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OTTER WATERSPORTS ARCTIC QUILTED 200GM UNDERSUIT | SRP: £207.20Mark Evans: Otter Watersports have a global reputation for their top-quality, robustly constructed drysuits, which are the suit-of-choice for many hardcore technical, wreck and cave divers.

The exemplary customer service offered by John Womack Junior and the team is also renowned across the planet. Otter have always offered a range of undersuits, but now they have upped the ante with the latest one-piece thermal suit in their range – the Arctic quilted 200gm undersuit.

In the past, diving undersuits could resemble a grown-upsized Babygro, and were not something you’d particularly want to wander about in pre- and post-dive. All this changed with the likes of O’Three, Fourth Element and Santi adding smart, but efficient, undersuits into their range which you could happily wear to and from the dive site.

The Arctic undersuit fits right in with this merry bunch. At first glance, you think it is going to be quite bulky due to the quilting, but the undersuit is pre-compressed, which means you don’t require huge amounts of lead to be able to sink. When test-diving it, I didn’t use any more lead than I do with my ageing HALO 3D or the new HALO AR. It is also very easy to move around in, with no hindrance to movement.

The Otter undersuit is filled with Finful insulation, which aims to keep you warmer for longer than ever before, and weighs in around 2kg, so it isn’t too heavy to take with you on foreign trips. My wife Penney took the Arctic undersuit to Iceland and found that even in 2 degrees C water she was toasty warm just wearing that, with no added base layers, under her Otter Watersports Atlantic. If my warm-waterloving wife was not feeling the cold in these conditions, you can rest assured you will be plenty warm enough in high single-figure, or low double-figure, temperatures.

Going the extra mile, I even found that the Arctic keeps you warm in the event of a complete suit flood. A dive off Anglesey resulted in a serious amount of water entering my suit – zip failure, in case you were wondering – and even though I was soaked from head to toe (I still did a full 50-minute dive), I was not cold. Impressive.

There are useful hand-warmer pockets – essential to stick your mitts into when you get out of the water and are on your surface interval - an elasticated section around the waist to give a stylish fit, a Velcro-closing pocket on the chest useful for keys or some notes for post-dive cuppas, and thumb loops in the sleeves to stop them riding up your forearms. Similarly, super-stretchy stirrups keep the legs in place as you don your drysuit. It is available in a huge range of sizes for both male and female.

www.otterwatersports.uk

OTTER WATERSPORTS ATLANTIC | SRP: £1,855Mark Evans: The Atlantic is the top-of-the-tree when it comes to drysuits from Otter Watersports, and previously I have tested the Kevlar version of this durable suit. Now my other half, Penney – a true warm-water-loving diver who is most definitely not a fan of being cold – has just taken delivery of a very bright orange and black Atlantic in RipSkin material, which is tough, robust but still very flexible. This was important in Penney’s case, as she hates to feel restricted. John Womack Junior also got her into the Bradford HQ to do a full made-to-measure – always a good idea when you want a suit to fit as well as possible.

The Atlantic is by far Otter’s most-popular trilaminate suit. The upper body is constructed from one large piece of trilaminate, allowing unequalled stretch and movement for the wearer – this seamless underarm pattern really does make a huge difference when you start twisting and turning. It is easy to see why techies who need to reach their pillar valves on their twinsets love this suit!

The suit follows the traditional telescopic body with a crotch-strap and a front-entry zip, which makes getting in and out of the suit a doddle. Inside are strong internal braces to hold the lower half of the suit where it should be, and support the suit when you are walking around with the upper half around your waist. There are large Velcro closing pockets on either side of the suit, which are spacious and more than capable of swallowing a decent-sized DSMB and spool/reel, torch, back-up mask, slate, etc.

Penn’s Atlantic had the Turbo boots fitted, which are the same as on my Kevlar version. I love these boots, as they allow plenty of ankle movement for minor fin adjustments underwater, and the Velcro strap lets you tighten the boot on your foot and reduce air migration. Penney soon came to love the fit and comfort of the Turbo boots too, especially over a nice thick pair of Otter thermal socks.

The Atlantic also came with factory-fitted KUBI Dry Gloves – for me, the best dryglove system on the market. They are easy to get on and off by yourself, if you split a glove it is a two-minute job to swap them out, and in Penney’s case, they even came in a small enough size to fit her dinky little hands! She also got a 5mm Otter hood, which fit like a glove and kept her head toasty warm.

