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DIVE-BAGQuba
I have received some criticism of late. So whats new This time it has come from those who think I miss out an important fact when I write about any dive bags I have used - namely, the actual unloaded weight of the bag.
ÂÂÂÂ This can be crucial to those travelling with a restricted weight allowance. For example, the best bag I possess, judged on its ability to protect the contents, weighs 15kg empty. Its made of robust polycarbonate, rigid enough to take any amount of knocks yet keep the contents safely cocooned within it.
ÂÂÂÂ However, this quality is reflected in the excess-baggage charges to which I am subjected when travelling with it.
ÂÂÂÂ I normally return the equipment sent for test to the supplier. Bags are another matter, because they are not always handled by people who feel they should be looked after.
ÂÂÂÂ When a company sends a bag for test, it doesnt expect to be able to sell it afterwards, as some suppliers do with other items of gear submitted for test. So at any given time I have a number of bags in various states of destruction.
ÂÂÂÂ A quick examination of these reveals that most weigh in at 4-5kg. These big bags with extending handles and wheels will take all my dive kit and more, plus clothes for a typical trip. I include the products of Stahlsac, Tribord and IQ in this line-up.
ÂÂÂÂ With the mean-minded baggage allowance of 20kg typical on inter-European flights (now often 25-30kg on charters arranged by those selling diving holidays) such a weight makes a dent before you even start packing.
ÂÂÂÂ I have never had contents broken while using any of these bags, because they use robust materials, but they all get ripped or torn eventually. It depends how many trips you expect such a bag to make, and I make more than most.
ÂÂÂÂ A reader wrote to me full of praise for the bags made by Quba Sails. Aimed originally at the sailing fraternity, they are made from sail-cloth - perhaps even cloth from sails that no longer make the grade for their original use.
ÂÂÂÂ Quba sent me a Large Bag to try and it weighed less than 1.5kg. Thats light. Its made in the same way that sails are made, with broad stitching.
ÂÂÂÂ Its massive nylon zip is closed by a stainless-steel ring-pull of the sort you might expect to see on yachting equipment, but it has no other features to mention. Its capacity is as big as that of any of those dive-bags I have tested, but what it seems best suited for is carrying sails. I dont know how it would withstand the wear and tear once loaded with the rather heavier items that we divers tend to transport, and I was reluctant to give it a try.
ÂÂÂÂ My last trip involved checking-in my bag to be sent to its final destination via two other airports. In the event, it arrived slightly the worse for wear one day late, stickers revealing that it had taken in three unexpected airports around Europe.

Test of confidence
I wonder how the Quba bag would have stood up to all that baggage-handling. I had loaded it ready for my departure, but at the last moment decided to change back to one of the typical bags I knew would stand up to the journey. So this was not so much a test of the Quba bag as of my confidence in it - and that confidence just wasnt there.
ÂÂÂÂ Call me old-fashioned, but I find it really boring to discover that I am in a distant country with some item of kit missing, and unable to do what I went there for.
ÂÂÂÂ Not only that, but once I had loaded it with more than 20kg, I had to carry it. My arms are long enough, and I dont need my knuckles dragging on the ground when I walk, so carrying as opposed to wheeling a bag has become a definite no-no for me.
ÂÂÂÂ Ive seen people dragging heavy bags across airport floors. No doubt they wonder why the bottom drops out prematurely.
ÂÂÂÂ However, if you are young and strong, not prepared to pay excess charges to transport a heavier bag and willing to take a risk, this could be a useful bag for you.
The Quba Large Bag is not cheap. It costs £76.55.
  • Quba Sails 0870 777 1651, www.quba.com


  • Divernet
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    + A very lightweight bag


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    - You have to carry it
    - Leaves contents vulnerable to knocks