Rule #1: Avoid Cotton

If you’re new to diving base layers, cotton is the first thing you should cross off your list. It’s not your friend in the diving world.

Cotton is a terrible insulator when wet, so you want to avoid it at all costs when diving. It absorbs moisture like a sponge and holds onto it for dear life.

Instead of cotton, opt for synthetic base layers. Synthetic materials, like polyester, wick away moisture from your skin, keeping you warm and dry.

Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits of synthetic base layers for diving:

  • They wick away moisture, keeping you warm and dry.
  • They’re breathable and allow for a full range of motion.
  • They’re durable and can withstand the rigours of diving.
  • They’re quick-drying and easy to care for.

If you’re serious about diving, invest in a good set of synthetic base layers. They’ll make a big difference in your comfort and safety underwater.

Synthetic base layers for diving: A quick rundown

Synthetic base layers are the best choice for diving because they offer several key benefits:

  • Moisture-wicking: Synthetic materials pull moisture away from your skin, keeping you warm and dry even when you’re sweating. This is crucial for preventing hypothermia, even in warm water.
  • Breathable: Synthetic base layers allow air to circulate, keeping you comfortable and helping to prevent overheating.
  • Flexible: Synthetic base layers are designed to move with you, allowing for a full range of motion.
  • Durable: Synthetic base layers are tough enough to withstand the rigours of diving, including repeated exposure to salt water and sunscreen.
  • Quick-drying: Synthetic base layers dry quickly, so you can get back in the water without having to wait.
  • Easy to care for: Synthetic base layers are typically machine-washable and dryer-safe.

A good set of synthetic base layers will go a long way in keeping you warm and dry.

Bonus tip: Choose synthetic base layers that are specifically designed for diving. These base layers will be made from the right materials and have the right features, such as flat seams, to prevent chafing.

Mastering the Art of Layering

Divers on the Surface

Layering: Staying Warm and Comfy for Diving and Other Above-Water Sports

Layering is the key to staying warm and comfortable for diving and any other above-water sport. More layers mean more trapped air, which means more warmth. But it’s important to choose the right materials because layering too many thick layers under a drysuit can mess with your buoyancy.

The real trick is to forget about using a single thick layer, such as an undersuit on its own. The air between you and the layer will quickly warm up, but when that warm air escapes, you can start to feel the chill. Instead, wear thin layers under the undersuit. The air between each layer will warm up more gradually, keeping you toasty for longer.

Layering is also a smart move for adapting to changing temperatures. If diving in warmer waters, you can discard a layer you normally wear in colder waters. If you’re feeling a chill, you can add one back. It’s like having a thermostat for your body.

But there’s more… Layering isn’t just about trapping air; it’s also your moisture-busting superhero. Wet skin equals cold discomfort. When you layer up, moisture can wick away from one layer to the next, reaching the outer layer where it can evaporate away from your skin.

Here are some tips for layering for diving:

  • Choose synthetic materials that wick away moisture and dry quickly.
  • Avoid cotton, as it absorbs moisture and holds onto it, making you cold.
  • Wear multiple layers where required under an undersuit.
  • Dress in layers that allow for a full range of motion.
  • Experiment with different combinations of layers to find what works best for you and the conditions.

With the right layering system, you can stay warm, comfortable, and dry, no matter the water temperature or weather conditions.

The Top Three From Fourth Element

Regarding base layers, many divers would agree that Fourth Element has stolen the show over the years, although manufacturers like Apeks and Waterproof might rightfully disagree.

Here’s the breakdown for Fourth Element’s leading base layers most in demand:

  • J2 – Lightweight Delight: Fast-wicking, machine washable, and warm even when wet. Perfect for extended drysuit dives, it’s the diva of base layers.
  • Xerotherm – An All-Rounder: NASA-approved Polartec® Powerstretch® fabric makes it the ultimate base layer. It’s the go-to for FBI Dive Teams and winter hikes alike.
  • X-Core – The Thermal Maestro: Extreme thermal protection for the core, designed to be the heavyweight champion under your drysuit undersuit. A non-powered alternative to heated systems.

J2: Where Comfort Meets Innovation

The Fourth Element J2 base layer will take your diving experience to a whole new level. It’s not just about staying cosy; it’s a game-changer in the world of extended drysuit diving and also any of your surface adventures.

Crafted for the pros, the J2 boasts top-notch anti-microbial mojo, thanks to its silver ion technology. But it’s not just about fighting off the nasties – this base layer is a beast when it comes to wicking.

Originally born for the 2013 Mexico J2 caving expedition (yes, worn 24/7 for 19 days straight!), it’s got the fast-wicking superpower that keeps a dry zone next to your skin, delivering top-tier thermal protection.

What makes it a darling among technical and professional divers? Well, it’s not rocket science – it’s all about that outstanding wicking from a unique fabric.

Even when the fabric gets a bit wet, it holds onto its thermal protection like a champ. And here’s the kicker – those silver ions? They’re in it for the long haul, no washing them off. Bacteriostatic and antifungal properties stay put, ensuring you can wear it over and over again for extended periods without risking any unwanted surprises.

Prepare to be amazed at the ease of slipping into it, the sleek aesthetics, and the comfort level. With an all-way stretch fabric and flat seams hugging your skin, the J2 is not just a base layer; it’s your ticket to comfort paradise. 

The J2 can be purchased as top and leggings individually or as a set. 

Forth Element Xerotherm Range

Fourth Element’s Xerotherm Wows Us

Our love for the Fourth Element Xerotherm isn’t just for diving – it’s our own go-to for all kinds of adventures, whether on land or in the water.

