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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.
28
May

Tilos Saber Dive Fins Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Tilos Saber Dive Fins Review Posted in: Below $100, Fins

Tilos Sabers are inexpensive fins that pack some of the features one might expect to find on a fin that costs as much as $25 more. The paddle combines big rubberized side rails with an expansive rubberized center-section, plus a pair of medium-sized vent apertures below the foot pocket. This combination of traditional paddle stiffness, rubberized flexibility and water venting is becoming the norm for new paddle fin designs, and allows a diver to accrue all the advantages of speed, acceleration and maneuverability granted by a paddle fin, but without some of the stress of a hard, dragging return kick.

Scuba Diving reported that it wasn’t as maneuverable or as hard an accelerator as some other fins in the same class, while consumer feedback is muted and falls into the style of “you get what you pay for.” Overall, the Tilos Sabers are among the best fins out there in the bargain basement category. There are markedly¬† cheaper fins, but these deliver markedly inferior performance. The Saber fins deliver somewhat more than their price tag ought to suggest, making them a good bargain-hunting choice and a strong candidate for anyone looking to pick up a new set of fins for less than $75. Scuba Diving gave them a Best Buy for 2012.

Average Price: $60

27
May

Suunto SK7 Underwater Compass Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Suunto SK7 Underwater Compass Review Posted in: Below $100, Other Accessories

For divers who frequent murky water, dive solo or simply want to be able to self-help their way out of becoming lost underwater without surfacing, an underwater compass is a must-have piece of gear. Of course, using an underwater compass is not quite as simple as using a compass on land. Navigating by compass for 200 yards in 20-foot visibility is about the same as navigating through two miles of dense forest and broken terrain on land. Successful use of an underwater compass requires training and practice, but the better compasses are more forgiving, and that is where owning a gem like the Suunto SK7 comes into it.

Scuba Diving described the SK7 as “the best nonelectric underwater compass we’ve come across,” a billing that Dive Gear Reviews supports completely. Consumer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, so much so that one has to wonder if the very few people who have serious problems with the SK7 simply don’t understand how to use it in the first place. The problem with most underwater compasses is the need to hold them in a stable, steady and horizontal position to keep them working, and cheaper compasses are not forgiving in this respect. The Suunto SK7 allows you to tilt the compass +/- 30 degrees and keeps on going. It also has a side view window, giving the user more options for how to position the compass. The bezel is easy to use, and the compass is phosphorescent for night use.

As a rule, the digital compass programs that are built into many high-end dive computers are easier to use than any analog compass. If you don’t own one of those computers, however, the Suunto SK7 is the underwater compass you want, hands down. The SK7 comes in wristwatch and retractable tether formats, and the compass capsule can be removed and fitted into some empty console tabs.

Average Price: $75 for wristwatch format; $100 for retractable module format

24
May

Best Dive Lights

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Best Dive Lights Posted in: Dive Lights, Scuba Product Guides
Dive lights on a Manta Ray

Dive lights on a manta ray. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Updated April 3, 2013

Different divers have different needs when it comes to dive lights. Wreck divers and cave divers need more powerful, longer lasting lights than the typical recreational diver out on an infrequent night dive. Some divers never even partake of night dives or venture into caves, but still want a handy light for looking into crevasses and under deep ledges. This Top 5 list for dive lights keeps these varying needs in mind, presenting options for everyone while weighing the wants of the many against the specialized needs of the few.

–For a complete list of underwater flashlight reviews, click here

 Top 5 Dive Lights

1. Oceanic Arc LED Dive Light: We had previously named the Oceanic Arc a “Best Buy,” because it represented a good balance between performance and cost. The dive light produces a 300-lumen beam of light, is handy and compact, and costs around $75. There are cheaper dive lights around, just as there are more powerful dive lights as well. However, not too many have this baby’s combination of solid power output and low price tag, making it a good choice for the typical recreational diver.*

2. Light and Motion Sola Dive 1200 Dive Light: Our #2 choice represents the best dive light available for primary use, regardless of cost. The Sola 1200 ain’t cheap, packing a hefty price tag that comes in at close to $700. However, it has great flexibility through its spotlight and floodlight settings, plenty of stamina, and a high power output. The latter is particularly staggering, as the highest spotlight setting cranks 1,200 lumens! Topping it all off, the light unit itself is a little thing, meant to be strapped onto the back of the hand. If you have the resources, it is a great light.*

3. Princeton Tec Miniwave LED: This is a handy, compact, durable pistol-grip style flashlight. At 337 lumens and with a beam that balances coverage with clarity, the Miniwave has just the right power output for the typical night diver, and in a package that is just the right size and can absorb some punishment. It even has a little flexibility in the form of low and high beam settings. The only reason this Princeton Tec light comes in at #3 is because it’s price tag is a little higher than some of the competition, but overall the extra money is worth it.*

4. Moray Diver Communication Torch (DCT): The Moray DCT combines a middling dive light with what is basically a rattle. The result is a two-in-one tool, and when you consider that a noisemaker is especially handy when underwater in the dark, the logic behind that combo becomes plain. The drawback of the Moray DCT is its middling light output, rated at only 175 lumens. A beam like that is merely satisfactory for night diving.*

5. XS Scuba DL5 Dive Light: The DL3 isn’t the least expensive dive light around (the Pelican Nemo comes to mind on that score), but too often that cheaper price comes at the cost of producing a dive light so anemic as to be of minimal use. The DL5, on the other hand, turns out 169 lumens of light, easily sufficient for tunnels and probing crevasses during daylight, albeit not quite enough for adequate illumination on a night dive. The small size and low cost make the light a good choice for a cheapie travel dive light, or a back-up for serious night, wreck and cave divers.

* Held over from 2012’s list

21
May

Mares Wave Scuba Fin Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Mares Wave Scuba Fin Review Posted in: Below $100, Fins

The Wave fins from Mares catch the recent craze in paddle fins for having a big, flexible center section. The design is fairly straightforward – a rubberized foot pocket and plastic paddle with thick, solid stiffening rails on the outside edge. A curved section dominating the center has been replaced by a rubberized insert.

The reason the idea of creating a paddle fin with a flexible core is catching on is that it allows the shape of the paddle to conform to the needs of whatever you are doing, whether you are kicking or returning. This is not a new idea, nor even the first Mares fin to tinker with it. Where the Mares Wave wins out is in two categories. First, that flexible insert is huge relative to other fins using the same idea; second, the price is quite modest for a fin of this type. It’s easy to see the Mares Wave catching on in a big way, given its mix of performance and relatively low price. The fins are about 2 feet long, and weight just a hair over 1 lb each.

Scuba Diving and Divernet both adored the Wave. The former magazine gave it both its Best Buy and its Tester’s Choice awards in fins for 2012, while Divernet gave it 9 out of 10 stars. The year is only half over, but the Wave might prove to be the all-around best fin released in 2012.

Mares Wave fins come in a variety of formats. Both open-heel and full-foot versions are available, and it comes in yellow, black, red, blue and light grey.

Average Price: $100