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DIVE LIGHT OrcaTorch D620 Canister Light

Appeared in DIVER April 2017
NOT TOO MANY YEARS AGO, I purchased a German state-of-the-art umbilical dive torch.
It featured a high-intensity gas discharge tube (HID), delivering what was claimed at the time to be the highest light output on the market and, with a huge bank of nickel-metal hydride (ni-mh) batteries, boasted a "whopping" burntime of 60 minutes.
I can remember cringing when I parted with just under a grand for this torch, but it served me well for more than a few seasons of deep, dark technical diving.
Alas, today this monster of a torch is gathering dust in my workshop. Why? Because that 60-minute burntime and 300 lumens of light it delivers is so yesterday.
Today we can enjoy torches with smaller battery-packs providing long-lasting power to LED light-heads that deliver lumens stretching to four or five figures.
UK distributor Sea & Sea sent me a torch to put through the DIVER Test treadmill that on paper would leave my old HID model floundering in the dark.


Appeared in DIVER April 2017
IT HAD BEEN A REALLY COLD WINTER, the grey sky producing sustained snow, but the air temperature had risen a few degrees over the past week, causing the thick ice covering the surface at Wraysbury to all but disappear. Chilly meltwater infused the lake, and dropped the temperature to a bitter 3C.
Dive-centre owner Richard Major and I were under water on a training platform assessing the inwater skills of our drysuit students when my regulator started to gradually over-deliver gas.
Very quickly this over-delivery progressed to an unstoppable freeflow, and although I had no problem breathing, it was obvious that I'd have to abort the dive and head for the surface.
I ascended as the tank contents disappeared in a cloud of bubbles.
What had just happened? The first stage had become encased in a solid lump of ice, freezing the diaphragm open and causing the increased intermediate pressure to overcome the second-stage valve. For the record, the ancient Poseidon regulator I was using didn't have its coldwater kit installed - 'my bad'.
However, this wasn't an isolated incident. During periods of cold weather it was commonplace to hear the distinct sound of freeflowing regulators around the lake, invariably accompanied by loud expletives.
UK regulator-maker Apeks' latest coldwater model has been developed in accordance with the US Navy Experimental Dive Unit extreme coldwater test. It's called the MTX-R, and is said to perform in almost-freezing conditions. Doh! I'd have to wrap up warm and brave the winter waters to well and truly test it.

WETSUIT Fourth Element Proteus II 3mm

Appeared in DIVER April 2017
EXPOSURE SUITS AREN'T ALL ABOUT KEEPING WARM; they protect wearers' skin from the harmful UV radiation emitted by the sun when at the surface, and also provide excellent protection from underwater stingers such as jellyfish and hydroids.
There is one other factor that only the vain (like me) will take into consideration – they need to look good. There's no point in appearing as if you've been dragged out of a time machine wearing the same style of frogman suit as Commander Crabb.
The good news is that exposure suits have evolved through this century into stylish garments that can appease even the most fastidious followers of fashion.
UK specialist Fourth Element has acquired a reputation for producing technically inspired, functional yet stylish dive-wear, and has recently released the second incarnation of its popular Proteus wetsuit, unimaginatively named the Proteus II.


Appeared in DIVER April 2017
I'VE BEEN TRAWLING THROUGH SOME recent test pages, and realised that I haven't included a mask since the December issue! So my apologies to regular readers who might have been shadowing my long-running love affair with this vital and sometimes maligned piece of dive kit.
Now I've been sent a mask from those masters of style and fashion - the Italians. Appropriately it's named the Italia, and it's the flagship model from the Seac stables.

COMPUTER Aqua Lung i750TC

Appeared in DIVER March 2017
MODERN DIVE-COMPUTERS employ cutting-edge software to deliver crucial information to the user before, during and after the dive.
Some models can also supply non-essential information such as the current moon phase or weather forecast. But whatever the capabilities of a computer, without a clear and legible display the user is unlikely to be able to interpret the data quickly and efficiently.
A number of display options are available to makers, the latest being organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). The instrument I've had on test this month uses this technology in its display.


