Easy Breathing and Exploding Computers… dive gear experiences

Not my usual thing but as part of the diving adventure is using gear and I bought a load of new stuff before this trip I figured someone out there may be interested in knowing my opinion on it…

I noted in a previous post the gear that I purchased from Mike’s Dive Store in London.  So, as I sit in Bangkok (it’s raining.. what the hell?!) in a lovely little French cafe waiting for a time-lapse from my trip to upload I’ll muse over the experience I’ve had with my gear (a mixed experience to say the least!).

I have high praise and some potentially terrifying experiences… I’ll start with the good move to the meh / bad, then finish with the ugly… 😛

The Good…

The Atomic Aquatics T3 Regulator is just an amazing piece of kit and all that it’s cracked up to be.  All I can say (as I’m not so technical with my dive gear yet) is that it breaths with such ease and movement (due to the ball and socket connection at the end of the hose) makes for even better movement (although it wasn’t always as smooth as I would have liked).

The Atomic Aquatic Frameless 2 mask is also amazing… I bought this blind (online) and didn’t have a chance to test to see if it fitted.  I have a pretty large beak and so the fit of masks is often an issue.  Initially I thought it would have been a problem with pressure on the bridge of my nose.  It wasn’t and the soft skirt of the mask made for a perfect fit.  Best mask I’ve ever used… and the field of view is amazing.

The Not So Good / Bad…

I have mixed feelings about the Scuba-Pro X-Force BCD.  The D-rings just didn’t feel like they sit in good locations, or at least for me I couldn’t easily locate them.  So for clipping on my camera tether etc. it just felt awkward and then clashed with the location of the octopus… but this is probably just my lack of experience… it’s comfortable to say the least and my first experience with an integrated weight system, which trumps the belt for sure (expect when you forget to take them off for that awkward climb back onto the boat).

The fins… Mares X-Stream… although I have little in the way of strong opinions about these they appear to work well even in the strong Komodo currents (and that was a slightly terrifying experience).  The one problem I had with these was that on the very first dive one clip appeared not to function.  I’m just really glad that it wasn’t a strong current as there is just no way my fin would have stayed on.  I will switch to a different fastening system soon but at over 100GBP I would expect the clips to at least work for the first dive!

The Mares Cruise Backpack Pro roller bag was a mistake… and I knew it from the start.  It’s too big, too heavy, too wide, and just awkward.  At least for me and what I want.  This is the one item I really regret buying and I’m not likely to use it again after this trip.  I’m sure it’s a good bag for someone but it becomes overweight very quickly (so much space..!) for airlines.

The Ugly…

The idea that I already had one piece of gear fail on m was a little annoying… but after all it wasn’t so bad and it happened on a check dive so that’s fine.  However, this was not the only thing to go wrong.

The Atomic Aquatics Cobalt 2 does not come cheap, and I’m not entirely sure why I bought it initially.  Once I got it though it’s really a lovely and easy bit of kit to use.  I would charge it each day as 3 dives usually consumed about 30% of the battery life and I figure if I can, charge it as it would seem unwise to let it drain too much.  Twenty six dives in and I was gearing up on the dive boat… my instructor brings me my tank and gear.  Moments later there’s a loud “pop” and a scattering sound of plastic on the deck.  The front cover, clear plastic lens, and rubber keys had exploded off the console!  It was quite incredible… after an initial few moments of shock and being rather pissed off I took to a rather more reticent thought process of being grateful that it didn’t explode 25m underwater!  I didn’t attribute blame as it wasn’t clear what happened but it was clear that it happened after the tank was plopped onto the seat.  I hadn’t bumped the console violently or even moderately onto the corals at any point and it was a brand new unit… as it turns out the first iteration of this dive computer had suffered an issue such as this and had, in fact, been recalled in the US.  I think that what will be interesting is see how Atomic Aquatics deals with this.  Thankfully there’s a dealer in Thailand and I will have them inspect it tomorrow.  As I say, the jury is out on what the problem is.  There is no mention of anyone having experienced the exploding console in the second version of the Cobalt dive computer… that’s not to say it’s not a manufacture issue.  Resolution is always interesting in that everyone often wants to point fingers… especially if it means money.  So the insurance companies only cover the issue if it’s been damaged by myself or another… if it’s a manufacturing issue it will be interesting to see how good Atomic Aquatics customer service is (I’ve already emailed them)…  I shall provide a follow up on that…

So it’s been a mixed bag of thoughts on my shiny new gear.  At the end of the day it’s about seeing the beautiful world under the waves… and that was just amazing!

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