Radiator Wetsuits for Scuba Diving

full- length men's radiator wetsuit
Radiator men's wetsuit. © Radiator Wetsuits, 2013

Visit Their Website

"I have the perfect wetsuit for you!" The dive shop owner enthused, "I just bought it, and it's only been used a few times." I was not thrilled to be using a rental suit. When I travel for diving, I usually pack my entire set of dive gear. In this case, I was on a "non-diving" trip which unexpectedly ended in Bali. I couldn't resist hopping in the water for a dive despite the fact that I hadn't packed a single piece of dive gear.

When the shop owner showed me the wetsuit I would use, I was skeptical as to its ability to keep me warm. The water temperature was about 77° F; warm for some divers but not for me. I usually wear at least a 5 mm wetsuit and a hood in such temperatures. This wetsuit was created by an Australian manufacturer with which I was unfamiliar, Radiator Wetsuits. The suit was thin, more closely resembling a dive skin than a suit with serious thermal qualities. It appeared to be about 1.5 mm thick, and it was too large. "Just roll the sleeves and legs so that they are not too long!" He said, "It will keep you as warm as a 5 mm suit." I raised an eyebrow, but kept my mouth shut, slid into the loose-fitting suit, and rolled the sleeves and arms up. Beggars can't be choosers.

Radiator Wetsuits Are Surprisingly Warm

After 75 minutes in the water, I was impressed. The Radiator wetsuit kept me toasty until the end of the dive, even though it was several sizes too big and very thin.

It was exceptionally flexible, soft and comfortable. I loved it!

Radiator Wetsuits attributes their wetsuits' superior thermal protection to a patented material design incorporating four layers: a nylon outer skin, a titanium coating, an inner core of close-celled neoprene, and an SCS (Super Composite Skin) "slipskin" inner lining.

The Radiator Wetsuits website lists a comparison of the Radiator wetsuit material against innovative materials used by other wetsuit manufacturers, claiming that Radiator wetsuits are 25% warmer (among other qualities) than the competitors' wetsuits. Having tried a variety of other wetsuits created from fancy new materials, I believe it!

The Advantages of Thin Wetsuits

Why is it so exciting to find a thin wetsuit with the thermal properties of a thick suit? Thin wetsuits have many advantages over thick wetsuits. They weigh less and occupy a smaller space in a diver's gear bag. Thin wetsuits are typically more flexible than thick wetsuits, and adjust to the contour of a diver's body better. The flexibility of the thin wetsuit also makes it easy to put on and take off. Radiator wetsuits do not have wrist or ankle zippers, but the stretchiness of the wetsuit made it easy to pull over my hands and feet. In fact, I prefer wetsuits without ankle and wrist zippers because they have fewer entry points for water and fewer failure points (the zippers cannot break if they are not there).

Are Radiator Wetsuits Durable?

I cannot vouch for the lifespan of Radiator wetsuits -- I only used the wetsuit on one dive, and the suit was relatively new.

The suit may or may not compress after many dives and lose some of its thermal properties, as many suits do. The Radiator Wetsuits website claims that its wetsuits have a long lifespan. If you have used a Radiator Wetsuit and you have an opinion of its durability, please shoot me an email at scuba@aboutguide.com.

More scuba gear reviews:
• Mares Excel Plus Fins
• Omersub "Alien" Mask
• Cressi Big Eyes Evolution Mask

Radiator Wetsuits Offers Full Suits and Pieces for Layering

Radiator offers a variety of wetsuits including 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm shorties, spring suits, and full suits. They also produce a line of 0.5 mm vests, shirts, and pants, and hoods which can be used on their own or layered under other wetsuits. My one complaint about Radiator's wetsuit options is that the full length women's suit is only available in 0.5 mm, while the thickest men's suit is 3 x 2 mm.

If the women's suit was available in 3 x 2 mm I would have already purchased one.

Purchasing a Radiator Wetsuit

Radiator Wetsuits are made in Australia and are sold directly by the manufacturer online (www. radiator.net). The company ships globally, and offers a 14-day no-questions-asked guarantee, and a fair claim return policy. (The fair claim return policy is worth reading as it includes brilliant statements such as "Beware that for some reason dogs love to chew nice stretchy rubber wetsuits. They must like to pretend it's fighting back or something. So keep it out of the mutt's reach and don't blame us if you don't.")

The Take Home-Message About Radiator Wetsuits

While I only used a Radiator wetsuit once, I was impressed. The suit was comfortable, thin, and kept me warmer than many much thicker wetsuits would have. I cannot vouch for the durability of the wetsuits, but I would expect that they would provide at least several years of comfortable diving for average recreational scuba divers. How Does a Wetsuit Keep You Warm? >>

Visit Their Website