Mares Pro Fit LX drysuit
Modern manufacturing techniques mean staying dry in your drysuit isn’t quite the lottery it used to be. More and more companies are introducing improvements in both design and specification to keep their suits leak free and ensure you’re warm on your dive.
The Mares Pro Fit LX, designed by Japanese drysuit company Mobby’s, who’ve been making suits since 1963, is a back entry drysuit constructed from a high density neoprene that’s very flexible and designed to be resistant to shrinkage at depth.
The material’s micro bubble construction effectively provides the thermal benefits of a 7mm suit using only 4mm-thick neoprene, resulting in a lightweight, close-fitting suit that initially looks and feels more like a wetsuit than a drysuit.
In black, with white panel stitching and tasteful silver-and-red Mares logos, the Pro Fit looks a class act, from its heavy-duty latex neck and wrist seals down to its vulcanized neoprene-lined rubber boots.
Across the shoulders, the heavy-duty metal dry zip is recessed and protected by a neoprene zip shield that cleverly lies flush with the suit itself. The slimline reinforced knee pads offer ample protection without affecting flexibility.
A well-thought-out neoprene neck warmer with twin zips and a gauze ‘draining system’ solves two perennial drysuit problems: there’s no squeezing your head through the equivalent of a second seal, nor will you have half the ocean’s contents swilling around your neck when you’re back on land.
There’s a real attention to detail in this suit – even the supplied hood has its very own exhaust valve and a reflective strip so you can be easily seen on the surface.
The 360-degree chest-mounted inflation valve and automatic shoulder dump differ from the usual, controlled with thumb-operated side buttons. But it doesn’t take long to get to grips with the different layout and after a lifetime of the old push method, I actually preferred this set-up, especially the dump valve’s sliding adjustment lever with its reassuring ‘click’ into position.
The suit provides a lot more warmth than its looks suggest. Having tried a number of different options, I found the best type of undersuit to use with the Pro was a simple base layer. This offered advantages in comfort, flexibility and, of course, meant less lead was needed to dive.
Diving the Pro was like putting on a favourite sweater – it looked great, felt comfortable and kept me warm. More importantly – and unlike that sweater – not so much as a trickle of water made its way to the interior.
Well-designed and of lightweight construction, the Pro Fit is pleasing on the eye and, if my experience is anything to go by, totally watertight. The new side-push low profile valves proved as good as, if not better than, conventional offerings.