If you were about to freedive the Mediterranean sea in winter, where temperatures fall to 15 degrees Celsius, and were told to pick between wearing a 7mm one-piece, fleece-lined wetsuit, or a 5mm “open-cell” two-piece wetsuit, which would you choose?
Instincts say “whichever one is thickest, duh”. And besides, what’s this “open-cell” business anyway? Neoprene minus the comfy nylon-lined interior? You mean, wearing lubed-up rubber will keep me warm? No thank you.
Actually, I was wrong. I took the thicker, regular wetsuit and froze so much I vowed never to set foot in the sea in winter again. Then Kristaps convinced me (as dive buddies do) to give open-cell a try and I couldn’t have been more surprised. After my first dive with the Beuchat Athena wetsuit, I ate my words.
I stayed warm during my entire first dive. The size S was a nice snug fit, and I found the material to be really comfortable against my skin. Once lubed-up, it was easy to get into, although I do admit it felt weird at first. I experienced no trade-off between warmth and mobility (normally a wetsuit oxymoron), and believe it or not, even found it to look flattering (another wetsuit oxymoron).
Well done, Beuchat!
I’m told this is the first open-cell model specifically designed for women. I compared mine to Kristaps' Beuchat Espadon Equipe wetsuit and found the only differences were:
- a single crotch buckle (women’s) instead of two (men’s)
- a single velcro shoulder strap (women’s) for getting into the suit.
- a more fitted waist
- slighlty more expensive than the men’s (why, as there’s less material?)
Other than that, it’s the same 2-piece “farmer john” and hooded-jacket combination made of soft neoprene Elaskin exterior and open-cell interior. I love the attached hood.
My only complaint would be that slightly roomy in the crotch/waist and a little loose around the wrists. I thought about sizing-down to an XS but was told it would be too short. Always a compromise between length/width unless you’re willing to get custom-made, especially if you’re “tall for a petite woman” like myself.
Nonetheless, this is by far the best-fitting ready-made suit I’ve ever tried and I can attest, after just two dives, to my utmost satisfaction with it. It’s flexible, comfortable, flattering, and most importantly, keeps me warm enough to go diving in winter!