Earlier this year Waterproof released the first few Ultima Dry Glove Ring System. I first heard about it at the beginning of the year with a 'Coming Soon' page in the 2016 product catalog with some CAD drawings. I mentioned them in one of my LIVE shows to some interest and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the first few sets to come to the UK. Having SiTech Oval Silicone Rings on my drysuit you can quickly and easily fit them to your drysuit for integrated dry gloves and seals. You can check out my assembly video below showing how easy it is to fit them to your drysuit.
My First Experience
So I got home and went to assemble the rings, this took all of 10 minutes with the instructions supplied. The rings don't come with gloves so you can fit your own depending on which style you prefer, which is a benefit in my books, they don't force any gloves on you when you want to use a different style. I use a thinner glove for better dexterity on most of my dives but you can use most gloves on the market with Ultima.
Luckily I have a suit with SiTech's ISS oval ring system all that's required is to pull the oval ring out and fit the circular Ultima in its place. After that's done you're ready to go diving really, it's a super quick and easy system to install.
If you have standard latex cuffs Ultima is easy to fit too, all you need to do is trap the latex cuff seal with the O-Ring and you're good to go. The instructions are really clear and Waterproof have uploaded some fitting videos too.
Taking them diving they were so easy to don and doff around the dive site and unobtrusive in the water. The circular ring only comes in one size which fits my hands, I use an 80mm Kubi Ring, with room to spare so if you have larger hands it should be fine. I usually put my gloves on first so I can get used to the dexterity kitting up and these rings were really easy to engage and you have a proper snap feeling when the rings are together.
I used to use other dry-glove systems which would randomly leak with no rhyme or reason as to why so I was a little apprehensive of the simplicity of pushing the two rings together and off you go but I was pleasantly surprised with bone dry hands.
Just before my second dive I managed to tear my left glove kitting up but no worries, with a spare glove in my bag, fully kitted up I swapped the glove over and went for the dive. All you have to do is remove an O-Ring and put it back on with the new glove.
Other ring systems like the Antares you have to pull and twist and put a fair amount of stress on the rings to disengage them which I never liked but brace the rings against your body and pull on the outer ring and off they pop. Even with thick under gloves these are easy to get off by yourself.
In The Water
In the water they feel very secure, unlike other ring systems you get a confirming click when it's sealed and so far (4 months) I've never had a leak from either side. I've used a couple other dry glove systems in my time which can often require a specific knack to make them seal properly to avoid a wet hand.
The Ultima molds seamlessly onto my drysuit sleeve thanks to the silicone rings so it's nice and streamlined and doesn't catch on straps. It takes a decent amount of force to get them off so I'm never worried about the rings disconnecting in the water.
I use the little tubes it comes with to break the cuff seal and allow air to fill the gloves at depth, water temperature was down to 9°C at max depth the first time I used them and they acted exactly as expected keeping my hands warm while maintaining dexterity.
Maintenance and Care
These rings are very easy to assemble and care for, you get half a box of spares but the only O-Ring you really have to care for is the bright red dynamic one that seals the two rings together. Push it out every now and then to give it a clean and it will keep your hands dry. Wash everything with warm fresh water after diving and that's about it.
You get a tube of grease which makes a big difference, especially when fitting for the first time, you don't need to use much but it does make life much easier and neater fitting the seals.
I'll certainly be using these for some time to come as they haven't let me down since I fitted them and because of their simple design. The best part in my opinion is the pop of when the seal engages, you don't have to line up dots or twist any switches, similar to the Kubi system but this has a more affirmative engagement.
I'll be using these in the Arctic Circle in January so I'll let you know how I get on with them when I get back...