Normally, we dive dry in the temperate waters of the Pacific Northwest. Hence, when I have the chance to get away for tropical dive adventure, I’m always on the hunt for dive apparel that will enable me to fully take advantage of the freedom of minimal gear while keeping me warm and cozy topside. On a recent trip to La Paz, Mexico I had the good fortune to be able to experience Fourth Element’s Neutrally Buoyant Wetsuit called Thermocline.
The Thermocline is a “fleecy feeling” wetsuit system that acts like a 3mm wetsuit but weighs far less. I was told that the Thermocline garments would dry in a snap topside, something that appealed to me a lot – I hate the feeling of cold neoprene when topside. Since I own a very roomy, ancient 3mm wetsuit that probably compresses down to 1mm or less beneath the sea, I purchased the Thermocline shorts and long sleeved top. I also got a 3mm hood.
Water temps in Mexico were in the high 70s to barely 80F. We dove 2-3 times a day over the course of 4 days. This system of Thermoclines underneath ratty wetsuit with 3mm hood on top kept me warm. Only once did I notice the cold while diving and the moment quickly passed when something caught my attention probably the sea lion that wanted to “play” with my camera). Topside, with my SurfFur boat coat wrapped around me, I stayed warm and comfortable – my fellow dive buddies were in various states of shiver on the boat. I have to back up a bit and say that on the first day I left my wetsuit on while riding back to the resort and I was cold until I peeled it off. Once the neoprene is gone, the Thermocline had a chance to dry as it was supposed to. And, it felt soft against my skin.
I highly recommend the Thermocline system for divers who want something light and comfortable to wear in warm waters as a standalone garment, want an additional under layer to wear in water temps in the 70s, have allergies to neoprene and/or want a garment that takes up very little space in your suitcase.