Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

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-Aaron-
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Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by -Aaron- » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:53 pm

Hey Everyone,

Long post incoming. I haven't been around that much lately. I've been out for a few dives here and there and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the my new GoPro HDHero3 Black :). With Fall back in full swing I am coming back around to a problem I have been wresting with for the past few years. I've made a few posts in the past trying to find solutions for it. A good friend of mine really enjoys diving, but gets extremely cold in the water. I've been through various options trying to find a solution that works for him without much luck. With some new undersuits coming out on the market I thought I might check in with the board and see if anyone had used them or had other ideas on staying warm.

Here is a list of the Drysuits and Undersuits we have tried so far:
Drysuits:
DUI CF200
DUI TLS350
Mares Neoprene Suit
Whites Fusion
(Outside the Fusion being especially cold the suits didn't make much difference)

Undersuits:
DUI Powerstretch with Dive Concepts Thinsulate Vest
DUI Heated Suit Demo
Weezle Extreme
Waterproof of Sweden Warmtec
Whites MK3 with Extra White's Mk2 Fleece Vest
4th Element Arctic Undersuit with Xerotherm Underlayer

Beneath the undersuits is thin insulating technical outerwear (Under Armor Cold Gear Metal)

There wasn't a drastic difference in the feeling of warmth between the various undersuits. We had high hopes for the DUI Electric suit, but the prototype (last year) was very weak. The heating it provided was inconsistent and would regularly shut off producing "waves" of heat and then extreme cold. I know there is a higher level of Weezle (the Extreme+), but we haven't been able to try that yet. We planned to try a 4th Element Halo suit, but haven't yet had the chance.

Outside of the insulation we have tried various options. He wears a double layer of thick liners in his gloves and we use disposable chemical heat packs to warm them. Even so he is forced to keep his gloves inflated like hamburger helper hands to keep them insulated in the water. I looked in to switching him to a dry hood. However all the dry hoods we tried on fit his head very poorly and seemed to lack a form fitting shape or smoothness of a latex seal.

Lately we have talked about potentially getting him an Argon tank setup for his suit. At 3X the density of air it would seem to provide a significant boost to insulation, however most of the descriptions I have read from people that use it seem to imply the insulation increase is fairly marginal, especially compared to straight air with no Helium. Not to mention the annoyance of needing Argon fills, booster tanks, a new bottle and regulator, etc.

Looking around this year I see that there are some new heated undersuits on the market. DUI has revised their system and is listing it under the "BlueHeat" name. Not sure if they have resolved the inconsistent heating issues we encountered in the test system. I see that Santi is selling a heated version of their BZ400 undersuit. The suit isn't cheap, but has some nice options like being made to measure and support P-Valve holes. I know people on the board like Santi's gear, has anyone dove a BZ400 undersuit? or tried their heating system? The other option would be some kind of heated vest. I've looked at a few options, but haven't tried any.

One final note, this suit is just being used for recreational, non decompression dives. The improvements are purely for comfort in the water, so concerns about the electric suit not having redundant heat for safety aren't a huge deal. Basically I am just trying to get my buddy to want to do more than one dive without calling it a day. I have noticed that my buddy seems especially affected by tiredness after dives which I attribute to a combination of the fatigue from the cold and less efficient nitrogen off-gassing.

I'd love some more ideas or impressions of the various suits (and Argon). I know the knee jerk reaction is to say, just dive tropical. With my buddy's schedule short local trips are a lot easier to arrange, so I'd rather not give up on cold water diving with him if I don't have to :\.
Last edited by -Aaron- on Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by CaptnJack » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:06 pm

My first impression is that you never mention what hood he's wearing.
If his hood is not fitting great, is old, or has other issues he could never be "warm" regardless of suit & gloves. 70% of heat loss is from the head and scalp.

