Seaskin Ultra drysuit review

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stuartv

Seeking the Light
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba Instructor
Messages
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Location
Lexington, SC
# of dives
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I've had my Seaskin Nova (trilam) drysuit for about a year and a half now. It is awesome. I decided I wanted to have another that could serve a different primary mission and also be a backup to my Nova. So, I ordered a Seaskin Ultra (compressed neoprene) at the beginning of November and received it at the beginning of January. I finally got it in the water this past weekend.

Dry Suits from Seaskin Custom Drysuits home page - Seaskin Custom Diving Suits

The primary purpose for having this suit is for diving in water temps that are not cold enough to need dry gloves. If it's cold enough to need dry gloves, I will wear my trilam and also have plenty of room underneath for thick undergarments. If it's warm enough to not need dry gloves, then I figure a compressed neoprene suit will also let me get away with minimal undergarments. I.e. I wanted to be able to use it like a wetsuit, but be dry and warmer.

I ordered this suit with less options than my trilam. No replaceable seals. But, it has neoprene seals at the neck and wrist. I got zippered thigh pockets, Kevlar knee pads, Si Tech valves, a Trigon pee valve, and custom name/flag patch on the suit and the storage bag. I also ordered it with the velcro flap to cover the main zipper, and 2 Trilobite pouches sewn to the forearms to always have a cutting device in reach of either hand. Still with trauma shears on my belt, of course. I stuck with the standard attached boots, for simplicity. Total cost was a bit under USD$900, with shipping from the UK.

I did 2 dives on Saturday. Each about 35 minutes, in water that was 50 degrees. Air temps were also in the low 50s. Max depth was 60 feet, but mostly in the 20 - 30 range. For both dives, I wore the Seaskin Tech base layer, with thin, ankle high wool socks, Bare Ultrawarmth 7mm drysuit hood, and Bare Ultrawarmth 3mm wet gloves. For the first dive, I wore thin Smartwool shirt and leggings, and expedition weight wool socks. I got pretty cold. For the second dive, I wore my Seaskin 150gsm undersuit with the Seaskin 150gsm socks. Then, I was warm, except for my hands.

The suit fits me perfectly. As did my Nova, when I got it. For both suits, I had my (now ex) g/f measure me. I was careful to read everything and watch their videos and the measuring process went smoothly and has now given me perfect results twice. For the second suit, I was concerned that I might have gotten a little "bigger" (unfortunately) since my first suit. Thus redoing the measurements.

The things I was most nervous about were the sizing of the attached boots, and the neoprene seals.

I wear size 10.5 (US) shoes, so I consulted the Internet and ordered size 44/45. The boots fit me perfectly. With my Seaskin 150gsm socks on, they are very snug. Not uncomfortably so, at all. Just right.

I wasn't too worried about the neo neck seal. But, I was really not sure how well wrist seals would work with long sleeved undergarments on underneath and nothing more that smoothskin neoprene on the inside to seal the wrists. The inside of the ends of the sleeves looks just the same as the inside of the sleeves in my wetsuits. Well, my faith in Seaskin has been rewarded. My base layer and undergarment sleeves pulled up my arm a bit as the suit sleeves went on, but not far. It seemed like there was only an inch or a bit more of the sleeve's seal that was directly against my skin. But, it worked just fine. I stayed completely dry through both my dives.

I had a Bare XCS2 Tech drysuit in the past. That is also compressed neoprene. I sold it because it did not fit me THAT well. And it had latex seals and no pockets. The neoprene on the Ultra seems like it might be a little more squishy and stretchy than the Bare was. I'm taking that as a good thing. Seaskin says the Ultra is only 3mm thick. So, even if it does compress some at depth, it's not going to be any kind of issue, I don't think.

The zipper is metal and across the back. I would definitely have preferred a plastic zipper across the front. But, I have asked Seaskin more than once and they just say they've tried it and it doesn't work well on a neo suit, so they won't do it. Oh, well. I will say that donning and doffing a suit like this is easier - as long as you have someone to zip and unzip you. And as long as you are not too big around the shoulders to fit through the opening that the zipper creates. I'm 6'1", and about 245. I carry most of my weight in my upper body. It does seem like someone much bigger than me might have trouble getting the suit opening up and down past the shoulder area - especially in really thick undies. That is, unless that have different lengths of zipper they can use, of course. I don't know about that one way or the other.

