MY REGULAR POST-LADY handed over the box, telling me that it was too light to be diving equipment, and as soon as I took it from her I knew exactly what she meant.
We were both wrong. Inside the box was a bag, and inside the bag was a BARE Aquatrek drysuit. At just under 2.6kg, not including the direct-feed hose, the Aquatrek doesn’t weigh much more than a 5mm wetsuit. Not surprisingly, BARE has the travelling diver firmly front of mind for the Aquatrek, hence the name.
Home or abroad, however, a drysuit is only any good if it’s well-made, built to last, fits properly and keeps you dry. I wasn’t going to be able to check on the keeping-me-dry thing in my kitchen, but every other box looked to be nicely ticked right from the off.
The materials looked good, the seams were neat, the seals appeared well-fitted and the front-mounted zip was smooth and low-profile.
Time for a first try-on, and I’ll tell you now that this suit was as easy to get into as any I’ve ever worn and, once on, the fit was very good.
I’d picked it using BARE’s sizing guide and it fitted me at least as well as some made-to-measure suits I’ve had in the past.
Don’t read too much into that, we’re all different shapes and you may not be as fortunate as I was, but when you buy a new suit BARE can alter arm and leg length if required, so you should be able to get a suit that fits without any problems.
Getting out of the suit was a bit more of a struggle, but only because the standard latex wrist-seals are a generous length and were nice and tight. A quick squirt of lube got the job done.
The suit is made from a four-layered fabric that BARE calls Cordura Nylon Oxford and says makes it durable, breathable and lighter than traditional trilaminate materials, with a degree of flexibility to allow you to move around easily on the boat and under water.
The seams are kept neat and low-profile so that they don’t catch or wear, and additional taping is applied to seams that flex the most.
The standard suit is supplied with what BARE calls Tech boots, which are what I think of as traditional drysuit neoprene boots but, once again, if that doesn’t float your boat you can specify either a different type of boot or soft socks.
Ankle-straps allow you to pull the legs tight to keep air migration to a minimum and help prevent your boots popping off your feet, although in use I never felt that this was likely, straps or not, and if your suit fits properly neither will you.
The knees are protected by a large panel with the BARE name embossed down the front and backed by a lovely 2mm neoprene pad that made kneeling down more comfortable when I’d dropped my reel, which had rolled under the seat and I couldn’t quite reach it.
Inlet-valve and zipper.
The upper torso and the lower part of the suit telescope together and are held in place by a crotch-strap adjustable enough to get the job done without getting all personal. Standard-fitting internal braces mean that you can don the lower half of the suit and wander around looking appropriately cool until it’s time to kit up properly.
The standard zipper is plastic, lightweight and with a nicely sized T-handle to pull it closed. It runs from your upper left shoulder across and down to your right hip, and you can close the zip all the way yourself. This suit is fully self-donning. Other zip options are available if you feel you need them.
Valves are branded BARE but made by SiTech, with the inlet valve a little to the right of centre of your chest and the auto-dump slightly to the front of centre of your left arm. You can have the valves placed elsewhere if you prefer.
Latex wrist-seals and a neoprene neck-seal were fitted to the review suit, but you can specify neoprene wrist- or latex neck-seal, or go for cuff-rings for dry-gloves and a ring system for the neck-seal. You can also have a Trigon pee-valve fitted.