BEST DRYSUITS OF 2017
We tested nine shell drysuits in the Jan/Feb issue.
1. FOURTH ELEMENT ARGONAUT 2.0 HYBRID
The only model in our test to use lightweight, breathable Kevlar in its construction, the Argonaut combines it with a flex trilaminate material in the bottom half. That hybrid construction creates a suit that’s rugged enough to stand up to heavy use but stretchy enough to provide a good range of motion. The close fit limits air movement and makes for a streamlined profile underwater. For its innovative design and overall performance, the Argonaut 2.0 Hybrid was our Testers Choice.
2. HOLLIS BTR-500
The internal lining of the sharplooking BTR-500 has a patented coating that maximizes its waterproofi ng and seam-tape adhesion — and makes the suit a breeze to slip on and off . There’s no telescoping torso, but the panels of the butyl trilaminate material are all cut on the bias to add stretch and flexibility. Available with soft or hard boots, the suit has an external layer of abrasion-resistant nylon ripstop for durability. Comfortable, rugged and with the lowest price in our test, the BTR-500 was our Best Buy.
BEST SCUBA DIVING FINS OF 2017
Our test divers rated more than 13 models of fins in the May issue
1. SEAC F1S
The F1S is long (25 inches in medium-large) and wide, so we were surprised it weighs just 1½ pounds. A blade that combines rigid sections with a web of rubbery elastomer makes for a strong snap with every kick, for satisfying power without fatigue. For its performance, comfort and attractive price, the F1S was our Best Buy.
2. SCUBAPRO GO
The Go’s name reflects its aim at travel divers, but this barefoot fin proved as handy in the water as it is in the suitcase. Just 20½ inches (size medium-large), it has a wide blade set at a steep 25-degree angle, with deep rails and ridges to make the Go like a bigger fin. Handy and surprisingly powerful, the Go was our Testers Choice for barefoot fins.
3. TUSA SF0104 HYFLEX SWITCH
With its lively blade, the HyFlex Switch proved a fast but easy kicker. The adjustable bungee strap makes for a comfortable, stable fit, and the blade unbolts from the foot pocket for a travel package less than 16 inches long. The HyFlex Switch was our Testers Choice for open-heel fins.
BEST SCUBA DIVING BCS OF 2017
We tested 13 jacket and back-inflation BCs for the June and July Issues.
1. ATOMIC AQUATICS BC1
From the waterproof fabric and ratcheting tank band to the self-sealing zippers and titanium-coated D-rings, the BC1 is an exercise in design with a focus on function rather than cost. That compulsive attention to only-the-best details has produced a jacket BC that had test divers raving about its comfort, stability, control and convenience. Taking top scores in nearly every category of our test, the BC1 was our Testers Choice for jacket BCs.
2. AQUA LUNG OUTLAW
Stripped down to the essential elements of a BC, the Outlaw’s minimalist design offers few frills but delivers what it promises: a comfortable, stable platform so spare, it almost feels like you’re not wearing a BC. The modular design and purpose-made quick connectors let you swap components — adding or subtracting integrated or trim weights, 12- or 25-pound air cell and 27 different size configurations. With the precisely distilled essence of what we want in a back-inflation BC, the Outlaw was our Testers Choice.
3. MARES BOLT SLS
The Bolt is designed to do a lot of things — enough lift for any job, able to handle single or double tanks, compact enough to travel — and manages to do them all very well. The harness (full back plate, cummerbund, swiveling shoulder straps) is stable and comfortable without being restrictive, and the new Slide & Lock weight system makes loading easy and displays a green indicator when secured. Capable and versatile, the Bolt SLS is our Best Buy for back-inflation BCs.
4. TUSA BC0102 SOVERIN-ALPHA
A clever harness system, with a great range of adjustability, and soft and firm areas located in just the spots for stable, easy-fitting support, helped the Soverin-Alpha earn a top score for comfort among jackets. The integrated-weight pockets are a cinch to load and ditch, and the cargo pockets are roomy enough to be useful. Despite lots of comfy cushioning, we measured zero inherent buoyancy. Comfortable and stable, the Soverin-Alpha was our Best Buy for jacket BCs.
