THE BIG DIVE GEAR
From head to toe
In our consumer society, we are good at buying things we don't need. Cars capable of twice the speed limit, sound systems that never have their gain control turned up anywhere near maximum, hi-tech kitchens used only for preparing pre-processed meals, clothes that spend their lives in the wardrobe. The list is endless.
Diving equipment is different. It is presumed that at some point the buyer's life will depend on it. It is bought to be used, and in a hostile, life-threatening environment.
But consumer society being what it is, choice of gear - and especially how much you need to spend - can be confusing.
How does one compare a 20 mask with one that costs 80,when both represent such a simple piece of technology? Do expensive fins return their investment by producing a better performance from the diver than much cheaper examples? Is an expensive dive suit going to fit better or last longer than one that costs half the money?
Among cost-conscious diving retail outlets, a higher cost usually reflects a superior-quality item. This is often apparent from the way in which that item is finished rather than in what it does. Whether you really need the highest quality is a personal decision.
In the end, equipment failure underwater is rare. Sadly, user error is more common.
An effete male can transform himself into Mr Macho by slipping behind the controls of a powerful motor car. But diving equipment differs from other "toys", in that we strap it to our own bodies to enhance our personal performance.
The major part of a diver is himself, not his gear - so with the latter you pay your money and take your choice.
We asked manufacturers and national distributors to provide details of their current UK ranges of basic equipment - the things we all need.
Bearing in mind that the market changes from day to day; that prices given are guide prices, rounded up to the nearest pound; and that some of our informants were - let's be charitable - rather less forthcoming than others, we ended up with a guide designed to put your purchases in perspective.
Each category of gear is arranged in price order, rising from economy to what some might regard as extravagant.
Sometimes the range is small - compasses, for example - whereas a suit might be a snip or "export only".
Whatever your priorities, this Diver special will help you to narrow your choice.
Illustrations: Peter Byatt.
cover picture: Mike's Waterfront Warehouse.
Alternate Air Sources |
TPRs (Cylinders) |
SMB Reels |