Beuchat has long made some well-regarded wetsuits, and the Beuchat Focea Comfort 6, available in both 5mm and 7mm, is right up there with the best.
I got the 5mm version on test, and it looks pretty eye-catching in black with various imprints and zips in a vibrant lime, as well as abrasion-resistant Black Shield protection on the shoulders, legs and seat area. It is an effective design, not too outlandish that will soon date, but better than plain black. The build quality is superior, with lots of neat features – all the zips, for instance, are reinforced at the ends with neoprene to avoid any risk of tearing if you get a little rough with them.
This one-piece suit comprises 44 panels and 20 different grades of neoprene, which is pre-formed for an anatomical cut ensuring maximum comfort and ease of movement. I have to say, it was exceptionally easy to get on and off, with zippers on the wrists and ankles, and it felt more like a 3mm when I was twisting and bending around.
This ease of movement is helped massively by the Flex System 2 sections on the inside of the elbows and back of the knees – these reduced any effort when it came to crouching down or flexing my arms.
It is fitted with a universal computer holder, which is designed to hold your dive computer in place on the suit. You slot the holder on to the back of your computer by threading the straps through it – in this instance, a Shearwater Research Teric – and then the Velcro pad on the back docks with the matching pad on the arm of the wetsuit. It adds an element of additional security with the computer’s strap by holding it solidly in place.
Now when I dive in the UK, regardless of the time of year, I dive in a drysuit. Call me ‘nesh’, but I like to be warm. However, this time I forced myself out of my comfort zone and donned the Focea Comfort 6 for a dive in Trearddur Bay in Anglesey.
The water temperature was a balmy 15 degrees C, so I twinned it up with a Beuchat 2mm hooded undervest (£95) for a bit of extra warmth around my torso. This 5mm Focea Comfort 6 is classed as ‘category B’, which means it is the equivalent of a 7mm, and I have to say, it was a bit of a revelation. Water ingress was minimal to say this is a wetsuit and not a semi-dry, and any water that did get inside stayed there – there was little flushing.
I happily mooched about through the kelp, and even though I didn’t get much depth – around 8m maximum – I encountered pollock, wrasse, lobster, crabs, squat lobster, prawns and blennies. Before I knew it, I had been in 45 minutes – and I didn’t feel the slightest bit cold! It apparently uses Fireskin, a water-repellent fabric with a specially structured weave that offers a high degree of thermal protection, and I can honestly say it works! I fully expected to be shivering after 30 minutes!
So will I now be in a wetsuit in the summer months off our shores? Well no, I am still a devotee of drysuits, however, I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of this suit, especially in a combo with the vest – so much so, as you read this, I will have been back into Welsh waters wearing it for a ‘Dad and lad’ dive with Luke in his Beuchat 6.5m Focea children’s wetsuit!
If you are more of a travelling diver, it would be perfect for use in the Mediterranean, or in the Red Sea during the winter. Paired up with the undervest, it can handle relatively low temperatures, so this would also be a good bet if you were heading for the likes of the Galapagos, where the temperatures can vary dramatically.
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