PUTTING ASIDE THOSE PEOPLE who have more money than sense, often those who have a lot of money to spend have accrued it by their own astuteness, and are equally astute when they come to spending it.
Still, its nice to own the best of everything, and diving kit is no exception. Without getting into arguments about what is actually best, we concentrated on what was most expensive, and we kitted up our hypothetical single-cylinder open-circuit diver with a set of gear that fitted our price no object description.
Nothing represents a frivolous purchase. Every item works well. And in preparing our model, we ensured that although Colin might have a lot of kit dangling, everything was configured in such a way that it would work effectively under water!
 

hspace=5 DRYSUIT
£1400

Among a vast range of drysuit manufacturers, one brand stands out. DUI suits used to be almost standard issue among diving instructors in the UK, but that was when they were made in Norfolk. Once production relocated to California, the price of these highly thought-of garments went through the roof.
Now they are for people who want the best and are prepared to pay for what the best costs. DUI pioneered the use of crushed neoprene, where the material is crushed after the suit is constructed. This makes the suit extremely hard-wearing and watertight.
The best suit that you can buy from DUI costs around 1400 (off-the-peg) in the UK. Its the CF200X.
If you thought that was expensive, wait until next spring, when we hear that a military suit made by a British manufacturer will be available for leisure divers to buy. If you can afford it, that is!




hspace=5 UNDERSUIT
£200

If you have money to spend, you dont want to have to struggle in and out of your undersuit, do you
Originally conceived to help leading disabled-diver instructor Fraser Bathgate, the Weezle Oxygen Set is an undersuit made up in two parts, but integrates to be as effective as any other.
It takes the form of a salopette and jacket, and costs around £200. Its hi-tech, Swiss-made micro-fibres expand to fill the available space inside your drysuit with thermally inert material

MASK
£800

We toyed with the idea of equipping our diver with an Ocean Reef full-face mask, but decided that a conventional mask might be more appropriate. The Oceanic Datamask is neither, because it includes a computer with a head-up display.
Our theoretical diver would have to adjust the personal caution preferences to bring the computer in line with its European counterparts. It has a transmitter that screws into the regulator first stage to help calculate gas requirements. The built-in computer will integrate with up to three different tanks. It is expected to cost around 800.


hspace=5 HEATED UNDERSUIT
£600

With price no object, you wouldnt expect to get cold on a dive, would you A hi-tech Typhoon Icebreaker electrically heated under-vest at around 500 will prevent that happening, especially if worn with a Merino wool base layer of the type worn by those on Antarctic expeditions.
The Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 (Icebreaker as in make rather than model) fits the bill. Some mountaineers and explorers claim to wear this underwear continuously for up to three months
at a time. Merino wool is very soft and comfortable and has no odour, even when wet. Just as well!
Its incredibly expensive for what it looks like, at around 100 for a set, but whos counting



hspace=5 UNDERWATER LAMP
£1400

You would have thought the fight would be between the Germans and the Dutch to come up with the most expensive lamp.
Sorry, but its the Americans who can get you to take out a second mortgage to get your hands on one of their bits of kit. In this battle of the heavyweights, Halcyon and Salvo slug it out, but Salvo just manages to win on points with its 35W HID umbilical lamp and 15A li-ion battery-pack at more than £1000.
If you think thats expensive, what about a special edition hewn from gold-coloured Delrin for around £1400




hspace=5 FINS
350

Trust Californian Bob Evans to come up with a pair of hand-crafted fins that knock spots off the competition when it comes to price, and probably performance too. A pair of Excellerating Tan Delta Force Fins will set you back around £350 in the UK.
Yes, you read that right. Not only that, but there is such a demand for them in the USA that Bob cant pour his polyurethane fast enough! Its a special polyurethane, formulated to have the highest rebound, or snap. Its the snap of the Force Fin blade that channels water through its split-V shape faster to maximise your propulsive efficiency.
The great thing about polyurethane is that, being so resilient, this would probably be the last pair of fins you ever needed to buy.



hspace=5 CAMERA
£850

How will our price-no-object diver regale his friends with tales of his exploits under water
He could take a video camcorder with him, although making programmes fit to watch is another story, and needs the dedication of an enthusiast.
The latest idea is the Vee-Cam, with its tiny mask-mounted camera that is hard-wired to a recorder pod said to stand the harshest of environments. The Vee-Cam will allow the wearer to record every moment of his dive and bring back the evidence. Its expected to cost around 850 and is another product well be featuring soon in DIVER Tests.




hspace=5 REEL + BUOY
£105 & £70

When we last compared the performance of winder reels side-by-side, one stood out. It was the Halcyon Pathfinder 400. Constructed from Delrin, aluminium and stainless steel, its 125m of line paid out faultlessly and was wound back in again without any sort of problem.
It performed perfectly, yet it begs the question familiar to anyone who works in a marine environment - what about the effects of electrolysis between the metals
The only other feature that went against it was its cost of 105. A Halcyon surface marker buoy to go with it costs £70.




