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Casey McKinlay reviews his new favorite DiveWear - our Xm250

Discussion in 'DUI' started by KathyIGH, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. KathyIGH

    KathyIGH Dive professional

    My DUI Xm250 DiveWear “Love” Story
    By Casey
    Casey McKinlay is a renowned aquatic explorer with more than 20 years of
    active research and discovery experience. Casey is currently responsible for
    directing operations for the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) which is the
    most active and successful cave diving exploratory project in the world with
    more than one hundred members. The WKPP recently received a Resolution from
    Florida Governor Crist and the Florida Cabinet recognizing the project’s 20 year
    contribution towards underwater cave exploration and its work to protect Wakulla
    Springs. Casey and his diving partner Jarrod Jablonski hold several cave diving
    world records including the longest exploration dive into a flooded cave system
    at more than 5 miles requiring more than 28 hours underwater. Casey serves on
    the GUE Board of Directors, is a fellow of the Explorers Club and serves as an
    advisor to the Wakulla Springs Water Quality Working Group and Unit Management
    Planning Committee, promoting responsible use, study and protection relevant to
    water quality issues affecting Florida Springs. Casey along with Global
    Underwater Explorers recently completed 3 cave diving expeditions to mainland
    China at the invitation of the Chinese government in addition to assisting with
    ongoing exploration and research projects in the Bahamas and Mexico.

    It had been more than 15 years since I last used a DUI 200g Thinsulate
    jumpsuit so I was looking forward to diving the new Xm250 when it was introduced
    in 2010.

    Most of my drysuit diving over the years involved either the tried and true
    DUI 400g Thinsulate suit for long/cold/extreme exposures or a DUI 300g Polartec
    PowerStretch suit for shorter, recreational dives in moderate temperature water
    above 18c. On occasion I added the Plus 5 vest if the water temperature was a
    little cooler or if I expected the dive to run long. The 300g suit worked well
    for many years but for me it never had a “perfect” feel to it. That’s not to say
    that the 300g Polartec PowerStretch suit is not a great product for certain
    divers or specific environments, only to say there were a few things I did not
    like but was willing to tolerate because the product got the job done.

    For example, I found the 300g Polartec PowerStretch to be a challenge to put
    on and take off during the warmer summer months in Florida since it would stick
    to the skin and absorb sweat. Since I do a lot of scooter diving, the wrist and
    forearm areas on the right arm would usually get wet, soggy and remain damp.
    When diving large, double steel tanks there never seemed to be enough thickness
    or padding across the shoulders with the 300g Polartec PowerStretch and the
    buoyancy characteristics were less than ideal for technical diving with heavy
    tanks and stages. The jumpsuit also seemed to slide around a bit and would not
    always stay in place under the suit. Finally, a primary issue for most technical
    divers, not to mention something that seems to have been ignored in the
    technical community and drysuit industry the past 10 years, is that the
    undersuit MUST insulate when wet. The 300g Polartec PowerStretch was good for
    short dives but occasionally I would attempt to do something longer with
    possibly some moderate decompression and it was not the right tool for the job.

    I’d been looking forward to a change for some time and was encouraged to
    discover in 2010 that DUI was planning a 200g Thinsulate BZ suit with a similar
    design and cut based on their new Xm450 jumpsuit.

    It’s been more than a year using the new DUI XM250 and I can say without
    hesitation that this product has easily become my favorite undergarment since I
    started drysuit diving 20 years ago. I hear many similar comments from other DUI
    divers and other non DUI divers who have used the Xm250 in combination with
    other drysuits.

    The Xm250 cut is a great fit and the flexibility is excellent. In the Xm450 I
    wear an XL-Tall but the XL Xmw250 is perfect because of the added flexibility in
    the Polartec panels under the arms, across the knees and down the sides of the
    legs. The feel is solid when you put it on, the Thinsulate across the top of the
    shoulders is a night and day difference in comfort and the additional loft has
    greatly improved the buoyancy characteristics. The Thinsulate is going to
    function when wet so for moderate exposures it works perfectly with the added
    flexibility of the Polartec panels outweighing any marginal insulation issue.

    One of the other design features I like is the outer shell of the
    undergarment. It looks good, feels good and wears well over time. Putting the
    undergarment on and removing it even in warm weather is not a problem since the
    material does not stick to the skin, stretch or slide around. I always wear a
    synthetic shirt underneath to absorb some sweat and oil which helps keep the
    undergarment cleaner between washings. The insulation qualities are excellent
    for moderate exposures but I would not suggest using the suit in water over 78
    degrees because it gets too warm. North Florida caves, Mexico caves, Catalina
    and Jeju Island this past year were great experiences diving the XM250 and
    TLS350 or FLX EXTREME drysuit combinations.

    Any diver out there looking for the right product to go with their new DUI
    drysuit (or any drysuit) or existing divers looking to replace that old, well
    used or unwashed undergarment will not be disappointed with the Xm250. I
    strongly encourage those looking to enhance their diving experience to make a
    performance driven, long term, quality, and non-gimmicky investment in the Xm250
    or give one a try through your local DUI dealer or upcoming DUI DOG Rally &
    Demo Tour event. You will not be disappointed!

