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First Apnea Suit

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Carp Whisperer
Jul 27, 2004
I just realized that I could extend my season here In northern michigan to probably 6 months with a good suit. I currently dive with a Henderson 3/2 suit I bought for $79us - it is wonderful and revolutionary in itself since I've gone without a suit altogether for many years and, while I may not be as macho as eric with his 4c no suit dives - I've been doing great in water that's normally in the 50s F - with thermalclines in the 40s. (the shaking goes away after a few hours :) )

Anyway - I'm 6' 1" (185.4cm) and weigh 160lbs (72.5kilos). Main issue seems to be sizing since I gather from this site most of the apnea suits are well made and suitable. I'll definitely be going with sturdy over smooth on the outside. I'm thinking 5mm as 7 is apt to be a little stiff and I'm doing okay now in a too-big 3/2. If anybody has a similar build or can other wise provide advice/opinions etc. I'd greatly appreciate it. I've emailed elios but suspect they might be too pricey - we'll see though. All input welcomed! :)

(by the way - if I havent' mentioned it - my new sporasubs rock! I can play my divers flag line like a cello string by adjusting speed)
I will use this thread to ask a little question regarding suits:
How big is the drag with a suit while doing dynamics?
Maybe someone has experience and could tell around how many percent difference one has to expect between dynamics with suit and without.
I just got mine in the mail, the suit itself, 6mm smooth skin/open cell enclosed hood, was only 155 Euro...which is like $190 or so. But of course shipping was $60...still an absolute steel in my mind. Fits absolutely amazing, and im pretty tall and thin, 6'4", 175. I highly doubt you would be dissapointed in an Elios from what I have personally seen and what the general concensus on this board has been.

Oh yeah, I remember seeing Picasso apnea suits on sale somewhere (I think scubastore.com) in 7mm for around $180, 5mm around $150 and 3mm for $130. If thats not a deal I dont know what is. Good luck...

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The Elios suits are very reasonably priced. My custom 3mm cost 118 Euros plus shipping. I used the Fedex shipping which was expensive, but you could opt for a less expensive shipping method. With your sizing you MUST go with custom fit: it will make all the difference, and Elios are sticklers with sizing. They even asked if I had a long chin!
My next suit from them will be a 5mm for the shoulder season up here too. Dry gloves, an extra hood and a 5mm suit will take you into the end of October easily.
Erik Y.
I'm very happy with my Elios.
Regarding how long your season might get, advise with Unirdna or Jon, they dive in similar condtions to yours, and I saw pictures of them going Ice-diving, so that season might be all year round.
They could also tip you regarding gloves and other termal protection stuff. You can also buy a termal pad, if you do a search, Eric F used to use them (now he uses the force. :)).

There are only 2 other cheaper options I know off, which is a Picasso suit from DB store (mentioned here), and some greek guy that makes elios style suits but cheaper, his name is "Spiros" I think. Use the search option on that. I don't know how good his craft is, try asking the customers.

(goods for sale forum).
A custom 5mm Elios suit will be more than warm enough. I bought a 3mm and a 6mm, but now wish that I had only gone with a 5mm- since the 6mm is almost too warm, even in winter. I've used my 3mm for most of the season around here- even out in LAke Michigan. I have a 2mm vest I can wear under it and it has been a great all around suit. HTe 6mm will be a winter suit only.

The suits are VERY warm and you will be amazed at how easy you can move in them compared to what you have dove with in the past. They also allow very little water, or other fluids, to flow through the suit as a result of how they are designed, and cut.

I would probably get some type of super-elastic lining on the outside since it's your first suit. I ave suits with lini ng and without. I like the feel of the smoothskin suit, but my nylon outer coated suits are faurly bullet-proof for wreck diving.

Inner linings are a little bit tricker. Slick coatings can make it easier to put on, but I find I still need some lube to put the things on. As a result I just go with a basic opencell suit on the inside. It's warmer, and cheaper, but you just need to know upfront that it will take a little more effort to put it on. That effort is well worth it though when you find yourself spending hours in the lake having fun.

