Double test: Looking for a budget wetsuit?

Lomo Maverick and Osprey Zero wetsuits

Last Updated on June 15, 2024 by Steve Weinman

There I was, all set to order my new wetsuit when the electricity bill arrived. Ye gods and little fishes! Was I paying for the lecky or buying the blasted company? 

Either way, I didn’t hit the buy button. Thing is, I’d rather spend what money I have on diving, not on kit – but can cheaper kit really do the job? That’s the question. 

Buy cheap, buy twice, they say. More like three or four times, in my experience, but driven by my electrically depleted bank balance I headed back to the Internet to see what I could find.

Glasgow-based Lomo Watersports has just introduced a new 5mm chest-entry suit, the Maverick, priced at £135, and Osprey Action Sports has a range of suits including the 6mm Zero for £140. Both companies really focus on surface watersports such as surfing and kayaking, so neither suit is CE-certified for diving. 

That process is long and costly, but while I wouldn’t buy a non-CE regulator, a wetsuit is just a wetsuit, right? Gimme the saving, the worst that can happen is that I get cold.

Lomo Maverick

The Lomo Maverick arrived first. The packaging wasn’t deluxe, just a clear plastic bag, but I’d be diving in the suit, not the bag, so that was OK, and the suit looked good. 

It’s all black with nicely muted logos, and on closer inspection the blind stitching was even and very neat. Internally the seams are taped, with extra reinforcement at key points, and there’s a jazzy thermal lining with a red honeycomb pattern covering the torso and thighs.

Lomo wetsuit exterior stitching and logo
Lomo wetsuit exterior stitching and logo
Lomo Maverick wetsuit interior taping and thermal lining
Lomo Maverick wetsuit interior taping and thermal lining

The Maverick is chest-entry, so you first open the zip, which separates into two like the zipper on a coat rather than opening to a stop like the zipper on a drysuit. You then ferret about to find where to insert your feet – the colourful lining helps – and step in, pushing your feet through the ankles. 

Pull the suit up and shimmy your backside into place, pull the top of the suit up and slide your arms into the sleeves, take a deep breath and wriggle your hands through wrist-seals that feel way too tight and you’re almost there. 

A sort of cape is attached to the inside of the back of the suit that pulls forward, up and over your head, to reduce water entry, with a cord and toggle to adjust the fit, and then all that’s left is to pull the zipper halves together and do up the zip. 

I won’t pretend it falls into place, but the end result felt more like a semi-dry than a wetsuit and promised mucho warmth and cosiness. Getting it off was easier than getting it on, but a second pair of hands were helpful. Very helpful.

Osprey Zero

The Osprey Zero turned up a day or two later, in exactly the same type of bag as the Lomo, folded the same way and with almost identical inserts to protect the suit in transit. In honesty, it could well have emerged from the same Chinese suit-mine, although it’s a traditional back-zip design. 

First impressions were just as good. The Zero is all black with very neat internal and external stitching and restrained logos. Different thicknesses of neoprene, 6, 5 and 4mm, are used to give the wearer better mobility, the wrist and ankle openings are claimed to be anti-rub, the knees are reinforced with a material Osprey calls Supratex and the whole suit is said to be super-stretchy.

Osprey Zero wetsuit logo and exterior stitching
Osprey Zero wetsuit logo and exterior stitching

Getting in is a doddle. Pull down the YKK rear zip, step in, pull the legs up, wiggle into the bum, work your hands past the ends of the sleeves, settle the shoulders in place and zip up. There’s a good overlap behind the zip to reduce water entry, and a long ribbon means you can do-it-yourself if you don’t have a helper. 

The collar is soft and pulls easily into place, fastened by a Velcro patch that comes nowhere near your skin. There are no zips on ankles or wrists, which are tight enough to keep water entry to a minimum, though not quite as tight as drysuit cuffs, and the neoprene really is stretchy enough to cope. 

And, according to the better half, the cut of the suit enhanced the appeal of my manly physique, especially if I happened to be facing the other way. The suit is equally easy to remove.

Oh, and it’s worth knowing that there’s a very well-written section on the Osprey website LINK that explains how to get in and out of a wetsuit and, more to the point, how to look after it after use to make it last as long as possible. 

Neoprene isn’t the most environmentally friendly of materials, so making your new suit last longer doesn’t only make economic sense.

In and out in the Red Sea

So far, so good, then, so I took both suits on my May Red Sea liveaboard to see how they coped with real life.

Water temperature for the week was basically 25°C, a bit less in places. That’s not cold by any standard, but as dive times stretch beyond the hour and four dives a day accumulate through the week you could be forgiven for thinking it’s cooler than you’d like. 

Other guests on the boat were adding rash-vests and hoods as the week wore on. And it was windy. Windy enough to produce a real chill if you couldn’t find a sheltered spot to peel off post-dive.

Osprey Zero: Fit and forget
Osprey Zero: Fit and forget

First into the water was the Osprey Zero. It pulled on just as well and just as quickly on the dive-deck as it had at home, and under water was one of those fit-and-forget bits of kit. Comfortable to wear, it just did its job without fuss. 

I used the same weighting I would use with a standard 5mm suit and stayed warm once the initial flush of water warmed up. That’s down to the fit, of course, and Osprey offers a wide range of sizes to allow you to pick what you need.