Cricket's custom made 12mm hoods are one of the best and far superior to most off the shelf options.
http://www.otterbaysuits.com/wetsuits.cfm
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by -Aaron- » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:25 pm

Right now he is diving an older Bare 7mm Neoprene Hood. We have tried a few different ones (DUI 7mm, 4th Element, Whites, etc), but none of them have worked better for him. He basically fills it with air inside to try and give an insulating air bubble. I've read about Cricket's custom hoods, I haven't been able to try one yet. I guess we could just take the plunge and buy one, the only think that given me pause was I read they can be very constricting on the jaw / face. Thanks for the tip :).

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Penopolypants » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:32 pm

CaptnJack wrote: 70% of heat loss is from the head and scalp.


Not true, but a good hood is worth it's weight in gold.

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by LCF » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:03 pm

If you try a custom hood from Otter Bay, do the measurements with a reg in his mouth and his jaw pushed a little forward. That will avoid the TMJ problem.

I have used the Santi heated vest, and it rocks. It's an expensive solution, though -- I was about $1000 into the system, by the time I had vest, throughport, canister and battery.

I tend to be a very cold person, and I've struggled with insulation. A few things, some of which are obvious, that I've discovered: One, don't leave ANY thermal units in the parking lot. That means hat, coat, gloves when getting ready, even if it doesn't seem chilly. I often drive to the dive site in my undergarments. No jeans!

Two, no matter how much work it is, get out of at least the top of the dry suit during surface interval, and get out of the wind. Hat again is mandatory. If on a boat, get something wam to drink and cuddle up to the stove (watch the dry suit!). Moving around can be helpful, if it's possible.

I've found the MK3, Halo, and Thermal Fusion all to be about comparable for insulation. All of them will buy me about 60 minutes of reasonably comfortable diving in 50 degree water, or about 45 minutes in 46 degree water. Without the vest, I'll get good and cold on the second dive.
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by CaptnJack » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:09 pm

So I have 1950s era science, I am almost that old :P

You get freakin cold with a crappy hood; way out of proportion to its budget cost. Hell I am thinking of growing my hair out for winter!
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Scubie Doo » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:12 pm

Aaron,

I just had a "come to Jesus" meeting with my undergarments. I have been diving cold forever. I dove a USIA bio flex with their undergarment, under armour, an old 3mm hood, two pair of wool socks, and fleece glove liners.

I am on my second dive with revamped undergarments and the difference is unbelievable! Last night I felt like I was diving in my pajamas. My revised setup consist of:

The same drysuit
A smart wool base layer from REI, it is Merino wool, with thick wool socks
The second layer is the 4th element Artic undergarment with the 4th e booties
The final layer is a weezle extreme
My new hood is a 5/7mm bare hood
I use the 4th element glove liners and wrist warmers

My last two dives were the warmest I have ever done. Not to mention my bottom time was extended. My profile Saturday was 80 minutes, max depth 50', on a LP 95 filled to 2800 psi. I came up with a little under 1000 psi.

I was worried about restricted movement, but had zero issues accessing my drysuit valve on my left shoulder. I also went with a layered system so I could mix the layers up if needed.

I did have to add about 4lbs of weight. However, I put very little air in my suit, so I think I will be able to take the weight off once I get comfortable with the undergarments.

Good luck with your search, I know diving cold sucks.

Jesse

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Waynne Fowler » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:13 pm

