CHOOSING A DIVING SUIT is about getting the right amount of insulation for the temperature of the water in which you will be diving, and also about the “fit”.
If you have a body that’s trim and slim, with good muscularity and a stomach like an ironing board, this flexible 3mm suit from O’Neill will suit you.
But even if you have more front than Harrods, you might feel just as comfortable wearing this trim and tidy suit. That’s because it’s so flexible. It goes on like a coat of paint.
The Explore 3 gives such a good profile in the water that you can slip through it like a racing sea-snake. Provided you are diving in water that’s warm enough for you, you’ll be more than happy with only the 3mm of insulation provided by its neoprene.
It’s the sort of suit in which slim young Phil Short would look good, though perhaps not my old mate Bret Gilliam who, after a time as an American quarter-back and then years in the navy wrestling with man-eating sharks and nuclear submarines, has been left with a certain amount of bulk.
The Explore 3 fits where it touches. While modelling this suit, for example, I decided to forgo the use of a pair of swimming trunks and go commando, because the nylon pull-string of the trunks was making an unsightly bulge that was spoiling the look of the suit.

There’s nothing as untidy as a zip at wrist or ankle. O’Neill employs an O-ring within the seams to stop the water flushing through.
There is a zip at the back, and this is tidied up with a collar that pulls across and is held in place by a tenacious bit of Velcro.
Inside, the torso area is lined with a dark red nap that O’Neill calls its “firewall” system. This is to give added insulation where it counts.
There is also a pocket on the right hip. This reminded me of my Spanish friend Guillermo who, while snorkelling, discovered lots of paper money lying about on the seabed.
He enthusiastically collected it up and returned triumphantly to shore – triumphantly, that is, until he realised that the money had fallen out of the pocket of his own shorts.
So much for pockets! Perhaps this reflects O’Neill’s heavy presence in the windsurfing and water-skiing market, where attractive young people hang about in bars between forays in the sea, and I suppose they need a pocket in which to stow some cash for that.
Don’t confuse this suit with the posh O’Neill Sector series, which has welded seams. The Explore is O’Neill’s entry-level diving wetsuit, and it’s quite simple.
It does have some “krypton” kneepads nicely integrated with the legs, but they are not like cricket pads, more like a tough woven section of material.
Despite being close-fitting, the suit is not that difficult to get into, thanks to the superb flexibility of the material. I stayed as warm as I needed to, despite diving in water that was subject to onward-rushing tidal currents, in the waters of the Maldives.

O’Neill also sent me a new pair of Sector 5mm boots to wear with the suit. I have had three pairs of these boots. I have worn each pair until the neoprene has grown very thin and the soles have lost any ability to resist the upward thrust of tree roots – as I recently discovered while climbing through the jungle to get to Jellyfish Lake in Palau. Each step was so painful that I was reminded to get a new pair of boots once I returned to Blighty.
These O’Neill boots fit well, and I have never had a zip fail, which seems to be the Achilles tendon (if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor) of so many other makes of neoprene boot.
They seemed a bit like overkill in the insulation department when combined with the O’Neill Explore 3mm suit, but they work.

Cressi Spring 3.5, £135
Fourth Element Proteus 3, £180
Scubapro Everflex 3/2, £173

PRICE £110
SIZES 11 M / 9 F
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%