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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.
21
May

Spyderco Warrior Dive Knife Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Spyderco Warrior Dive Knife Review Posted in: Between $101-$250, Dive Knives

As the name might imply, the Spyderco Warrior is designed as a tactical fighting knife, but in reality the blade is so general purpose that it can function as a knife for hunters, backpackers and divers. If you are an enthusiastic, multi-sport outdoorsman, then this is the blade for you.

The FRN handle with textured scales and full-tang design ensure a firm, solid grip. The curved blade is 5.5 inches long, with a standard edge on the outside of the curve and a serrated edge on the inside, and is made of Spyderco’s H-1 stainless steel. This steel is 100% rust-proof, but tough enough to withstand serious abuse and firm enough to retain a razor sharp edge.

The overall length on a Warrior is 10 inches, so it is not a compact dive knife. Instead, it falls into the category of “hardware tool,” much as the Cressi Orca, except that you can’t really use the Warrior’s butt as a hammer. That lack of a blunt metal pommel or the size may turn off some divers, so it is important to remember what the main virtue of the Sypderco Warrior is: it’s all-in-one nature. This is the knife you use on the boat, for fishing, for camping… for just about anything. It’s the right size, it’s tough, it requires infrequent attention (if it isn’t actually used), and it looks like a mean blade. Scuba Diving and Knife Hog both loved it, and owners of the Warrior give it rave reviews.

Average Price: $200 (a more expensive Warrior Black is also available)

18
May

Paddle vs. Split Fins

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Paddle vs. Split Fins Posted in: Dive Gear Tips, Fins, Scuba Product Guides
Paddle and Split fins

Paddle vs. Split Fins (Credit: Dive Gear Reviews)

After open heeled vs. closed, the most basic distinction in dive fins are paddle vs. split. However, unlike the heel distinctions, which are about how the fin is attached to your foot and therefore usually a matter of comfort and lesser personal preferences, paddle vs. split fin issues can have a serious impact on your finning.

Click here to see the complete set of fin reviews from Dive Gear Reviews

Paddle Fins

Paddle fins are the basic, standard type. They work as water shovels, using their large, broad surface to push water back and you forward.

The key characteristic of the paddle design vis-a-vis split fins is how stiff and rigid it is underwater, since that stiffness points straight to most of the paddle’s pros and cons. On the downside, straight paddle fins with no frills demand considerable energy on the return and after the kick. They also place more stress on the legs and the ankle, which can lead to cramps or aggravate pre-existing physical problems (such as an unstable ankle joint for an old break).

However, because they are stiff water shovels, they allow for more maneuverability and control underwater. That stiff feeling translates into a better feel from the feet for what your finning is doing, and the wider cross-section of the paddle makes pivoting easier. Paddles are at their best on divers who make many turns and other changes of direction, and for this reason are favored by cave and wreck divers, or just about anyone who needs to work in a confined space. Some say they have better accelerating characteristics as well.


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Dive gear companies have invested a lot of money in improving the performance of paddle fins and reducing their downside. One type of paddle fin improvement is one or more water vents. Paddle fins with these vents are often called “jet fins.” The angled vents allow water to flow through on the return, but not during the kick. Some divers swear by jet-style fins, but whether the vents even work has been called into question in some laboratory studies. Another frill for paddle fins is the addition of a flexible, rubberized center section.

Split Fins

Split fins get their name from the split down the middle of the paddle, allowing the two halves to divide under pressure. Where paddle fins are stiff, split fins are supple. The main virtue is minimizing resistance on the return, which saves energy underwater. They also produce much less strain on the ankles and legs.

The suppleness of split fins has its drawbacks. The lack of a stiff platform makes sudden, fine maneuvers difficult or even impossible. Frog kicking, for example, is much more difficult in split fins. Obviously, if resistance on the return is minimal, split fins are useless for breaking or finning in reverse. They also have a hard time in strong currents, making them a poor choice for drift diving.

You might be asking “if split fins aren’t good in enclosed spaces and strong currents, then what good are they?” The answer is on most reef dives. Split fins shine in calm waters where a diver can fin forward in more or less a straight line for the most part, and when she must turn, can afford a wide turning curve. Under those circumstances, split fins make finning around a very low energy, low impact experience

Some claim the split fin design works like a propeller in the flutter kick, twisting around and providing extra propulsive power. As with the claims associated with the aforementioned water jets, the jury is still out on that one. Some divers, manufacturers and reviewers swear by this effect, but there are contravening laboratory studies that disagree.

14
May

Mares Force Bat Titanium Folding Dive Knife Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Mares Force Bat Titanium Folding Dive Knife Review Posted in: Below $100, Dive Knives

The Mares Force Bat is that company’s folding, titanium dive knife entry. It should not be confused with the Mares Force Knife or any other knife in the Mares line, because Mares (confusingly) puts “Force” into the name of all its knives. For the sake of simplicity, the knife will be called “Bat Titanium” for the rest of this review.

The Bat Titanium is a fairly straight-forward cutter. As the name implies, it is made of beta titanium steel, making it virtually immune to corrosion and very tough. The blade is 3.5 inches long, and has both standard and serrated cutting along a single edge.

The main virtues of the knife, beyond the titanium construction, are its compactness and handiness. It’s a folding knife, so it collapses down to a small package, and weighs only 2.5 ounces. As an added plus, the knife comes with a system for hooking it onto your BCD, which consists of clasp hook attached to a snap buckle. Using the system is a cinch – just hook on the clasp to a D-ring, then unsnap the buckle when you need the knife. The drawback there is it makes your knife a minor “danglie,” but the system provides an alternative to tucking the knife away in a BCD pocket.

Average Price: $85

10
May

Dive Book Review: Lost Wife, Saw Barracuda

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Dive Book Review: Lost Wife, Saw Barracuda Posted in: Below $100, Book and Film Reviews

Many or most of the dive masters you meet in Southeast Asia, the Red Sea, Central America and the Caribbean are made up of a rollicking caste of backpackers earning a living and saving for their next big push or folks who have dropped out from more “respectable” careers for a line of work that they truly enjoy (even if it might not be very remunerative). In other words, you’ve met people who are very much like John Kean, author of the dive mastering memoir Lost Wife, Saw Barracuda.

Kean is a seasoned dive master in Sharm El Sheikh, and while there are other books of this type out there (like There’s a Cockroach in My Regulator), this is the only one about the main resort of the “Caribbean of Europe.” Kean is a witty writer, and he has a wealth of stories covering everything from crashing airplanes and angry sharks to terrorist bombings and (equally terrifying) Egyptian driving standards, as well as plenty of snarky gripes about his more unpleasant customers.

The book therefore is a natural chunk of day dreaming material for anyone who day dreams of quitting the day job and heading for Honduras or Koh Tao and becoming a dive master.  Read Lost Wife, Saw Barracuda, and you’ll never look at those American, Canadian, Australian, Kiwi and Euro dive masters on your next international dive trip the same way again.

It’s as authentic as it is hysterical. It’s a chuckling page-turner. Well, the bombing story isn’t hysterical, instead offering very real insight into what it is like to be an expat when international drama crashes onto your doorstep.

Lost Wife, Saw Barracuda is a self-published e-book, and available only on Kindle, but don’t let that throw you. Kean is a good writer, and while his book has suffers from the odd typo, grammatical error and bit of bad phrasing, overall it is very well written. Most self-published books are so riddled with these errors and more as to be unreadable. Lost Wife, Saw Barracuda is not definitely not one of those books, and shows such promise that publishers ought to look at throwing Kean some work.