As mentioned on the previous page, Penney took her Atlantic to Iceland, where she conducted dives in waters that were just 2 degrees C in Odin’s Tear and the Silfra Rift. Combined with the Otter Arctic undersuit, she didn’t complain about being cold once, though she was definitely happy to have the dryglove option! She also scrambled down rocks in Anglesey to do a shore dive with no issues, and did a dip into Capernwray as well.

A big sign that something is bang on is when the user isn’t really aware of it, and in this case, the Atlantic shined – Penn is not a natural drysuit diver, and she much prefers being in a thin wetsuit or skin in tropical waters, but she was actually quite comfortable in cold waters for the first time ever. I don’t think I’ll ever turn her into a hardcore British diver, but she is definitely up for a few jaunts to Lundy and the Farnes to play with the seals, and she is keep to explore off Cornwall, so I’ll take that as a major victory.

www.otterwatersports.uk

GARMIN INREACH MINI | SRP: £299.99Mark Evans: There can be few things worse than returning to the surface from a dive and there being no sign of your surface support. Thankfully, incidents of divers being left at sea are few and far between, but it can happen – and with potential fatal consequences, as seen in the case in April when four divers were left by their dive boat in Malaysia and sadly a teenager did not make it.

So, anything you can do to make yourself more visible is essential, hence why we always bang on about carrying a DSMB and spool, a small torch, maybe even an old CD or DVD for flashing to attract attention. However, all these rely on your boat – or anybody else looking for you – being reasonably close at hand. That is where PLBs, EPIRBs and the like come into their own. And now Garmin have got in on the action, with the inReach Mini, a lightweight and compact satellite communicator.

The inReach Mini is a seriously dinky piece of kit – it is only 5cm by 10am and weighs just 100g - but it is packed full of functionality. In the case of emergency, you can trigger an interactive SOS message to GEOS, the Garminpowered International Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre (IERCC) with its professional 24/7 global monitoring and response centre. When the proverbial hits the fan, you can press the SOS button and it sends an emergency message to IERCC. Trained staff are available to respond to your messages, track your device and notify emergency responders in your area. They will attempt to send you a message back, but if you are unable to respond for whatever reason, they will then initiate rescue efforts to your location. The Garmin IERCC will stay in touch with you and your emergency contacts until your situation is resolved.

However, as well as this SOS function, the inReach Mini also has more day-to-day uses when you are out in the field. You can use it to send text messages to your family and friends wherever they are in the world, you can communicate to another inReach Mini device – you can even post to social media! Via the cloud-powered Garmin Explore website, you can even set up preset messages and quick texts, manage your device settings, and much more.

Not so much use while you are diving, but handy pre-dive, you can even get weather forecasts on your inReach Mini, either for where you are, or at a location you are heading to.

The inReach Mini uses a 100 percent global iridium satellite network, so no relying on sketchy mobile phone coverage. You pay £34.99 annually, and then £14.99 each month you want the inReach Mini active.

However, choose the right scheme, and you can put that monthly payment on-hold for when you aren’t using it – perfect for the travelling diver who might only need the unit for one or two trips a year.

The internal rechargeable lithium battery gives up to 90 hours use at the default 10-minute tracking mode, and up to 20 days in power-saving mode. The 23mm by 23mm sunlight-readable, monochrome, transreflective memory-inpixel (MIP) display is very clear and easy to read.

GARMIN INREACH MINI | SRP: £299.99With divers in mind, Garmin also make a housing, the inReach Mini Dive Case (£69.99), that is depth-rated to 100m – more than deep enough for the vast majority of divers. It comes with a handy karabiner for clipping on a D-ring on your BCD – as in the photo – although I tended to tuck it into one of the pockets on my Apeks Tech Shorts, and seals with two O-rings and dual clips. The inReach Mini itself is depth-rated to 1m for 30 minutes, so if you have it in-hand on the surface, you don’t have to worry about getting it splashed or even semi-submerged as you are bobbing about. It even states ‘Warning! Device does not transmit underwater’ for those who might forget that important piece of information!

In a great display of Garmin connectability, the inReach Mini can even be remotely controlled for certain functions, such as triggering an SOS, by your Descent G1 series, Descent MK1, or Descent MK2 series dive computers. The inReach Mini comes in either distinctive black-andred, or an all-black colour scheme. It comes with a charging/ data cable, carabiner clip, spine mount adapter, and instructions.

www.garmin.com

" With divers in mind, Garmin also make a housing, the inReach Mini Dive Case (£69.99), that is depth-rated to 100m"