Kit review: Bare Drysuit Expedition HDC

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Bare Factory Visit

A little pre-amble: I recently got the privilege of a bit of a VIP visit to the Bare factory in Malta organised by Mike Reynolds at Scuba Wild. It was amazing to see the detail and care that goes into making the suits. Apparently it takes the factory a minimum of 2 days to make a suit from scratch which kind of puts the cost into perspective! We got to see all the glueing, cutting and taping and the pressure tests they do too. It’s incredible to think this factory supplies the vast majority of the Bare drysuits to the global market. It’s a real testament to the quality of the work they do there. I’d already written the following little review of the suit but seeing the factory makes me even prouder to be wearing Bare!

HMS Stubborn

On the conning tower of HMS Stubborn in Malta

First off, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am a UK ambassador for Bare drysuits however the review that follows is true, I genuinely love this suit and wouldn’t endorse something rubbish, mainly because I have to dive the thing all the time. So don’t worry this isn’t like those times when Paul Ross used to give terrible films 5 star reviews just so he could see his name on movie posters (true).

I’ve been diving the Bare HDC Expedition drysuit for the last few months and it’s by far the best drysuit I’ve ever used. Here are a few thoughts on why I like it so much:

The suit is cut in the ‘technical style’ which features 2 big cargo pockets, tapered legs to minimise air migration, a front zip, a telescoping torso, well placed valves and a range of options when it comes to seals and boots. Despite the ‘technical’ designation there are lots of reasons why this is a great suit regardless of what kind of diving you’re doing.

Backmount

First off fit: I am a sort of human twiglet man and as such am tall and thin with long gangly arms and legs. For clothing I’m usually a medium with the guarantee that the arms and legs will usually be too short. Previously I’ve always needed suits to have a bit of extra length put in the arms and legs or been forced to wear a larger suit with a poorer fit in the body. Because of the telescoping torso plus the big range of off peg sizes I fit into a MLT suit without any adjustments. Whilst not everyone will be as lucky as me on this front, the style of the suit definitely is a bit more accommodating of different body shapes.

Secondly if you’re wanting to hover in horizontal trim (like a boss) then a suit like this, whilst not replacing technique, will certainly make life easier: The tapered legs mean you won’t suddenly get air rush up the legs if you change position. Also the shoulder dump placed on the outer part of the shoulder means that air is much easier to dump in a horizontal position upon ascent. The front zip means you can take it on and off yourself (and the telescoping torso makes this easy) whilst for budding teccies the lack of back zip is one less thing to impede a shutdown. A great bit of news is that Bare are also now supplying the suit with the YKK plastic zip which seems to be a tougher option than the T-zip.

There’s a whole range of options for boots and seals too. Bare do an excellent tec boot which is essentially like a sock with a hard sole. These are easy to take on and off and allow you to do all the technical fin styles and I think they’re excellent. The other option is the rock boot and sock which is definitely tougher than the tec boot but has that little bit of extra faff when it comes to gearing up.  Either option is better than the old style wellie boot, which has the unfortunate tendency to allow your foot to swim around in a pocket of air.

You can also choose neoprene seals, latex seals or replaceable sitech seals. I have a neoprene neck seal, comfy and warm, with sitech wrist seals which allows me to swap out a damaged seal and also lock with a dryglove.

Aesthetically the suit is brilliant, really well designed and cut which means you feel as though you can get your swagger on whilst wandering around the dive site (harder if you’ve had an accident in your undersuits).

I am currently awaiting the return of my suit with the new sitech low profile balanced pee valve. Those of you who are aware of my previous experience with pee valves will know that I will be approaching this piece of equipment with extreme caution. Expect the next report to be either overwhelmingly positive or typed from a sick bed whilst pumped full of antibiotics….

Anyway in summary, the suit works brilliantly and looks fantastic too. Can’t say fairer than that!