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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
June

Apeks WTX3 Scuba BCD Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Apeks WTX3 Scuba BCD Review Posted in: BCDs, Over $500

A wing-style buoyancy controller, this BCD comes from British company Apeks and (unsurprisingly therein) has a tec diving-orientation. The way Apeks runs the WTX line is by having a core harness, and then selling a range of air cells to attach to it, so by focusing on the WTX3 this review looks at the WTX harness plus WTX3 cell.

The WTX3 has a 32 lbs of lift, out of an air cell made out of heavy 840-denier nylon. This plugs into a harness that can have as many widgets put on it as Batman’s utility belt, including highly regarded integrated weights using the Aqua Lung Sure Lock system. Field reports and consumers testify to the heavy duty construction of the rig, but because the system can be disassembled into discrete units it is also rather travel friendly. Much of the rig compresses down, and you can distribute different bits among different bags. Just about the only negative comment on the WTX3 is that the cell simply doesn’t deflate from the horizontal position, but then again many divers aren’t familiar enough with the BCD dump valves to do anything but use the corrugated hose in the first place.

The WTX3 isn’t exactly what the typical sport diver wants, but tec-interested, wing fans, and cold water divers should take a close look at it. For its durability and versatility, Dive magazine gave it 8 out of 10, Scuba Diving rated it a Tester’s Choice in 2014, and Divernet gave it high marks as well.

Average Price: $750

 

10
May

What To Look For In A Dive Mask

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on What To Look For In A Dive Mask Posted in: Dive Masks, Scuba Product Guides
dive mask

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The first and foremost tip on shopping for a dive mask is to try it out before you buy it, make a couple of tests and make sure it fits properly. But past a good fit, what else you should look for? Here are some ideas:

  1. Field Of Vision: Maximizing your field of vision is the next most important thing after finding a mask with a proper fit. In fact, since finding a good fit should be easy for most faces, this is the point that might require a little shopping around to satisfy. Beyond wanting the widest horizontal field of vision possible, so as to take in plenty of views on your dives, you will also want an ample vertical field of vision, especially downward. Ideally, you should be able to see all the widgets on your BCD harness with only a slight downward look.
  2. Buckles: After field of vision and fit, all other points are a distant second, and buckles illustrate why. Easy to work buckles make life simpler, but this is a just matter of degree. More modern buckles put the buckles on the skirt rather than the frame, which has the advantage of folding inside the frame to make the mask smaller when you pack it up, but once again this is a matter of degree. Unlike fit and field of vision, having better buckles won’t make or break your dive.
  3. Low Volume: Masks with low interior volume are easier to clear and create less drag, but as with buckles, this is only a matter of degree. Also, a mask with a wide field of view will also typically be low volume anyway, because the lens(es) are set so close to your face, minimizing obstruction from the mask itself.
  4. Skirt Color: A note about using skirt color to tailor your mask to where you do most of your diving. A clear skirt lets in more light, and that helps with vision in darker conditions and lower visibility. In crystal clear tropical waters, however, strong sunshine reflecting off of white sand bottoms can cause an effect similar to sunlight reflecting off snow. Black skirts help control the glare.
  5. Purge Valves: Remember that bit about how most people should have no trouble finding a mask with a good fit? Some folks have face shapes that make finding that fit very problematic. Virtually the only divers who should ever need a purge valve in their mask are those who have hard-to-fit faces, and therefore suffer insoluble, constant leaking.
26
April

Why Your Regulator Might Be Leaking

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Why Your Regulator Might Be Leaking Posted in: Dive Gear Tips, Scuba Product Guides, Scuba Regulators

Scuba regulator reviewsSomething every diver dreads is getting wet and heading down only to have your buddy signal you that your regulator is leaking. As small as that little trickle of bubbles running to the surface, it still means an aborted dive for the safe and cautious, and anything more than the odd bubble should be treated with caution. Here are some common leaks and why that leak might be there:

Second Stage Leaks
Mouthpiece leaks usually flow out of the exhaust, and this might be the kind of thing you can fix on the spot. One common cause of second stage exhaust leaks is having some form of grit stuck in the second stage valve seat, preventing it from sealing up. Try swishing the mouthpiece through the water while turning the purge on and off in an effort to dislodge the grit.

If that doesn’t work, the problem might either be a bit of grit too stuck to dislodge indirectly, or it might be corrosion of the valve seat. You can check for a seriously jammed piece of grit by removing the valve cover, but corrosion means taking the second stage into the shop.

Your second stage leak might also be a pressure problem between it and the first stage. If you have a venturi knob, dial that back and forth to see if it prompts an adjustment and stops the leak. If this works, it is only a short-term solution, and that knob will require constant adjustment through the dive. Take your regulator into the shop before you dive again.

First Stage Leaks
If your first stage is leaking, it is more than likely one of two things: either the yoke o-ring is damaged, or something inside is maladjusted or corroded. The former problem can be fixed on the dive boat if a spare o-ring is available, and is the sort of thing you can do yourself at home if you are a handy person. The latter means taking your reg into the shop.

Pressure Gauge Leaks
Another potential leak source is your pressure gauge. If the joint between your hose and your gauge is leaking, it could be either a damaged spool or o-ring. Either is an easy fix, but it means getting out of the water and taking it to someone familiar with these parts. You might be able to get the divemaster to do it on the boat, but otherwise your reg goes to the shop.

Worn Hoses
The good news about a hose leak is that if you are remotely handy, you can replace the hose yourself at home. The bad news is that there isn’t much you can do about it in the field.

 

Scuba tanks

Hose O-rings
If your hose is leaking near the nozzle, as opposed to along its length, that might be the o-ring. Here the news is all good, because anyone who has owned their own dive gear for at least a year or two ought to be familiar with replacing o-rings, and most dive boats and shops have spares handy. Fixing this between dives ought to be easy.

The o-ring might simply be loose, and that is something you can fix on the dive boat without the need for spare parts. A damaged o-ring must be replaced.

Tank O-ring
If this happens to you on the dive boat or in the water, it can only be because you screwed up. If you are in the water, you screwed up royally.

If the tank’s o-ring is leaking, you will know about it as soon as you open the tank valve, as the leak is like standing next to a small jet engine. Ergo, if you are checking your gear properly, you should know about this problem before you get on the boat. That makes fixing it as easy as pie.

 

04
January

Henderson H2 3mm Shorty Wetsuit Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Henderson H2 3mm Shorty Wetsuit Review Posted in: Between $101-$250, Wetsuits

Shorty wetsuits are worn for two reasons: staying warm in warm water, conditions in which many divers get by with a t-shirt; and for some protection against jellyfish stings. As thin, short-sleeved and short-legged wetsuits, the main issue for a shorty is offering a fit that is snug, but not too tight. The outfit is so simple that, from a practical angle, there is little else to it other than that.

On that note, the Henderson H2 shorty delivers, and delivers at a price that is usually less than most traveling divers would pay to rent a shorty for a week. According to the consumer feedback, it’s stretchy, snug, and does the job. The main caveat for the Henderson H2 among owners is the same as for any neoprene wetsuit, namely taking care about the sizing before purchasing one. In other words, it’s a plain, good shorty.

The Henderson H2 3mm wetsuit comes in men’s and women’s versions, with two color patterns for each. Men’s are black with blue or red trim, and women’s are black with lavender or yellow trim.

Average Price: $115