Ocean Testing the Switlik Immersion Suit

So how do I know this Switlik Immersion suit is going to pass the test? Will it be warm? Will it stay dry?¬† Well, I have the Pacific Ocean out my front door…that’s a much better test than a placid pool.


First I put on Smart Wool thermal underwear which will help keep me warmer in the frigid North Atlantic. If the suit is worn without thermal underwear I have but 1.7 hours to survive. Using thermal underwear  extends my survival time to 6 hours. So now I start to don the suit feet first.


Slipping my legs into the immersion suit


Next chore is to put boots or sneaks over the booties to protect their water tight integrity . One hole could mean death in 10-15 minutes in the 32 degree North Atlantic.


Slipping shoes over the booty's to protect them



Now it’s time to put the suspenders on. They keep my pants up nicely when the top isn’t over my head.


Putting on the suspenders



I know this photo looks a little funny, but what I’m doing is applying talcum powder to the rubber neck seal so it is easy to slide over my head.



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Now I’m ready to walk down to the beach.



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It’s quite nice having the beach out my front door :-)



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On with the hood first.



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And now the gloves.


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Okay I’m ready for this excellent adventure.



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Here comes 20 minutes of surf pounding me and testing my immersion suit.



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First thing I learn is the need to burp the air out of the suit through the neck so that I don’t float like this. The floating job is for my life preserver.



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That was fun but now it’s time to see if I’m dry inside. It was an exhilarating test.



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Gloves off first.




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Now the hood.


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Back inside the house after showering with the suit on to remove the salt exposure. Standing in my thermal underwear and Smart Wool socks it is easy to see that I’m bone dry….YES!




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What lessons did I learn from this test?


I need to buy dive booties to put over the immersion suit booties as I have found my feet would get too cold in the North Atlantic seas. The Pacific was only 59 degrees.


I must make sure to burp the air out of the immersion suit prior to putting on my hood or at least immediately after entering the water to make myself neutrally buoyant. With air trapped in the suit it was hard to get my feet down which might make it difficult to get into the life raft if necessary.



Using Zipper-Ease on the zippers makes it much easier to pull them shut. Since I will be flying with the top half of the immersion suit in my lap ease of pulling the zipper closed can be critical.


The thermal underwear I have is medium weight and I could feel the coolness of the water after a while. I think I will put three layers of thermal underwear on for the actual North Atlantic journey.


I don’t think I will store the hood, gloves and booties in the zippered pockets. I’ll have them ready next to me in the plane for one less step to put them on while gliding to a ditching if necessary.


Next test…try putting the top of the suit over my head while flying the plane in a “Best Minimal Descent Glide” and then donning the gloves, hood, booties, life vest and grabbing my satellite phone and other gear. This timing test is quite important as you might imagine.


A big thanks to Kenny for the great photo shoot (he actually waded into the water with his jeans) and to Michelle for her excellent photo editing.


2 Comments

  • Leeann

    Jeff,

    You are one awesome, ballsy, bawdy, courageous and kind man. Wow! This is going to be quite an adventure. I’m so proud of you for doing something that most either dream or nightmare about!

    Well done, friend.

    Love you to pieces,
    lc

  • jeffrey

    Thanks leeann you make me smile.

    jeff