The Dual wetsuit is a traditional hood-attached jacket and long-john combination. It’s a 5mm suit designed for temperate-water diving.
Although Mares is an Italian brand, the suit itself is, in common with many other makes, manufactured in Cambodia.
Lower Far Eastern manufacturing costs, and the fact that the Dual is fairly basic, enables Mares to market this as a budget suit. It actually costs less than my last “made in Britain” semi-dry did 30 years ago.
Testing wetsuits is a tough gig. Here’s why. Individuals have different predispositions towards cold – some people want the windows open, while others want the heating on.
Finning hard keeps you warmer for longer than crouching motionless behind your camera.
And it’s not only physiology that’s against you – so are physics and the environment. The deeper you dive, the colder it usually gets, and you lose more heat through respiration.
This occurs because you breathe greater volumes of air, which your body heats up before exhalation. The wetsuit neoprene that insulates you gets thinner with increases in depth, so you get colder even faster.
Current also creates a form of underwater wind-chill, which is why you can freeze riding a diver propulsion vehicle. All this goes to make wetsuit reviews very subjective. So, reporting subjectively, how does the Dual perform?
The Dual is double-lined. The inner nylon lining makes it easy to slip the suit on and off, and the outer nylon protects the underlying neoprene from abrasion and nicks. It also makes it easier to manufacture using strong, waterproof seams.
The neoprene panels are first glued edge to edge, then sewn from each side. The stitches penetrate only halfway through the seam, not all the way, so there are no needle-holes through which cold water can enter, and warm water leave, as the result of the pumping action divers create as they move.
The jacket has a full-length offset YKK nylon zip that runs from hip to cheek. The jock-strap locks into place using a bayonet fitting and has high and low positions – the high position might be used when wearing the jacket with only a swimsuit, for instance.
The hood has pin-holes in the top to allow any trapped air to vent automatically. Unlike Mares premium-line hoods, there’s no one-way baffle to minimise cold water entering through these holes. Hang the jacket up by the jock-strap and water won’t pool in the hood, but will conveniently drain and speed up the drying process.
The long-john has a central zipper. Jacket and long-john zippers are backed by slim flaps to reduce water flow. The long-john has a high neck, and the neck and arm edges are nicely bound. Generous shin-pads are fitted to protect the legs from wear.
Mares make a lot of using a neoprene that provides plenty of stretch. It has also used flex panels behind the knees and at the elbows to prevent the suit creasing here, and pinching or abrading your skin.
As a semi-dry, the Mares Dual has seals made from Glide Skin around the face, wrists and ankles. These just lie flat against your skin, unlike the inverted seals on some other suits.
The suit size is marked inside the wrist-seal, making it easy to identify on a dive-school’s rental rail. Slight ridges around the forearms prevent wrist instruments shifting position – these might be simple, but they work well.