How to get the Sitech Antares dryglove system to work or how I learnt to pass on the #dryglove lurgey.

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Antares drygloves in action

Before any young japester comes along and comments that the way to avoid problems with the sitech system is to use KUBI, I am well aware that the Antares system can be a tad on the ‘unreliable’ side. This is the second suit that I have used the Antares system with, and whilst the first one seemed to have very few problems, this time getting the drygloves to actually stay dry and do what they’re supposed to do has been a little bit of a challenge.

There are some advantages to the sitech system, for a start they’re the most streamlined, they’re also very easy to replace holed gloves but the biggest plus is they work with the sitech ring system which means that should your wrist seal fail you can simply swap it out and replace it at the dive site. This was my main reason for going with the system but in all honesty I will probably upgrade to the KUBIs at some point in the future.

However, if you are struggling with the sitech then, after a series of trials and numerous errors, I believe I now have a system that works pretty well. Googling around on the subject gets lots of forum hits from people all having a bit of a ‘mare’ and lots of advice but there were no obvious articles trying to give a bit of a comprehensive solution. So if you are struggling to get them to work for you, here’s some information that may help. I’m not saying I have all the answers, this may just be what works for me but I reckon there’s some useful stuff in here. Essentially I’ve gone and got the freezing claw hand of death so that you don’t have to…

LOOKING AFTER THEM:

First off the Antares glove rings are quite fragile and don’t respond well to having a kit bag dumped on them. Therefore put them somewhere they can’t get smashed every single time you take them off. I have a line and some clothes pegs in the back of my van I clip them to between dives and then I store them in a mask box when I’m not diving.

GLOVE CHOICE:

There are a huge variety of gloves that work with dryglove systems from your basic marigold all the way to those heavyduty blue showa gloves. The Antares system come with blue rings which are thinner and intended to be used with heavy duty gloves and then the green rings which are thicker and to be used with the marigold variety (NB. There was a recall on the green rings recently because they were too thin to work properly so if you really can’t get a seal that might be why).

First off let’s talk size- although it’s tempting to go for a well fitting glove that just goes over your thermal under-glove, unfortunately, when the temperature really drops and you really need them, you’ll end up with cold hands because there isn’t a sufficient space to put a warm glove on and then trap some air to provide insulation. This took me a long time to realise… I normally use a medium wetsuit glove but when I finally put a huge pair of XL dry gloves on with 2 layers of thermal glove it was a revelation.

Secondly let’s talk about glove type, I have used the blue showa type glove which has the advantage of being very heavy duty and also not completely collapsing at the finger tips under pressure if your fingers don’t go all the way to the end. I know some people have got on OK with these and they do seal well with the blue locking ring but I had all sorts of issues with the gloves popping off when I was doing a shutdown or simply not locking properly. In the end I worked out that the glove was so big and also stiff near the locking ring that if I twisted my wrist it often caused enough of a pull on the glove material around the locking ring that it would twist off. I ended up using the heavy duty marigold type (I bought a brand called Ansells from Amazon). The main issue with the black heavy duty marigolds you buy in the supermarket is they’re often not quite big enough. These were big enough to get thermal gloves under but flexible enough not to twist on the locking ring.

KEEPING THE GLOVES ON THE RINGS:

One of the other problems I’ve had with the sitech system is the tendency for the rubber glove to actually just pop out of it’s retaining ring. It’s not all that surprising when you consider the only thing between glove and water is the plastic ring that sandwiches it in place….. The way to ensure all is well is to make sure that the glove is thick enough to be held in place. This is easy with the blue showa gloves but with the marigold style can be a little harder to achieve. I’ve tried various methods including doubling the glove over but I’ve discovered that adding in an extra layer, in my case by using electrical tape, helps to sandwich the glove in place.

Electric tape around the glove

A band of electrical tape around the glove before it goes on the ring.

Sitech Retaining ring with some additional tape

The tape sits under the retaining ring and adds an extra layer to ensure a snug fit

GETTING THE GLOVES ON AND OFF:

I recommend getting the gloves on before putting dive kit on as you need a bit of flexibility in getting them to lock in place. One thing I have found quite annoying is that the wrist seal regularly gets in the way of the clips, it helps to make sure that the seals aren’t too far down your wrists so that they’re not ballooning around the rings but essentially you just need to take care when getting them on. If this is still a real struggle check your gloves, if they’re very thick or come quite far down the wrist then they may be bulking out the wrist seal and interfering with the drygloves locking into place.

Under the water it’s essential that you use a system to equalise the pressure in the glove because, besides this actually keeping your hands warm, they’ll just leak as the o rings are pretty pathetic. You can use the little tubes that come with the system but they’re a bit of a pain in the proverbial to get under the seal so I use a couple of trainer laces with a loop in the end which I put over my middle finger. This means I can easily remove them if the glove does leak too. Lots of people use wrist warmers which I personally think is a brave choice for the sitech system. I know some people are even bold enough to remove their wrist seals entirely when using drygloves but I wouldn’t recommend this with the sitech system as that is in the dictionary under the definition of ‘hubris’.

Dryglove equaliser

Trainer lace which I can pull out quickly if the glove leaks

Under the water, even with all the best will in the world, if you start throwing shapes with your hands there’s still a risk that they’ll give up in some capacity so try not to twist your wrists or wave your hands around too much!

At the end of the dive, removing them is a technique that once learnt is an absolute cinch but to attempt to describe is almost impossible. I remember the first time I tried to remove them I honestly thought I would have to be cut out of the suit. You basically have to ram your hand back into the locking ring and twist your wrist maintaining pressure on the ring so it twists around with your wrist against the drysuit ring seal. See, I told you it was impossible to explain.

PASSING ON THE #DRYGLOVE LURGEY

If you try all the above and are unsuccessful then you can always try the last resort which is passing on the dryglovelurgey. This is done by stroking the drygloves of another diver, preferably whilst they’re wearing them, they then have 30 days to pass the lurgey onto someone else….

I do need to say thanks to David Allen who offered a lot of useful advice over winter whilst I did battle with my drygloves and who after 200 odd successful dives in the sitech system left his last course with me with 2 wet hands whilst my hands were blissfully dry. This article is dedicated to him and his sacrifice.