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The best brand names on scuba diving equipment

Discussion in 'General Scuba Equipment Discussions' started by Diver2010, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    It depends on what you mean by "best". All scuba gear is incredibly robust and reliable. Many scuba equipment "manufacturers" don't manufacture their gear at all ... they have it built in factories in China, Indonesia, Italy, and other countries and branded with their name. As a result, many different companies offer essentially the same gear, but with different names or color schemes ... and often at wildly different prices.

    The scuba consumer today is faced with some choices ... support your local dive shops by paying more than you need to for gear, or make purchases on the Internet and get the best prices. These choices are often forced upon us by the largest ... and what many would consider the "best" equipment suppliers ... ScubaPro and Aqualung and their subsidiary companies ... who place restrictions on how much an equipment vendor such as your local dive shop is allowed to sell their products for. These policies are promoted as being "protective" of their dealers ... but in fact it places the local vendor at a disadvantage because they cannot offer you the best price on the equipment you may wish to purchase ... making it difficult for them to compete with the internet retailer.

    In addition to purchase price, there is another consideration ... customer service. While some equipment by these major suppliers comes with guarantees of "parts for life", it does not include the labor costs ... and because they impose strict controls on who may work on your equipment, what you save on parts can often be more than offset by the labor prices imposed on the annual service of your gear. And because the manufacturers have such strict control on who may service your gear, your choices of shopping around for a better price are often limited.

    For those reasons, I will usually recommend to newer divers that they look at some of the less well known manufacturers ... and also talk to some of the better-known internet retailers (like ScubaToys, for example) about their service policies before making any decisions.

    Some brands I would recommend ...

    For regulators ... Hog makes an excellent regulator for the money. So does Dive Rite. Atomics are one of the best on the market, but they're expensive. I currently own several ScubaPro and Apeks regulators, which are at the high end of quality ... but I'll be selling them off since their restrictive policies make it difficult for me to service my own regs (probably not a concern for a new diver, but as you get more experience you may wish to perform your own service ... with ScubaPro and Aqualung/Apeks regs, it's difficult to get parts).

    For BCDs, the big names are ScubaPro and SeaQuest (which is an Aqualung brand). A lot of people here will recommend a backplate/wing ... but it really depends on your diving goals as to whether or not that's the right choice for you. I use them, and wouldn't dive anything else ... but if you only plan to dive occasionally or in warm water, a jacket-style BCD will suit you just fine. My only advice is to avoid the sales hype that puts you into some bulky, padded, oversized rig that will cost you an arm and a leg, because while it looks great in theory, in practice they are buoyant and bulky underwater and will only end up giving you a bad case of buyer's remorse in the long term. Get a BCD that fits properly ... if you have an option to try diving it (even in a pool) before purchasing, that's the ideal approach. Try both back-inflate and jacket-style, because they have a different feel to them, and personal preference plays a huge role in how well you'll like it. But focus on fit and function, not brand.

    For lights ... for the new diver, UK and Princeton make quality lights for reasonable prices. Higher-end lights are available, but unless you're planning to dive a lot, or get into tech-style diving they're probably more than you need.

    Fins ... you'll find endless arguments on here about which ones are "best". The simple answer is that they all have advantages and drawbacks, and you need to find the ones that will suit your preferences. Paddle fins provide more resistance ... lots of people describe them as being "harder" to use. In reality, that resistance offers you more options for different kicking styles ... and a lot more power for pushing yourself against a current you may want to have sometime. The split fins are easier to kick ... and a lot of new divers prefer them because of that. The drawback to them is that they're not designed for the variety of kicking styles you may eventually want to learn and add to your "toolbox" of skills, and so as your diving progresses you may find them limiting. On the other hand, if all you're ever going to do is the occasional vacation to a tropical resort, they could be a fine choice. Just know that in general the split fins will cost you more than a good paddle fin.

    Wetsuits ... once again, proper fit is way more important than brand name. Find one that's not too tight ... you want to be able to have a full range of body motion without feeling restricted or binding in the crotch or joints. On the other hand, the suit needs to be tight enough to not allow water flow or you'll get cold. The suit should fit snugly and comfortably. For brands, I like Bare ... the suits are comfortable, well made, and not too expensive. Henderson is the most well-known brand, but I found their hyperstretch material didn't hold up as well as I'd like ... especially considering the cost for the suit.

