an off-the-rack XL size. My LDS did state that custom sizes can be ordered.

My pool was at about 82 degrees and after 30 minutes of playing around in it I was cooking in the wetsuit. That whole lack of water flushing through left me sweating. While it remains to be seen just how well it does for multi-tank diving in 55 degree water, from what I've experienced so far I'm looking forward to trying it out.

The 7mm Aqua Lock suit retails for about $500. While it's on the higher end of the price spectrum for 7mm wetsuits, it incorporates many features not found in lower priced options.
 

Thunder Struck

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Following are some photos of the Aqua Lock gear.

The seams are liquid taped:
5F61F38B-9472-483F-B48B-1E62E0848883.jpeg


The edges of the neoprene from either side of the zipper come up to meet each other, covering the zipper:
9900AAB1-DC2E-4A1B-A2AF-B452A774F245.jpeg


Then behind the zipper is a fairly wide strip of neoprene to further limit water flushing:
B0BE4909-6254-41C1-901B-638F131E3A3C.jpeg


The double layered wrists (and ankles):
5D87C77E-61C1-4707-BC1E-4BA91F2779DB.jpeg


The outer layer pulls back far enough to easily accommodate long glove cuffs:
A2E1090C-1081-4EF5-94FA-64657BE6FE5F.jpeg


For the hood there is a one way valve on the hood to allow air to escape:
773D8853-F8AE-4E8F-B359-294D3E96BC59.jpeg


All seams on the hood are also liquid taped:
3A484DA9-63C5-4F83-984E-395E9DD50596.jpeg


The gloves have longer cuffs to work with the double layered wrists of the wetsuit. Additionally, all seams are liquid taped and a rubberized texture on the palm and fingers for grip:
E21D27DD-83A8-4FF0-9928-4B42CCAF6ACB.jpeg
 

broncobowsher

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I have the prior generation of that suit. 5mm as well. Don't have the quick dry lining.
Yes, it is warm. Generally have no issues keeping up with people in 7mm suits. But have way more range of motion than even the new stretchy 7mm. I had a 7mm but only dove it a couple of times and went dry when it gets that cold. The 5mm Aqualock is good for everything from swimsuit water to wanting the drysuit.

As for cooking in the water, get a little forward swim going on and pull the neck down. It gets a gulp of water and that will push through the suit. Intentional water flush.

I will also say the coldest I have ever been is in that same 5mm suit. Someone helped me zip it up on the boat once. I didn't catch that they folded the back of the hood into an "S" shape. That might as well have been a funnel. Cold water down my back. Sat out the next dive as I couldn't warm up. Figured what happened and got a hooded vest. A helpful person can't fold the back of a vest into that "S" shape.

I want to say mine is getting close to a decade old. But I still use it. One of those items that just works right and would get it again.
 

Thunder Struck

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The lining I believe also helps slow the movement of the water. A couple folks at the LDS swore by these wetsuits (where I mostly swore at mine) so I thought I'd give it a go. If I had the funds I'd love to put a 7mm and 5mm Aqua Lock head to head. Of course I'd have to do it right and proper. Not just dive one, doff and don the next and dive again. I'm thinking more along the lines of diving the 7mm for one for a day on a 3 tank boat to the channel islands, then try the 5mm the next day on another 3 tank channel island boat. And just to make sure one day isn't a fluke over the other, repeat this for maybe four days? Ya know, empirical scientific study like. I'll be willing to sacrifice my time for such a study if somebody wants to fund it. :cool:
 

NAUI Wowie

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I have the henderson 8/7 semi dry. Basically for those new to semi dry its a thick wetsuit with attached hood and inner flaps under the zipper to limit water flow. Im 6ft 2 normally about 185 lbs and dive with it in Monterey CA where the water is always around 53 degrees all year.
I still get a little chill first dive and second dive I do get cold.
A 7 mil suit in my opinion isnt enough for most people in 55 degree weather. Ive done it and froze while in it before.

As for comfort ive tried on all the semi dry suits I could including the Hollis 8 mil, my henderson 8/7, another brand I cant remember at 8 mil and the Henderson was by far the most comfortable but still kind of a nightmare on fit. The zipper is a two person operation and fit is bad every time I wear it, and thats after trying multiple sizes and vs different brands.

Ive owned it since 2018.

JUST TRIED on a different brand of semi dry last week. The XCEL thermoflex 9/7/6 Semi dry.

WOW. This suit is ridiculously flexible and far far more comfortable than any other semi dry I have ever put on. Night and day comfort diffference. Bought right on the spot.

Gonna throw my henderson on a bonfire and watch it burn. Well not really thats bad for the environment but Ill never wear it again.

Super excited to be warmer in a 9 mil and lightyears more comfortable down in Monterey.
 

NAUI Wowie

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The lining I believe also helps slow the movement of the water. A couple folks at the LDS swore by these wetsuits (where I mostly swore at mine) so I thought I'd give it a go. If I had the funds I'd love to put a 7mm and 5mm Aqua Lock head to head. Of course I'd have to do it right and proper. Not just dive one, doff and don the next and dive again. I'm thinking more along the lines of diving the 7mm for one for a day on a 3 tank boat to the channel islands, then try the 5mm the next day on another 3 tank channel island boat. And just to make sure one day isn't a fluke over the other, repeat this for maybe four days? Ya know, empirical scientific study like. I'll be willing to sacrifice my time for such a study if somebody wants to fund it. :cool:


Dont try a 5mil dec through april at the Channel islands. Maybe September which I think is the warmest month for those islands. Id still not do it but im 6 2 and 180 to 185 so I dont retain heat as well as some people.
 
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