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suit input

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Mar 11, 2004
I need some wetsuit input.

I dive and spear in fresh water lakes in British Columbia, Canada and am looking to pick up a custom Elios suit. My trouble is deciding how thick to go. I have decided that this will be basically a summer suit only, but the water here in June through late july is 10C+-, never getting above 20C after the hottest days of August. I also never go deeper than 15m as there is nothing to warrant it. I previously used a terrible 7mm Oceaner scuba suit, and do not want to fight with the inflexibility and lead required to compensate for that much buoyancy. I do not know if a 3mm suit will keep me comfortable for an hour, max two in 10-14C water. It seems to me that a 5mm suit would be recommended, but I really want to stay flexible and light on lead.

Would I loose much stretch going from a 3mm to 5mm? I have read mixed thoughts on this. How much extra weight could I expect to wear for those extra 2mm's in fresh water?

I do apologize for the armature question, one that I know comes up a lot. I do not know anyone in person who knows what they are talking about, so you guys are all I've got.

Oh, I have been in contact with Elios. I was thinking a john/ hooded jacket suit in Heiwa neoprene, coated inside, kanoko outside. I do not want an open cell suit as I need it to be durable enough for laying on the bottom.

I dove in BC on a few occasions (Chilliwack Lake among few others, absolutely stunning, with salmon jumping up and down). I suggest 3mm wetsuit and an sleeveless vest, also 3mm. Elios will gladly make you both. If the water is on a colder side, put on the vest underneath the suit.

Vest can be open cell inside, nylon outside. Suit should be open cell with coating inside, nylon or something stronger on the outside.

Could please you tell me about freshwater spearfishing regulation in BC.
It seemed to me that in Canada spearfishing is almost prohibited.
Could please you tell me about freshwater spearfishing regulation in BC.
It seemed to me that in Canada spearfishing is almost prohibited. [/B]

You can spearfish most areas of BC other than Vancouver Island. National parks are also off limits for any fishing. The species allowable by spear are non-game fish only, which does not leave much. In fresh water, I basically only take carp. I did not used to spear in the fresh at all, as I do not care to eat much carp and it seemed unethical. I had a conversation with a fish and wildlife officer a few years ago that encouraged me to take carp as they do considerable damage to the native fish species, so now I do. It also keeps me sharp for my occasional trip to salt water.

I am no authority on the regulations on other provinces, but as I understand it Quebec is very strict, wile in Ontario you can take several species. Perhaps someone here can clarify further?
5 mm open cell

3 mm would not have been enough for me in those temperatures! I would have gone with 5 mm open cell inside and kanoko outside.

Open cell (inside) will not affect durability against outside wear like laying on the bottom etc. You have to be a little careful putting it on, and it is not quite as convenient putting on as a lined suit, but in my oppinion, it is well worth it!

By the way, you probably want the low desity Heiwa, since it is stretchier than the medium and high densities. It does have more boyancy change from compression, but since you don't go very deep it shouldn't matter too much for you.

Re: spearing reg's in Ontario and Quebec... In Ontario you can only spear carp and other "rough" fish for a month in the spring, and only with a pole spear, no meathod of propulsion may be used for your spear.

I don't know all the regs in Quebec, but the Quebec freedivers have invited me up for some nice spearing... apparently the regs there are much more favorable to spearo's. It seems from talking to them that at times even game fish are ok to spear. I'd have to check that out though.

Hey Ryan,

I am just about to order an Elios suit as well. I am in Alberta lakes - about the same temps as you. I am getting a 5mm, but with a high waist bottom instead of a John. You should consider the high waist for two reasons:

1 - less overall neoprene therefore less lead. Elios offers a 2mm vest to go under the jacket for colder days anywhere between 18-35 euros depending on what type of coating etc. Personally I am going with smooth skin outside for the vest because this would stick to the inside of the jacket.
2 - you will be able to breathe up better with the reduced restriction around the thorax.

what type of coating were you going to go with on the inside? open cell without coating on the inside would be very warm, but more difficult to put on.

what area of BC are you in?

Hi Ryan,

yep my guess would be a 5mm low density Heiwa. I have used 5mm top and 3mm long johns Elios in 14C and stayed toasty warm for over an hour. In fact was almost too warm. :D

If you want something real stretchy think about the superstretch lining. I have a smoothskin outside, superstretch inside and it is much much stretchier then standard lining. It's closer to a suit with no lining at all. The lining is what really limits the stretch. I can wear mine inside out too. Or you could just order it in opencell inside and superstretch outside. It is a little more fragile then normal lining but much stronger then no lining at all.

If you get high pants then definitely get a vest also. I have a elios 2mm high density gold inside and nylon outside, really makes it a lot warmer.

If you have the bucks consider ordering the full 5mm suit + 3mm longjohn pants. Then when it's warmer use the 3mm pants and you don't need as much lead.

P.S. The Elios suits Kick #ss ! :)

Thanks very much for the help, much appreciated.

I think 5mm is the answer. I have a 1.5mm Omer bermuda and vest that I can throw under that should take me into quite cold water. Low density Heiwa with black coating inside and kanoko outside is what I am considering.

feign, I am in the Okanagan, an hour south of Kelowna if you are familiar with the area. I mostly dive Okanagan and Skaha lakes. How much of a season can you get in Alberta with a 5mm suit?