    Dive computers ... you'll want one. If you're planning to do a lot of diving, then get a computer that's nitrox capable, even if you aren't currently nitrox certified, because that way you won't be buying another one later. There are several brands of excellent dive computers out there ... what you want to consider is whether you want one that uses a "conservative" algorithm (Suunto and Uwatec for example) or a "liberal" algorithm (Oceanic and Aeris for example). If you're going to be night-diving, make sure your computer can be easily back-lit so that it's easily readable in the dark. A recent entry into this market that I really like is Hollis ... who makes an excellent computer in the $250 range.

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
  2. diver_doug

    diver_doug Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    (brands are in no particular order)

    regs: atomic, scubapro, aqualung, apeks
    masks: atomic, mares, cressi
    -paddle fins: mares, scubapro, hollis
    -split fins: atomic, apollo
    bc's: scubapro, mares, aqualung
    wetsuits: scubapro, henderson, aqualung, mares
    computers: atomic, oceanic, suunto
  3. george07170

    george07170 New

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Taiwan
    Do you have heard a brand called PROBLUE? It provides good quality of equipments with good price. If you are going to buy gears for diving, i hope you can put problue in your consideration.
  4. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

    go ahead and buy a knife or a pair of gloves from them but if you're going to buy a regulator then look further. If I'm not mistaken Tilos is a start-up (although they claim to the contrary.. which is already dubious) and at this point they have no track record and I without that I would advise against buying a regulator from them unless the OEM is someone like Oceanic (look visually like they could be).

    Best regs on the market are made by the top brands. Aqualung, Scubapro, Mares (some of them) and a few companies that are behind the curve but make solid budget gear: Oceanic, Mares (some of them) and Sherwood come to mind. I'm sure I missed someone's favorite brand so be prepared to hear more advice.

  5. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    Keep in mind that a lot of gear is built in factories in China, Indonesia, Italy and other places where manufacturing labor is relatively cheap ... and companies major and minor buy it in "lots" and put their brand name on it. In this respect it makes little difference whether the mask you purchase says Tilos, Oceanic, or Halcyon on it ... it's the same mask. The only difference will be color, perhaps, and what you pay for it.

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
  6. tadawson

    tadawson Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Lewisville, Texas
    Let me add Poseidon to the list. Far from the cheapest, but regarded as one of the best on the planet. You don't see a lot of various countries navy's using them in preference to all others because they suck. Having said that, Poseidon regs are likely more than most divers need, and there is some eneducated (and incorrect) FUD out there as well.

    I've been diving Poseidon since 1979 or so, and still have not found anything that I felt was better or which made me want to change. The only gripe I have is that they size suits for midgets . . .

    - Tim
  7. divingpyrate

    divingpyrate Contributor

    We are new divers and have the advantage of having scubatoys in our back yard
    great local shop with an online presence
    They helped us a lot, we wanted not cadillac but medium to higher end equipment
    BCDs Zeagle Stilleto and Zena
    Atomic Regulators
    Scuba pro octos I think
    Oceanic Wet Suites, Computer Data pro 2.1 AI) for me
    Aeris Wrist computer for her (AI)
    Atomic fins
    Scuba Pro mask
  8. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    The brand I use depends on what piece of gear we are talking about. For regs I'm a ScubaPro guy although Atomics are great too. For BCDs I use much older Scubapro XTek gear that is no longer made (not the new Xtek line) with a Hog wing. For dive computers I use Uwatec (Scubapro) as well but loved some of the earlier Dive Rite ones. I used to like Tilos wetsuits, but I think their quality has slipped a little in the last few years.. I still use a 3/2 and a 7/5 I bought of theirs. Fins I prefer Apollo BioFins but also use the older US Divers/Aqualung Blades when I travel (much lighter than the Apollos).
  9. turt1e

    turt1e Registered

    This thread is like a time capsule. If every year or two it keeps getting revived like it has, we'll be able to see which companies have come and gone since the beginning of 2010 when it was created. If twenty years from now it gets revived again, does it get moved back to the vintage section where it started? Would that be considered irony? ... or maybe that would be considered prophetic?

    I find myself growing very attached to the fate of this thread! :wink:
  10. Crass3000

    Crass3000 Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Is it just the people I have been talking to at A LOT of different shops and my own experience with the Scubapro M25/S550 (pretty sure that's the 2nd stage) in cold water that it is a rig just waiting to freeflow in cold water? I thought it would be a good choice and had it freeflow around 35F fairly soon after I bought it. Is that pretty common? Should I bother having the rig looked at and possibly rebuilt or is Scubapro just not good in cold water? I've moved on to APEKS but it would work out good for my pony. I just don't have any confidence in Scubapro.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013

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