In the water, it seemed just a bit more foot-light than my Nova. I suspect that is the difference between attached boots, in this suit, which would hold more air, versus attached socks on my Nova. But, I didn't have any trouble staying in trim. I was using my Hollis F1 fins, which are 2# negative (per pair) in fresh water. I do think fins like that are a necessity for me and this suit.

Otherwise, the suit felt great in the water. It felt kind of like diving in a wetsuit. Only warmer. I never did have any feeling of a bubble running around in the suit that I was trying to manage. But, I normally only ever put enough air in my suit to take off the squeeze, and use my wing for buoyancy. It did feel like the dump valve worked really well. I was able to dump air from the suit very easily, any time, just with a little roll to lift my left shoulder. I did order the suit with Si Tech valves all around.

With only the thin wool on, I used the same weight I have used in the past with my Nova and 150gsm undies - which is to say 4# added to my rEvo CCR. After I switched to the 150gsm suit, I added 4# more to the rEvo. I didn't do any kind of formal weight check. I could just barely get down with the thin wool, so I figured 4# was a safe guesstimate after going to the thicker undies and it seemed to work just fine.

Some pictures:

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Trilobite pouches

Is there enough room between the pouches and your wrist to wear your dive computer comfortably? What about a wide computer such as a Perdix or Ratio iX3M?
 
Is there enough room between the pouches and your wrist to wear your dive computer comfortably? What about a wide computer such as a Perdix or Ratio iX3M?

Yes. I was diving my rEvo, so I had a Predator on my left wrist. It was right up against the cutter, though, so maybe it would be just a little bit of a faff to get the cutter out, if needed.
 
Are there any configuration changes you would make, after the fact?

And how do you handle the hood? The bottom of the hood just approaches the seal? Or does it overlap somewhat?
 
How much difference was there between your measurements for the 2 different suits? I think you said you were a bit bigger this time. Do you feel like the Nova still fits just fine, or are you starting to feel like it's too tight? I know there have been a number of folks considering losing or gaining weight who were wondering just how much of a weight swing they can have and still have their drysuit fit ok, in some of the various threads.

Do you notice any difference in the Si Tech inflation valve vs the Apeks? Any preference there? I'd been told in the past "Get the Apeks inflation and Si Tech dump valves" but I don't know what the rationale was for the inflation valve preference.

Final question, did you get the "DIR" dump valve placement or regular?

Final final question, will you update us on the customs bill? :)
 
And do you start with putting your left leg in the suit or the right leg?? Perhaps you are the both legs in at the same time type?

Do you have a favorite sleeve color?

(more to come)

:p
 
Are there any configuration changes you would make, after the fact?

And how do you handle the hood? The bottom of the hood just approaches the seal? Or does it overlap somewhat?

The only thing I *might* change is to change the standard boots for the tech boots. I'm 99% certain they did not have that option listed when I ordered the suit.

The hood overlaps the neck seal by an inch or two. I put the hood on the outside of the neck seal.

How much difference was there between your measurements for the 2 different suits? I think you said you were a bit bigger this time. Do you feel like the Nova still fits just fine, or are you starting to feel like it's too tight? I know there have been a number of folks considering losing or gaining weight who were wondering just how much of a weight swing they can have and still have their drysuit fit ok, in some of the various threads.

Do you notice any difference in the Si Tech inflation valve vs the Apeks? Any preference there? I'd been told in the past "Get the Apeks inflation and Si Tech dump valves" but I don't know what the rationale was for the inflation valve preference.

Final question, did you get the "DIR" dump valve placement or regular?

Final final question, will you update us on the customs bill? :)

My measurements were 1 or 2 cm larger in places like around my torso. :( The Nova is fine until I put it on over my 250gsm undersuit. Then it feels a bit restrictive. I would not be able to reach my valves in doubles in the Nova with the 250 suit on.

