Undersuit inspired by space technology – and a snorkeling suit
Ten years – that’s how long it took Fourth Element to bring the Halo A°R to market. His new undersuit incorporates what the manufacturer describes as highly advanced thermal technology originally created for spacecraft and cryogenics, in the form of A°RGON airgel – “one of the most insulating materials ever developed”.
A°RGON is created by replacing the liquid in a gel with air to create a lightweight, hollow and flexible structure. “When we tested it over 10 years ago, it crashed and disintegrated,” says Fourth Element, but what it now offers divers is A°RGON integrated into many the foam.
The material makes it possible to obtain extreme thermal protection from a thinner and less buoyant diving undersuit, explains the manufacturer. Incorporating a windproof and water-repellent stretch outer layer with thumb loops and foot stirrups, the Halo A°R can be “worn in total comfort, all day long”.
An offset chest zip and baffles are designed to minimize heat loss from the torso when the diver is in a horizontal position. The body is protected by a layer of A°RGON from the shoulders to the knees, with other areas also benefiting from the airgel without compromising mobility or creating bulk.
A zipped pocket is provided for storing keys, cards or cash. The underwear is machine washable and P-valve ready.
“Drawing on Fourth Element’s experience in thermal protection and body mapping, we extensively evaluated the Halo A°R with thermal imaging cameras to improve and modify the prototypes,” says Director Jim. Standing. “It’s been a long process to get it right, but what we have now is the most advanced technology you’ll find on the market.”
The Halo A°R underwear is available in sizes S-XL and sells for £449.
RF2 for freedivers
Meanwhile, Fourth Element also has a new cold and cold water freediving suit called RF2, which it says embodies “maximum freedom and ultimate warmth”.
The sleek 6/5/4mm hybrid two-piece consists of a hooded jacket and leggings. It features lined outer panels around the core, arms and legs for what the manufacturer says is greater durability than traditional smooth skin. There is Glideskin on the shoulders and a hydrodynamic hood.
The interior features a smooth cell Metalite liner, intended to enhance heat retention and sturdiness. The closure is a beaver tail type and a Supratex seat panel is included.
“We designed this suit with consultation from professional freedivers, instructors and with the knowledge of freediving suit specialists,” says Paul Strike, director of Fourth Element.
One such pro, freediver cameraman and Fourth Element Ambassador Daan Verhoeven, adds, “The RF2 is possibly the best out-of-the-box wetsuit I’ve ever tried. As soon as I entered the water, I instantly forgot about the wetsuit. I was just comfortable and could move without anything pinching me or water getting in.
Available in sizes S-XL, the suit costs £380: hooded jacket £230 and leggings £150.
Other recent Fourth element products on Divernet: Tech fins & Navigator Tech and Aquanaut goggles