While I think hoods, dry gloves and argon are good things and need to be paid attention to. Even taken as a whole for me they are not as important as a good insulating suit in my experience. I think there's someone I've heard about now that may get cold like I do. (and thats not a good thing) I spent more money on trying to stay warm in those thin neoprene and shell suits than most recreational divers will spend on all their dive gear put together.. something like 7k IIRC... I do try to block it out though... for me the fix ended up being fairly simple... the right suit. The first time I put on a HighTide was the first day I did a forty minute dive without freezing my arse off. I got chilly but did not get cold. I added dry gloves, argon and a balaclava under the hood and it was game over for cold.
It's 75 degrees in the shop right now and I've got my 800 down jacket and a stocking cap on... and I'm thinkin' about bumpin the heat up a bit but I'm afraid customers will melt when they come in if I do.
If your buddy will fit my suit or one of my spares he's welcome to give them a go.
Good luck on your endevour... I feel for him.. being cold is no fun and if you don't get it figured out soon he may be turned off to diving all together.. I seriously doubt that there will be a need for an electric undi for an average rec dive of an hour or less duration providing he finds the proper combination of insulation and while neoprene suits aren't as comfy and are not as well regarded by some in the dive community as a shell but if it keeps you warm and keeps you diving... well....
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by enchantmentdivi » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:40 pm

-Aaron- wrote: He wears a double layer of thick liners in his gloves and we use disposable chemical heat packs to warm them.


My hands take a beating on every dive, even in the summer. For me, dry gloves are a necessity not a luxury (Raynaud's syndrome).

I have found that heat packs in my dry gloves during a dive actually make my hands worse. My theory is they pull the heat away from my fingers towards the palm where the heat pack is. Thus, my hands are colder, and I'm miserable. Every once in a while, I get desperate and try them again and then regret it.

Now with that said, I do find that heat packs work very well for me on my core. I buy the toe warmers with adhesive in the big boxes from Costco (seasonal item--they have them in stock now). I stick two on my upper chest and two back on my kidneys. I stick them to my Under Armor layer under the 4th element layer--not directly on my skin. Contary to popular belief, I have never been burned by them on a dive (using air, not nitrox).
Jenn

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by ArcticDiver » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:06 pm

A different take that may be worth thinking about: How good is your friend's circulation? My experience is that people who have excellent blood circulation have less issues with cold that those who don't. Those who are very thin are especially prone to cold issues.

Also, staying well hydrated and fed, especially fed, have a great impact on maintaining body temperature.

Maybe more exercise to improve blood circulation, more fluids and more food would significantly help.
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by ljjames » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:23 pm

Waterproof 5/10 hood. It is AMAZING for the cold-sters in our midst :)
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by spatman » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:25 pm

ljjames wrote:Waterproof 5/10 hood. It is AMAZING for the cold-sters in our midst :)

+1. It was a significant heat upgrade from my Bare 7mm.
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by -Aaron- » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:15 pm

Thanks everyone for the great tips :).

CaptnJack, I will check in to the Otter Bay hoods again, Laura and spatman thanks for the heads up on the Waterproof 5/10 hood, I hadn't heard of that one, I will have to check it out. Do you know of any shops that stock them or did you gets yours online?

LCF, I remember your tip about staying warm before the dive from a previous post. I have been trying to enforce that one as much as possible. Unfortunately we are usually driving up 3-4 hours from Oregon to dive, so often wearing the undersuit from home isn't really an option, but I've been making sure to minimize the time in the cold and keep on hats, etc pre-dive. Between dives we have a camp stove and heat up soup and hot chocolate so that helps. Often times our dives are late dives after we have driven up from Oregon, so the surface conditions are some of the coldest times of the night unfortunately (past midnight). Thanks for your impressions on the Santi, do you know anyone that stocks the BZ400 suit? Would be great to demo one or at least try it on.

Scubie Doo, yeah layering up of suits might be something we have to do. It is challenging because the bulk and buoyancy of the suit gets higher and higher with each layer we add, trying to find a balance. I am thinking we should try to find a Weezle Extreme+ in Large Long and give it a shot. The regular Weezle wasn't enough, but maybe the Plus would be better. If he is still too cold perhaps we can try the Power Stretch underneath.

Waynne, we haven't had a chance to dive a High Tide, we have tried various drysuit materials; laminate, neoprene, compressed neoprene, but nothing has much much of a difference so far.

enchantmentdivi, we will have to give the heat packs in the suit a shot, so far we have only tried them on the hands. We are using exactly what you described the thin cheap disposable heat packs from Costco.

