Dive equipment manufacturers are continually finding new gimmicks to attract sales. Over the years this has lead to some pretty outrageous equipment configurations and prices to match, none of which make you a better or safer diver – possibly even the opposite. Jacques Cousteau adapted a regulator design and applied it to diving, of which the basic design principles and performance of the regulator has not changed a great deal since. I have been involved with dive retail since 1985 and have sat through many service clinics and manufactures seminars while listening to why their regulators, computers, BCD’s, fins, wet-suits, masks and so on are better than ever before. The fact is that other than the odd exception they aren’t and like the fashion, automotive or snow industries, the changes are generally made so they can attract more sales.
Go Dives approach to kit is a no nonsense simplistic approach. One of the biggest problems with most of the brands of equipment sold in our shops is the profusion of fancy releases, clips and sheer bulk. Such gimmickry does not make you a better diver, but costs you more to buy and more to service, you might look great out of the water, but lets face it, diving isn’t a fashion show and who cares what you look like underwater.
Part of the club philosophy is to promote a simplistic approach to equipment and provide unbiased advice based on 30 plus years of experience. We do this by firstly offering new divers to the club free scuba and wet-suit rental for the first year, this will give those new to diving time to try out different equipment configurations and time to make an informed decision to what best suits them. Secondly by stocking and selling only equipment which meets our specifications and that we have personally field tested and believe in.
Our preferred equipment configuration and reasons for our choice are as follows.
BCD: Dive Rite Transpac and Wing Systems
The Dive Rite Transpac has been around for many years, as a component system you can vary what configuration you dive it in, it can be adapted from single cylinder to Backmounted twins, to Sidemount to a Rebreather, just by adding a different style of wing and other minor attachments . Unlike the conventional style jacket BCD, parts can be replaced as they become worn, broken or lost. Weight pockets of different sizes can be added depending on your requirements and positioned to match, a critical feature of any buoyancy system so you can perfect your trim in the water. I have used one personally for over three years and hundreds of dives now, without failure of any component, and it still looks relatively new. Go Dive have the Transpac in rental in single, double and side-mount configurations, come in and try one out – you will love it.
Regulators: Apeks, DS4, XTX50, XTX200
The Apeks regulator is the choice of technical divers and professionals worldwide. The Apeks is a European make and very serviceable. The models listed have minimal moving parts, are environmentally sealed in some cases and excellent breathers. Internal service parts are interchangeable between models – a great feature when coming to servicing them. The DS4 with XTX 20 or 40 second stage makes a great start up regulator or deco reg and in many cases is used on rebreathers (CCR’s) the XTX 50 is best for sidemount or double cylinder configurations due to its hose routing options, while the XTX200 is the ideal premium regulator for single setups and can be used for doubles as well.
Computers: Shearwater Perdix, Petrel 2, Suunto Zoop.
Guages: Beaver 60mm, Dive Rite 40mm Suunto SK6 Compass
For simplicity and reliability a simple analogue SPG gauge on a shortened hose and gate clip attached to your left shoulder D-ring is the way to go. It can be read free at any stage just by glancing down. With failure to monitor your SPG being the most common equipment problem, this is by far the best way to go. Even better it’s is the cheapest way to go.
Your computer should be where you can find it and that’s on your left or right wrist, not hanging on the end of a hose or stuffed into your BCD pocket. It should again be easy to read at depth, with large digit display and easy to programme for mixed gas diving.
The SK6 Suunto wrist compass is the most reliable and best balanced compass on the market, it should be worn on your wrist where it can be found and used to best effect. This compass will work when tilted, a big problem with many other U/W compasses that only work when held level and in the underwater world where gravity does not exist, staying level is a problem..
Exposure Protection: Dry or Wet
DIR exposure suits should be able to be put on and taken off without help, the zip on the dry suit should run diagonally across the front. It should have a vent on the left shoulder only, no ankle vents and for comfort and safety a pee valve (guys only), this is so you do not dehydrate your self prior to a dive which can lead to DCS on longer deeper dives. It should have a bellows pocket on the left thigh for spare mask etc and a low profile pocket on the right thigh for slates etc. Pockets on the BCD are a waste of time as they are very hard to reach. I recommend the Otter Britannic suit’s as they are less likely to suffer punctures than neoprene suits, are lighter and more compact when traveling and offer more flexibility to your thermal protection.
Surface Marker Buoy: Halcyon, Beaver
These come in different lengths and fit up into the Halcyon back pack. They can be inflated orally or mechanically and are very robust.
Rambo knives are out and surgical sheers or small sharp BCD knifes are in. Unless of course you want to take on Jaws. These knives/sheers are compact, cut through line very easily and are accessible when attached to the BCD webbing.
Valves: 230 or 300 bar DIN’s
Standard A-clamp yoke regulators and valves have a horrible tendency to leak and can fail under water if hit hard on a solid object. DIN valves allow the regulator to screw into the valve, thus reducing the chance of leaks and failures; it also makes for a lower profile system, so no banging your head on the first stage. DIN valves also allow you to fill your cylinder to its true working pressure.
Cylinders: 230bar 105 Steels
Steel is a stronger metal than alloy and has a higher working pressure for less volume. Steel cylinders are also negatively buoyant when empty an important consideration when doing your safety stop or diving in shallow water, as alloys become buoyant as the pressure drops. Steels are less likely to suffer neck cracks and have a longer life span than alloys if looked after.
In my view some accessories are sold for one reason, “PROFIT” now nothing wrong with that, Dive Shop owners have to make a profit to survive, where else are you going to get your cylinder filled, kit serviced, train and book on trips if they go out of business. Just think is the accessory really necessary or shop around as many accessories are generic and can be purchased under different or no brand name for half the cost. Beaver spring straps being a classic example. Just try not to hang to much stuff off your BCD or anything for that matter off your weight system, as it will cause you grief at the worst possible moment. A piece of advise well taken notice off my those rocket scientists who hang their catch bags from a clip on their BCD.
Fins: Scuba Pro Jets with spring clips
Being made of high quality rubber means that Jet Fins are negatively buoyant, an important consideration if you are diving dry or if you have positive buoyancy in your lower legs. Piece of advise, if you are a wetsuit diver choosing fin size, go up a size or two, as if you ever purchase a drysuit in the future the boots will be much bigger than wetsuit boots. To get full performance out of your fins your foot must fit right into the pocket, expect bad cramps if it doesn’t.
Jet Fins are simple and effective. Spilt fins are a gimmick, wheel spin in strong current and cost the earth.
The above comments represent what many divers world wide see as simple effective diving equipment. As you have probably worked out, the emphasis is on keeping things simple, easy to find and see, while reducing the amount of failure points. By doing so it means that generally the equipment is a lot cheaper than equipment with all the unnecessary bells and whistles. If you are thinking of buying equipment and are unsure to what best suits your needs, give me call, I am only to happy to help you out with advise with out expecting you to buy from our store. I can be contacted on 0274 344 874.
Safe Diving and remember DO IT RIGHT