Mares makes some very fine regulators and the new Dacor Eagle Pro DPD should be one of them. Mares Yes, it might surprise you to know that the Italian manufacturers factory in Rapallo makes modern Dacor regulators too, and in some territories the Dacor brand is more readily accepted, so thats why it perseveres.
     Over here in the UK, it has been the neat little side-exhaust Dacors that have captured the attention of the diving public, but side-exhaust designs are not to everybodys taste, so the Dacor Eagle Pro DPD provides a more conventional option.
     This regulator uses the first stage which is usually supplied with the Dacor Viper Metal. It has a unique swivelling medium-pressure primary port. Three other mp and two hp ports are set around its main barrel.
     This is combined with an all-new, compact second stage. It has a streamlined shape with a small frontal area but is bulky in depth. It hides the fact that it uses the well-established Mares bypass-tube design, neatly dispensing with the need for a venturi control. However, the designers at Rapallo have added a venturi switch, not just for the hell of it but to counter any danger of reduced shop-counter appeal.
     Im surprised they didnt add a breathing-resistance adjuster too. Useful or not, dont all expensive regulators have them
     The Eagle second stage is made of a mixture of hard and soft plastics. Removing the front with the soft diaphragm reveals that the inner plastic core has a very slippery finish, which I assume discourages ice from collecting and allows the air to flow cleanly through the chamber.
     This all-plastic design gives the effect of a perfectly weightless regulator when under water, but inevitably it feels a bit cheap.
     Im sure the manufacturer would be upset if I suggested that this regulator is not aimed at that small minority of divers (worldwide) who chuck themselves into cold, fresh water each weekend. So I wont.
     It certainly has a Teflon-coated demand lever to which ice will have a hard job sticking. The importer, Hydrotech, says that the Eagle is CE coldwater-tested, and as Hydrotech is based overlooking Stoney Cove I suppose the folks there will learn soon enough if they are wrong. Not to be tempted, I took the Eagle to El Hierro in the Canary Islands to see how it performed.
     The swivelling turret affair for the hose to the second stage might be seen as a point of weakness and potential leaks by some, but it has advantages. It helps take the strain of the hose routeing, which is important considering the tiny mouthpiece supplied with both Mares and Dacor regulators. It helps deal with that dragged-from-the-mouth effect.
     Some things are designed more for the shop than the water, and I think I would have found the venturi pre-dive/dive switch almost impossible to use with gloves. The idea is to position a vane into the air-flow, so that the venturi effect of the air passing does not cause a partial drop in pressure behind the front diaphragm, and thus an exponential free-flow. But the Mares-designed VAD bypass tube should take care of that effect already. You wont see a venturi on any of the Dacor Eagles Mares siblings - they just dont need it.
     A good point was that the purge button was easy to find, even with a gloved hand. So far so good.
     Like many compact second stages, though not as bad as some, this one tended to route exhaled bubbles close to the eyes. But that was not the main problem.
     I used it for the first dive down to 35m and wasnt happy with it. The unit sounded asthmatic and I felt as if I was sucking treacle through a straw.
     However, it was all I had, the conditions were benign, and I decided to soldier on until I started to become too tired to continue.
     Always keen to obtain a second opinion, I had passed it, during that first dive, for a few breaths to our Managing Editor Steve Weinman. It elicited the response later: You cant be expected to dive with that. Its ridiculous!
     I took it on a second dive, but this time alongside a second (Mares) regulator on my tanks H-valve. Treacle through a straw or a breath of fresh air - which would you prefer I have to admit to resorting to the second.
     I was furious with myself for having travelled to such a remote spot with a defective piece of kit. Back in the UK, a visit to the independent test facility ANSTI confirmed my findings. The machine revealed a curve that varied, on the inhalation side, by around 15 mbar in more than 35 vibrations per breath at 50m, and about four times that amount at 20m.
     The total work of breathing at 50m may have been an acceptable 1.71 joules per litre, but the manner in which it was delivered was more akin to breathing through the wrong end of Louis Armstrongs trumpet than inhaling mountain air.
     I could only assume that this example was made the day that Italy was defeated by South Korea in the World Cup. It is irritating to be sent items for test which patently have not been checked first, but this defect was so extreme that I took the unusual step of getting hold of another example.
     I tested this one in the Red Sea and was pleased to find the performance much more satisfactory. The second stage delivered plenty of air. It might have arrived in a slightly uncomfortable, concentrated squirt, but overall this was a very easy breathe compared to the original unit.
The Dacor Eagle Pro DPD costs £269. The Eagle Octopus costs £78.
  • Hydrotech 01455 274106, www.hydrotech.co.uk

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Comfortable hose routeing
    + Compact design

    - All plastic design can feel cheap
    - We seem to have been sent a rogue reg - make sure yours has been pre-tested