Diving gear suggestions (BC and reg)

This may be better suited for a scuba board, but I know there are more than a few divers here and maybe a smaller sample will serve me better than a ton of divers on a scuba board with a thousand opinions.

I’ve been diving for four years now and have six trips and about 60 dives in that time. This year, in dives ~40-60 is where I really gained confidence and enough pleasure from the activity that I know i want to do it for as long as I can (mid-40s now).

I started with a mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit and have rented a BC and reg for all of my trips so far. All of my diving has been warm water in the Caribbean, but I may want to dive in cold water at some point. I’ve been very happy with the ScubaPro equipment I rented for my last two trips and leaning very heavily towards their products.

ScubaPro is expensive gear, but my diving experience with their X-One BCs with integrated weights has been very positive. So much so that I really don’t want to get to my next destination and be handed a weight belt, so I’ve decided to get a ScubaPro BC and probably a ScubaPro regulator and console to go with it.

I’m mostly sold on the Glide X BC and the console seems to be one size fits all. The parts that I don’t really understand are the regulator and octopus. I mean, I understand the function and I understand that a better setup will offer better breathing in a wider variety of environments, but I don’t know what the experiential difference between a $360 regulator set means versus an $840 set.

For the package I’m looking at, first stage/second stage are:

MK11-R195 ($359)
MK11-S360 ($399)
MK17-A700 ($599)
MK17-G260 ($759)
MK25-A700 ($839)

Octopus:

R095 ($139)
R195 ($199)

The BC is pretty much decided because I’ve been really happy with my experience with the X-One and the integrated weight system really works well for me. The BC and reg, I’m inclined to stay with the same brand, but I could be convinced to go another way.

Common wisdom says to buy the best reg you can afford and the MK25-A700 combo certainly leans in that direction but at 10-20 dives a year, is it overkill? For octopus, it’s something you hope to never use. Would you spend the extra $60 or go with the R095? I can pay for all of these things but what am I going to get in return? If we’re talking about a $300-500 difference for a travel diver, would you recommend spending the extra $500 or putting it into an IRA?

Differences in regulator performance become more noticeable when diving in more extreme circumstances - deeper, colder water and swifter currents requiring higher airflow will demand higher performance from a regulator. Additionally some higher end first stages have additional HP and LP ports which can be useful when putting together a tech setup. For these reasons the MK25 is a favorite of technical divers.

For diving in warm Caribbean waters you can dive with a lower performing first stage reg and not notice any difference.

As to the second stage… really depends a lot of personal preference. Some perform a bit better when you are upside down. Some do a bit better in colder water. A few have design feature to help limit freeze up in ice diving. And several have user adjustable feature to fine tune performance during a dive so you can dial in a minimal cracking pressure.

I am of the mind to not go overly cheap on an octo, but I worked as an instructor and had cause to use mine a few times to share air. Further there is a school of thought in certain technical diving that you switch to the octo and donate your primary.
FWIW, I dive a MK25 with the older S600 reg and a R195 octo. I prefer the piston design of the MK25 and the ease of switching to a DIN setup for tech diving. Work of breathing stays low even when I am schlepping other divers all around the reef.

Sounds like you’re definitely hooked on the sport (good for you !).

I am not familiar with ScubaPro equipment, but I know they have a good reputation. If you are already familiar with the gear, then it is a wise choice to stick with it.

For the octopus, go cheap (but not ridiculously cheap). No need to get anything really fancy for the octopus. It is one of those things that you never expect to need, and (ironically) if the “need” does arise, it is more likely that you will be the one using it (the out of air diver will yank your reg out of your mouth, and so you’ll need to grab and use your own octo - not like they taught in class).

As to your primary reg setup, to your question of “what do I get in return ?”: simple - peace of mind/confidence. I bought a mid to higher level reg setup for my first regulator and have been very happy with it (recently there have been some odd problems, but that’s been after 15 years of use). The more you dive, with a good, reliable regulator, it will become one of the last things you will need to worry about. And thereby lets you enjoy the diving all that much more.
Again, I don’t know ScubaPro gear. But it sounds like the MK25 series is more for technical/professional divers. So it may be overkill for recreational diving. But also don’t go cheap - this gear will last many years, so if you look at it over, say, 10 years it really isn’t that expensive.

Now, you didn’t mention anything about a dive computer. And that would be the next/last key item to be considering.

Thank you both for your input. I do have a dive computer, an Oceanic Geo 2.0. It’s okay but it’s very conservative. My most recent trip to Grand Cayman involved daily dives to the wall at ~100-110’ following by second dives to ~60-70’. It was the first trip I dived that deep every day.

My rental reg had a computer, too (not sure what the brand was). Both were set to nitrox 32 and the Oceanic was regularly giving tissue warnings during the second dive (even put me into deco once) where the reg computer wasn’t even close. I’m going to get a couple more years out of it before I consider replacing it, though.

Oceanic computers are known for a fairly permissive algorithm. If it was putting you into deco then you were cutting it close. Suunto computers are, by default, much more conservative. However many computers these days can be adjusted by the user to be more or less conservative.

So where in GC did you dive? That is my backyard.

That’s interesting because one of the DMs I dived with has the same computer I do and said that Oceanic was known for being conservative. Now that I think about it, I was set to regular gas when he checked my computer (the day I pushed it into deco), though diving with nitrox 32. It was set to nitrox, but I guess it resets itself after a certain number of dry hours.

