| OWNER'S VIEW
OF DCI'S CF200X DRYSUIT FIVE YEARS ON
When Diving Unlimited International (DUI) introduced their CF200X
drysuit into the UK in 1989 it attracted immediate attention as
it offered a range of benefits unavailable in any other single suit.
It was also one of the most expensive drysuits ever sold in the
UK. Despite the high price it quickly won acceptence. Six years
on, the CF200X and its derivatives have been immensely successful
among instructors, technical and wreck divers and others who make
regular use of their suits under harsh conditions.
The CF200 series are membrane drysuits designed to keep the user
dry, but provide minimal insulation themselves. Instead, undersuits
are worn to suit the dive and diver. In a unique and patented process
DUI take 4mm expanded foam neoprene, made by Rubatex, and assemble
the suit body. Seams are stitched through the suit, rather than
cup or strobel stitching, which leaves a watertight seam. The entire
suit is then pressurised under water in a special chamber to crush
the material to just 2mm. The process leaves the neoprene extremely
supple, with excellent four-way stretch and also makes it incredibly
resilient to abrasion and cuts.
The CF200X offers great versatility in sizing thanks to DUI's telescoping
torso, braces and crotch strap. The length of the suits is greater
than that of the wearer, the excess being folded under at the waist.
Adjustable braces hold up the bottom section of the suit, while
the adjustable crotch strap holds the top down. The suit remains
close in until extra reach is needed and then the suit lengthens
and recoils as the diver moves. It's an elegant design.
The 200X also has a front zip which keeps the diver independent,
since help isn't needed to open or close the zipper as with back
entry designs. Another comfort feature is a gusset round the neck
seal that traps the bib from some DUI hoods. This helps to keep
the diver's neck warm and stops the bib flapping about. The suits
are normally supplied with bicep-mounted, adjustable automatic dumps
and inflator valves by Si Tech or Apeks.
I have had my CF200X since 1990 and have made hundreds of dives
in it. When I taught professionally I would spend all day in the
suit. It proved very comfortable in and out of the water. Wind chill
is a problem out of water as the wet nylon facing whisks heat away.
On warm days, the suit top can be folded down. The braces stop it
collapsing around your ankles and the arms tuck through them, which
is very convenient. The front zip provides easy access to the inside
pockets that are fitted to many undersuits.
The original valves were made by GSD. The inflator has been entirely
reliable. It has never frozen, even at depth in near freezing conditions
and requires virtually no finger pressure to operate. The exhaust
valve was faulty when the suit was supplied. DUI replaced it with
a Si Tech without quibble. The Si Tech is very effective, though
bulky. It can catch on straps as you gear up, but has never snagged
on anything in the water, even in closely confined wrecks. Through
my own carelessness I have jammed it once, probably by not rinsing
it properly. Nevertheless, I was able to vent air through my wrist
The CF200 material has stood up very well. The kneepads are cosmetically
scuffed, but otherwise undamaged, from kneeling on sharp quarry
beds but the suit itself remains unpatched. I have replaced the
wrist seals twice and the neck seal once. Both are neoprene and
have stood the test of time well. The zip has been replaced once
following improper storage. DUI have completed the repairs quickly,
but once supplied an improperly sealed cuff.
I use a DUI Thinsulate undersuit with Ultimate thermals below it
which for normal recreational dives throughout the year has been
fine. Disadvantages are few. For me, the main problem is the weight
involved if I am travelling. If the suit is still wet when you pack
it then the problem is exacerbated. Ankle straps designed to keep
your feet secure in the boots and reduce air migration, fell off
several years apart and I don't miss them. The soles were re-attached
after they started to delaminate from the uppers, but in fairness
they had seen a lot of hard use. I would much prefer harder-soled
boots. The soles are thin and one feels every pebble through them
when shore diving. On decks they are fine. These are very small
quibbles and it reflects very well on the CF200X that I own that,
after so many years of abuse, the suit has survived at all. If it
wears out I'll probably buy another one. Steve Warren