BEST SCUBA DIVING REGULATORS OF 2017
We tested 20 new regulators in three price ranges in the August issue.
1. BEUCHAT V FIRST
Sometimes less can be more. Weighing just 5 ounces, the V First’s second stage is one of the smallest we’ve tested, and its price was the lowest in our test group. But the little V First showed it could punch above its weight class, taking good and very good scores on the breathing simulator, and being selected as a favorite in its class by multiple test divers. The V First was our Best Buy for regs under $400.
2. AQUA LUNG CALYPSO
The name has been a standard for decades, but this latest version of the Calypso is new inside and out. The second stage now sports a soft diaphragm cover with a much more modern look, and has an all-new Venturi control and internal mechanism. There’s also been a boost in performance, tying top scores on the breathing simulator in its category, and for ease of breathing and dry operation in swim position. The Calypso is our Testers Choice for regs under $400.
3. CRESSI AC-10V MASTER CROMO
From its rotating first stage with five LP ports to the brushed-titanium faceplate on the second stage, the Master Cromo looks pricier than it is, and it performs the same way. On the simulator, it took excellent scores at all test depths and breathing rates — the least-expensive reg in our test to do so — and followed that up by tying top scores from test divers for ease of breathing. For impressive performance at a below-average price, the Master Cromo is our Best Buy for regs priced from $400 to $600.
4. OCEANIC DELTA 5
This sleek new version of the Delta (in white or black) proved to be as easy on the breathing machine as it is on the eyes. On the simulator, it took excellent scores across all test depths and breathing rates. Test divers praised its dry, easy operation, its precise breathing adjustment and its predictable purge. Selected the favorite in its class by more divers than any other reg, the Delta 5 is our Testers Choice for regs in the $400 to $600 category.
5. SCUBAPRO MK25 EVO/S620 TI
We expected a lot from this reg; with the proven MK25 EVO first stage paired with the all-new S620 TI second stage, it delivered. It took excellent breathing-simulator scores across the board, and was still churning out very good performance scores beyond 300 feet. Test divers awarded it the top scores for ease of breathing in swim position and dry operation, even when face-up. The top favorite of test divers in its class, the MK25 EVO/S620Ti is our Testers Choice for regs priced over $600.
BEST DIVE COMPUTERS OF 2017
We tested 11 console, wrist and air-integrated computers in the Sept/Oct issue.
1. MARES QUAD
Mares says the Quad displays “jumbo-size information,” and they’re not kidding. The largest data characters on the big rectangular screen are a full half-inch tall. Those big characters, and the uncluttered, well-organized data display, means there’s no need for squinting or wondering what the Quad is telling you. As easy to operate as it is to read — thanks to a four-button interface with clear functions — the Quad is our Testers Choice for wrist computers.
2. OCEANIC PROPLUS X
The color screen of this new flagship ProPlus console might get the attention, but it’s just one of the many new features (Bluetooth, four-button navigation, four-gas capability) that make the ProPlus X so easy to read, understand and operate. Above all, divers appreciated the clear data presentation and thoroughly intuitive operation. With a display and interface rated excellent by test divers, the ProPlus X is our Testers Choice for console computers.
3. AQUA LUNG I200
Though its watch-size screen is only 1¼ inches in diameter, the i200 is easy to read because of its bold characters and clean layout; test divers rated it very good for ease of reading both underwater and at the surface. The four- button control makes quick work of settings and adjustments, from the programmable safety stop to nitrox mixes. Easy to use and understand, with a nice selection of useful features at a modest price, the i200 is our Best Buy.
4. SHEARWATER PERDIX AI
The air integration is new, but the Perdix itself still has all the qualities that made it a past winner. The data-packed color display is customizable and easy to read. And with an operation that’s easier to set and understand than some computers with only the most basic functions, the Perdix AI earned an excellent score from test divers for ease of menu navigation. The Perdix AI is our Testers Choice for air-integrated wrist computers.