Saturday, 30 June 2012

Mares Camo brown 3mm Open cell neoprene socks (Size 6/XL)

I decided to have the matching open cell Mares camo brown booties/socks to go with my wetsuit. This will prevent rubbing from the fins and keep my feet warm. The camo pattern matches the Mares camo brown wetsuit perfectly, although with the fins on not much of the sock is really visible anyway. I'm UK 9 shoe size so the size 6/XL seemed to match up best. I could have done with a size smaller though as it is not really a close fit and bunches up when i put the fins on, and is like having two buckets on my feet when getting out the water. However in the water I have had no rubbing and my feet have kept warm which is what they are supposed to do. I went for the 3mm which I think is the thickest they come in which has felt fine so far in the British waters as most of your foot has the fin as an extra layer of insulation. The sole is not really protected form rough or sharp surfaces which you may walk on, but it does have a grip coating on the outside similar to what you find on diving gloves to help prevent slipping.

Overall I'm pleased with these socks and would recommend them as long as you can get the right size of course.

Mares Camo brown 3mm Open cell neoprene socks (Size 6/XL)

Brown camo sock grip sole

Mares open cell sock in camo brown

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Mares instinct pro green camo freediving / spearfishing fins

I use Mares instinct pro green camo fins ( for my snorkelling. They are longer than scuba fins and are designed for freediving or spearfishing. The green camo design is great for British waters as they blend in well with the often green water. They seem a good match with my Mares camo brown wetsuit. They do seem to scratch and chip fairly easily but Mares say they does not affect their performance.

I have found it easiest to put them on when in couple of feet of water when shore diving, walking in them (even backwards) is not an option.
I have only done 6 or so dives in them but I would recommend them due to their reasonable price and good performance so far. You really feel like you are flying through the water with very little effort, which is the whole point of fins like this. One disadvantage is that when using a SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) it is quite easy to get the line wrapped around a fin. And because the fins are so long it is not easy to get the line off when stationary. You have sort of swim out of the tangle, which is not a real problem in practice. But illustrates the importance of always having a knife for any bad tangles or emergencies.

Mares instinct pro green camo freediving / spearfishing fins

Mares instinct pro fins foot pocket

Mares instinct pro fins heel underside

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Cressi sub Super Totem (or supertotem) dive knife. Initial Review

Having a knife while snorkelling, freediving or spearfishing is important from safety point of view, as well as looking quite cool. Discarded fishing lines, ropes and seaweed are all hazards which can entangle a breath hold diver while underwater. A knife will help reduce this danger as long as it is sharp, secure and quick to access when needed. I bought  a Cressi-sub Super Totem knife which comes with a plastic sheath and rubber straps.

cressi-sub supertotem knife and sheath
The knife is very robust and is actually quite a bit larger than I expected at 23.3 cm. This makes it too large to wear on the biceps or forearm for me. The knife and sheath is designed really for wearing on the lower leg and the relatively long and different size straps are suited to this. This knife therefore is probably not very suitable for spearfishing due to the leg mount. An important thing to remember (which only found out through google searching) is that a knife should be worn on the inside of your leg. This prevents your weight belt catching on the knife handle if you have to dump your weight belt in an emergency.

Cressi-sub supertotem knife in its sheath

I have read that some people do not like the rubber band that holds the knife in the sheath because it prevents single hand use. I disagree with this as you can remove and reinstall this knife into its sheath with one hand if you practice. I use my thumb on the top of the handle and my 1st and index finger to remove/reinstall the retaining rubber band. The back of the rubber band does create a lump on the back of the sheath which is a design flaw, but this can be mitigated by positioning it the strap over it which is no problem. So far the knife has remained secure on my leg during snorkelling and was comfortable to wear. The blades are sharp and I like that fact that you have a plain and serrated blade at your disposal with an ergonomic an sturdy handle.

So for £15 this seems like a good dive knife, but  time and use will tell its true worth and value. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Mares instinct camo brown 55 (5.5mm) 2 piece opencell spearfishing wetsuit

I was thinking of getting a 'made to measure' wetsuit after several people recommended it. However I went for an off the shelf wetsuit because of the price and because my measurements matched well with Mares size 3. It was a bit of a risk but the wetsuit fits really well and keeps me very warm.

The Mares instinct camo brown wetsuit comes in two pieces of high waist trouser and a jacket with integrated hood.

The wetsuit seems to be really well made and the outer camo finish is really nice. I went for the brown camo because I hope it well hide me well against the kelp, Fucus and sand of North Wales so that fish will swim past me unaware (I hope). The inside of the suit is open cell which means it is bare rubber and so very sticky and warm suit also very delicate. It seems the main danger is cutting it with toe and finger nails when taking it on and off. So keeping nails trim and smooth and using a lubricant is needed to stop damaging the inside. I have made up a 50/50 solution of hair conditioner and water in a sprayer which is working well to help the trousers and jacket slip on and off.  Getting in and out of the suit was a bit of a mission the first time, mainly because I was paranoid about damaging it, but the is a technique which makes it easier. The below videos were helpful in finding the right on and off technique, the wetsuit came with no instructions on putting it on or off and how to care for the wetsuit.

Mares instinct camo brown wetsuit

Camo brown jacket

Mares camo brown trouser knee pad

Mares camo brown chest pad

Mares instinct camo brown wetsuit

Beaver tail fastening on Mares camo brown wetsuit

Snorkelling in North Wales

I decided I wanted to get into the sea more and observe our local marine life here in North Wales. I always see it all at low tide or on the deck of a ship and so wanted to see underwater life in its most natural state. Before I have done this with a snorkel and swimming shorts (which can be a bit chilly), but I have now invested in some more suitable equipment. It seems that getting spearfishing kit is the best approach for doing snorkelling and freediving around here. I do not really have an interest in catching fish but the camo suit and good kit will make spearfishing equipment ideal for observing underwater life. This is a list of the kit I have bought.

Mares instinct camo brown 55 (5.5mm) 2 piece open cell wetsuit.
Mares camo brown open cell 3mm socks/booties
Mares instinct pro camo green freediving fins
Cressi 3.5 neoprene gloves
Cressi super totem dive knife
Spettoa rubber dive belt
5 x 1kg Beuchasub weights
1 x Esclapez Single Bladder Torpedo Bouy Float including a line

and I already had a Tusa Liberator plus hyperdry mask and imprex snorkel. 

I will describe and review the kit in separate posts in case it is of any use to anyone else.