As a wetsuit diver with 40 or so dives during the past 18 months in both warm and cold water, I now have to decide whether to buy a drysuit or a regulator set and BC. I feel that the latter would be the best option, and my view was reinforced when diving in 13°C water wearing a 7mm suit with a 5mm shortie on top. I felt fine, and think I could manage a lower water temp before a drysuit moves higher on the agenda. What is your view, and what, when looking at regs and BCs, are the key elements to look out for, if price is not an option
If you really are not feeling too cold, especially when you get out of the water, then be happy, because wetsuit diving is certainly simpler than doing it in a drysuit.
As you seem to be going diving in cold water, I recommend a regulator with plenty of metal in it to act as a heat sink. An environmentally sealed first stage has some advantages too, when it comes to cold and dirty-water diving.
Look for a BC in which you feel comfortable and that has deserved a good review in DIVER Tests (theyre archived on www.divernet.com).
As for maximum lift, as a rule of thumb you should not need more than you have weight on your belt.
I have always understood that it is not a good idea to mix different makes of first and second stages when building a regulator set. Is this true
Many divers use an octopus rig that is of a different make to their primary regulator set. This causes no problem if the second stage is matched to the same inter-stage pressure as delivered by the first stage of the regulator, so you can use certain makes of first stage with certain different makes
of second stage.
However, since the advent of CE-marking, two-stage regulators are tested and approved as a pair, so if you mix and match makes you no longer have a CE-marked and approved item.
Is there some rule to how much weight you need to carry I heard that it is something like 5% of your bodyweight for a thin suit and 10% for a heavier suit - would that sound about right
Your body weight is irrelevant, as you are more or less neutrally buoyant once fully submerged. A diver wears ballast in the form of lead to counter the aggregated buoyancy of all the kit worn. Most of this is buoyant.
The suit displaces a lot of water, so the bigger the diver the bigger the suit, and the more lead he or she is likely to need. Similarly, the thicker the suit, the more water it will displace.
I am about to buy my first reel and am getting confusing advice from my diving friends. Some tell me to get a large reel, while others say that a smaller one is best. Which is the right answer
It all depends on the purpose for which you intend to use the reel. Generally, a large reel is best for shooting a late-deployment surface marker buoy up from any great depth, because it is less likely to jam and is less irritating to wind in as you ascend.
However, it will not be easy to stow, and you might choose to leave it behind and regret the decision later.
A compact reel can be more easily stowed, even in the pocket of some BCs,
so you can routinely carry it.
Such reels are often used for laying a line, where you might need to find your way back to your starting point, as in an overhead environment, for example.
There is a plethora of reels from which to choose (see the latest divEr Gear Guide), though some are less good than others. You should be able to let out the line easily and wind it back in again without any tendency for it to birds-nest.
Most reels are made from plastics with 316 stainless-steel components.
I was a bit shocked when I saw Mares advertisement for its Airtrim Technology in DIVER. The ad seems to be calling the inflator the Up button, although promoting the use of the inflate button to ascend could have serious consequences. In the main image, there is a hand positioned as though ready to use the set-up. The finger is silver (as is the deflate button), and the thumb red (as is the inflate button). The finger is labelled Down, and the thumb labelled Up. Surely this is nothing short of irresponsible advertising from one of the biggest manufacturers in the dive industry
Mares manufactures diving equipment, not diver-training schemes. Also, sadly, those who design advertisements are not always familiar with the nuances of the subject.
Ask non-divers and they would assume quite reasonably that you increase your buoyancy to go up. A properly trained diver knows that you increase your buoyancy to stay neutral as you go deeper, and in fact you use the controls in exactly the opposite way.
Instead of Up and Down, perhaps it would have been better if the designers had used the words Inflate and Deflate.
I have a Legend regulator and am thinking of putting on a long hose and keeping the octopus-rig on a necklace for myself. Can I rig it so that the hose comes from over the left shoulder
You cannot do what you propose with the primary second stage of the Aqua Lung Legend, but if you have a long hose there will be no problem running it from the right side, because the hose length gives you plenty of strategy when sharing.
If you use one of the new Italian super-flexible Miflex braided hoses, bear in mind that they tend to be buoyant, so hog-wrapping is out of the question.
However, they do stow very nicely under an elastic strap on your tank.
With a standard-length hose, I would run the octopus over my left shoulder because it makes sharing easy, although then you cannot readily use it yourself.
A clamp fitting
Can you spell out the pros and cons of DIN versus A-clamp regulators
DIN regulators screw into a tank valves female connection and use a captive O-ring that is less subject to wear.
A-clamp regulators are clamped onto a tank valve that carries its own O-ring, and this can chafe and eventually leak.
On the face of it, the DIN system is better. However, DIN tank valves that are subject to hard wear can go oval, making them impossible to screw into.
In some cases, it becomes difficult to unscrew the regulator from the tank.
Tank valves for A-clamp regulators are much tougher and stand more abuse, which is why so many busy dive centres prefer them.
Despite the impression given by diving forums on the Internet, there are still far more A-clamp regulators sold in the UK than those with DIN fittings.
I need prescription lenses, because when I go diving I have great difficulty seeing properly. Can I get lenses to fit inside my mask
You should certainly be able to get lenses to match your prescription fitted directly into a mask. Your local dive shop can help you with that.
Some masks can be ordered with factory-supplied optical lenses, usually in negative dioptre strengths, at an additional cost. Your local dive shop should be able to help you with either solution.