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Originally posted by Jon
Here's an area which I have had a lot of experience in. I have owned about a half dozen different drysuits over the past 20+ years and have tried even more. Since we do almost all of our wreck divng in water less than 40 degrees (5C) I have had a lot of time to think about these suits- especially when doing extended deco hangs in a flooded suit.
My first two suits were neoprene. They were the only things around at the time and they are cheap, compared to membrane suits. Other than that I wouldn't waste my money on them. The bouyancy changes are much more drastic than on a membrane suit and they material will eventually get pinholes in it as the material disintegrates while you wear it. The loose bouyancy and warmth with depth and require lots of extra air in your BC to compensate- which can wreck your trim underwater and make you more unstable. They are the cheapest suits out there.
My next two suits were Vulcanized Rubber, Vikings to be exact. These were great suits at the time as they were the first totally dry drysuits that my friends and I ever owned. They are still used for divng in contaminated water because they can be cleaned very easily. The main reason I went away from this type of suit was Zebra Mussels. Those are the sharp little clams that invaded the Great Lakes about 10-15 years ago and slice through these rubber suits like a hot knife through butter.
Next suits up were the DUI variety. My CF200 was very comfortable and quite durable. It took FOREVER to dry though- there where whole weeks in the summer time where my suit never completely dried out. Compare this to a Viking, which can dry out in less than 15 minutes an a sunny day, and it became a bit of a pain. Still, it was one of my favorite suits, but a bit of a pain to try and repair.
After that I went to a TLS-350. This was my favortie suit, and the one I would buy again. It was light, dried fast, easy to repair, nice to travle with, allowed for easy adjustment of undergarments for diving in all temperatures, and cheaper than the CF200. For the diving that you plan on doing I would highly recommend it.
Next suit was a DUI CLX-450. Since I liked the TLS suit so much I thought that I would try this suit since it was extra reinforced. I hated it. The suit was just too bulky and hard to move in. Not as bad as a neoprene suit, but nowhere near as comfortable as the other suits that I have owned.
DUI is only one comapny that I would recommend. Another suit that I have used, and many of my freinds have as well, are the Diving Concept's drysuits. They make customsuits in any kind of material, except vulcanized rubber, and come in cheaper than a DUI suit. Northern Diver makes a very similar range of suits- I think that the two companies where once merged. Hunter/Gates makes TLS, CLX, and rubber suits. They are excellent suits if you don't mind your zipper across your shoulders.
There are lots of genaric suits out there, by Scuba Pro, Oceanic, Zeagle, DiveRite, Dacor, Mares, ect. But they are all made for them by other, drysuit specific, companies.
Look for a TLS suit. Try to get one with a front zip, and then go for the best deal you can get in your local market.
I hope that helps,