hspace=5 KNIFE
£80

Our diver would not warm to a blade that needed maintenance, so we got him an all-titanium American-made UK Blue Tang knife for around £80.



hspace=5 REGULATOR
£799

No review of gear suitable for travelling would be complete without mention of the US-made Atomic T2 regulator. At 0.75kg, it is probably the most lightweight high-performance regulator on the market. It has also consistently out-performed most other regulators in our previous deepwater comparison tests.
Although its metal parts are made from lightweight titanium, the T2 is nitrox-ready out of the box for mixes of up to 40%. It has five medium-pressure ports arranged around a revolving turret, and two high-pressure ports.
A unique feature is its valve mechanism, which prevents any engraving between valve seat and poppet during storage periods, so that servicing can be reduced to every three years.
The beautifully made second stage has an automatic venturi-adjustment that is depth-sensitive, and even the construction of its rubber mouthpiece is something to be admired. It exudes high quality throughout, and is perfect for the travelling diver who may otherwise leave his regulator in a cupboard for much of the year. The ANSTI test puts it ahead of the rest, too.
Whats the downside The cost - £799, plus extra for an octopus rig on the end of a long and super-flexible Miflex hose. Double that if you fit two first stages to an H-valve, which allows us to use the three computer transmitters!


hspace=5 COMPUTER
1100 + 850

Among those companies that sell computers backed by product liability insurance, Uwatec and Suunto slug it out.
Suunto became market leader after Uwatec abdicated the lead it held for many years with Aladins, but Uwatec is making a comeback in conjunction with the Finnish heart-monitor manufacturer Polar, with an all-singing, all-dancing heart-rate-integrated and multi-mix nitrox-integrated computer called the Galileo.
It costs around 850 with heart and gas transmitters.
However, when it comes to price Suunto can still take top prize. Its £1100 D9 computer watch with optional titanium bracelet is multi-gas nitrox-integrated, can be used to indicate iterative deep stops, and doubles as an item of jewellery that could be used as a knuckle-duster to see off most hoodies.
Alas, the bracelet is not adjustable, so if it fits over the cuff of your drysuit it would be a little loose on your wrist, and youd swap it for the rubber alternative.
That probably doesnt affect most buyers. Why would they dive in cold water when they can afford to jet off somewhere comfortable
If you are going to do dives with decompression stops, we advise you to double up on computers. It would be best to wear two identical models to give you perfect redundancy, but if you tweaked the micro-bubble settings of the Galileo and the choice of algorithm (RGBM50 or 100) and personal settings of the Suunto D9, were sure you could get these two computers to coincide their mandatory deco-stops.
Then you would not have the agony of choosing one over the other.
Being digital, neither has a second hand. Secondhand We dont want anything secondhand!


hspace=5 PROPULSION SYSTEM
£2000

You wouldnt expect to have to fin much if you were diving price no object, so we got our diver a DPV. There are lots of really expensive scooters from which to choose, but they all tend to raise the same question: Who is going to carry it to and from the waters edge
We approached MST in the States for a set of Jetboots, but found that these are now so expensive (and renamed J-DPS) that they are being supplied only to those customers with a military budget at their disposal.
However, Ben A Mazin, the manufacturer, has not forgotten the leisure diver, despite now apparently having orders worth millions of dollars for his primary product. He has come up with the Armjet. Its incredibly light and portable, with 11kg of thrust for around 55 minutes, and is said to outperform many conventional DPVs. It will be priced at around £2000 including import duties.
We dont have a finished production model yet, but when we do you can bet well publish a proper DIVER Test of it.


hspace=5 BC
£600

A BC is a simple bit of kit. You let air in to maintain your neutral displacement on descent and release air from it as you come up. It holds your tank on, and provides surface support once inflated.
You can get something that does this from about £150. We didnt let that dishearten us in our search for the most expensive available, because manufacturers are experts at discovering value-added extras.
A 3D internal expanding gusset that adds lift capacity without adding bulk, an integrated-weight system, swivelling harness buckles for added comfort, large pockets, an integrated knife; these are all features that account for the Seaquest Pro Unlimited SL retailing for close to £600.
Strangely, it does not seem to include the Seaquest i3 technology available on a less expensive model in the range. This gets rid of that cumbersome corrugated hose, and instead allows filling and dumping at the flick of a switch.

ATOMIC - www.typhoon-int.co.uk,
DUI - www.hydrotech.co.uk,
FORCE FINS - www.poseidon-uk.co.uk,
HALCYON - www.uk-halcyon.com,
MST - www.jetboots.com,
OCEANIC- www.oceanicuk.com,
SEAQUEST- www.aqualung.co.uk,
SUUNTO - www.suunto.com,
TYPHOON - www.typhoon-int.co.uk,
ICEBREAKER - www.icebreaker.com,
UK - www.sea-sea.com,
UWATEC - www.scubapro.co.uk,
VEE-CAM - vee-cam.com,
WEEZLE - www.weezle.co.uk