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Niks Picks

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Every once in a while I will offer to you lovely folks my most humble opinion on certain types and brands of dive equipment that I have had experience with and particularly like. If you are in the market for new gear, I hope my experiences and suggestions will be of help. Just remember to keep in mind the type of diving you will be doing and where before making any decision. If you have your own experiences or questions regarding gear, let us know about it!

What’s in a (brand) name? ScubaPro, Sherwood, Cressi, Mares, Aqualung, Zeagle, Tusa, Bare, Whites. These are all big names in the dive community you have no doubt heard of.

Chances are every diver, both seasoned and fresh (green), whose brain you pick regarding gear, will have a different opinion about what is best and what’s not. The same goes true with any hobby or activity. Most people, once they find something good that works for them and suits their needs, won’t stray too far from the brand nest.

I too, fall prey to tenacious loyalty when it comes to brands that work for me. Its not that I am a brand snob in the way that I want to have the best to look cool. The way I see it is, if equipment can survive me (and this goes for all my hobbies) then it is good. You see, I am fairly clumsy by nature and not particularly the most careful person. Add to this the harsh sandy, salty, rocky, bumpy, windy environments I am using said gear in, it ensues that I am considerably rough on equipment. Hence, when I find gear that can withstand my abuse, I tend to stick to what I know works well.

There are, of course, other considerations as well. Working in the store and talking with other divers, one gets to know what types/brands of gear come back with issues more than others and of course which ones are rarely seen again (this is a good thing!). Another consideration is warranty and servicing. How well does a company stand behind their gear? What about when it comes time to service your gear? Are there local shops in the areas you will be diving who are qualified to service your brand of gear? Each company is a little bit different and technicians are required to be trained to be service particular brands. Most are designed to be used in specific ways and in specific environments so certain brands tend to be more popular depending on the location.

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I must admit that I am a big ScubaPro fan (yes, still – despite changes to some of their warranties which are still very good). Not only do they make far superior equipment (in my humble opinion!), they are always easy to deal with and their products are popular worldwide. I have used mainly ScubaPro throughout my dive career, though I have deviated on occasion. I have NEVER had any issues with my ScubaPro gear (not that issues don’t happen, they happen to everybody, every company, every product). I can’t say the same for other brands I have used. I have also had my gear for over eleven years and a lot of it still looks and works like it’s brand new (and remember I am crappy at taking care of my equipment!). I have seen other people

The reality is, each diver has their own preference and I am no different. But what works for me (or another diver) may not be suitable for your needs. Recreational divers, cold water divers, tropical divers, instructors, technical divers – we all use gear differently and require it to have different features and respond in ways that may be undesirable to a diver of a differing breed. Ask questions definitely. Just don’t take what others say as the definitive absolute (as they may tell you it is!).

Always keep in mind where and what type of diving they do versus where and what type of diving you will be doing.have issues with their ScubaPro gear and the solutions offered by ScubaPro have (not always, but more often than not) been well over and above expected. Recently I upgraded my regulator from an eleven year old version to a fancy new ScubaPro MK25 first stage and S600 second stage. I must say I LOVE it!! It is solid, breathes soooo easy, it’s small, light and swivels easily and while it’s a little more money than the average regulator, it’s still not overly expensive especially when one considers its high level quality for a mid-range reg. As far as regulators go, this is Nik’s Pick.

What brands do you like most? Have you had good/bad experiences to share with the rest of us?

Happy Bubbles!

Nicole Nautical Lion Riggler