Scuba Gear Reviews by Michael s.
Rating: Decent heater 12/21/2011
Im an active instructor and got this for the long cold nights in the pool. First, the good: the heater pack does get warm, and stays that way for about 45 minutes. Its rechargeable, which is very nice. The neoprene belt also adds some insulation on its own. The bad: it doesnt get super hot. Id say its a marginal improvement, but not going to turn a 3mm into a 5mm, but it will extend your bottom time some. It is practically impossible to activate this through a wetsuit. You really need to pinch the activator from both sides. So you cant wait till you get cold and punch it for a wash of warmth. To recharge the heater pack, you need to boil it for AT LEAST 15 minutes. Otherwise, it will not reverse the activator, and will continue the chemical reaction leaving it discharged. Your goal is for as much as possible of it to end up in a liquid state.
Rating: Good entry level reel 12/21/2011
Im an active instructor and was looking for a reel to use for teaching nav and wreck penetration. This is certainly not of Dive Rite or Hollis quality, but it is perfectly fine for navigation. I would be hesitant to use it for deep wreck penetration, but its fine for basics and teaching. First thing to do is lay it out and mark every 5ft, with a different color, mark 15ft, 50ft and 100ft. Just remember, wrapping it around the wreck shortens the measured distance.
Innovative Retractable Compass
Rating: Works like a charm 09/19/2011
Switching to a wireless air integrated computer meant no more console gauge, so I needed a simple compass for teaching (scuba instructor) and personal use. This one did the trick. Its nothing fancy, but solid and functional. Its a little slow to spin and lock on to a bearing, so be patient. Rather than "built in" retractor, think of it as a "built onto" a fairly large retractor, so its not exactly low profile, but the ability to lock the retractor is nice for keeping it close when not in use.
Mares Surface Marker Buoy (SMB)
Rating: good but basic 08/09/2010
The pouch is perfect for BCD pockets, The included line is weak and must be replaced. The cheap reel would probably be a good idea. The way to the bottom helps keep it upright but is not enough. With enough tension to keep it up right, you only get about 2 feet of vertical visibility. Overalll a good value for the money, But if you want a better one get one at least 6ft. long.
Mares Surface Marker Buoy (SMB)
Rating: Decent bouy, minor problems 02/26/2010
This is very much a no-frills bouy. multiple connection points on the bottom are convenient for spear-fishermen, but otherwise useless for divers. Be sure to tie the rope to the front most point. The second inflation pocket on the bottom is designed to be filled with water to give proper bouyance and keep it upright, but I found that too difficult. I just tied a lead fishing weight to the center bottom. The plug for the main air compartment did come unplugged several times and I really had to jam it in there to get it to hold. You definitely want to get some sort of reel for the string or else it will get tangled.
Sherwood Absolute Dry Snorkel
Rating: Good, maybe not great 02/26/2010
No snorkel is "abosutely dry", but this one does pretty good. Comfortable mouthpiece, natural position easy mask mount.