Spearfishing is not prohibited in Quebec. Everything a line fisherman is allowed to take is also ok for spearfishing with the exception of musky (muskellunge) and sturgeon. The "ouananiche" ( a species of fresh water salmon) may also be forbidden for spearfishing but those guys are usually too deep for me anyway.
I also think that 5mm is the way to go Hephaestus. I use mine from late April to Octobre. Some of the lakes out here have a pretty steep termocline: cooking on the surface and frigid from 10m down.
Happy diving and spearfishing!

To Virgil:

Could you please recoomend a few lakes in the Montreal/Quebec City vicinity that are good for spearfishing/freediving. I am planning on paying a visit in the next few weeks.

Wow, so much people from montreal!! Did you guys know there were a freediving courses given by Yves Charland and Johan Valentin at the CEPSUM? There're many people that are eager to go spearfish, like me, and didn't get a chance to go yet. Subscibe to our mailing list: apneequebec-subscribe@groupesyahoo.ca

Benjamin L.
Hoping to dive with you this summer!

Close to Montreal your may try St-Francois lake. This is just 20' West of Montreal and it is formed by the St-Laurence river. The visibility is usually fair to good (for fresh water) thanks to the zebra mussels. Look for walleye (doré), pike, trout or bass (after June 15-th).
Another good spot not too far from Montreal is Memphremagog lake. This is about 1h from Montreal on the way to Sheerbroke (A10). The lake spreads along a valley between mountains for about 40Km and is quite deep (+100m). It also cold and very dark @ depth. In the shallows it holds quite a population of bass. You will probably not find this very challenging as this fish is all but shy; as soon as you get down they will all come to check you out. In many cases I cannot squize the trigger in these conditions (-:
There are also various speacies of salmonide (trout and salmon) but in the summer you'll need to dive really deep to hope to see any. Check the following link for a description of the dive sites:


You may also want to check this other link:


Think about bringing or renting a small boat or a kayak for these two lakes.

There's also another place on the Richelieu river which may be accessible without a boat. The place is shallow and there is even a small wreck and some bass and dore usually hang-out around that. Check for a description of the site and access on the first link above. It's about 54' South-East of Montreal.

PM me if you're in the Montreal area after June 15.


apnée Québec


Thanks for the info! And "see you" on the Apnée Québec mailing-list.


I sent you a PM that still seems to be unread.
Anyway, thanks for all the info, extremely helpful!

I'm from Quebec Also, spearfishing in the laurentians north of montreal 2-3 times a week, and freediving on the weekend. Visit www.apneequebec.com and www.freedivequebec.com for more info ! Lac Tremblant and Lac Mercier in Mont Tremblant are pretty good and clear for spearfishing. Let me know if you come : info@freedivequebec.com

As for the suit, I also suggest 5mm because of cold water temperature down after 6-7 meters.

But I'm wondering, for those who have superelastic lining inside, and smoothskin out, does the water get in easily because of the nylon on the skin ?

David Rousseau
OK you crazy cold water divers. I can't figure you out so I need you to please clarify some things.

I dove Southern California and froze in my old wetsuit. The next time I dove, I rented a 7.5mm suit and still froze in the 15 degree water! To be fair, it was rented , did not have a built in hood, and was not open cell....but still seemed like a nice suit.

I've read A LOT of posts on this board and virtually no one talks of diving an Elios suit greater than 5mm thick. Why?! I'm a skinny guy who gets cold quick. I dive all day long, not just for an hour or two. When I'm on the boat between dives, I leave my suit on. I just can't accept that I could possibly be kept warm all day in 12 to 15 degree water by a 5mm suit.

In talking with Elios, we've decided to go with 5mm pants. We agreed I might be best suited by a 6mm top. It'll be open cell inside, smooth outside in the interest of obtaining the greatest warmth possible. Will this really keep me warm?

Is there a significant disadvantage to going to a 7mm suit? I know it requires more lead but is it really a big deal?

A hood makes a huge difference! I have been diving in just the john part of my existing wetsuit (7mm), becaue the seams in the jacket are destroyed. The water lately has been around 12C. With just the john I was shivering and stiff after 45 minutes in the water. I cut the hood off a hooded vest I had that doesnt fit anymore and used that the next time and was MUCH more comfortable. I think you will find that a good fitting hooded suit will be much warmer than the 7.5mm rental you tried.

I am no expert, but if you are worried about getting cold then maybe you should get a thicker suit. I would much rather loose a bit of flexability to neoprene than get stiff and uncomfortable from the cold. The main problem with increasing thickness in most suits is that you get twice the added bulk over your torso becasue of the john plus jacket. If you look at high waist pants that shouldnt be such a problem.

When I was researching Elios I recall someone here that dives in the Med ordering an 8mm suit. Ted and John dive in ice covered lakes in Wisconsin in 5mm suits and seem to do ok. It doesnt matter what works for someone else, so long as what you have works for you.
Elios advised me to get a 3mm vest (opencell) to put on top of my 4mm(sandwich) jacket. (I have to use a
soap to slide it over)
Also to prevent water from flowing into it I got a belt made from soft Yamamoto neoprene. I will put it between jacket and tights.
That way I am confident I will stay dry exept for the amount of water+ K-Y I use to get into the suit. In addition I glued two big round circles of 2mm neoprene inside the hood to cover my ears poking only the tiniest holes in it. (originally I had to put them
in because the holes where so big I had water flowing around my headwhen I dived)
One should always try to keep the head dry , cause nowhere you´ll lose as much energy.
Around my belly there will be 3+4+3= 10mm of material. If that won´t keep me warm I don´t know what else to do.
I will have to actually start moving in the water to keep me warm ;)

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