| FIRST IMPRESSIONS
THE HYDROTECH EVOLUTION
Recently launched, this is the first membrane dry suit produced
by Hydrotech. I used it for the Dive International equipment tests
in Gibraltar and, while a full evaluation would need many more dives,
the first impressions were impressive.
It is constructed from heavy weave Trilaminate to maximise resistance
to scuffing, tearing and puncture. Seams are double stitched, glued
and then taped.
I spent up to eight hours a day in the Evolution during the four
days of testing. The suit was very comfortable. Trilaminate suits
are often associated with bagginess designed to give reasonable
freedom of movement with a material which doesn't stretch. The Evolution,
though, is streamlined and closer fitting than many conventional
trisuits because of its elasticated panel which draws in the torso
section without sacrificing the inherent strength of the material.
This helps to ensure a closer body fit, minimising drag in the water,
reducing air migration and giving you room to manoeuvre.
The suit's knees come in for a lot of abuse. Hydrotech have protected
the Evolution with generous, well-padded knee guards. The back entry
zip is long enough to span my shoulders, allowing for easy donning
and doffing. The latex seals supplied were tough, with no leaks
encountered. I found them tight and, as with any latex seal it is
expected that the owner will trim these to fit properly.
I liked the boots. They are hard-soled with tough rubber uppers
and are vulcanised to the suit leg. They provided plenty of traction
on shingle and the distinctly non, non-slip decking of the RIB we
dived from. Walking fully kitted up on an extremely steep slope
and poorly surfaced track wasn't comfortable on my back, but my
feet were very well protected.
My suit was a stock size but the firm also offers a made-to-measure
service. On a suit as well-cut as this one, and with the benefit
of the elasticated section, most divers probably won't need this
service. The valves provided are standard Apeks ones. My suit was
fitted with the usual centre chest-inflator (you can specify placement)
and a cuff dump. This certainly vented efficiently enough, even
on 40m plus dives with a lot of air in the suit, but my strong preference
is for the bicep-mounted auto dump (the Evolution is available with
The Evolution delivers a dry, comfortable dive. Only time and use
will confirm that it is tough as it appears. From my experience
with this suit, I would recommend it if your style of diving dictates
long hours underwater or suited up and you want to be assured of
maximum return on your investment. Nick Rumble.