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Welcome to Dive Gear Reviews, a comprehensive guide to scuba diving equipment. Scuba diving is an expensive pursuit, so looking up reviews for a particular article of equipment is a wise precaution before investing any hard-earned money in it. However, consumer reviews may or may not be written by an experienced diver, and magazine reviews could be suspect due to the advertising ties of the publication in question. Dive Gear Reviews provides cross-referenced reviews assembled by an expert, making it possible to see at a glance what multiple sources said about a particular piece of scuba equipment. If one magazine loved a scuba regulator or a dive computer, but the consumers hated it, that information will be found here.
09
January

Oceanic Flex 2 Scuba BCD Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Oceanic Flex 2 Scuba BCD Review Posted in: BCDs, Over $500

The Flex 2 is a jacket-style BCD with an air cell made from BioiFlex, a stretchy, airtight material that allows for the BCD to get the same lift from a smaller air cell. The air cell is also supposed to be more flexible, for a better fitting BCD with minimal drag.

The main part of the Oceanic Flex 2 is made from 1000 denier fabric, so you can count on it being quite durable. The other features include two big zippered side pockets, integrated weights with trim pockets, cummerbund and sternum strap, plush back pad, and mounts for doo-dads like retractors and knives. There are two overpressure/dump valves, one on the right shoulder and one on the rear, and the inflator control is through the usual corrugated hose set-up.

The larger versions of this BCD have a 38 lbs (17 kg) lift capacity, so the BCD is suitable for cold water use, even if it doesn’t have quite the same heft as some other BCDs of its type. The Flex 2’s main innovation is the stretchy air cell, and while owners of the Flex 2 have yet to comment on whether that cell is more comfortable than a conventional bladder, they have confirmed that it reduces a diver’s profile and lowers drag in the water. Otherwise, the Flex 2 is a fairly conventional, heavy duty BCD design.

Average Price: $515

12
December

Subgear Steel Dive Mask Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Subgear Steel Dive Mask Review Posted in: Below $100, Dive Masks

The Subgear Steel dive mask is sometimes referred to as the “Apnea Steel” mask, and for good reason. The mask has a very low profile and minimal interior volume, something that helps freedivers, since it reduces the need to exhale air through the nose and into the mask at depth. For a scuba diver, this is far less of a priority, although scuba divers who also freedive might take an interest. Otherwise, it’s a comfortable mask with push-button strap buckles, tear-drop lenses offering a good range of vision, and the options of clear or mirrored lenses.

Average Price: $80 clear and $85 mirrored

12
December

Sherwood Wisdom 3 Dive Computer Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Sherwood Wisdom 3 Dive Computer Review Posted in: Dive Computers, Over $500

The Wisdom 3 is Sherwood’s high-end console computer, and successor to the Wisdom 2. As a number cruncher, it has a huge memory, able to store up to 110 dives. The Wisdom 3 also has the usual features of a computer of this type: glow screen; deep stop reminder; decompression warning;  audio and read-out alarms; automatic altitude adjustment, air, Nitrox and gauge modes; air integration; and the ability to switch between imperial and metric measurement units. With a separate kit, the computer can be plugged into your desktop or laptop, and data transferred over for permanent records. One of the odder electronic features is a dive simulator, allowing you to predict what will happen by going to certain depths before you get in the water.

In terms of user interface, the field testers at Scuba Diving thought that the  big dot matrix console display was very easy to read, and described the two-button navigation system as “intuitive.” The Wisdom 3 also comes in a number of different formats. The basic computer is a console on a hose, so no surprises there. However, a version with a quick-release from the hose is available, allowing you to detach the console from your regulator without the onerous necessity of unscrewing the hose and putting the port plug back in. A classy, old school analog compass version is also available, and the computer comes in two colors: black and white.

Scuba Diving liked it enough to name the Sherwood Wisdom 3 as “Gear of the Year” for 2012, and overall the unit is a flexible and innovative example of a high-end, console-only dive computer.

Average Price: $800

21
November

Scuba Regulator Maintenance Steps

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Scuba Regulator Maintenance Steps Posted in: Dive Gear Tips, Scuba Product Guides, Scuba Regulators
Scuba regulator kit

A full regulator kit with first stage, second stage, octo and gauges.

Like cars, regulators have evolved from finicky machines that required constant maintenance, tweaking and repair into sound and reliable devices that rarely need major work during a reasonable lifetime. Even so, as a scuba diver your life depends on your regulator functioning without so much as a hitch every single time you roll off the back of the dive boat. This is why annual servicing is so widely recommended: even if your regulator doesn’t actually need looking at, better safe than sorry. With that in mind, divers should pay serious attention to routine regulator maintenance by following these steps:

  1. Rinse your regulator off with fresh water after each dive outing. Most divers adhere to this practice, but remember tofit your dust cover in place before dunking or rinsing your regulator.
  2. Wash the regulator off with fresh water whenever you put your equipment into storage for a period of time. The quick rinse at the dive center removes most, but not all of the corrosive salt from the regulator’s surface, so a longer and more thorough job is necessary later on. For example, if your weekend dive plans include being out on Saturday and Sunday, then give your regulator a serious wash on Sunday evening or Monday before putting it into storage. Make sure you swish water around the inside of the second stage, but do not press the purge valve while doing so. Once again, make sure the dust cover is in place when you do this, because if any water gets inside the regulator’s mechanisms, you will need to hook it up to an air cylinder to blast it out again.
  3. Inspect the hoses and the second stage’s mouthpiece for wear and tear. Replace these parts yourself only if you are confident in your basic mechanical aptitude. Check to make sure the hoses are properly and tightly screwed into the first stage as well.
  4. Take your regulator in for annual servicing, as advised by the manufacturer.