Scuba gear review: Whites Fusion drysuit


Not unlike one of those stillsuits from “Dune,” only with the opposite function.

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I am completely weirded out by the juxtaposition of the scaled photo.

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I’ve had a go in one - the great advantage compared to most drysuits is that there’s a lot more give size wise, so borrowing a friend’s is more pratical than with most suits.

That said, from what friends who own them have said they can be a bit of a pain to get on/off at times, and they’re possibly a little less robust. The lack of pockets is also rather frustrating - because of the way it’s made you can’t really just glue your own on, they’ll end up round your knees.

I’d consider it for my next suit, but I’m most likely to get a nice membrane one from one of the various UK manufacturers; it seemed like you got more for your money that way, the last time I compared.

(If anyone wants more drysuit advice, there’s more than you can shake a stick at at; they’re generally pretty friendly there, unless it’s Friday)

I’ve got an older White’s suit that I will use until it dies out. Only one outer layer, but it keeps me dry and toasty inside. Bouyancy dry is a pain to learn, but not bad once you get the hang of it. That said, I like diving in a wetsuit, at least in the summer. Bouyancy is so easy as to be unconscious and I can spend more time and energy enjoying the dive instead of fiddling with my air.

I had to double check if I was reading Boing Boing when I saw this. Pleasantly surprised.

I also dive a White Fusion drysuit - but actually there’s a newer suit that’s a step cheaper - the Fusion One. Usually retails for about $1000 or so - which is a good deal as far as dry suits go. On the down side, it’s a back zip and you can’t get pockets or the quick replace locking seals. The seals and zippers are the same quality you’d get on the Fusion Sport/Tech/Bullet. They’ve also recently come out with a women’s cut of both the Fusion One - called the Fusion Essence, and a women’s version of the Fusion Sport - called the Fusion Fit.

So far I’ve got about 40 dives on my suit in everything from 33°F to 84°F water - just change out the undergarments and you’re good. Neither my wife nor I have had seal problems or leakage, so that’s been excellent.

The lycra/neoprene shell works really well for keeping you streamlined and provides quite a bit of give in the sizing. This also makes it a fairly friendly dry suit for new divers because you don’t get as much air in your feet - at least compared to when I’ve been in tri-laminate suites. However, the lycra shell also makes it a bear to dry out. After a dive you need to essentially rinse the whole dry suit and then hang it inside out than right side out to get it completely dry. My friends with tri-laminate suits just hose em down and they’re dry in 10 minutes. Overall I’ll take a nicer suit in the dives even if it means I need to let it dry out for a couple of days in the bathroom after a dive.

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I’ve seen folks diving all the various shells and cuts. The women’s cuts are nice and Aqua Lung seems to have taken this to heart across the line.

The One is supposed to be easier to don alone, but I rarely need help with the chest zipper on my Fusion.

On drying – Yes, it takes a day or so for the Sport to dry. I understand the Bullet & Tech take a lot longer as the neoprene elements trap water against the suit.

I also highly recommend applying McNett’s Seal Saver to the seals after every cleaning. I then pop them into the sleeve and put the whole whole, folded/rolled suit, in a giant ziplock bag. My seals (wrist) are like new and not gummy or cracked at all, after 200 or so dives. I added a custom neoprene neck seal and it is starting to go. I’ll likely be able to preserve it with cement for a few more years and then I’ll likely swap back.

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The One is supposed to be easier to don alone, but I rarely need help with the chest zipper on my Fusion.

The Fusion One is not a self-donning dry suit. Well, unless you have an arm you can dislocate to reach and yank on the shoulder zipper. Either that I’m very underskilled and have been doing it wrong all this time.

Nice advice on the Seal Saver. I’ll have to try that.

I’ve been diving a Fusion with the Bullet skin for a couple years, about 180 dives, and was a vocal fan praising innovation and all that. And then I switched to an old school DUI for improved flexibility.

That’s right, flexibility. Fusion is flexible in the sense that it’s soft and easy to fold to pack into a bag. I was very surprised that my own flexibility doing the valve drill (shutting down and opening the valves on a doubles manifold) was much better in an old school drysuit. I did my tech checkout in a Fusion, and it took three months of stretching before I could reach the left post, still with much strain. Then the neck seal ripped on my Fusion, I sent it for repairs, rented a TLS 350 and was stunned to find that the valves suddenly were “right there”.

What’s going on here is that a stiff fabric of a traditional suit does not resist you movement at all, as long as it’s baggy enough to allow the range you need. An elastic skin like the Bullet always starts pulling back as soon as you move away from the “normal” position–a little at first, and the more the further you go. Plus, an elastic skin compresses your undergarment which makes it a little stiffer as well. Incidentally, I also found I was a little colder wearing Fusion, again because the elastic skin would compress my undergarment more than a traditional suit.

So counterintuitively, a stiff suit can actually make you more flexible. It’s all very personal and depends on your build, the suit cut, the undergarment, the gear and the type of diving you do. There is no objective “flexibility”, no matter what Whites marketing may lead you to believe. Few of us need to do splits underwater. The best you can do is test-dive some suits for yourself.

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