Experienced divers all know that as the months get cooler in Sydney, the marine life heats up. There’s something about winter diving that brings out the best of what Sydney has to offer. In the first week of winter, I’ve witnessed three giant cuttlefish participating in a frisky ‘manage a trois’, turtles propped between clumps of kelp, eagle rays circling me with my students, and baby Port Jackson sharks starting to scoot around on the sand.
So how do we stay toasty warm so we can enjoy long dives with this incredible display of cool water marine life? Lavacore has become an essential part of my wardrobe because of its diverse range of uses. I can use it as extra insulation under my 7mm neoprene wetsuit in winter when the temperatures are between 15-18 degrees Celsius, wear it year-round when I feel like jumping in for a snorkel, and just pack it in my carry-on as a stand-alone exposure garment for tropical diving. Surfers, kayakers, wakeboarders, windsurfers, kiteboarders, jet-skiers and sailors all wear it. There are a range of hoods, socks, long sleeve shirts, sleeveless shirts and full suits, but why Lavacore? How does its design work to keep you warm? Let’s break it down…
A three-layered system
There are essentially three layers to a Lavacore garment. The fancy name for this the material is Polytherm Tri-Laminate. Polytherm helps control your core temperature longer. When worn by itself, it’s the equivalent of a 2mm wetsuit. If it’s under a wetsuit, its insulation properties equate it to an extra 3mm of protection. You get the extra warmth while maintaining neutral buoyancy – meaning that you don’t need extra weight to compensate for the extra layer as you would with a neoprene-based garment.
The Fleecy Inner Layer
This is the fleecy inside layer of the garment. It’s amazing at insulating the body whether the material is wet or dry. It’s made up of 240g/sqm four-way stretch polyester fleece with elastane. It has Anti-Pill treatment (so it won’t wear thin like those old sloppy joes) as well as Anti-Microbial treatment to reduce odor and eliminate bacteria.
The Breathable, Windproof Middle Layer
This layer is a film of high stretch, impermeable Breathable Microporous. This is what makes Lavacore wind proof while also allowing perspiration to be drawn away in hot conditions (this is why kayakers love it!). It makes Lavacore perfect for snorkelling and other surface-based water sports, as well as surface intervals between dives in the cooler months, as it slows heat loss from convection caused by the wind.
The Durable Outer Layer
The outer layer consolidates the high heat and insulation rating of the Polytherm Tri-Laminate material, giving added water resistance and high protection from windchill. It’s super durable because the seams are overlapped during flatlock sewing to ensure maximum water integrity and reduced water-flow (so no little mid-dive surprises from cold water sneaking in!). The seam cross-overs on the inside of the suit are locked under the threads of the adjoining seam, so that seam construction is doubled and flat-locked to allow the four-way stretch fabric to be super flexible without compromising the seam edges.
…And it’s so comfy.
Each Lavacore garment has a full under arm gusset which means there is no rub or irritation on the sensitive areas of the body. The cut also means that the garment can be pretty firm against the skin while allowing a wide range of movement without strain or damage to the seams.
There’s no reason to be cold while diving. We’re continuing our free Divemaster-guided Friday, Saturday and Sunday shore dives all year, so invest in a lavacore shirt, a hood and a cosy pair of socks to go under your dive boots, and enjoy Sydney’s amazing cool-water diving in comfort!