If you live in a country with a proper winter high chance you won’t get to dive that often in the off season. Yes there are the die hards who dive all winter and a dry suit helps a bit. But if you’r anything like me you probably get cold quitte easily which takes the fun out of diving fast. Santi recognized this problem and developed the heating line which is a battery powered line of under suits. In this review where testing the Santi Heating Vest with a 6Ah battery and the Santi Thermovalve.
Watch the full video review of the Santi Heating Vest above.
First of all the heating vest only works when worn under dry suits. Its not a wetsuit solution like Thermalution which is also suitable to wear under wetsuits. The first thing you’ll need is a big battery and Santi has three variants to choose from, a 6Ah, a 10Ah and the biggest one with a 20Ah capacity. Also other batteries like from Light Monkey will do as long as they have a minimal of 6Ah or 10Ah when you also want to attach a dive light. We have tested the vest with the Santi 6Ah battery which should give you 1 hour and 30 minutes of heating without any lights attached.
Getting Into the Suit
The heating vest you’r wearing is inside the suit and the battery is outside of the suit. There is now way to simply make a hole in a dry suit so you have to buy a connector. Santi has two types of those, a normal connector which gives you full power when connected and a Thermovalve connector. With the Thermovalve connector you can control the power to the heating vest and therefore the warmth. Both connectors are available for Apeks and SiTech valves and do work on other dry suits than Santi’s.
The Heating Vest Itself
The Heating Vest itself is directly differed from the Santi BZ 200 undersuit. It’s the same fabric and therefore it keeps you warm even when the power isn’t turned on. Throughout the vest the heating cables run side to side with on the bottom the part to attach to your connector. The way to put it on is like a babies singlet. Detach the lower part and put your arms through the holes and run the tail trough your legs. You can put a base layer under the vest but you shouldn’t, we’ll come back to that later. Over it you just put your normal 400 grams undersuit and you’r ready to go.
Second Christmas day, 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit) and a water temperature of 2 degrees (35 F). Ideal circumstances to test the whole kit. To keep the test fair were two divers strong both equiped with the same heating kit. A 6Ah battery, thermovalve and the Santi Heating Vest. Only difference, one diver is wearing a base layer the other one isn’t. First of all the vest is comfortable and you hardly notice it when you have it on. The cables on the other hand are running through the suit and with a little squeeze you can notice them. Other thing which is kinda annoying is the fact that the inflator hose is attached on the lever of the Thermovalve. So when you use a short inflator hose or a stiff one the hose actually moves the lever and turns the power down. Solution is a to get a longer and more flexible inflator hose.
In the Water
Once in the water we cranked the power up and after a minute or so we could feel the heat. Nothing can describe the comfortable feeling of the heating vest warming your torso while going through several thermoclines. We eventually ended up on 40 meters (130 ft) and where being kept toasty warm by the heating vest. After a 40 minutes dive we ended it still feeling warm but with some cold hands. There was also a significant difference between wearing a base layer under the vest. The diver wearing the base layer under the vest was feeling a lot colder towards the end of the dive.
Is the Santi Heating Vest Worth a Buy?
Despite the heavty price tag the heating vest is really a great addition. It increased my fun during diving in cold water by a lot. Yes some improvements can be made especially to the thermovalve which doesn’t seem to work with tight and inflexible inflator hoses. So I would reckon maybe safe some money on the connector and go for the normal one.