PRODUCT REVIEW: MASKS & FINS
Now, onto the soft goods which are not to be overlooked. After all, if one cannot see, kick, etc. underwater it is pretty much...
My ongoing love affair with Cressi exposure protection, including the Medas and Bahia, continues unabated with the Cressi Otterflex. I chill easily and rarely dive in a 3 mm, so even when I travel, I’m usually bringing a 5 mm suit along with me. One a recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef and Townsville in Queensland, the 5 mm Otterflex was the perfect companion.
Cressi used double-lined neoprene to construct the suit and included watertight seals on the wrists to minimize water exchange. Flex areas on the arms and legs also allow for increased range of motion.
Knees and shoulders have been reinforced with “Tatex®", an extremely durable yet flexible anti-abrasion neoprene,” as per Cressi, meaning that divers don’t need to worry about scuffing the suit when kneeling or when putting on or taking off gear.
Finally, the back closure-flap on the Otterflex is wider, making it easier to close the wetsuit alone, and features water-resistant neoprene, again to keep water exchange to a minimum.
I’ve got a full range of Cressi exposure protection now, from shorties to the powerhouse Medas. The Otterflex fits perfectly into my wetsuit closet as the most versatile suit of all. A well-fitting, well-made 5 mm wetsuit is a must in any diver’s closet, offering both just enough warmth in cooler waters while still being cool enough for those of us who chill easily no matter the water temperature.
Often, 5 mm suits are bulky or hard to travel with — it can be a pain to bring a 5 mm when your 3 mm packs up so nicely. Not so with the Otterflex. Though of course it’s heavier than a 3 mm, it packed down nicely into my gear bag without taking too much room.
Getting into and out of Cressi wetsuits is a snap, thanks to the smooth, double-lined neoprene, and the Otterflex is no exception. The suit slid on with no issues, wet or dry. I also loved the watertight seals on the wrists, a nice touch when it comes to keeping the water next to your body warmer.
Finally, the ergonomic cut fit my form perfectly. Wearing a suit that’s made for a woman is a gamechanger, and one of the reasons I always bring my own. Now if only they came in petite (hint, hint, Cressi).
Although I found the zip to be pretty high on my neck (see below), the back zip on the Otterflex was really easy to manage on my own and didn’t seem to get stuck halfway up on my swimsuit, as with many other back-zip suits.
The double-lined neoprene kept me nice and warm. I felt like this suit could handle a bit colder temperatures than I’d usually dive in a 5 mm, thanks both to the neoprene and the wrist seals, which helped keep cool water out.
The reinforced knees and shoulders mean that the suit will hold up under the strain of both frequent donning and doffing of a BCD, and when you may need to kneel in the sand or on a hard substrate.
The neckline on the Otterflex seems pretty high. I broke in the new suit in Australia, and the first few dives were slightly uncomfortable because the top of the zipper was right at my hairline. That said, the suit did loosen up as I dove.
My ongoing complaint about wetsuits holds true on this one too: it’s too long. I’m quite short, and every single wetsuit I’ve ever worn has bunched at my knees and elbows. I think it’s about time wetsuit manufacturers started offering petites. Who’s with me?
Rebecca has been a diver since 1998, but only in recent years has her passion for the sport — and the ocean — exploded. She’s a writer and editor who brings more than 10 years...
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