Rear view: Osprey Zero...
Rear view: Osprey Zero

Bonus, the 6/5/4 logo on the left cuff is slightly raised and tacky and stops your dive-computer rotating around your wrist. Anti-bonus, there’s a small loop of thin bungee on the inner flap of the rear zip for you to stow your car key. 

If it works as a key-keeper I don’t know, but I do know it catches in the zip if you try to zip up yourself, and turns that essential activity into a two-person job. Not every time, but two out of three. If this was my suit the scissors would be out sooner rather than later and the loop would be consigned to oblivion.

Osprey Zero logo - the left sleeve grips a computer very nicely
Osprey Zero logo on the left sleeve, which grips a dive-computer nicely

Hanging on the rack between dives, the Osprey Zero was indistinguishable from the suits from a number of more prestigious, and much more expensive, brands and looked as good at the end of the week as it had at the beginning. 

It’s not a suit for colour-crazed extroverts, the plain black really is as plain as any suit I’ve ever seen, but in absolute terms it’s a good suit, and at the price point it’s a bargain.

The Lomo is a whole other bucket of frogs. Back in the day Navy divers were attended by dressers, whose job it was to help their diver into and out of his kit. The Lomo isn’t quite as tough to climb into as a Sladen drysuit but it sure ain’t easy, and the help of a willing third party is near as dammit essential. 

Lomo Maverick: You might want to try a bigger size than usual
Lomo Maverick: You might want to try a bigger size than usual

Getting out is easier, but a helper is still more than useful. Fortunately liveaboard crews have been there, seen it, done it, and Hamza appointed himself to look after me, accepting the risk of a hernia. I exaggerate, but only a bit. 

You might also like to note that I needed a size larger than my usual medium to get into the suit at all.

Don’t be put off. Once on, the suit was simply splendid. Movement above water was smooth and unrestricted. Dropping into the water produced no noticeable initial flush of cool water and dekitting after the dive confirmed very limited water-entry. 

I’ve had drysuit dives where I’ve been wetter. And that meant it was warm. Proper snuggly warm, helped by that thermal lining. 

Lomo Maverick from the back
Lomo Maverick from the back

Post-dive was also nice. Reduced water entry means less water on the skin and less wind-chill. I did need an extra kilo of lead to offset the extra buoyancy of the suit, but I liked diving in it a lot.

That white and red lining really stands out on the rack so it’s easy to spot, and come the end of the week it looked good as new, with no sign of wear despite the violence required to get into the thing.

In short, Lomo sells the Maverick as a wetsuit but it actually performs more like a semi-dry. For £135. Cracking. I actually think it’ll do me for my next UK puddle-dive.

So, how to sum these suits up? Well, I like to think of myself as fiscally prudent (my other half says I’m just tight), which means I’ll spend what I need to but I don’t like to spend more than I must, and either of these two suits would allow me to do exactly that, with money left over to go diving. Result.

Find out more about these budget wetsuits from Lomo Watersports and Osprey Action Sports.

Mike Ward headshot

MIKE WARD has been diving for almost 40 years and writing about his experiences for most of that time. He dives regularly at home and works with Scuba Travel to escort specialist wreck-diving safaris overseas.

Also by Mike Ward on Divernet: Is DJI action-cam really ‘better in low light’?, Let’s get physical: life-cycle of a diverDivers’ complete guide to drysuit selectionScapa Flow 100 history & wrecks

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#askmark, Heyo! Longtime listener, first time caller, etc. Went with a BP/W for my first set and I'm having a really hard time keeping the power inflator on my shoulder; the corrugated hose keeps flipping off my shoulder and getting twisted up or just ending up behind the backplate and dangling down the back of the wing. Is there something I can add to my harness to keep it in place? I don't want to tie it to the D ring since I wouldn't be able to lift it to deflate. I'm using the cheap DGX Gears wing for reference. Thanks!

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@jaketarren
#askmark, Heyo! Longtime listener, first time caller, etc. Went with a BP/W for my first set and I'm having a really hard time keeping the power inflator on my shoulder; the corrugated hose keeps flipping off my shoulder and getting twisted up or just ending up behind the backplate and dangling down the back of the wing. Is there something I can add to my harness to keep it in place? I don't want to tie it to the D ring since I wouldn't be able to lift it to deflate. I'm using the cheap DGX Gears wing for reference. Thanks!

#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
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How Do You Keep Your Corrugated BCD Hose in Place? #askmark

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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.
00:00 Introduction
01:17 Ears
05:13 Scuba.com
06:05 Hydrate
08:12 Clean

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Website: https://www.divernet.com ➡️ Scuba News, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Travel Reports
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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.
00:00 Introduction
01:17 Ears
05:13 Scuba.com
06:05 Hydrate
08:12 Clean

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Jim
Jim
18 days ago

I’m on the verge of buying my first wetsuit. Clueless really, apart from some research. This article has been very informative and helpful. I have used Lomo before, mainly for outdoor kit, when hiking. I will be happy to spend some more money with them.

Colin
Colin
8 days ago

I found this article highly interesting, since I also tend to be as tight as a wetsuit when it comes to buying kit.
However, having checked the size charts for both suits, I can unfortunately warn any tall divers out there that both the Osprey and the Lomo only go up to 6’3″ (ca. 191 cm).
So, I guess I shall have to stick to Scubapro after all.

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