    Did I mention the Xm450 boots are also a new favorite???
  2. SCU5

    SCU5 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Los Angeles
    How does the XM250 compare to the Powerstretch 300 warmth wise? I notice the website rates the 300 down to 45 degrees while the XM250 is rated to 50 degrees.
  3. KathyIGH

    KathyIGH Dive professional

    Jimmytaroh -

    These two garments are quite different. The 300 is warmer. Remember though that the Xm250 will retain insulation properties even if your drysuit were to totally flood. This could be a lifesaver depending on the type of diving you do.
  4. SCU5

    SCU5 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Los Angeles
    Thanks Kathy! I currently have an XM450 but it may be overkill for some of my future dives so am considering what I should try in the lighter undergarment range.. The XM250 and Powerstretch 300 are both at the top of my list to use with my TLS350!
  5. BurhanMuntasser

    BurhanMuntasser Dive Charter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Nomad

    I don't understand the difference still, why should a diver chose one over the other?
  6. gkndivebum

    gkndivebum CCR Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kona, Hawaii
    I have both, and use them in different environments. The XM250 is something I use here at home (73F-77F water) for long (> 2hr) dives; I use the 300 in, e.g. FL caves (68F-72F). The polar fleece is easier to take care of when traveling (for me, anyway). I also find that the XM250 is warmer, but my 300 fleece has seen quite a bit more use and is a bit worn.

    The XM250 is a very, very nice undergarment, and was a present from my wife last year. The 300 fleece I bought with my first drysuit in 2003. I suppose I should be thankful that it still fits :cool2:
  7. BurhanMuntasser

    BurhanMuntasser Dive Charter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Nomad
    Help me here gkndivebum,

    Can you describe where each type would be used in more general terms please?

    ---------- Post added January 4th, 2013 at 10:55 PM ----------

    If you had a client in front of you looking at the two suits and wants to decide on which one to buy, how would you help him to make the choice?
  8. KathyIGH

    KathyIGH Dive professional

    Let's see if I can answer everyone's questions... if I don'tget it all covered please let me know.

    First off as gkndivebum points out laundering the 300 -which we call Polartec PowerStretch Pro is much easier than launderingThinsulate. Why? Glad you asked :wink:. For the Polartec you simply toss in yourwasher and launder. The Thinsulate doesnot like to be laundered. So we suggestthat you wash it as little as possible. Wear a wicking shirt under your Thinsulate. This will absorb most of your body oils andyou can launder this. We say to launderyour Thinsulate when you can't stand yourself anymore... or your dive buddystops calling you to go diving. :shocked2: Soapacts as a wetting agent. Thinsulateworks so well because it is tiny, tiny, tiny fibers tightly woventogether. Remember 'insulation is reallytrapped air' and you love all those tiny fibers because they trap air. But the soap can work its way in and soapattracts water. So that's not good. That is one reason why we say not to wash theThinsulate. And the Thinsulate itselfbreaks down in the washing... so wash as little as possible. Thinsulate is the warmest insulation you canbuy.

    Now if you had a catastrophic failure diving and yourdrysuit completely flooded what would happen? If you were wearing the Polartec... or any other material other thanThinsulate... you would lose all your insulation. If you are a recreational diver... nobiggie. You could even do your stop onthe way up... surface and re-warm yourself on the boat.

    But what if you had a decompression stop to do? What if it was a couple of hours long? What if the water was pretty cold? If you were wearing the Thinsulate chancesare you would be pretty grumpy on surfacing but you could still make thosestops. Could you do that wearingfleece? Maybe not. And that could be a life saving decision.

    If I was going to be doing any type of diving that'required' decompression stops I would dive in Thinsulate. Period.

    What about temperature ratings. If you want versatility and thought the Xm450was to warm you could go with the Xm250 and get a layering system going. Perhaps the EcoDiveWear for just a bitwarmer... or the one piece ActionWear 150. Which combined would give you 400 weight of insulation. Again if your suit totally flooded you wouldstill have some insulation.. but your base layers would be soaked.

    Also remember that what you need thermally variesgreatly. Susan and I can be diving inthe same waters and I love the Xm450 and she will be just happy as can be inthe 300. We are doing the same level ofactivity diving but I need more insulation.

    This is one reason why heading out to a Demo Tour is just sofabulous. You can try a combination ofproducts and see what works best for you. (Sorry BurhanMuntasser I know you are not close to a location :().

    If you are diving in really nasty surface weather - snow,sleet, rain, heavy wind - the exterior covering on the Thinsulate acts morelike your street jacket. The Polartecdoes offer some wind and weather resistance but not quite the same level.

    YES - new DIVEWEAR is WARMER. Just think of all that 'lint' in yourdryer. That stuff comes from someplace... and it's your clothes. So ifyou have had your undergarment for years it might be time to get a newone.

    And finally gkndivebum you have a very nice wife! :angel2:
  9. BurhanMuntasser

    BurhanMuntasser Dive Charter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Nomad
    Deco/Tech = Thinsulate as in Xm450 and Xm250 but will be stinky. Otherwise, the Polartec 300 is better with about the same thermal protection as in the Xm250. Is this the correct summary of it?
  10. KathyIGH

    KathyIGH Dive professional

    Could be stinky :wink:. And again make sure to wear a wicking t-shirt underneath and launder this... often.

    I wouldn't say the 300 is better... they are quite different.

    One thing we like to give people is options. Lots and lots of options. For example I like to wear jeans. Other people in my family can't stand to wear them and never do. I find them quite comfortable. Some people always wear shorts... other people don't even own a pair.

    I can offer lots and lots of suggestions and reasons behind certain products but it really comes down to what do you 'like and prefer'.

    AND one thing I forgot to add. The exterior of the Xm450 and Xm250 make putting on your drysuit very easy. It's slick and so your drysuit slides over the material nicely. With the Polartec or any fleece it has the soft, fuzzy exterior so it doesn't 'slide' like the Thinsulate. The new Polartec material is better.

    BurhanMuntasser likes this.

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