BRIAN RIX MADE HIS NAME in Whitehall Theatre farces by allowing his trousers to fall down at the appropriate moment, revealing his underwear. In days when audiences had a less sophisticated sense of humour than might be the case nowadays, they found that to be extremely funny.
I can still draw the odd laugh today when strolling about a dive site, especially an inland site such as that of Wraysbury Dive Centre, in the right set of drysuit undergarments. The Scubapro Climasphere is such an example.
I went to Wraysbury one busy May weekend, in a borrowed black Mini Cooper SD. It’s a car that is a triumph of style over function.
I went ready dressed in the Climasphere undersuit. It’s an example of the triumph of function over style.
Someone asked me what I would do dressed like that if the police stopped me on the way home, something quite likely when driving the little black go-kart Mini.
They thought I looked bizarre (divers, they just aren’t adventurous enough!).
Bizarre I might have looked, but cosy warm is how I felt.

The Design
The Climasphere undersuit comes in two pieces. The bottom layer, the first to put on, looks conventional enough. It’s made of a material reminiscent of Polartec, a polyester combined with flexible Spandex. The effect is to make it feel both fluffy and stretchy.
In fact the windproof fleece has a four-way stretch, and it’s both breathable and anatomically cut.
There are the usual shallow side pockets, a front zip and a luxuriously thick collar.
Unusually, the cuffs and ankles are finished in neoprene to act almost like seals. This is intended both to keep the sleeves fully extended when you don your drysuit and to stop air from getting trapped. There are stirrups and cuff-loops too.
You could wear this single garment and stay quite warm enough in your drysuit, depending on the ambient water temperature.
Wraysbury lake was not warm enough for that, so I donned the second layer of equally thick material, which is like the equivalent of a jacket that goes over the longjohn of a wetsuit. It has a diagonal zip and short thigh sections that achieve a second layer of insulation over the first.
This is called “layering” in modern diving parlance, or what my mother might have called “putting another layer of clothes on”.
The effect is to double the insulation over the torso and upper thighs while leaving the arms and legs unhindered by too much padding.
A secondary effect is to make a fit muscular person look fat, and a person who might have eaten too many pies obese.
Hence the wry smiles I detected on the faces of those bystanders who might have recognised me from these pages and assumed I’d recently put on a lot of weight, but were unaware that I am actually still built like a racing snake (as I prefer to think).
That’s why I asked Wraysbury’s chief instructor, Mark Bruce, to wear it for the photograph.

In The Water
I was undeniably warm, although the water was not. A good test is to note whether your face or hands get cold, because if your core is insulated well enough, they won’t.
I was able to evacuate most of the loose air from my neoprene drysuit, so that the only insulating air I carried was within the fibre of the undersuit. In this way I was able to dive with only 12kg of lead, which is not a lot for someone who has to take care not to bang his head on the average door-frame.
At no time did any air get trapped inside the suit during a carefully slow ascent, nor did the sleeves get rucked up in the process of getting ready to dive so, all in all, it was a great success.
That is, until I took my drysuit off and walked about the dive-site in the Climasphere. It’s very unflattering, but it is exceedingly good value.

Fourth Element Xerotherm (two-piece), £154
Bare SB Mid Layer, £235
Weezle Extreme, £172

PRICE £140
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%