Global Dive has always prided itself on only stocking the best dive equipment available. High performance exposure wear is no exception. For 3 years we have been amazed at how good the Sharkskin garments have performed, in a huge range of environments and uses. The range has grown and we have been committed to carrying the full range of Sharkskin designs and sizes in-store.
Previously, the only type of performance garment to come close is the Thermocline range by English company Fourth Element. The fleecy material both garments use is mated to a breathable technical membrane layer, which offers wind proofing and water resistance. Finally, a 4 way stretch outer layer is added, giving you sun protection and durability. What this means to you, is by adding a Sharkskin layer, you are adding the equivalent warmth of a 3mm of wetsuit, without the added buoyancy, and you have a windproof layer that reduces the between dive chills. The Sharkskin garment is non chaffing, antimicrobial and itch resistant so can be worn all day long.
However, recently we have been made aware of a couple of new products to hit the market. They claim to be “cheap versions of sharkskin” so we decided to check this out and decide if they are good enough to be compared to Sharkskin.The recently launched “cheap” versions certainly look similar at first glance, but when they are inspected closely, there are many differences. The main differences are; The Chinese manufactured thermal layer has a much more porous fleece allowing greater airflow through the pile. This means less thermal protection. Sharkskin material is much less permeable to air and so stops the convective and evaporative cooling process – so you stay warm. The more porous fleece also allows the garment to sag, (bag out) so the garment doesn’t hold its shape over time. This causes discomfort when worn under wetsuits and added drag when worn by itself – for example for paddling and other watersports activities We spoke to a dealer who had both brands available to him. Initial excitement of having a “cheaper” alternative lead to disappointment when garments were being returned due to sagging, and tearing after short spells in use. He subsequently removed the garments from sale.
Sharkskin were keen to test the other brand so sent both their own garment and the “cheaper copy” to several kayakers and multisport participants. The response was pretty unanimous. The Sharkskin out performed the other garments in every test. The most important feedback was simply that Sharkskin keeps you warmer and lasts longer with superior wear. The wear was evidenced from comparing Sharkskin and the other garment after going through the washing machine multiple times. So, Global Dive will continue to only sell the original Sharkskin garments. The price difference between the warmer garments and the inferior copies is irrelevant in my opinion. Cheap is sometimes good, but in this case not better value. My recommendation is that the best value is in the original garments. The extra dollars buy you a much warmer garment that will last longer and give you more enjoyable dives. We stand by the products we sell and remind our customers that the Sharkskin products all come with a performance guarantee. If the garment does not perform as advertised, bring it back for a full refund.
Sharkskin has to be the best thermal garment I’ve used for my Kitesurfing. Comfortable, warm and lightweight it’s great when the wind chill gets down. During the winter months can be especially hard while teaching but with my sharksins under my wetsuit I’m fine even with the harshest southerlies.
Auckland Kitesurf Centre (Head Instructor)
Sharkskin is by far the best paddling gear I’ve ever worn on the water! The fleece lined paddling pants are awesome over winter, and the foot straps mean that if I come off my board during racing or downwinders, the pants remain in place. The rapid dry top with high vis sleeves is a year-round paddling top for me as it is warm, quick dry and provides better insulation than lycra or cotton tops. When it gets cold in Winter I just wear my Sharkskin chest vest underneath. It keeps my core warm but allows freedom of movement due to the vest design. The entire Sharkskin range feels great on, is breathable and flexible which is important to me when paddling, and a big bonus is it’s flattering to wear!
