MARK EVANS: Otter Watersports is celebrating 30 years in the diving industry. The Britannic II is their high-end drysuit, and the favoured garb of many of the UK’s top tech divers, including Paul Toomer, Vikki Batten and Martin Robson, to name just a handful.
It had been many years since I last dived in an Otter drysuit, so I was looking forward to sampling a Britannic II for myself. First up was a visit to Bradford to see John Womack in Otter HQ, where the tape-measure maestro soon whipped up my measurements on his chart, and we filled in my requirements ref pockets, colours, valves, etc. This being an Otter, John and his team can give it whatever personal tweaks you desire, be that the type of valves (Apeks or Si-Tech), the position of the dump valve (standard location, or GUE/DIR position), a choice of pockets, quick-replacement silicone neck seal, dryglove systems, and so on.
A couple of weeks later and my made-to-measure suit arrived, looking resplendent in the red-and-black colour combo – very Captain Scarlet! I’d gone for dual thigh pockets, as it is handy having numerous storage options for slates, DSMBs, spools and back-up torches, and silicone wrist seals, which I have to say are among the most-comfortable I have ever used. These were paired up with a factory-fit set of KUBI drygloves, which for me are still the best drygloves on the market in terms of ease of use.
The Britannic II came with neoprene socks, which provide plenty of insulation, and then a set of Otter’s durable, tough rockboots fit on over the top. The dual Velcro straps make these very easy to get on and off, and they have very grippy rubber soles.
Among the many neat features on the Britannic II is the zippered pocket built into the bottom of the braces, in exactly the right location for you to open up the drysuit zipper eight to ten inches or so and then be able to slide your hand inside, to get your car keys, for instance. A fantastic idea – easy to see that the Otter boys have a good diving heritage, and have thought about situations like this.
The Britannic II is made from an extremely robust material known as ‘armour skin’, which feels very heavy-duty but is still flexible enough that it doesn’t hinder your movement.
The drysuit has accompanied me on numerous dives now, and it has never once let me down. It is comfortable, easy to get on and off, looks fantastic – it is also available in blue-and-black, or all-black – and is built to last. When you have the likes of Toomer, Batten and Robson using the Britannic II, that is a testament to these suits, as they certainly know how to push their kit – and themselves – to the limit, and will only use stuff they trust implicitly.
At a smidge under £1,500, it is not a cheap suit, but it is a very, very good suit, and one that will last you a long time. Otter’s customer service is renowned, and their build quality is off-the-chart. This genuinely could represent the last drysuit you ever buy, it is that good.
The Britannic II came with valves, hose, hood and a nifty zippered bag which doubles up as a changing mat.