Appeared in DIVER March 2017
HAVE YOU SEEN OPEN WATER? It's a chilling film about two scuba-divers lost at sea after becoming separated from their dive-boat, designed to get divers' hearts racing as they witness the events leading up to the realisation of one of our worst nightmares.
It’s loosely based on the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who in 1998 went diving on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and were accidentally left behind by the dive-boat when the crew failed to do an accurate headcount.
This type of incident isn't common, but it's not that unusual either. A quick Internet search reveals an alarming number of tales of divers adrift in big oceans, and I'm sure many other incidents are never reported.

Regulator Zeagle Onyx II

Appeared in DIVER March 2017
IT'S TIME FOR ANOTHER REGULATOR TEST, this time in the warm Caribbean waters of the Grenadines. You may be thinking that it's not the ideal place for testing a regulator with coldwater capabilities, but hey, it's great fun for me as a tester, and infinitely more comfortable than freezing my bits off in UK winter waters.
This mid-range regulator comes from the US Zeagle stables and is the latest generation of its popular Onyx, the unshockingly named Onyx II.


Appeared in DIVER February 2017
HOWEVER COLD THE WINTER, it doesn't necessarily mean that we have to pack our dive-gear away and wait for spring sunshine or a tropical holiday before it sees the light of day again.
We can still get wet and enjoy the advantages of coldwater diving, as long as we have the correct exposure protection.
Particularly vulnerable to frigid water temperatures are the hands. This month we share the results of a long-term test and a possible solution to the problem of freezing digits in the form of a dryglove system.


Appeared in DIVER February 2017
WE'VE NEVER BEEN MORE SPOILED FOR CHOICE - or more confused – when looking to purchase, upgrade or replace a dive-light. The lighting technology juggernaut seems to be unstoppable, with...

BAG OVERBOARD Padded Camera Accessory BAG / 30l Dry Tube

Appeared in DIVER February 2017
TAKING TOPSIDE CAMERA GEAR onto the beach or onto small dive-boats has always been problematic for me. Sensitive imaging tools don’t take kindly to knocks or saltwater spray, and are de...

BC SEAC Pro 2000

Appeared in DIVER February 2017
SEAC HAS NOW DEVELOPED THE FOURTH GENERATION of its flagship Pro 2000, the original version of which was launched last century, heralding a new era for the Italian dive-gear maker.

KENT TOOLING REEL 50m Composite Ratchet Reel

Appeared in DIVER January 2017
I recently had the privilege of being a guest at one of London's most iconic structures, Tower Bridge. We went into the engine-rooms, with the enormous coal-fired, steam-driven motors tha...


Appeared in DIVER January 2017
After a career spanning more than 30 years as a professional firefighter, I’m only too aware of how important it is to know how much gas is available to breathe from a cylinder.


Appeared in DIVER January 2017
I've tested several very complicated dive-computers over the past year. Most have been high-end, full-on technical mixed-gas contraptions capable of calculating decompression profiles for...

LUGGAGE Aqua lung Explorer duffel

Appeared in DIVER January 2017
At this time of year, some of us will be escaping the depressing UK winter and heading to tropical destinations with the promise of sun, crystal seas, spectacular reefs and perhaps a post...

BOOTS AQUA LUNG Superzip Ergo Elite 5mm

Appeared in DIVER December 2016
TRAWLING THROUGH THE PAST THREE YEARS of the tests we've carried out, I realised that in that time I can count on one hand, in fact two fingers, the number of pairs of wetsuit boots that ...


Appeared in DIVER December 2016
I'VE BEEN BUSTING TO GET MY HANDS ON this particular mask since we conducted our last group test (Vision Variability, May 2015).
I can recall making a mental note to get hold of it fo...


Appeared in DIVER December 2016
I HAVEN'T HAD MY HANDS ON A JACKET-STYLE buoyancy compensator for what seems like ages. The last two BCs to pass through our test lab were metal back-plated technical wings, so I was deli...


Appeared in DIVER December 2016
IN MY EXPERIENCE THERE ARE FIN DESIGNS that have stood the test of time and there are some hi-tec models that seem to arrive on the scene with a flurry of hype, only to fade into insignif...

DIVE-light Metalsub XRE510

Appeared in DIVER November 2016
I think my addictive nature has found a new genre of dive-gear on which to fixate - dive-torches. The marketplace seems to be flooded with them, so much so that choosing the right model f...