I stayed at The Reef and did five days (10 dives) with Ocean Frontiers, two weeks ago. Mostly on the NE corner on the island. (Turtle Pass, Chub Hole, Split Rock, Black Rock Reef, Black Rock Dropoff, Delwin’s Delight, Old #12 and Roger’s Reef.) Friday the 18th was murky, so we went a bit south. The named mooring sites there were still murky, so we anchored for two dives that day.

I loved diving East End Grand Cayman (your literal backyard, I recall you saying in another thread) and have nothing but good things to say about Ocean Frontiers.

Don’t forget about maintenance. I enjoy owning our own gear, and we dive 10-50 times a year, depending, but regs don’t like to not be used. It’s a few hundred dollars every couple of years (we have Atomic regs which are good for 2 year intervals or so. Some spec every year). If we only dove 10 time a year and did it in places like GC that have excellent rental gear, we’d probably rent. Middle of nowhere Indonesia you kind of want your own gear for sure.

FWIW as to gear maintenance…

Scubapro offers free parts for life if you purchase from an authorized dealer and have annual service done by an authorized dealer. To keep the free parts flowing you must overhaul your reg even if you have not gone diving that year, so it may not be worth it depending upon your diving frequency.

The parts don’t seem to amount to much, but it’s worth considering. I just changed the batteries in our Suuntos for the first time, and feel like an idiot for paying the shop to do it. Took all of 10 minutes for 2, including looking at the youtube video.

Jake–have you been to Bonaire? Less amenities than GC for sure, but far better diving (IMHO).

SCUBA is for pussies. Getcherself a copper helmet and a pair of lead boots. It’s the only way to go.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_diving_dress

Regulator maintenance is worth considering. I haven’t gotten to the point of getting quotes yet, which is when I plan to have that discussion. It may just be a matter of timing (getting enough dives in) but I’ve felt a lot more comfortable and confident with the integrated weight system BCs I’ve used on my last two trips versus previous rentals with weight belts, so I’m definitely buying one. A DM on this last trip asked me how long I’ve been diving and complimented me on my profile underwater. Prior to last year, if a DM noticed anything about my diving, it was out of concern. I always presumed I would get a BC and reg together, but I won’t rule out the possibility of holding off on the reg for now.

I haven’t been to Bonaire. As a single traveler and diver, it doesn’t seem like a great match for me. I know that boat diving is available, but the culture there seems to revolve around shore diving. Curacao was my third trip and while I’m more interested in seeing more destinations than more of the same destinations, I may consider another trip there. I think my skill improvement and increased comfort underwater would make it a significantly different experience from my previous one.

Today I pulled the trigger. I was really back and forth over the regulator and maintenance. The Scubapro free parts forever program has changed. The current deal is overhaul every two years or 100 dives, but now you have to buy a computer with your regulator to qualify. So, I did. An Aladin 2 computer with mechanical pressure gauge console. Along with a Glide X AIR2 BC and MK21/G260 combo.

Now to dive. Anyone have recommendations for Belize?

Just a point. If one dive computer says you can do X, and another says you can do more than X, just buying the more than X brand doesn’t “let” you dive more/deeper/longer. Yeah, that sounds stupid if you think about it, but you’d be surprised at how many people actually think that.

Decompression theory ain’t an exact science. Whatever table/method to do it with is just relative risks. The closer you get to whatever limit or the more you exceed it the higher the chances you have something minor or major happen.

And IMO, people often went up way too fast. I always went up as slow as possible. And I threw in safety stops. Like a minute or two at 30, a minute or two at 15, and a few minutes at 5 to 10 ish. And for that matter, if I had air to burn and wasn’t going to be the last one getting out of the water, I decompress as long as my reserve amount of air allowed. Might as well. Can’t hurt and could well help.

I understand the fundamentals and I don’t begrudge your point. I will say that I was diving the same profile as an experienced dive master and instructor. I was not dropping down 20’ below him and catching up.

I’m still early enough in my diving career that I stick pretty close to the trained professionals. I ascend slowly and try to follow the old-school advice of not ascending faster than your bubbles. In fact, I was not ascending during the computer warnings. They happened at 50-70’ during my second dive, every time. I appreciate your advice and the gravity of a mistake in this situation. Under the circumstances, I had one computer telling me I was in mortal danger, one computer telling me that life was good, and a group of divers that dived the same profile. All of whom had computers, none of whom were worried. I made a decision based on that information and everything turned out okay.

I do understand that the brand of computer on my wrist or in my console does not affect my physiology, but I take your words with the good intent that they were offered.

That sounds very much like a veiled “fuck you” but it sincerely is not.

No problems. Not taking it as such by any means.

PS. Experienced or trained anybody is no guarantee they actually know what they are doing :slight_smile:

I have a U.S. Divers UDS-1 with a Conshelf cold water regulator I’ll sell you. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, but his frog kick was solid! If you can’t trust someone with a solid frog kick, who can you trust?

Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker are the destinations of choice. Close to the barrier reef and a relaxed topside experience. Most operators can book you on a day trip out to the Blue Hole, the signature dive for Belize.

It’s been too long for me to be able to give recommendations to specific dive ops. Most are very small operators running just a few divers at a time out to the reef.