I stumbled across Sharkskin while I was in Australia a few years ago, and have been a firm advocate of the brand ever since. As an underwater photographer, I need to have as much mobility as possible, and have found that the combination of the rash vests and pants serve as freeing alternatives to the stiffness of conventional wetsuits. I like that I can mix and match different pieces together, depending on the water temperature, and that I can also layer with thicker wetsuits in much colder conditions. Having so much gear to lug around, the lightness of Sharkskin frees up a lot of space and weight, which is always a bonus for a photographer. Other underwater photographers and scuba divers are constantly asking me for wetsuit recommendations, and I always tell them to give Sharkskin a go, especially because it is like wearing pajamas underwater
Professional Underwater and Topside Photographer
At my age and Polynesian descent, I hate being cold! Optimal temperature while training and racing is vital for enjoyment and successful performance. I use the Hybrid Long Pants and Sleeveless Vest for the bulk of my paddle training, which is a combination of ocean surf ski, down river and white water. The major advantage I discovered with Sharkskin was that I am comfortable in cold conditions but I don’t overheat if there is a temperature change. I have used it in many different ways, under my wetsuit canyoning, winter mountain biking and kite boarding. Sharkskin is wonder wear!
2012 Adventure Racing World Champion
There are three branches of white water kayaking – extreme creek boating which involves paddling creeks and waterfalls; freestyle, surfing river waves and tricks; and slalom which is a timed race while negotiating a series of gates. I am heavily involved in Slalom training but do spread my time over all three branches. I am proud to wear the silver fern on my chest, New Zealand on my back. NZL on my boat and Sharkskin on my body.
Our Sharkskin Rapid Dry tops were exactly what we needed for raft racing. Powering through rapids they repelled the water to keep us warm while competing, while off the water they dried so quick they became a great casual top for us to wear on the podium. The 50+ UPF also helped with the harsh NZ sun. Thanks Sharkskin for helping us look and feel good during the Whitewater Rafting world champs.
NZ Men’s Rafting Team 2013
I have been using Sharkskin for over 5 years. Sharkskin is my wetsuit of choice for warm water diving plus they make a big difference under a wetsuit in cooler waters. If I keep suited up between dives my Sharkskin is far more comfortable than my wetsuit with neither the chill or overheating of a wetsuit. My crew have been using Sharkskin for longer than me; you can’t get better recommendation than that!
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea
I have been using the Sharkskin Rapid Dry top a lot both on and off the water and I’m loving it. It’s perfect for the slightly colder conditions too as it’s like a splash guard when it is drizzling but you don’t overheat.
NZ World Champion - Sprint/Marathon/Surf Ski Paddler
As an obstacle racer I require protection from all the elements. During training and events I am required to be in and out of water obstacles, ice baths and braving cold winds, all whilst not overheating. Sharkskin garments provide me with the all round support for all the condition I may encounter. Sharkskins garments allow for a full range of motion whilst retaining durability. As I prepare to take on the world for the 24 hour World’s Toughest Mudder I know I can compete with the confidence that my Sharkskin gear will hold up to all the rigors that obstacle racing has to throw at it.
Obstacle and Endurance Racer
It’s been 14 days since I wore Sharkskin long sleeve Performance Top for the first time. I tried it in all kind of weather conditions – sun, rain, wind, in lakes, rivers, in the sea, calm waters and in wild waters. The lowest water temperature I paddled had 9°C. From the first day I saw Sharkskin in a shop until after trying Sharkskin in all these conditions, my opinion about Sharkskin hasn’t changed – it’s really pleasant. Sharkskin garments are tight and the movement of the body is great because of the quality of the material. I can move perfectly in it. Sharkskin is warm where it needs to be, it’s 100% windproof, it’s waterproof and it breathes. What I like most is that the material breaths (something I miss when wearing usual kayak anoraks) – this way my skin and the inner side of the garment stay dry at all times. For this reason I feel great all the time during practice and the are no cold chills at the end of practice. All this will be also very useful in winter time when the temperatures get lower. Despite cold I will be able to do longer practices without worrying about being cold.
I’ve had a few paddles in the Sharkskin Chest Vest in some really cold and windy Christchurch winter conditions. I really like how it stays dry on the inside and the fleece type material is really comfortable against the body. It doesn’t feel like other ’wetsuit’ vests as it moulds and moves with the paddling action and doesn’t restrict me at all. You can tell it provides 100% protection against the wind and cold as I could not feel any draught through the material, and it holds my body heat in well too. To top it off – it also looks cool!
All in all a great product that will keep me paddling through winter chill free.
Canoe Racing NZ Performance Athlete