For the beginning of the 2015 season Fourth Element have upgraded their best-selling Arctic undersuit and produced the Arctic Expedition range.
The Fourth Element Arctic undersuit is probably the best selling undersuit around the world, used by professional and recreational divers everywhere. The Arctic is so popular because it is very effective, low bulk and hasn’t needed a design change since it was first produced as it simply works. Backed by years of field testing by the Norwegian Navy, the British Antarctic Survey Dive Team, the French Marines and the Danish Navy, the Arctic was designed using high technology fabrics and has been tested in real diving conditions from the Arctic to the Antarctic, I myself can confirm the effectiveness of the Arctic Undersuit when I was diving in the Arctic Circle in February ’14.
Because the Arctic has been in and around dive sites for years now without any need for changes, Fourth Element have been able to collect a lot of data for possible improvements. The main upgrade is the use of different materials and biomapping from across their range of undersuits.
The chest, upper-arms, knees and seat utilise Fourth Element’s Thermocline material, which is predominantly a wetsuit undersuit material, which works best when it is wet to keep you warm but it also has a water resistant outer shell. The reasoning for this is that; if it is raining before or whilst you’re getting into your drysuit, your shoulders and chest will get wet which the Thermocline material is designed for. Cuff Dumps, Shoulder Dumps, Chest Valves, Neck and Wrist seals are the most common places for leaks in a drysuit so if you do start to get wet it will be used by the Thermocline material to keep you warm. The seat and knees are also common places where you get wet in and around dive sites; sat down on a wet bench or kneeling down to break your unit down will create wet patches so with the Thermocline material you will be much more comfortable before, during and after dives in this undersuit.
Biomapping from the Halo 3D undersuit increases the thickness of insulation around key areas and muscle groups to keep you comfortable during long dives. Biomapped insulation with additional layers of high density fleece on the thighs, combined with water resistant knee and seat panels keep you warm and have been designed to be efficient in a horizontal position whilst diving.
The outer layer of the Arctic material on the rest of the suit has a ceramic pattern to keep the integrity of the outer shell which would tend to bobble if used frequently or washed often. This printing doesn’t affect the flexibility or weight of the fabric but does reduce friction between it and your drysuit and it improves its long-term cosmetic appeal.
The thumb loop on the original Arctic is an elasticated webbing to keep the sleeve in the correct position when donning your drysuit but it could break the dry seal of your cuff, getting you wet, if it wasn’t tucked away properly. The Arctic Expedition has an elasticated, self-retracting thumb loop that will tuck itself away into the cuff of the undersuit so it won’t interfere with your cuff seal.
The one-piece undersuit features a low profile popper rolled fleece neck that covers the front zip that has two zippers for convenience when going to the bathroom. Zippered pockets on all variations of the Arctic Expedition; one on the Top, two hand warmers on the Leggings and on the One-Piece. The One-Piece has an elasticated waist at the back to keep an even coverage and shape, the Two-Piece versions are purposely made long to give a long overlap and a drawcord waist to keep the Leggings in position. The One-Piece also features pre-drilled holes for p-valves.
The Arctic Expedition will be the perfect accompaniment to most drysuit diver’s dive kit, especially British divers. Fourth Element have combined all of the best features and materials from their whole range of exposure protection to create a very efficient hybrid that will work in a very wide range of climates without adding a large amount of bulk.