When the chill of winter blows into the Midwest and upper latitudes, divers pack away their wetsuits; it's time to bring out their snowmobiles, parkas and snowshoes. The hard-core divers drag out their ice saws, drysuits and under-ice harnesses because two feet of ice isn't going to keep them out of the water.
If you've never tried it, you may think you have to have a screw loose to go ice diving. You're right but after you've seen the still, clear waters under a frozen lake or nature's submerged ice sculptures under polar flows, it's a screw you'll never want tightened. Ice diving is an experience that's easy to underestimate until you try it. Since you're in an overhead environment, however, it does require specialized training and certification.
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PADI Ice Diver CourseLike all diving that involves overhead environments, ice diving requires special training and certification. Learn the ropes (pun intended) and ice-diving techniques from a PADI Ice Diving Instructor. Go to padi.com for a complete list of PADI Dive Centers worldwide.
Bare CD4 Pro Dry Drysuit with Dry Glove System
Practically designed with ice diving in mind, the CD4 features Bare's no-stitch technology. Made of 4 mm high-density metalite neoprene, the suit accepts optional cuff rings for the Bare Dry Glove System a definite plus for ice diving. Includes protective zipper flap, swivel inflator valve, storage/carry bag, LP hose and zipper wax.
1. Atomic Aquatics SplitFins
Atomic Aquatics SplitFins form a wing shape in the water, creating lift that propels you forward with reduced effort and greater efficiency. SplitFins feature Atomic's EZ-Lok buckle system to simplify making adjustments and getting fins on and off a big plus when wearing heavy neoprene gloves or mitts.
2. Mobby's Discovery Dry Drysuit
Fabricated from ultrastretch 3.5 mm neoprene, the Discovery Dry offers superior warmth and flexibility. The Discovery comes standard with internal suspenders, a flap for zipper protection and neoprene seals for neck and wrist insulation. The oversized PVC lower leg pad guards the suit from wear and abuse in the high-stress knee to ankle area. Black/graphite sizes S-XXL (male) or S-L (female).
White's Catalyst Shell Drysuit
White's most popular drysuit, the Catalyst, is a self-donning drysuit that features White's Captive Suspension System. The Captive Suspension System allows the Catalyst to fit closely while retaining mobility. With heavy-duty latex seals, the Catalyst is available with 3 mm neoprene softsocks or 7 mm boots. Kneepads and ankle straps are standard.
Aqualung Cousteau Glacia Regulator
Designed specifically for cold-water diving, the Glacia's sealed first stage resists freezing, while the uniquely designed second stage removes potential freeze points. Four LP ports easily accommodate drysuit inflation and other accessory hoses. The Comfo-Bite mouthpiece reduces jaw fatigue, and a mouthpiece lipshield provides warmth in extreme cold.
OMS Thrust Drysuit Fins
Especially suited to bulky drysuits, Thrust fins have extra-wide fin pockets designed specifically for drysuit boots. Constructed of Monoprene resin that resists distortion when hot (like in a car trunk), these fins feature quick-connect/disconnect buckles that are easy to operate wearing drysuit or wetsuit gloves.
3. Seaquest Black Diamond BC
A serious BC for serious divers, the Black Diamond has been a mainstay for nearly a decade. Well-suited to all types of diving, this BC allows ice divers to redistribute the lead with its twin-pocket, quick-ditch weight system. D-rings offer easy accessory attachment, and multiple dump valves enable buoyancy control in almost any position. The Black D is as at home on the reef as it is under ice.
4. Atomic M1 RegAtomic's M1 regulator features an exclusive patented flow control that automatically adjusts airflow at depth to maintain stable, comfortable breathing. For cold-water diving, the first stage is environmentally sealed to prevent entry of water or contaminants. The second stage features a thermal heat sink and improved super-dry exhaust valve.
Scubapro Full-Face MaskFor cold-water comfort, protect your entire face. SCUBAPRO's full-face mask adjusts easily with five positive lock/release buckles. Also suitable for use with underwater communication systems, the SCUBAPRO full-face mask is great in warm as well as ice water.
Aeris Atmos AI Elite
The Aeris Atmos AI Elite is an air-integrated computer that's easy to manage wearing thick gloves. This PC-downloadable computer runs with EANx or air and features backlighting, making it easy to read in dim light (like under ice). Altitude-adjustable, this computer uses the same data set used to develop the Recreational Dive Planner dive tables distributed by PADI. Accepts a mounted compass and has a quick disconnect.