ArcticDiver, fitness isn't a problem. He is in very good shape (6'3" 195 single digit body fat). The cold issues are a combination of low body fat and a general low level of heat generation during activities. We eat food, including warmed soups and drinks at the dive site. He could be better about drinking water though :P.

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Jeff Pack » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:37 am

On my whites fusion I wear a UA compression baselayer, and a UA Baselayer (3.0 summer, 5.0 winter), and then my thermal fusion over that. Its still less bulky than my Mk3 and vents better.

Layering is a good thing.
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Scubie Doo » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:11 am

One thing I forgot to mention was movement. On photo dives, I get much colder than a bottle search diving. On photo dives I am in a static position for several minutes at a time and cover less ground. That is another reason I went layered. I don't mind the bulk when taking photos. However, I may choose to take off a layer if I know I will be finning around. So activity plays a huge role too.

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Jeff2Dive » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:11 am

-Aaron- wrote:LCF, I remember your tip about staying warm before the dive from a previous post.

Scubie Doo, yeah layering up of suits might be something we have to do. It is challenging because the bulk and buoyancy of the suit gets higher and higher with each layer we add, trying to find a balance.

ArcticDiver, fitness isn't a problem. He is in very good shape (6'3" 195 single digit body fat). The cold issues are a combination of low body fat and a general low level of heat generation during activities.



Boy I can identify with being cold. 5' 11' 155lbs I'm always cold, except when I'm working hard in the hot summer sun. Dove wet for 4 years and used to get out of the water numb to my shins, my hands would be almost the same usually my last 3 finger totally numb to the knuckle, sometimes to the wrist, and my core temp no idea but shivering the last 10 min of a dive, then doffing in the cold nw weather :nutty: I was recently considering quiting diving, but for all the money I've spent on this sport... So I commited to buying a whole new drysuit setup that fits me properly with a proper undergarment.

Being warm before Any cold weather activity for me is essential, especially diving. I'll sit in the car with the heat on for a few min and heat up before I suit up. Layers are good but only if they make a real impact in warmth.

I have a new DUI FLX Etreme and use the Bare SB undergarment without the liner. I plan to get the vest to layer, but honestly dont really need it, but want it on hand. What an incredible change for me. I might be slightly chilled, but not cold. The fleece is dense and thick, really high quality. Every other undergarment I've looked at was either really bulky or thin polyester (which tends to pull heat away from the body), and none appealed to me but the Bare SB. Fleece is a natural wick of moisture, pulls heat toward the body, and retains its insulating properties even when damp with sweat. Because of SB's density it is extremely comfortable, and doenst really compress much under the squeeze which I hardly feel. While considerably more expensive than other undergarments, it was well worth it. I highly reccomend it.

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by nwbobber » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:36 am

+1 on the Otter bay hood, love mine, and I wish I had heard about the reg in mouth trick, the first twenty dives I would not speak, it was too much work to open my mouth. I think my buddy enjoyed that period. I also find that the under-undergarment layer makes a big difference. during colder water temps I will bump up the insulating quality of that layer. Any change of your layers will mess with your weighting, so pay attention to that.

Hope you get this worked out, I'm sure there is a way.
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by ORDiver » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:52 am

You're probably aware of this but watch out for the heat packs if you're using Nitrox. If they are the kind that react with o2 to produce the heat they can get much hotter when the o2 levels are increased.

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by ArcticDiver » Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:40 pm

-Aaron- wrote:Thanks everyone for the great tips :).

...
ArcticDiver, fitness isn't a problem. He is in very good shape (6'3" 195 single digit body fat). The cold issues are a combination of low body fat and a general low level of heat generation during activities. We eat food, including warmed soups and drinks at the dive site. He could be better about drinking water though :P.


