Best Scuba Gears – Complete List with In-depth Reviews [2018 Version]

Earth’s final frontier beckons to you to leap into its deep blue waves. Whales, sharks, and giant manta rays await you amid endless coral reefs. Take your place amongst the waves with the best scuba gear, and you’ll be rewarded with a lifetime of adventure.

After over 14 years in the scuba industry, I have had the opportunity to use many different types and brands of scuba gear -which is why I decided to put this guide to together, to help you put together a set of the best scuba gear.

Since scuba gear is made up of a few different pieces, I divided the guide up to highlight each individual piece, and each section will include a best overall pick and a budget pick to help meet your needs.

6 Best Scuba Gear Short Overview

Image

Product Name

Brand

Use For

Price

Mares Abyss 22

Genesis Scuba

Controlling Air

Genesis GS2000 Diving

Mares

Controlling Air

Scubapro Hydros Pro

Scubapro

Buoyancy Compensator

Cressi Travelight BCD

Cressi

Buoyancy Compensator

Oceanic Geo 2.0Air Nitrox

Oceanic

Dive Computers

Cressi Leonardo Dive

Cressi

Dive Computers

Best Scuba Gear - Reviews

Best Regulators

The regulator is literally the lifeline of your scuba system. By delivering precious air to you at the greatest depths, the regulator makes the entire adventure possible.

1. Mares Abyss 22 (Best Overall Regulator)

Mares Abyss 22

The Mares Abyss 22 is a super lightweight regulator, both first and second stages weigh on 2.5 pound. The weight makes it great for travel, but it also is much more comfortable when you are breathing with the regulator in your mouth. I can’t stand a heavy reg that feels like it is pulling out of my mouth the entire time I am trying to breathe, so the light weight is an awesome feature that makes this reg very comfortable.

The breathing comfort is increased thanks to the balancing in the first stage that uses a diaphragm to adjust the pressure delivered to the mouthpiece, so you never have to work for a breath of air.

What we liked

  • “Dynamic Flow Control” delivers consistent, easy air flow
  • Flexible hose doesn’t pull regulator from mouth
  • Durable marine brass construction in 1st and 2nd stage

What we didn't like

  • Included mouthpiece made my jaw tired and sore, easy to replace though

2. Genesis GS2000 (Best Budget Regulator)

A balanced first stage and a “diver adjustable” balanced second stage make the GS2000 an air delivery powerhouse that doesn’t feel like you are in the budget category. The adjustment switch on the side of the second stage tightens and loosens the balanced valve to deliver the exact amount of air that you need at any depth, or in strenuous diving conditions.

Though I was not familiar with this brand before putting the GS2000 on the list, I was actually surprised by the stability and performance of this little regulator. The second stage is little, by the way, I was a little surprised at how small it actually was, but fortunately the small size didn’t diminish the breathability.

What we liked

  • Durable overall construction
  • Easy and comfortable
  • Customizable air flow
  • Great pick for new divers

What we didn't like

  • Mouthpiece is small and uncomfortable
  • Has a tendency to freeflow if not adjusted correctly

How to pick the best regulator

Pick a balanced regulator

Regulator performance is a significant factor in choosing a regulator. Going deeper underwater increases atmospheric pressure, and not all regulators are able to actively compensate. Balanced regulators are able to actively adapt to increasing pressure and deliver air as needed. In contrast, unbalanced regulators cause the diver to work a little harder at deeper depths, or when breathing harder due to physical exertion.

Marine Brass or titanium

Marine brass is the only reliable metal to use in a regulator. Hoses will be made of rubber, and second stages (the part you breathe out of) will be made of high density plastic, but the first stage (part that connects to the tank) and many internal parts are made of metal. Marine brass and titanium are metals that are strong enough to handle the high pressures involved in a scuba system, but will also not break down or corrode when exposed to salt water or pool chemicals for an extended period of time.

Best BCDs

The buoyancy compensator device (BCD) is the work horse of your scuba equipment. Everything, including you, straps to the BCD, and in turn the BCD handles all the physical support of the scuba system.

