UNDER $500 - BEST BUY: BEUCHAT VRT80/EVOLUTION
FEATURES: The VRT80/Evolution — or Evo — is designed for both temperate and cold water. A compact first stage with only one HP port is mated to a no-frills second stage armed with a venturi switch designed to regulate free-flows.
PERFORMANCE: On the breathing machine, the Evo cranked out Excellent work of breathing at the test level most closely representing recreational diving, and very good work of breathing everywhere else. When pushed into the realm of muscle regs, the Evo was able to handle extreme breathing rates and deep depths with the best of them — regardless of price. This near-effortless display continued into the ocean tests, impressing test divers with easy breathing in all positions. Some complained the mouthpiece was too small; others felt it was comfy but could use larger bite tabs.
BOTTOM LINE: the Evo replaces flash with down-and-dirty breathing performance, offering solid real-world functionality along with more reserve capacity than models costing twice as much, earning the Best Buy nod for this price category.
SPECS Made in France | WEIGHT 2 lb., 6 oz. | FIRST STAGE Balanced diaphragm | PORTS 1HP, 4LP | SECOND STAGE Pneumatically balanced | ADJUSTMENTS Venturi switch | WARRANTY 1 year | MSRP $396 | CONTACT spearotek.com
BREATHING SIMULATOR PERFORMANCE: Very Good to Excellent | PLUS REAL-WORLD PERFORMANCE: Good to Very Good