The Best Dive Gear Of The Year | ScubaLab 2016

This year ScubaLab conducted objective laboratory and in-water gear tests of more than 70 new scuba diving products — here are the best masks, regulators, BCs, dive lights (including photo and video lights) and dive computers of 2016.

Best BCs of 2016

In the June and July issues of Scuba Diving magazine, we reviewed 18 new scuba BCs in four categories: jacket, back-inflation, travel and women's BCs.

Top-Rated BCs

The best BCs in our ScubaLab tests were the Mares Prime MRS+, the Cressi Ultralight, the Aqua Lung Dimension and the Zeagle Halo.


Price: $380 | Contact:

No BC in our test scored higher in surface stability than the Prime MRS+. Test divers also gave it top scores for smooth valve operation and weights that ditch easily without worries of inadvertently dropping them. Along with features like a low-profile shoulder exhaust, great octo and cargo pockets, and an ergonomic inflator, the Prime MRS+ also has the lowest price in its category. It was our Best Buy in Jacket-Style BCs.


Price: $419.95 | Contact:

The Ultralight weighs in at barely 5 pounds, and its flexible back plate folds up for packing. It skips the frills — there are just a few plastic D-rings and one drop-down cargo pocket — but gives up nothing in performance. Test divers praised it for comfort and stability, for integrated weights that are convenient to load and quick to ditch, and for the ergonomic inflator. The Ultralight was both the Testers Choice and the Best Buy in Travel BCs. 


Price: $549 | Contact:

The Dimension’s stability comes from a harness that fits like it’s molded to your back. Curved shoulder straps and swivel buckles work with the back pad and waist strap to keep everything comfortably in place. The Dimension has low profile exhausts throughout, large drop-down cargo pockets, and excellent octo and console pockets. Combining stability and freedom of movement, the Dimension was our Back-Inflation Testers Choice. 


Price: $773.95 | Contact:

Zeagle’s first jacket BC, the Halo earned praise from divers for comfort, fit and rock-solid stability. The Ripcord integrated weights deploy via the single red handle, which is secured by a hook-and-loop strap, and loading the zipper-top weight pockets is a breeze. The Halo has plenty of room for accessories, with seven stainless D-rings and cargo pockets nearly 10 inches deep. The Halo was our Testers Choice for Jacket-Style BCs.
Best Dive Lights of 2016

In the May issue, we tested 15 dive lights in three categories: large lights (over 6 inches), pocket-size lights (less than 6-inches) and photo/video lights.

Dive Light Test Winners

In our Dive Light Review, the Light & Motion Sidekick duo video light, Tovatec Fusion 530 and the XS Scuba LT360 earned the highest ratings.


Price: $150 | Contact:

Smaller than a GoPro, the Sidekick puts out 600 lumens and has both a 90-degree flood beam and a 23-degree spot beam. Made of aluminum, it has a factory-sealed Li-ion battery that burns longer than your GoPro battery. The Sidekick Duo was our Best Buy for the Overall Test.


Price: $114.95 | Contact:

Test divers loved the Fusion 530’s intuitive operation and adjustable beam. The light head lets you change the beam angle during your dive anywhere from 100 degrees to 12 degrees. The rechargeable Li-ion battery is powerful and practical. The Tovatec Fusion 530 was our Testers Choice in the Large Light category.


Price: $170 | Contact:

Just under 6 inches long, the LT360 pumped out 800-plus lumens in our lab test, but what divers really liked about this dive light was the way it controls that power. Rather than set power levels, it has a sliding dimmer switch that lets you select any power level. The LT360 was our Testers Choice in the Pocket Light category.

Best Dive Computers of 2016

In the September/October issue of Scuba Diving, we tested 11 new dive computers in three categories: console, wrist-mount (non-air-integrated) and wrist-mount (air-integrated)

Console and Wrist-Mount Dive Computers

The Oceanic VTX, Aqua Lung i300, Shearwater Perdix and Sherwood Scuba Vision were rated the best dive computers or best values of 2016.


