Every diver I've ever taught, and every diver I've come in contact with since 1999, has always seen me wearing that old, grey, beat up 7mm Bare wetsuit, which over the years has withstood the best and the worst that Southern California has to offer. Well, after the knees I'd glued together with neoprene cement a fourth time separated again, I finally gave in and bought a new one. The effect of diving a new wetsuit stunned me.
First off, it wasn't hard to put on. That old Bare was like a pair of gym shoes, worn down and beaten up, but man it slid on in two seconds flat even without a dive skin. The new one, went on almost as easy, but I had to torpedo my hands through the extended wrist seals, so that was a little more challenging. Secondly, it fit really well! Turns out those sizing charts at the shop that said I'm an LT (Large / Tall) weren't kidding.
But who cares about how hard it was to put on. Wearing it on a dive in 58 degree water was like diving on the old one in 80 degree water! Holy shit! I'm finding it hard to put into words what a difference it made! Turns out, diving in Southern California water is entirely, and easily, achievable in the dead of winter if you use the right gear :) I did have to add about eight pounds of weight to what I usually wear to keep my buoyancy dialed in, but the extra weight in exchange for superior warmth is a concession I'll make every damn day of the week!
And people commented repeatedly on how good I looked with the red go-faster-stripes on the arms and legs. Rawr.
Anyway, for those that care, it's a Bare Elastek 7mm Men's Full. I'm going to spring for a hooded vest immediately too, since that will prevent the dreaded cold-water-slithering-down-your-spine sensation on a repetetive dive.
I'll post up some pics of the old and the new for those that haven't seen the glory of the old one :)