Appeared in DIVER October 2007

John John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.


I HAVE USED A LOT OF DIFFERENT BAGS for diving equipment. Some have been made in America from exceedingly durable bullet-proof materials and served me well for years. Others have not survived the first half of a trip, wheels falling off before I reached the jetty.
I have always reckoned that British airport baggage-handlers and their machinery represent the ultimate test for any luggage. The answer to the threat they pose used to be to build a bag of tougher materials.
The most robust bag I own is my Pelican camera case, but it weighs the best part of 15kg before you put anything into it. With airlines now clawing back lost profits by charging like wounded rhinoceroses for anything in excess of their checked-baggage allowances, and with the maximum weight of any one item now reduced by many airlines to a stingy 23kg, its time to rethink how I pack the copious amounts of gear my editor insists I take with me.
The world has changed in other ways too. China has seen an industrial revolution unprecedented in the history of the planet. Around 95% of the worlds socks are now made in one town in Guandong province, and bags are being churned out by every Mai-Ling with a sewing machine in her kitchen. So we need to adjust our expectations of how long things we buy should last, just as we have taken on board the fact that things can actually be cheaper than they were 20 years ago.
Bags have become so relatively inexpensive that they are almost disposable items. Which brings us to the Ocean Diver bag I took with me recently to Marsa Alam.

Unique Features
There is nothing fancy about the Ocean Diver Heavy Duty bag. Its a large, evenly-shaped cuboid made from a lightweight material that is easy to pack because its top folds back courtesy of a long double-zip closure.
It has an additional zipped pocket along both one long side and one end, with twin handles like any holdall and an extending handle that can be used with its built-in wheels.
The important thing is that it weighed very little before I stuffed all my heavy items into it.

Once loaded, it was a cinch to unzip the extending handle from its concealment and roll the bag on its over-sized wheels (with off-road tyres) from the car to the airport check-in. There was no tendency for it to twist and fall over as
I pulled it, which happens with some bags that have their wheels too close together.
As it was as high as it was wide once packed, it was a bit of a squeeze to fit it onto the check-in scales at the airport, and I wondered how it would fare on the conveyor to the plane. In the event, it arrived without a scratch on it.
Once it was unloaded, I handed it to the crew of Emperor Elite to stow away in a hold. It emerged in pristine condition and travelled back to Blighty the way it had come.
It arrived in such a good state that I was tempted to send it back to the distributor to be sold as new. Instead, I held onto it to use it for longer-term testing!

STRENGTH 640 denier
DIMENSIONS 75 x 38 x 40cm
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