The Force

I seem to do reasonably well with minimal insulation. Jon, based on your comments - do you think a 3mm might be sufficient? I don't plan on any winter diving and it sounds like the 3mm with a vest might go through most of the year here. I may or may not be underestimating how warm these suits are. Right now I'm planning on the 5 and just using my henderson when it's warm.

I plan on definitely going for a sturdy outter coating - with zebra muscles, rocks, climbing in and out on rusty iron ladders etc. I definitely want to protect the investment. Elios pricing sounds pretty exciting! Due to some strategic issues this is the first year in a good long time I've been able to focus on this, my favorite human activity (...well; almost), I really appreciate the input.
Since you already have a summer suit, I would go for the 5mm.

If you really wanted something thinner I would say a 4mm- with the vest. I think that you'll find yourself diving much further into the fall with the thicker suit. You'll also be able to use it for scuba, with the nylon outer coating, if you should choose to.


Look forward to hearing from Eliossub. I think the 5 will be best too since it is almost allways quite cold in the various thermalclines - which often seem to be only a meter or two down!
Hey Fondueset
I dive in Guernsey (granite - rusty ladders - sharp things in the water - water is between 12 deg C and 18 deg C) - anyway, I'm 6'2" and get pretty cold quickly.

I bought an Elios 5mm (inner: basic opencell // outer: Kanoko [this is a tough fabric like nylon but tougher - I spearfish too so lie on the bottom - in the rocks]). Oh - mid density Heiwa.

It is an excellent fit - extremely warm - and I can go out quite happily for 3 hours in 18C water (have yet to go for longer / have yet to go in colder water). I used to be able to go out for about 45mins in an old surfing 5mm suit without a hood.

When I get out of the suit at the end of the session the water in the suit is very warm ! Nice suit.

I am thinking about getting a 3mm suit (same spec) for reasons of bouyancy. Some of the spearing is in 6m to 12m water so you need to add alot of lead for neutral buoyancy for thoise depths - if you are not spearing I would get a 5mm suit and weight for 10m neutral or whatever level you are at.

Hope that helps.

Heard from Eliossub

All the Italians I know are so friendly :)
Lots of choices - they have something called ecoline - which sounds like it is less dense neoprene - good to 15 or 20 meters. (so far I keep hitting bottom at about 10) and a lining called 'thermic pile'. Anybody know anything about this stuff? It may be the kanoko is the way to go around here. The zebra muscles (small shellfish that cluster on rocks) are razor sharp - quite literally leaving long gashes in many swimmers herbouts. I'm wondering now about neoprene and linings. looks like they like the heiwa.

Thanks alot for the opinions you guys! - Yes - very helpful.
I personally wouldnt mess around with thermic pile and stuff like that - Keep it simple. Open cell sticks to your skin - I can get mine on fine with just water - ok, it slips on better with soap but I just take a bit more time and plenty of hot water - not a hassle at all now that I am used to it. Open cell should be warmer especially with a good custom fit like Elios can provide - I would get an Elios / opencell inner / kanoko outer / heiwa mid density.... in fact that IS what I got !
Very happy with it.
Eliosub is great

Very helpful with suit info - and VERY good prices. Haven't ordered yet.

I'm considering Thermic pile lining - only because it would be convenient for alot of I/O - is this just for wimps? Anybody used it?

They think I can do with low-density neoprene because of the depths around here - but I hope to go deeper at some point so I'll probably go with the heiwa. Haven't quite decided on kanoko or nylon yet - definitely 5mm.

The water here is unbelievably clear today.
Well I was set to get the Kanoko/thermic pile combo - because I often am diving on short notice - like lunch hour - and I thought easy on/off would be reasonable trade off. Now they tell me they just got a new lining it ' blue' which is supposed to be warm AND easy to get on. Only comes with Nylon outside - so I'm enquiring of it's relative properties. Hopeing to get a suit to last awhile.
Eliossub is great to deal with!
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