For those of you who dive the Pacific Northwest, or other cool climes, you know that even though you may be warm and cozy during the dive in your heavy undergarments and dry suits, before and after can get chilly. Also, in the cold or crowded parking lot of the dive site, you may need to don or doff garments to get ready. There might be no changing facility available or your car may be packed tight with gear making changing clothes a bit tricky. The Surf-fur™, a full length light-weight coat with “Zen Changing Pockets™” (slits inside the pockets) to enable access to the under-layers, may be your answer.
Made by a company called Heatlab, The Surf-fur™ is a mid-calf length coat. Made of two layers of soft polyester fleece with an inner membrane of Polytetrafluoroethylene, the coat is advertised as windproof, water-resistant, breathable and warm. To test these claims, I recently took a Surf-fur™ out for a spin in Egmont, British Columbia, Canada.
We had been assured that the weather at the Strong Water retreat, in Egmont, BC, would be mild and sunny during our four day stay. Instead we were greeted with cold rain and early spring temps of high 40s to low 50s. I whipped out my Surf-fur™ and put it on.
It has a row of snaps down the front. A generous hood. When all snapped up and hood in place, I was fully protected from the rain. My dive buddies suggested that we further test the water resistance of the coat by pouring water on the arm (what a bunch of kidders, these guys). We did and no water got inside. When it got windy, the coat kept the wind out. On one dive in particular, I was quite cold after I surfaced. I put the coat on and was instantly warm. It really does a great job at providing insulation.
I started to really like my Surf-fur™ and found it hard to part with it on this trip. It kept me warm and dry when walking to and from the boat. It provided warmth and protection when walking down to the hot tub at night in my swim suit. It made a soft seat at dinner. A cozy blanket at night. When it was windy, I was warm. Cold, I was cozy, Rainy, I was dry. In short, this coat does the job promised.
Although boat coats are normally used in temperate climates by wet suit divers we found that this coat would provide a great hypothermia safety net at any latitude.
A few minor issues
Here are a few minor things that I did not like about the coat: Not a fan of snaps, but I did see the value of having snaps over zippers for durability. When the hood was in place and the coat was not snapped at the top, the hood obscured my vision. Be sure to have the top snaps snapped so that you can still see. When I stuffed things in the pockets, a couple of times they fell through the Zen Changing Pockets to the ground. It is made in China so you need to inspect for defects. We found one Velcro patch that was not sewn properly on a small inner pocket and it pulled off the coat.
I’ll be trying it out on the boat going to and from the dive sites in Palau this fall. While Palau is MUCH warmer than the Pacific Northwest, a boat coat is recommended on the dive charter because divers can get cold on the moving boat in between dives. We’ll let you know how the Surf-fur™ handles the tropics. It performed beautifully in the Northwest and will get a lot of use beyond diving. We give it a 4.5 our of 5 star rating.