Suit you, Sir?
The GUL 4.5 mm Titanium Steamer

Most of us spend little or no time worrying unduly over which neoprene cover-up we pull ourselves into, as long as it's vaguely fit for the job and has no (or few) holes in it. We tend to wax rhapsodic about a particular BCD, a trusty regulator or a favourite lamp; some will even point proudly to a pair of fins, defying all-comers to better them. But suits? 'Well, you've got to have one, sure, but É' 'Maybe if it's in this season's colours.' 'You can pick one up second-hand if you look around É

' I went to the Red Sea in March, and was intrigued by the range of gear being worn by a motley crew of (mostly) British divers. There were a couple using DUI drysuits, another in a neoprene shortie and lycra one-piece; there was a range of one-piece 5mm and 7mm semi-dries on show, and a couple of two-piece suits as well. I had been asked to try out a 4.5mm titanium steamer made by GUL, an imposing wine-red and black effort with the words 'full metal jacket' on the front and a useful pocket with a drainhole on the side. Looking round at the others on that first morning aboard, I must confess that I thought I was going to need reinforcements in the suit department before long.

However, I was very pleasantly surprised. The suit fitted well from day one, and although we were spending up to an hour at a time underwater, it never let me get cold. Moreover - and this was a very handy point on a liveaboard when the diving can get pretty intensive - the suit dried very quickly, so there was no climbing into clammy neoprene. The material kept its shape and the handy velcro neck-seal remained a useful feature to the end. You get in via a vertical front-entry zip, pull the suit on and touch-fasten the neck-seal - it's as simple as that. Not only did the steamer keep me warm, it was very comfortable to wear, another useful point to consider if you've ever spent a dive twitching and scratching from an ill-cut suit.

The 4.5 mm steamer is one of GUL's most popular suits for deeper warm-water diving; it's made with quality titanium double-lined neoprene, which has been double-glued and all joints butted and glued together before being 'blind stitched'. The upshot of this is that water ingress is discouraged, and you feel comfortable. The titanium lining acts in much the same way as a survival blanket does, and reflects body-heat back in towards you.

After I returned from the Red Sea, I contacted GUL to see what other sizes it came in because my buddy wanted one. There are seven men's sizes, and women can choose a size anywhere between ten and 15. GUL also make titanium-lined shorties, semi-dries (7mm), drysuits, and another steamer (3mm) which is ideal for warm-water diving and snorkelling,

So, am I converted? Well, considering that I was very much in the 'couldn't care less' camp before, then yes, I am. It makes a definite difference to feel that you can don your suit quickly and easily, know that you'll be comfortable above and below the line, and that you can effectively forget about it.

The GUL 4.5 mm Titanium Steamer costs £165 from most dive stores. For more details and stockists contact GUL INternational on 01208 72382

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