1. Scubapro Hydros Pro (Best Overall BCD)

Scubapro Hydros Pro

The best BC is the BC that will keep you and your equipment together in any dive situation, and that you don’t have to replace. The ScubaproHydros definitely fits this description with its durable monprene gel harness that is specifically designed to resist ultra-violet radiation, pool chemical, and abrasion. The abrasion quality is my favorite since pool decks and reefs are very unforgiving, and can quickly destroy a lesser BC.

I also like that the weight system on this BCD that is adaptable to different amounts of weight without being to bulky in warm water, or too underpowered for cold water. The material of the Hydros BCD is natively neutrally buoyant, which means that the BCD won’t lift you up or drag you done while in the water.

The shape of the Hydros molds to your body to provide a fit that makes it almost feel like the BCD isn’t there at all. The body grip gel molds so nicely that it almost becomes like a second skin that prevents the BCD from sliding up and own the body while ascending and descending. The comfort is accentuated by the articulated shoulder straps that mold themselves to the shape of your suit and shoulders, and doesn’t rub or drag against your body.

What we liked

  • Easy to adjust for max comfort
  • Great for both warm and cold water
  • Lightweight and easy to travel with
  • Material dries quickly after dives

What we didn't like

  • The tri-bungee systemfor controlling air in the bladder can cause uneven air distribution.

2. Cressi Travelight BCD (Best Budget BCD)

Cressi Travelight BCD

The CressiTravelight is designed to work exactly how the name suggests, this BCD packs down to a size small enough to fit into a standard backpack. The total weight of the Travelight is only about 5 pounds, making it an ideal companion for all of your world travels. 

Even though it is lightweight, the CressiTravelight doesn’t lack quality and features. The wrap around bladder cuddles you as you swim through the water. Reinforced padding across your back, and a pair of tanks straps, help you feel stable without having the weight of the tank resting against your spine. Three adjustable straps make the Travelight completely customizable to your body size, and suit thickness.

The waist buckle is designed to be independent of the wraparound bladder. With typical wraparound bladders, the bladder has a feeling of squeezing in around a diver’s torso. The independent waist buckle of the Travelight allows the BCD bladder to inflate away from the body, so you get comfortable buoyancy without feeling crushed.

Using weights with the Travelight is easy as well. The two shoulder pockets and the two removable weight pouches create a balance between the front and back of the BCD, so you don’t feel like you are forced forward or backward.

What we liked

  • Extremely light weight
  • The straps have a wide range of adjustments
  • Comfortable fits with thin or thick suits
  • Large pockets are great for carrying extra gear or a camera

What we didn't like

  • Weight pouch clasp is unreliable
  • I would prefer more solid back plate

How to pick the best BCD

BCD’s have a high degree of variation, and knowing which features to look for will make a sea of difference in the enjoyment and comfort of your dive adventures.

Weight Integrated vs. weight belt

How your BCD handles weights in an important consideration when making your choice. A weight integrated BCD has pouches or pockets that support the strain of the lead weights needed to get you underwater.
A BDC that requires a weight belt moves the weight out of the BCD completely, and transfers them to a harness system. The trade off is that instead of the BCD bearing the bulk of the weight, you feel it more on your body. However, these BCDs are often lighter weight and easier to travel with.

I prefer the weight integrated BCD, because this style better distributes the weight when I am out of the water. While in the water, the weights don’t shift due to the set location of the pouches. Weights have a tendency to shift when the belt gets wat, or when a suit compresses when you go deeper underwater.

Get a BCD that is designed for your gender

Scuba equipment developers have differentiated BCD designs in order to better fit the different dimensions of male and female bodies. According to Divezone.net, “Men’s BCD have longer torso while a woman’s BCD have shorter ones. Some women’s BCD don’t have chest straps as well to avoid compressing the bust” (divezone.net). Each of the BC’s on the list have options fit for both men and women. 

