Published on November 19th, 2005 | by Greg0
SCUBA with the Best
Scuba and snorkeling equipment can range from the cheap Walmart quality fins to top-notch, professional level gear costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. We’ve tested several products, looking for items that were excellent values: gear that made going diving more fun.
Here in Hawaii, there is no shortage of great places to dive. We started with swimming pools, and then moved on to beaches and deeper water, testing equipment for comfort, ease of use, and quality of construction. Design really matters in aquatics- goggles must be able to stand up to significant pressure, fins must be able to handle some rocks and coral without taking too much damage. Also, it’s no good spending time and money on a dive if you can’t easily move around or see what you’re looking at- nothing is worse than fogged-over goggles or fins that require a lot of effort to move.
Even novices can appreciate our choices, though if you are a new diver, you probably want to think twice about purchasing your own equipment- rental equipment in Hawaii can be quite good and reasonably priced, depending on vendor. Also, make sure you stop into a shop and try some fins on before buying them online- sizing can vary from what you might expect.
The best fins we tried were the Twin Speeds FF (full foot) from Scubapro – not only were they the best looking fins we saw, with their distinctive “patented twin-blade technology”, they worked like a charm. High-performance fins, they are supposed to reduce effort by 30%, and indeed, propulsion was much easier. Also, we were able to find them for $40 online, as long as you don’t want an adjustable fin. The construction is top-notch, and they come in a few colors. Even if you only dive once a year, a decent pair of fins will pay off.
Of course, you’re in the water pretty much for the sole purpose of looking around, yet most masks obscure as much as 50% of your viewing area. HydroOptix decided to solve the problem by completely changing the optics. Their double-dome dive masks look sleek and high-tech, though are a little heavier than normal. The lenses they use eliminate the blurring and distortion as well as giving you much more area to see- allowing a diver to feel far more at home in the water. They offer a couple of models, but neither are cheap- plan on spending around $200 for the MEGA-4.5DD. The 4.5DD works great if you are near-sighted, with no contacts or prescription lenses, the water went from murky and blurry in conventional masks to crystal, high-definition sharp. HydroOptix will also release a few new models soon, including one aimed at divers with 20/20 vision. If you plan on diving a few times, this is probably the best mask on the market (for recreational divers)- just make sure you know your prescription, and you can order online.