I started out as a skinny kid who was always a good mark for some bully in the local recreation ground, before puberty and protein made all the difference. But somehow I never noticed the transition.
So when it comes to drysuits off-the-peg, Im reluctant to say I need the XL size. James at Scubapro was more astute, and sent me both a Scubapro Fjord in size L (which I asked for) and one in size XL, the size that fitted me.
Dont confuse this Fjord with the dearer Fjord HD suit, which has an extended torso and legs with sock-ends, in the fashion of those now very expensive drysuits that come from California.

The Fjord is a conventional trilaminate membrane suit, in that it is constructed from a mix of Nylon and Cordura and has a cross-shoulder zip for what we call rear entry.
A Velcro-covered flap of material covers the zip, and the seams of the suit are vulcanised to ensure that they are leak-free, and stay that way.
The small thigh pocket doesnt cause unbearable drag while swimming. The small of the back has an elasticated ruching that gives the suit a slightly fitted look. In fact, it reminded me of a Hunter (née Gates) suit that was once a favourite of mine, which begs the question of who in China makes this suit for Scubapro.
A nice touch: the strap-retaining loop on the left forearm stops your computer strap slipping down off your wrist.

Getting into the suit was easy. Ill avoid saying that it was like getting into an old friend, but it certainly didnt confuse me.
I cant say the same for another suit I wore that day at Wraysbury Lake.
Tom, the photographer, observed that because I have used so many different suits, it should always be a doddle to get into one, and so it was in this case.
My feet slipped into the Neoprene-lined rubber boots that are permanently attached, and its always gratifying to find that the lengthy integrated glued-and-stitched knee-pads are positioned at the front once youve finally got a suit on. Built-in adjustable braces take the strain before you pull the neck-seal over your head.

Latex wrist- and neck-seals are efficient at keeping the water out, and these are conical, to give the user the best chance of having exactly the right amount of tension without the risk of being strangled, or getting wet arms every time they reach up while under water.
The neck-seal has a two-sided Velcro fitted enclosure to add a layer of insulation over the thin rubber. All the seals can be trimmed to suit the user. The SiTech balanced inflation valve has that sideways push-to-inflate operation that I favour, and avoids accidental use.
The generous cut of the suit allows for plenty of freedom of movement in the arms, though there was a slight penalty to pay for this. I found that I had to do a Roman salute to get the dump valve at the upper arm into a good position to be really effective.
This is a constant-volume valve, so the action should be automatic, but I found no problem raising and rotating my elbow from time to time once I got near to the shallows in order to shed the last vestiges of air.
Although it is of low profile, the dump-valve still sticks up quite a bit, and gets caught on the harness shoulder-straps of the BC while youre preparing to dive.
The boots have well-treaded soles but are slim, so I had no problem fitting my size12 feet thus encased into Mares XL or Scubapro XL fins.
Scubapro also supplies its typical wet-hood, which has a comfy lining but comes with an extended neck. This appears to work well when youre getting ready, but I have always found that the extended neck inverts during a dive.
I resorted to using my familiar personal hood to avoid this unendearing feature.
Insulation comes from what you wear under a membrane drysuit. I fear that if you were to pack out this sort of suit with a bulky undergarment, you would find yourself about as sleek as a Michelin Man.
Membrane drysuits have rarely been perfect for swimming in. Theres simply too much material. That said, much of UK wreck-diving involves journeys down and up, with precious little in the horizontal plane.
The Fjord is Scubapros drysuit offering at the bottom end of the price range, but dont let this put you off. However, fit is everything. If yours is an off-the-peg size, Im sure youll find a Fjord to fit. If not, think again.
As I say, I am still surprised to find that I am now an off-the-peg size, even after a young woman I met at the Dive Show later reported on an Internet forum that talking to me was like talking to a tree. I hope she was alluding to my height, rather than my conversation.

Typhoon TRX, £600
Hunter Pro SBX 400, £580
Oceanic HD400SC, £475

PRICE £499
MATERIAL Nylon/cordura
SUPPLIED WITH Bag, hood, hose, repair kit
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%