Ten years – that’s how long Fourth Element says it has taken to bring the Halo A°R to the market. Its new undersuit incorporates what the manufacturer describes as highly advanced thermal technology originally created for spacecraft and cryogenics, in the form of A°RGON aerogel – “one of the most insulating materials ever developed”.
A°RGON is created by replacing the liquid from a gel with air to create a lightweight, hollow and flexible structure. “When we tested it more than 10 years ago it crushed and disintegrated,” says Fourth Element, but what it is now offering divers is A°RGON embedded in foam.
The material enables extreme thermal protection to be achieved from a thinner, less-buoyant diving undersuit, says the manufacturer. Incorporating a wind- and water-repellent stretch outer layer with thumb loops and foot stirrups, the Halo A°R can be “worn in total comfort, all day”.
An offset chest zip and baffles are designed to minimise heat-loss from the torso when the diver is in horizontal trim. The body is protected by a layer of A°RGON from shoulders to knees, with other areas also said to benefit from the aerogel without compromising mobility or creating bulk.
A zipped pocket is provided for storing keys, cards or cash. The undersuit is machine-washable and P-valve ready.
“Building on Fourth Element's experience in thermal protection and bodymapping, we have extensively assessed the Halo A°R with thermal-imaging cameras to improve and modify prototypes,” says director Jim Standing. “It’s been a long process to get this right, but what we have now is the most advanced technology you’ll find on the market.”
The Halo A°R undersuit comes in sizes S-XL and retails at £449.
RF2 for freedivers
Meanwhile Fourth Element also has a new cool- and coldwater freediving wetsuit called the RF2, which it says embodies “maximum freedom and ultimate warmth”.
The streamlined 6/5/4mm hybrid two-piece consists of a hooded jacket and leggings. It features lined outer panels around the core, arms and legs for what the manufacturer says is greater durability than traditional smoothskin. There is Glideskin across the shoulders and a hydrodynamic hood.
The inner has a smooth-cell Metalite coating, intended to boost warmth retention and robustness. Closure is beavertail-style and a Supratex seat panel is included.
“We’ve designed this suit with the consultation of professional freedivers, instructors and with the knowledge of freedive suit specialists,” says Fourth Element director Paul Strike.
One of those pros, freediving cameraman and Fourth Element ambassador Daan Verhoeven, adds: “The RF2 is possibly the best off-the peg suit I’ve ever tried. As soon as I got in the water, I instantly forgot the suit. I was just comfortable and could move without anything pinching or water coming in.”
Available in sizes S-XL, the suit costs £380: hooded jacket £230 and leggings £150.