Price: $999.95 | Contact:

That full-color screen might be what first draws you to the VTX, but what keeps you coming back are the functions that make it a pleasure to use. The three-button interface and screen menus are so logical that any diver could pick up the VTX for the first time and easily set and program it without referring to the manual. Beautiful — and beautifully simple — the VTX was our Testers Choice for Air-Integrated Wrist Computers. Video Review: Oceanic VTX


Price: $299 | Contact:

The i300 is aimed at divers who don’t want unnecessary complications. Our test found it scored a bull’s-eye. The screen display has large characters with an uncluttered layout that’s simple to read and understand, and the two-button interface is so easy to operate that it won’t frustrate even the newest diver. Changing from air to nitrox doesn’t require switching modes, just setting the desired PO2. Graphs for tissue loading and ascent rate are clear and understandable, and audible and visual alarms work well together to draw attention to critical data. Also available in two- and three-gauge consoles, the i300 was our Best Buy in the Overall Test.


Price: $840 | Contact:

The Perdix is one of the easiest computers to program and dive with that we’ve ever used. The large display and sharp, multicolor characters make it easy to read, even in full sun. The two-button interface works with simple screen prompts to make it a snap to program, whether setting a nitrox mix or customizing the screen display. Capable of anything from simple rec to advanced tec, the Perdix was our Testers Choice for Non-Air-Integrated Wrist Computers.


Price: $920 | Contact:

Sherwood took the clear display and easy operation of its Wisdom console line, added features including a digital compass, and put it all in a more compact package. The result is a computer that’s capable, intuitive and that consolidates dive data, gas pressure and compass in one instrument. Critical dive info is unmistakable, with displays that read: “SAFETY STOP” and “DECO STOP”. The Vision has a user-replaceable battery and comes with a locking quick-disconnect. The Vision was our Testers Choice for Console Computers.

Best Scuba Masks of 2016

In the January/February issue of Scuba Diving magazine, we tested 15 new dive masks in single- and dual-lens categories.

Best Dive Masks

The top-rated masks in our ScubaLab tests were the IST Sports MP110, the Atomic Aquatics Frameless 2, the Hollis M3, and the OMS Two-Window Frameless.


Price: $45 | Contact:

We ask a lot of a mask — comfort, good field of view, easy adjustment, rugged construction, decent (or at least nongoofy) appearance. But none of those matters much if it leaks like a faucet. The MP110’s performance was notable in that it was able to provide a leak-free seal for all test divers, earning the top score in our test for dryness. The MP110 was our Best Buy for Single-Lens Masks.


Price: $139 | Contact:

The silky-soft silicone skirt of the Frameless 2 delivers a comfortable fit and an unobstructed panoramic view. The frameless design lets the lens sit close to the face for a surprisingly small internal volume. Available in three sizes for optimum fit, the Frameless 2 has easy adjust-buckles and a well-designed strap that earned the highest scores in our test for adjustment and comfort. The Frameless 2 was our Testers Choice for Single-Lens Masks.


Price: $119.95 | Contact:

Several of the dual-lens masks we tested offered a comparable wide-angle view to the M3, but none could match it for comfort and dryness; it took top scores in its category for both. The skirt is soft and firm in the right places, and the frame-mounted buckles swivel both up and down and side to side, which keeps the strap right where you want it. With dive-all-day comfort, the Hollis M3 was our Testers Choice for Dual-Lens Masks.


Price: $58 (clear) | Contact:

The big, deep lenses of the Two-Window Frameless provide a great field of view, and the ultra-wide skirt and frameless construction make for a comfortable fit. The roomy, supple nose pocket was one of our favorites of the test, and the straps are easy to grasp and have keepers that actually stay in place. The Two-Window Frameless was our Best Buy for Dual-Lens Masks.

Best Scuba Regulators of 2016

In the August issue of Scuba Diving magazine, we tested 14 new scuba regulators in two categories: under $500 and over $500.

Top-Rated Scuba Regulators

The best regs of 2016 were the Hollis 100LX/DC3, the Scubapro MK25 EVO/A700 Carbon Black Tech and the Scubapro MK21/C350.


Price: $1,240 | Contact:

This reg is notable for the silky way it breathes, with some divers calling it the smoothest regulator they’d ever used. There’s the handmade carbon fiber, but what’s worth the price here is the performance. The Carbon Black Tech was our Testers Choice in the Over $500 category.


Price: $399.95 | Contact:

With a classy design and nice fit and finish, this looks like it should be a pricier regulator. It performs like it too, taking excellent and very good scores across the board in simulator testing, and earning high marks from test divers for ease of breathing and comfort of the second stage. The 100LX/DC3 was our Best Buy Overall.


Price: $479 | Contact:

Teaming up proven first and second stages, this regulator earned kudos from test divers for easy, comfortable, dry breathing. It also took top scores in simulator testing. The MK21/ C350 was our Testers Choice in the Under $500 category.

source :