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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.

Best Fins

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Best Fins Posted in: Dive Gear Tips, Fins, Scuba Product Guides
Aqualung Fins

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Updated July 15, 2013

Fins are another one of those critical pieces of scuba gear, so critical that they are always among the first pieces of gear a diver acquires when she starts to assemble her kit. At the same time, many divers are surprisingly careless when it comes to selecting their fins. Figuring one pair of fins provides as much thrust as another, the price tag is usually the main determinant for such individuals.

The notion that all fins are more or less equal could not be further from the truth, however, as the endless debate over split vs. paddle fins plainly demonstrates. Anyone who thinks this has probably never worn anything above a pretty ordinary, rented paddle fin. What kind of fin is best depends heavily on circumstances and personal preferences, but that doesn’t mean taking a step up might not vastly improve your finning experience. What is more, some excellent fins are available for bargain-basement prices.

Top 5 Fins

  1. Mares Wave Fins: New for 2012, Mares’ Waves deliver top-tier paddle performance for a price that falls squarely between the high-end and the bargain basement. Wave fins are paddles of the type that feature a large, rubberized insert in the center of the paddle. This idea isn’t new, but it used to cost so much that such fins were always pricey. Wave fins offer the same performance for a moderate price, and every reviewer and consumer that has gotten their hands on one so far and talked absolutely loved the things. *
  2. Scubapro Seawing Nova Fins: If cost is no barrier, then Scubapro’s Seawing Novas are your best bet for an all-around, best-performance fin. This is a hotly contested category, with the OMS Slipstream and the Hollis H1 “batfin” coming in tied for a close second. The Seawing Nova edged them out just slightly among reviewers and owner feedback, making it the very best (albeit very expensive) set of scuba fins around. *
  3. Promate Spartan Rubber Fins: These fins are have duty, rubberized paddles that offer many of the same features as a premium fin, but at a very reasonable price. In fact, that price is so low it ought to fit into just about any divers budget. If you are looking for good fins at the absolute lowest price possible, these are likely your best bet. *
  4. Tusa FF-19 X-Pert Evolution Fins: Tusa’s FF-19 fins check off several tick-boxes for anyone in the market for a split fin. They have corrected the floppiness problem that is at the core of so many criticisms of split fins, and come at a super-low price, and the fins have been well-received by reviewers and the public. On the minus side, they are full-foot fins, and open-heel versions are not yet available. That is a deal-breaker for many, but if you don’t mind or (better yet) want full-foot fins, the FF-19s are the best balance between performance and price you will find anywhere.
  5. Cressi Frog Plus: Some divers just aren’t interested in innovations, or see as many weaknesses as strengths to a particular fin gimmick. These conservatives just want a solid, all-purpose, old fashioned paddle fin, and for that the Cressi Frog Plus is the way to go. Virtually indestructible, the Frogs are bare bones water shovels that deliver power performance with a minimum of finesse. Best of all, they’re cheap.
* Retained from the 2012 list

Oceanic Probe HLC BCD Review

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

Oceanic’s Proble HLC is a high-end, tech-oriented, hybrid-design BCD. As such, it is a very heavy-duty rig with plenty of cargo-carrying capability and serious lifting power.

In terms of cargo-carrying, the BCD comes with six steel D-rings, not counting rings on the end of the various adjustment straps, plus two over-sized, zippered pockets that are big enough to handle both the integrated weight system and store tools and other items at the same time. Those pockets also have flaps mounting grommets, for extra flexibility in mounting items such as dive knives.

The aforementioned integrated weight system is of the Oceanic QLR3 design, the latest development of the company’s quick-release locking design. The pockets can store up to 20 lbs (9 kg), plus a pair of trim pockets in the back holding 5 lbs (2 kg) each.

The buoyancy system uses the typical corrugated hose and power inflator, while the BioFlex air bladder can hold a lot of air. The XL version of the Probe HLC has a potent 60 lbs of lift. The hybrid design combines elements of a back-inflating and a jacket-style BCD.

Consumer commentary on the Probe HLC has been overwhelmingly positive, with LeisurePro users giving it a 4.8 rating (out of 5), and the forum buzz around the Probe HLC has been execellent. There have been some complaints about the rig not being particularly comfortable, but most owners disagree, and describe the BCD as a comfy rig to wear.

Average Price: The Oceanic Probe HLC is listed at $600. On sale, you might find it for as little as $400. Expect to pay around $550 most of the time.


Tusa Freedom One Dive Mask Review

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

Tusa’s latest mask is the M-211 Freedom One, named for the use of Tusa’s “Freedom Technology” in the skirt design. This embraces a trio of features intended to increase comfort and sealing efficiency. The skirt has a pattern of dimples to improve the mask’s general seal, and a set of ridges above the cheekbones to absorb mask compression. Also the part of the skirt above the mouthpiece has variable thickness, improving the seal in that area. The result is a super-dry, super-comfy mask that also comes with Tusa’s quick-adjust buckles, three-dimensional strap, and rounded-skirt edges.

The company also produces a suped-up “Pro” version of the mask. The M-211S Freedom One Pro adds lenses with an anti-reflective and anti-UV coating to the basic package.

The Freedom One mask comes with both clear and transparent skirts, and with a variety of colors for the lens frames.

Average Price: The basic version of this mask is listed at $89, but is sometimes discounted to as low as $50, and typically priced between $70 and $80. The Freedom One Pro is listed at $115.


Tilos Mission BCD Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Tilos Mission BCD Review Posted in: BCDs, Between $251-$500

The Mission is the economy entry in Tilos’s BCD line, and in keeping with that intent, it is a simple, straightforward piece of gear with few frills. Fashioned from 420-denier nylon, the Tilos Mission is has only middling fabric durability. The rig has two big velcro-sealed pockets and six stainless steel D-rings scattered about for cargo-carrying, and a basic corrugated hose inflator control with middling lift capacity (41 lbs/18.5 kg in L and XL sizes).

Emphasizing the bare bones approach, there is no integrated weight system, and the design doesn’t even have a right shoulder dump valve. However, it does have a solid interior carrying handle, and delivers a capable, if unspectacular performance in basic BCD functions. The Mission is really something of a throwback BCD, and was probably designed as a rental BCD model for dive shops. That said, if you want a new, cheap BCD, this is a candidate. However, in our opinion, the Cressi Start Pro is a better BCD in this general range.

Average Price: The Tilos Mission is listed at $360, and paying MSRP for this BCD is no bargain. Thankfully, discounts are common, and a shopper ought to have little trouble finding it for sale at under $300.