Editor’s note: this is the first of a two part review article on the Fusion drysuit. This part is a personal experience review from our tester, Chaela Sumner. The second part, coming soon will be comparison article between the White’s Fusion and the DUI CF200 drysuit.
I recently got a chance to dive the White’s Fusion drysuit. We had tried them on at last year’s DEMA show. Although at the time I admittedly did not have on any restrictive undergarments, the flexibility was amazing – I could crouch, reach over my head, twist and turn with ease.
I have been diving my DUI CF200 for the past year, having graduated to the CF200 from a Bare shell suit. I remember getting into the water with my DUI after diving the Bare, and the ease of movement was significant. Could the White’s Fusion be even better? I was looking forward to getting into the water in this sleek, “new-concept” suit.
Our suit demo took place in the cold (41°F) waters of Browning Pass, off Vancouver Island in British Columbia. I did the first dive with the same undergarments I typically wear– a Pinnacles Evolution Merino Lined undergarment over a couple of lighter, warm base layers of fleece and high tech wicking fabric.
Even though I had been “coached” in putting on the suit at White’s, my first go round at getting in the suit was not as easy as I had hoped. I nonetheless kept a cheery outlook that “practice makes perfect.” I found the feet of the suit and gamely rolled, pulled, wiggled the suit up, then, found the suspenders and shrugged them on. Next, I pulled the neck over my head. Easy! Following the “reach and grab” instructions given to me by Justin and Tyler at White’s, I was able to zip the suit with ease. It is truly self-donning!
In my mind I did a quick comparison between suiting up in my DUI and suiting up in the Fusion Tech. With the DUI, “self-donning” is a bit of a struggle for me. I wrestle the heavy crushed neoprene suit up over my legs; find the suspenders, pull, tug. I usually have to have my dive buddy pull the zipper up over the shoulder to get it started. The Fusion was much easier.
First dive: I rolled into the water, and we descended into the crystal clear viz that this area offers. I felt remarkably fluid although my arms were a bit cold with the wet gloves (this would be true no matter what suit I was diving).
I really like to be warm. Browning Pass waters were 41 degrees Fahrenheit, a few degrees colder than we normally dive. I noticed significant warmth around my kidneys and I remembered that Tyler had told me about the kidney warming feature of the Fusion which is unique in this suit.
Next dive, I decided to address the warmth factor by adding different undergarments. Two layers of Hot Chillys brand fleece base layer, top and bottom. Warmer socks. The suit went on much easier than the first time. I rolled it on, pulled it up, neck seal over head, zip. Bada boom, bada bing. Roll into water. Definitely warmer. THIS time I focused on the feel of the suit.
Again, the fluidity of the suit was remarkable. I could twist and turn with ease. Dumping air was easy. The snug fit of the suit causes no bubbles to be trapped in my Fusion suit, so the release of air was a quick shoulder turn, not the roll back-bubble release maneuver I do with my DUI. Effortless. Definitely better bubble management. It was an excellent dive. Back on the boat, it was simple to slip the suit up over my head, and remove. I am starting to really like the non-struggle in donning and doffing of this suit!
The dives in the Fusion suit got better and better. I changed my undergarments once again, this time putting on a down jacket (yes, I said Down Jacket). The well-fitting outer layer pressed the down jacket to my body with just enough loft to feel like I was wrapped in a cozy blanket. I was warm through and through and did not even notice the cold in my hands. I slithered through the water like a sensuous seal. I turned around several times to find my dive buddy and it felt sinuous and graceful. At our 15′ safety stop, my dive buddy and I held onto sea weed, rocking back and forth with the surge, feeling like slithery eels, moving with the graceful rhythms of the sea.
The Fusion Experience really came together on our last dive at Edmonds Underwater Park this past weekend. We easily rolled on the suit, complete with dry gloves and warm undergarments and socks. It was a great experience. We felt fluid, graceful, had ease of mobility and were warm, warm, warm.
I heartily give the Fusion suit a glowing endorsement for ease of donning and doffing, and complete fluidity and flexibility. I recommend you research your undergarments and choose dry gloves with this suit if you, like us, don’t like to be cold. Overall, the new concept is a great success. Plus, I can easily pack the suit in a suitcase (compacts nicely and is much lighter than other dry suits) and dive it in tropical climes – it’s that versatile.
Look for our Head to Head article, placing the White’s Fusion against the DUI CF200, coming soon.