I'm often asked what dive gear to bring on a trip. I have dove a great deal in cold waters, and I have most recently gotten very interested in the great diving at the tip of Vancouver Island, at a place called God's Pocket. In fact, I am leading trips there this year and next, the first trips I've led in a long while. Below are my recommendations on dive gear, which apply to California waters as well:
What Diving Gear Should I Bring?
> It looks great. I'm very interested... Having the opportunity to dive> there with you and Norbert would be fantastic. The "warm water wimp" in me still needs to know -- water temps? 45-47 degrees? I don't have dry gloves. Do you think I'd be okay in a drysuit with thick undergarments, thick hood and thick wet gloves. I didn't have any problems last year but the water temp was low 50s.
I don't think that I am that unusual. I get cold just like anyone else. The gear has come a long way in the last 15 years, to the point where diving in 45-50 degree water means very little. I do dive Monterey, but not much these days -- not because of the cold, but because I've dove it so much that it is boring to me now.
However, Alan Studley is far more of an explorer and has some GREAT dive sites there that awed me when I went out with him. They are a bit more work, more wild and wooly, than I am comfortable with, however.
Diving with God's Pocket is easier since they have the boat and knowledge of the currents. I hate to say it, but the animal life is more prolific, colorful, and interesting too.
Anyway, back to getting cold. The best undergarments aren't necessarily thick. I have found, and Studley and many others will agree, that the Fourth Element two -piece Arctic drysuit undergarments are the best. They are not too thick so you have lots of flexibility. If you combine the Arctic with the Drybase thermal bases (basically, thick polypro long johns) then I think that you will be toasty. I used this combination in Antarctica and I was fine.
I believe that Fourth Element has a dealer on the East Coast.
You won't need dry gloves, nor particularly thick gloves. I find thick gloves very difficult to put on and just use fairly thin, flexible neoprene gloves. I don't like gauntlet gloves or gloves with big velcro bands around them; they are just harder to put on.
As for hoods, the absolute best, warmest hood I can recommend (I just used ONE of these hoods in Antarctica last season and was fine; I used to use an ice cap under a hood in past seasons) is the Henderson Hyperstretch Hybrid Dry Suit Hood.
I also like flexible drysuits. I really like the DUI TLS 350 drysuits and have always used them since day one. They are lightweight, durable, dry out quickly, and are a shell. I do not recommend the rock boots and prefer the standard booties. I do have latex neck seals and latex wrist seals. I have Sitec rings put on the suit; latex wrist seals fit into them, and if I am diving Antarctica, cheap rubber concrete mixing gloves fit over them to create dry gloves. No Zipseals (too expensive for me but I have heard good things about them). You might find the Sitec rings to be too big. They do add bulk and do get in the way sometimes, but I am very used to them. They allow the changing of wrist seals in the field very quickly. Then I just use thick wool socks and I am fine.
I hope that this helps. In Antarctica, I use much the same gear except for drygloves, which I can describe if anyone asks.