Time Test

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 this option).

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.

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