I have only had Si Tech valves, so no thoughts on the Apeks ones. I also have no idea why anyone would mix and match those. My very first dry suit had Si Tech valves. That wasn't my choice. It was just what it came with. Since then, I have chosen Si Tech to ensure my drysuit inflator hoses would all be interchangeable between any of my suits. But, even if I were starting from scratch, I would pick Si Tech. I've never had any trouble with mine, and there is a chance that I will, at some point, change to one of those inflators that has a power passthrough. Si Tech makes those. I don't know if Apeks does. It seems like it will be easier to change to that if I am swapping out a Si Tech inflator.

Before taking the advice of "get Apeks inflator and Si Tech dump", I would want to know a logical reason why. No offense intended to you or anyone else, but, succinctly, that just sounds like somebody being a lemming. I.e. maybe the first person had a reason like all their inflators were already Apeks, so they wanted to stick with that, but they realized the Apeks dump sucks. So, they mixed and matched. But, did the next person mix and match because they had the same issue? Or just because so-and-so said "well, I mixed and matched because blah-blah-blah-I'm-tuned-out-now"?

The neoprene suit did not offer an option for dump valve placement, so I got the only choice. I suspect the end of the zipper (being a back zip) dictates that placement.

I got the customs bill from FedEx. It is $39.60. :)

And do you start with putting your left leg in the suit or the right leg?? Perhaps you are the both legs in at the same time type?

Do you have a favorite sleeve color?

(more to come)

:p

I put the longest leg in first. Then the right. Then the left. Hahahahaa!!! :wink:

My favorite sleeve color is red. I do come here often. My ideal first date is a short walk on the beach into the water. My sign is rEvo. If you want to send flowers, I prefer a bouquet of DiveX BlackTips.
 
Well, I have now done 3 days of diving in this suit. 8 dives, total.

Unfortunately, I have to report that it has a tiny leak somewhere in my right heel area.

The very first time I got in the water with it, I felt a tiny cold spot on my right heel. I thought it was a leak. But then the feeling kind of went away. I wore the suit all day - 3 dives - and never noticed that feeling again. By the time I took it off, I had forgotten about it, so I didn't specifically check for wetness.

My second day of diving, it was the same deal.

This past weekend, I did my 3rd day in it. Only 2 dives (for a total of almost 2.5 hours in the water). This time, I remembered to check out my right foot when I took the suit off. My right heel of my 150gsm Thinsulate sock was quite wet. The rest of me, including my left foot, was all dry. So, I am convinced that it does have a tiny leak somewhere in the right heel area. I think it must be really tiny to only have that little bit of water in my heel after 2.5 hours in the water.

I guess I could feel the initial leak of water coming in, then once it was in, and the water in the sock warmed up some, I just didn't feel any more water coming in.

Other than this small leak, the suit is still awesome. It has been very comfortable to dive and very comfortable to have on during my surface intervals (given that we've still had relatively cool weather here). I think it was up to around 70 all day on Saturday, when I was wearing it continuously from about 11:30 until 4:00 or so (with 150gsm full suit undies on underneath).

I have sent an email off to Seaskin to ask about how to handle this. I'll update this thread when there is further news to report.
 
The best way to handle it is with a good light in a dark room, not worth the cost of shipping for a tiny leak.

I have been diving a pinnacle black ice, with the front zip I’m very happy with it for warmth and buoyancy characteristics, it’s the suit I wish seaskin made. My seaskins now wait for the chance to dive again, lately so do I, seasking is still the best deal out there.
 
@lexvil I really doubt they will propose to have me send it back. But, I'm going to (probably) wait for a real response from them before I do anything with it. I got a response today, but it was just an acknowledgement that they got my email and copied the right person to respond. They are shut down right, so I'm not sure exactly when I'll hear back further.

What I was thinking is, since it's in the boot, maybe just fill the boot with water and see where it comes out. Then use some Aquaseal to seal that. But, like I said, I'll wait for the moment.

It's totally diveable, like it is. In 51F degree water, I felt a cold spot when I first got in and then couldn't feel it for the rest of the day, so no big deal, really.
 

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