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Monday, January 31, 2011

Drysuit Diatribe: Zippers

All of the suits I've had have been front-entry. I don't know much about the rear-entry style zippers, but I do wonder if they would wear more from the backplate sitting against the zipper and rubbing against it when you walk around with tanks on. I've also heard that having that stiff zipper back there can inhibit range of motion for things like reaching your valves. If you go with front entry, with a DUI suit, you will have the option of having the zipper zip down (which I believe they refer to as "old style") or zip up. I've heard a lot of DIR types claim that the old style is better. I don't know their reasons for thinking that, but here's my experience. I have had both styles, and I prefer the zip down. If you have a suit with a fairly narrow waist (which is I guess more likely for women), then the zipper starts practically in the middle of the back and makes this big arc around your side. That curve around the side always seems to wear much faster than any other point on the zipper. And it's also just hard for me to self zip when I have to reach around to the middle of my back to start the zipper :) I find the zip down style easier to self zip, and I like the fact that I can actually see the entire zipper as I am zipping, so I'm not going to accidentally run over my undergarment or something. Also it's a little bit easier for me to see the end of the zip-down zipper, to see that it's actually zipped the whole way. Rob also likes the old style zipper, and his gripe is that if you get a zip up one, the slider ends up sitting under (or nearly under) the harness and this causes more wear on the zipper.

It might seem like we are over-thinking this, but replacing a zipper on a drysuit is pretty much the most expensive maintenance you will ever have to do on the suit. Eventually you will have to do it though. I've had a bunch of zippers replaced by Steve Gamble in Florida, and I've always been pleased with his work. Rob has had zippers replaced by DUI and is likewise happy.

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