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I'm looking at buying my first dry suit folks, and Atlan is a name I am considering. I;m torn between the Catalina comp (4 ml compressed neoprene with a front zipper) and the sport (regular 7 ml neoprene with a rear shoulder zip). Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with these suits and what they think.
My Sport has been solid and for the price was unbeatable as an enty level suit. With a minor undergarment it has also been a dream in terms of warmth in cold water (upper 30sF). In the shoulder seasons (50sF) I only need a wicking top and street shorts.
Being a full weight neoprene you do get hit hard on weight since it fully rebounds as you return to the shallows. Also my dives tend not to be deep so I don't see the full deterioration of the neoprene's insulating capability. If you are a frequent deep & cold diver that's an issue since it will mean even more undergarment and weight.
I have all neoprene seals on mine and they are doing well and help keep me warm. Dryness other than perspiration has never been a problem. The downside to neoprene wrist seals is that it is difficult to add drygloves so consider latex.
My wife also has some Atlan custom wet suits and I have been impressed with all of their craftsmanship.
A buddy has a similar suit with all latex suit and it has also been a solid suit for him.
My first neoprene drysuit was an Atlan and my wife had a great deal of success with hers as well.(I now have an O'Neil 5/7mm neoprene drysuit and the cut of the suit is a little snugger but they are otherwise very similar suits with the exception of the thinner neoprene arms on the O'Neil.)
In my experience a modern neoprene dry suit does not require much if any more wieght than a trilam with the heavier underwear required to be comparably warm. Older neoprene suits had a bad reputation for needing a lot of weight due to air trapping from chest mounted exhaust valves and due to what tended to be very loose and generous tailoring.
I have also had mine down to 150' in 35 ish degree water and have noted no significant loss of insulation value with only light polypropolene fleece hunter type underwear to wick away sweat and add some minimal insulation. Even at depth I have always been warmer in severely cold water than in a trilam with 400gram thinsulate underwear and dry gloves.
The pros for neoprene seals are that they are extremely durable and very hard to tear, and if you manage to tear them, you can easily repair them. They are also much warmer as they do a much better job of insulating your neck where large blood vessels run close to the surface.
The con with neoprene seals is that they are not ammenable to dry gloves, but in my experience, the neoprene suit is so much warmer that you do not need dry gloves as with your core temp being higher, your hands will be and feel warmner in wet gloves than in dry gloves in the generally cooler trilam drysuit where your core temp takes a greater hit in severely cold water.
If you get a leak with a neorpene suit it tends to be self sealing due to the stretchy nature of the fabric and you end up diving a very efficient semi-dry. The same size leak in a trilam usually means a very wet arm, leg or torso and a very cold and miserable dive. The same thing can be said for wet versus dry gloves - a small hole in a dry glove means a totally soaked and cold hand while you hardly notice in the wet glove.
Good to know that they are nice suits, thanks guys. I'm leaning towards neoprene seals, but I may want to go with a set of dry gloves. I wonder if it is possible to do neoprene around the neck and latex for the wrists.. I'll have to ask my LDS owner. Anyhoo, thanks allot!
I'm likely going with a custom suit anyway. If I'm going to spend that kind of money I might as well spend another couple dollars for something that fits and functions the way I want it to.
That shouldn't be an upcharge for Atlan. As I recall, their suits are pretty much made to order (not to be confused with custom).
As far as quality is concerned, they seem to be top notch. I own one of their wet suits and it's excellent. When I went dry, my decision was down to Atlan and Bare. I ended going with a Bare because of the huge range of stock sizes.