Those numbers, assuming they are accurate, put him in the body builder ranks. I'm not an expert in keepin warm in the water. But, I have significant experience with extreme cold and until my trauma worked out with folks who fit that category. With that basis:
-I've known very few people in that category who could stay warm in cold weather without almost constant movement. They generate a lot of heat while moving, but extremely little while still.
-I've had, note the past tense, a low body fat season. During that all I could do to be comfortable was practice being cold. Fortunately I live in an area that is cold for about 6 months a year so that was pretty easy. Of course when it warmed I looked pretty silly in a T-shirt and shorts when everyone else was wearing coats.
-Best shot is to adapt to the cold. It can be done with practice and fortitude. Spending time, energy and money on finding something that will keep the whole body comfortable I think is pretty near a fruitless exercise.
-Next best I think is to put on as much insulation as possible and then just plan on constantly moving while in the water.

All this assuming there is a strong, unmodifiable desire to dive in cold water. If not, just buy some tickets to Hawaii, Florida, etc.
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Dusty2 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:09 am

ljjames wrote:Waterproof 5/10 hood. It is AMAZING for the cold-sters in our midst :)


How about a link guys

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by Desert Diver » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:39 am

I just ordered 1 on ebay. Comes from UK. Someone else may have these in the US but they are not advertising online where I can find them. I called the US supplier I could find and they had only 3 odd sizes in stock and little hope for more in a reasonable time. Does someone local carry these?
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Waterproof-H1-5 ... =item58933

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by rmelick » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:29 pm

Waterproof Hood: http://www.waterproof.se/en/products/ac ... h1-5-10mm/ It is crazy toasty. Silent World in Bellevue Carries them. I'm not a good reference for comparisons, having only dove a rented 3mm hood for my first three dives and then got tired of my ears going numb, so i ponied up for the waterproof hood. Night and Day difference

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by CaptnJack » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:53 pm

ORDiver wrote:You're probably aware of this but watch out for the heat packs if you're using Nitrox. If they are the kind that react with o2 to produce the heat they can get much hotter when the o2 levels are increased.


Even just deeper dives on air these WILL burn you and can potentially get hot enough to melt undergarment materials. The reaction is based on the ppO2 of oxygen in your suit.
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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by enchantmentdivi » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:25 pm

CaptnJack wrote:
ORDiver wrote:You're probably aware of this but watch out for the heat packs if you're using Nitrox. If they are the kind that react with o2 to produce the heat they can get much hotter when the o2 levels are increased.


Even just deeper dives on air these WILL burn you and can potentially get hot enough to melt undergarment materials. The reaction is based on the ppO2 of oxygen in your suit.


On air, I have never had a problem. If anything, they lose heat.
Jenn

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Re: Frozen Dive Buddy Revisited, Advice Appreciated

Post by CaptnJack » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:46 pm

enchantmentdivi wrote:
CaptnJack wrote:
ORDiver wrote:You're probably aware of this but watch out for the heat packs if you're using Nitrox. If they are the kind that react with o2 to produce the heat they can get much hotter when the o2 levels are increased.


Even just deeper dives on air these WILL burn you and can potentially get hot enough to melt undergarment materials. The reaction is based on the ppO2 of oxygen in your suit.


On air, I have never had a problem. If anything, they lose heat.


Everyone I know who's used them under any kind of elevated ppO2 has had problems with them and gotten at least a mild-ish burn eventually. Not sure what brand they were using vs what you are using. I tried them once maybe 8 years ago and they were ok. Quite warm but didn't burn me. They quit pretty rapidly though, I'm guessing because all the reactants were used up so fast. I find electric heaters in the 25-50W range much more useful since I can turn them on and off.

One thing worth mentioning is sweat. In the summer but really anytime the sun is shining my personal experience is that sweat couldn't be a worse enemy. All the wicking materials in the world are great but if you are sweaty you will always get chilled and fast. I think Salt Creek is the absolute worst sweat site ever.
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