Situated between the J2 and X-Core, the Xerotherm stands out for its rapid-wicking ability, outperforming other products in the Fourth Element line-up. This incredible feature extends across the Xerotherm collection, from tops to leggings, hand warmers, gloves, socks to the popular Xerotherm Beanie Hat.

Described by Fourth Element as the ultimate base layer for drysuit use, the Xerotherm utilizes Polartec® Powerstretch® technology, originally developed for NASA. But here’s the kicker – we’ve been a bit cheeky, using the Xerotherm for everything, from kayaking to winter hikes, and it never fails to keep us warm, even when wet. Little wonder it’s the top choice for the FBI Dive Teams, the Norwegian Navy, and British Police Diving Units.

Made from 57% Polyester, 33% Nylon, and 10% Elastane, the Xerotherm creates a cosy layer of air next to your skin, ensuring a dry and comfortable experience. Some users even report minor suit leaks during dives, unnoticed until after the dive, thanks to the Xerotherm’s effective moisture management. Wear it under an undersuit with a membrane drysuit, or go solo with a neoprene drysuit.

And if you’re feeling the chill, consider stepping up to the X-Core for extra warmth. Our favourite combo for warmer dives used to be the Xerotherm vest and long-sleeve top, but alas, Fourth Element decided to part ways with the beloved vest. Dive in, stay warm, and embrace the Xerotherm experience!

4th Element X-Core Range

Elevate Your Warmth with Fourth Element’s X-Core!

When it comes to keeping your core toasty during those lengthy dives, the Fourth Element X-Core steps up to the plate. Specifically crafted for wear under a drysuit undersuit, the X-Core is your secret weapon for extended underwater adventures.

For optimal performance, layer it over a lightweight base like the J2, offering that perfect combo of cosiness and core protection. But here’s the cool part – the X-Core isn’t just a layer; it can be your go-to next-to-skin guardian for that critical core coverage.

The X-Core cranks up thermal protection to a level where heated vests or undersuits become optional in many scenarios. It’s your warmth companion for various dives, especially those colder and decompression-heavy ones.

The sleeveless design isn’t just a style choice; it’s a strategic move to minimise impact on buoyancy and bulk, especially in the crucial zones of shoulders and arms that need flexibility. The long body design ensures a snug fit, eliminating those pesky cold points.

Adding to its charm is the chest panel, strategically placed to combat the rush of chilly air from the inlet valve and offer extra thermal protection where it matters most.

Crafted from thicker fabric than the Xerotherm, the X-Core is a heavyweight champion that doesn’t compromise flexibility. With 76% recycled polyester and Power Stretch® certification, it’s a four-way stretch marvel.

Fast-wicking, odour-resistant, and machine washable – the X-Core isn’t just about warmth; it’s about convenience too. Whether you fancy the vest, leggings, or the full X-Core set, each piece can be snagged individually to tailor your comfort needs. Dive into warmth with X-Core!

Apeks ThermiQ: A Comfort Revolution

Even though it’s a new-comer to the base layer world, like all products it creates, Apeks excels with the ThermiQ Carbon Core base layer – here to steal the spotlight alongside heavyweights like the Fourth Element Xerotherm and the Waterproof Body X.

Now, what sets the ThermiQ Carbon Core apart? Well, it’s not your average base layer. Unlike the cosy feel of the Xerotherm with its soft fibre material, the ThermiQ Carbon Core brings something new to the table – its outer layer is similar to those sleek outdoor shell vests or jackets.

The ThermiQ Carbon Core isn’t just about looking cool; it’s a versatile player with comfort and warmth guaranteed. Picture this: You can use it as a thermal rash guard against your skin for those warm water adventures or layer it under beneath your drysuit undersuit for an extra warm dive.

The triple-layer soft shell is paired up with a high-tech lining featuring graphene-wrapped fibres, making it practically a skin-temperature superhero. These fibres act like superconductors, orchestrating a symphony of warmth transfer from the toasty spots to the chillier zones on your body.

Graphene,  a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, conducts heat better than any material on earth  and equalises the body temperature by transferring heat from warmer parts of the body to colder parts – without the need for a power source.

⎋ Read more about Graphene and Graphene Lining here

If you’re after a base layer that’s not just about comfort but also brings a touch of innovation to the game, the Apeks ThermiQ Carbon Core is well worth considering.

Waterproof Body X Rocks

Waterproof – the Swedish sensation since ’84, rocking the scene with wetsuits, drysuits, and all the cool gear has not one, but two killer base layers for drysuit diving – meet the Waterproof Body X and its bulkier cousin, the Body X2.

In this review we’re skipping the X2’s heavyweight vibes and diving into the goodness of the Body X. Think of it as the stylish, not-so-bulky sibling that’s ready to make a splash.

Here’s the scoop: While the X2 is cosying up to the Fourth Element Arctic in thickness, the X1 is doing its thing like the Xerotherm – lightweight and ready to roll.

What’s so cool about the Body X? Well, imagine this: it’s rocking hollow fibre polyester, taking a cue from polar bear fur. The kind that thrives in crazy conditions. This fabric is like the superhero of insulation – lightweight but warmer than your regular stuff because it’s hollow and filled with air magic.

Crafted with 90% Polyester and a dash of 10% Elastane, the Body X isn’t just a looker. It’s a tech wizard with killer moisture-wicking skills. It plays a capillary action superhero, pulling moisture away from your skin and tossing it out where it belongs to the outmost layer.

The brushed fabric is not just comfy; it’s a pill-resistance champion with an Anti-Pilling ASTM D 3512 Grade 4.0 rating. Translation: no annoying fibre balls ruining your vibe after constant use.

What’s more, the Body X range isn’t just about tops and leggings but also includes socks.

So, if you’re after a base layer that’s not just cosy but also a moisture-wicking, pill-fighting hero, the Waterproof Body X is worth considering.