Waterproof W50 5mm
Appeared in DIVER August 2017
IT’S BEEN SOME TIME since anyone described my rear as pert or cute, until I put on the new W50. I’ll admit that it was my other half who made the remark, and while I’d like to claim that wolf-whistles and indecent proposals followed me everywhere I wore the suit, they didn’t. I did get a lot of comments on how good it looked, however. Which was nice.
Truth is, Waterproof has a track record of developing eye-catching suits with real dive-deck credibility. I’ll admit that those looks were never to everyone’s taste, but they were distinctive enough to stand out from the crowd with their tough, no-nonsense air, making their wearers seem more like some futuristic space commando than a holiday scuba-diver about to hit the water and look at the pretty fish.
You’d often see dive-guides in Waterproof suits, too, which is testimony to their hard-wearing nature. Three or four dives a day most days of the year is a very good way to find out how well any diving gear is put together.
Waterproof makes the new W50 suit from an ultra-soft neoprene faced with a nylon and Spandex coating to make it as stretchy, comfortable and easy to get in and out of as possible, with protective panels in areas of high wear.
The tops of the shoulders get reinforcing and anti-slip material, the knees get an abrasion-resistant outer coating and the seat gets non-slip polyurethane embossing to help you stay in place on the tubes of a bouncing RIB.
The rear zip is a YKK item, with a generous flap underneath and reinforced panels around it to help longevity, and the bottoms of each leg have a foot-long YKK zipper that opens the calf area wide. This makes it as easy as possible to push your foot through and then get the suit properly pulled up around your legs and bum.
The overall construction isn’t hugely complex, with fewer panels than some suits on the market.
That means fewer joins – a good thing in my experience.
Time to try the suit on. To be effective, any wetsuit has to be close-enough fitting to feel just a bit tight. If it feels at all loose, expect water to continually flush through, and you might as well not be wearing it.
Getting the right size isn’t just important, it’s vital if you’re going to stay warm. Waterproof offers the W50 tailored to fit the male or female form with 10 size options for either, so you should be able to find one that fits like the proverbial.
And if it does fit that well, it’ll be a bit of a struggle to get on, right? Wrong.
The back-zip and leg-zips slid open at a touch. In went my feet, a quick shimmy to pull up the waist and I was pretty much ready to go. The legs were a doddle to get properly in place. I’ve lost skin and fingernails to suits in the past, and the W50 was a joy to don in comparison.
There is the usual long tape on the tab of the rear zip so that you can close it yourself, but it’s easier to let someone else do it so that they can make sure the neoprene flap underneath is smoothed out and sits properly behind the zip to limit water entry.
At the top of the zipper is a triangular flap with a long Velcro tab that allows you to pull the collar as close as you like. I found that I needed to make sure the neoprene under the zip was pulled up past the top of the metal zip-slider so that it didn’t rub the back of my neck, and liked the collar nice and tight – comments applicable to any rear-zip suit.
That done, bending to close the leg zips was easy. Twisting to put on my BC was easy. Leaning to pull on my fins was easy. In fact, the suit was as comfortable out of the water as any I’ve ever worn, and much better than most.
I wear my computer on my left wrist and there’s an anti-slip texturing there and on the other wrist to stop your instruments slipping. It seemed to work – I never noticed my computer move.
To be fair, I never have with other suits, but if this is an issue for you, it shouldn’t be any more.
The anti-slip panelling on the seat worked too, as I discovered on a number of windy and very bouncy transits along the face of Abu Nuhas, both before and after the dives.
Under water, I found the suit as comfortable as it had been on the boat. More comfortable, in fact. Head up or down, or in a nice, horizontal trim, the suit never made its presence felt. It was just there, doing its job and not intruding on the diving experience, and it didn’t get in the way when I climbed back on the RIB.
Once or twice I got a small flush of cold water up one leg or the other, but never noticed any water ingress through the neck or the arms.
And so to removing the suit after the dive. Piece of cake – as long as I remembered to unfasten the ankle-zips, which I did every time after the first dive, when I spent some moments swearing to myself and trying to work out why it was so much harder to get the suit off than it had been to put on. Duh!
The only thing I haven’t yet mentioned is the Waterproof Personal Accessory Dock situated on the right hip, which is a sort of ring of neoprene lined with Velcro and to which an optional expanding pocket can be attached.
I didn’t have the pocket so can’t comment on the size or usefulness thereof, but I can say that I never noticed the WPAD when I wore the suit, and that’s good.
If you’re in the market for a 5mm suit, the Waterproof W50 should be on your list to try. Especially if your rear needs a little perking up. up.