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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.
07
August

Aeris ION LT/AT 600 Regulator Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Aeris ION LT/AT 600 Regulator Review Posted in: Uncategorized

The ION LT/AT 600 is Aeris’ top of the line regulator, checking off boxes in both the travel and the high-performance categories. The latest installment of the ION series, the LT/AT 600 weighs in at a modest 2 lbs, 3 oz. (around 1kg), with a first stage so small as to be barely larger than the mechanism contained within. “Compact” and “lightweight” don’t begin to describe it.

The first stage uses an over-balanced diaphragm design, coupled with a pneumatically balanced second stage, a combination that has earned very high marks for air delivery in both field testing and in the laboratory. In terms of functionality, there is a discrete pre-dive/dive switch, a breathing resistance knob, a braided hose comes as standard, and the regulator is compatible with 40% Nitrox. Scuba Diving thought the orthodontic mouthpiece was outstanding, naming it the 2012 Tester’s Choice, and Scuba Gear Reports gave the reg solid praise as well. Thus far, consumer feedback has been universally positive.

On the downside, the first stage has 4 LP and 1 HP port, limiting the flexibility of a diver’s gear arrangement somewhat, but all items of travel-friendly dive gear have a compromise of some kind. Also, as a high-performance regulator, the venturi (pre-dive/dive) switch was not absolute in its ability to prevent free-flow accidents. However, that is a common problem with truly high-performance regs. Once again, sometimes doing one thing means making a compromise elsewhere.

Average Price: $420

06
August

Mares Instinct 12S Regulator Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Mares Instinct 12S Regulator Review Posted in: Between $251-$500, Scuba Regulators

The Instinct 12S is Mares’ upgrade and successor for the Prestige 12S, the latter of which is still widely available. What Mares has done is taken their veteran 12S first stage and put a new second stage on it, creating an updated regulator package.

The old 12S first stage is a workhorse. It has been around for years now, and has a reputation for reliability and ease of maintenance. The model uses a balanced diaphragm design, with high-end features such as dynamic flow-control. The new Instinct second stage features a hydrodynamic design, and a few design changes such as a top-mounted purge button (it’s still big and obvious) and replacing the exhaust tee with a small, circular vent.

The Instinct 12S delivers the same big air performance for the same reasonable price tag as the Prestige 12S. Both score high on breathing machine and field tests, staying dry and delivering plenty of air under just about any recreational circumstance. Field testers reported that the purge and exhaust changes took some getting used to, but if you are buying as opposed to renting this regulator, you will get used to it in short order.

Like the older Prestige 12S, the Instinct 12S has its limitations. There are no adjustment controls on the second stage, which simplifies using the regulator, a feature that some divers like and some dislike. The tried-and-true 12S first stage has 2 HP and 4 LP ports, and like its predecessor, the system is not Nitrox-compatible.

The bottom line on the Instinct 12S is that it delivers the same high-end air delivery in a simple, mid-priced package as the Prestige 12S did. The only change here is in the mouthpiece, so if you look at it and like the rearrangement of the features, then this is probably the regulator for you.

Average Price: $375

 

02
August

Sealife ReefMaster Mini II Underwater Camera Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Sealife ReefMaster Mini II Underwater Camera Review Posted in: Between $251-$500, Underwater Cameras

Sealife’s new ReefMaster Mini builds on their solid pocket dive camera, the Mini II. The new version retains the same rubberized, shock-proof underwater housing, but now with distinctive red trim and, more importantly, an improved depth rating of 200 feet (60m). The Mini II’s depth rating is 130 feet (40m), so taking it on deep recreational dives pushed the camera’s seals to their limits. This is not longer a problem for the ReefMaster Mini, and the enhanced depth rating means the camera can now also function as a pocket back-up for ardent underwater photographers on middling tec dives.

In terms of camera tech, the ReefMaster uses a modified version of the pocket digital camera as the Mini II. The main change is the revamped on-board photographic software, with an emphasis on dive-friendly formats. The final new feature is that a wide-angle lens, designed specifically for use with Mini cameras, comes as standard.

In all other respects, the camera is just like the Mini II. They have the same 2.4-inch display screen, the same nine megapixel resolution, the same video-shooting functions, and both draw power from a pair of AAA batteries. Since those batteries are limited by nature, divers need to be careful about leaving the camera on, since even with conservative use two dives will likely drain the batteries. The latter point is a common complaint among owners of the Mini II. Also, the underwater housing is designed in such a way that the zoom function cannot be used with the camera in the housing.

Average Price: The ReefMaster Mini II is listed at $260, but is often available for less than $200.

30
July

Oceanic Alpha 9 Regulator Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Oceanic Alpha 9 Regulator Review Posted in: Between $251-$500, Scuba Regulators

The Alpha 9 is the latest in Oceanic’s “standard” regulator. It’s predecessor, the Alpha 8, was basically a no-frills, medium-performance reg aimed at divers with a only a moderate budget. The Alpha 9 keeps many of the same ideas, but while delivering a high-end air flow.

Oceanic uses an unbalanced piston for the first stage, plus an unbalanced second stage. In tests, the regulator scored “Class A” by U.S. Navy standards for performance down to 198 feet. Scuba Gear Reports gave it high marks in ANTSI machine and field testing, and described it as a dry breathing reg with good air delivery. Departing from the no-frills reputation of the Alpha line, Oceanic put a braided hose and an orthodontic mouthpiece as standard on the Alpha 9. The regulator is compatible with 40% Nitrox. Dry Valve Technology (DVT) is available, but an optional add-on.

Overall, this is a solid, dependable, and inexpensive regulator, albeit one with only a couple of wind-dings. Another nice touch is the warranty: if you keep up with the annual servicing and maintain good records, parts are free. Even the upkeep is cheap on this reg!

Average Price: The Alpha 9 scuba regulator was originally listed at $375, but now widely marked down to under $300. The model quoted through Amazon on this review includes the optional DVT.