Jacket vs. Wing air bladder

The BCD bladder that inflates to provide positive buoyancy comes in one of two styles; The jacket style wraps around your torso. According to PADI.com, “The BCD jacket is traditionally the more popular style which combines the harness and air bladder to make a single unit” (www2.padi.com). The jacket effect provides better balance while resting head up at the surface, but can be a little unbalanced when in the diving position. The inflation around your body can give a tight hug effect that some divers may find uncomfortable. 

The wing style has the bladder attached to the back plate of the BCD, and as it inflates, the bladder expands out behind the diver. These BCDs often use a little less air, and offer better balance when in the horizontal diving position. The downside to the wing BCD is that at the surface you feel pushed forward into a face down position. This is good for long surface swims, but for just floating at the surface, it can be annoying for some divers. 

I personally prefer the wing style due to the superior underwater balance. My BCD is over 12 years old, and has provided consistently high performance on hundreds of dives.

Best Dive Computers

The dive computer is the information and safety arm of the scuba gear system. Computers will track depth, bottom time, ascent rate, and no-decompression limits. Owning a dive computer is the safest way to dive, since it will actively keep you away from decompression sickness, and over-expansion injuries caused by ascending too fast.

1. Oceanic Geo 2.0 Computer (Best Dive Computer)

Oceanic is often at the center of conversations about diver’s favorite gear. The company’s consistent performance has rightfully earned this place, and the Geo 2.0 continues to impress. This is a wrist-mounted computer that looks more like a watch than traditional dive computer. This makes the Geo 2.0 a great companion, because you can comfortably wear it out of the water to keep track of the nitrogen in your system. You don’t have to stay close to your regs, or carry them around your neck during a surface interval.

The Geo uses a dual decompression algorithm to provide you with the most precise calculations of your no-decompression time. When using the Geo 2.0, you are rewarded with a greater safety during the dive, and more bottom time on repetitive dives.

I also like that the Oceanic Geo 2.0 has multiple modes that include a watch, dive, gauge, and free dive modes. Each of the individual water related modes are activated once in the water, so you don’t have to do anything to start tracking your depth, time, and no-decompression limits.

What we liked

  • User replaceable battery
  • Air and nitrox compatible
  • Large enough to view easily, but small enough to wear as a regular watch
  • Can connect to computer to download dive logs

What we didn't like

  • No air integration
  • Alarm volume is too low

2. Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer (Best Budget Computer)

Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer

Cressi has been making dive equipment since diving first began. The have stayed true to their roots over the decades, and provide excellent equipment that offer great budget options for new and seasoned divers alike. The Leonardo is a simple but effective dive computer that offers all the features you need in a durable shell.

One of the features that sets the Leonardo apart is that it can be mounted either on the wrist, or in an in-line console attached to your regulators. This dual mounting makes the Leonardo great for travel since you don’t have to take your full set of regulators with you on vacation. In the gauge alignment, you can attach it to your BCD, and keep your hands free to carry a camera, dive light, or other accessory.

What we liked

  • Easy to use
  • Air and Nitrox compatible
  • Dive log memory 75 dives or 60 hours
  • Automatically tracks safety stops 

What we didn't like

  • Disappointing backlight
  • Too big to wear like a watch out of the water

How to pick a dive computer

My favorite features for selecting a dive computer come down to the visibility of the screen and audible alarms.

Even though water provides natural magnification of 25% dive computer displays can still be tough to see underwater. This is usually computers that give you a ton of data that is not necessary for recreational diving. When choosing a computer, you want a display that shows bottom time, depth, no-decompression time, ascent rate, and safety stop information.

Audible alarms are necessary to give you advanced warning of bottom times, safety stops, and ascent rates. These alarms are designed to give advanced warning of potentially dangerous situations with ample time to avoid them.

Computers will also have nice features like nitrox compatibility, air integration, and altitude diving adjustments. Each of the computers I have selected have these features, with the exception of air integration.

Go and hit the water

Blowing bubbles is a blast, especially when you are using the best scuba gear. A good set of regs, BCD, and computer will make all the difference between swimming with dolphins, and being stuck on a pool deck watching the show. Be sure to follow proper cleaning and maintenance to ensure you have your equipment for years to come; some of my best scuba gear is well over a decade old, and still going strong.

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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