Appeared in DIVER June 2006

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REGULATOR Scubapro R395 Octopus
Maverick and renegade I might be, but dilettante I am not. I take what I do very seriously, and once I get the bit between my teeth I never let go.
When teaching diving in the mid-80s I noticed that most divers tended to hang their octopus rigs on the same side as their primary second stages.
This looked fine until you came to do an air-sharing ascent, when you realised what a tortuous routeing the hose needed to take if the rescued diver was to be face-to-face with the rescuer. It made far more sense to hang it on the left, and this is how I taught my trainees. But how was I to convince the then all-powerful BSAC
Well, first I captured the radio station, so to speak, and supplied all my pictures to Diver with rigs hanging to the left. However, the real coup came when I found myself in the Caribbean for a week with Mike Holbrook, then the single-minded leader of the club.
All the pictures I took of Mike had the octopus rigged to the left. The rest was history until now, when manufacturers have suddenly woken up to the real function of the octopus rig. Its not for the one who purchases the regulator. Its for someone else who might be out of air.
The latest Scubapro R395 octopus rig was sent for me to review along with the revamped S550, now renamed the S555. In common with some other recently arrived second stages, the R395 can be supplied ready to be rigged either way you want it - left- or right-handed. Just ask your Scubapro dealer to fix it for you.
I had mine set up by the Scubapro technician with the hose to the left, allowing me to rig it on the same side as my primary second stage, the right side, as its shown in the PADI manual. The difference is that someone can take it from me, stuff it in their mouth, and we can make an air-sharing ascent face to face without any grief.
Just for comparison with the excellently breathing S555 second stage, I did rig it on my left side for a few dives.
In that way it was good for me to breathe from.
Apart from the longer hose getting entangled with my cameras long flash arms, I could detect no difference in performance between the two second stages.
The R395 octopus costs£105. The S555 fitted to a MK 17AF diaphragm-style first stage costs£265.
  • Scubapro UK, 01256 812636, www.scubapro.co.uk


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    + Can be set up to be used left- or right-handed


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    - None when with the MK17 first stage