This weekend I went to a scuba diving exposition at the Foro Italico in Rome, scubashow.it It ran for 3 days, Friday 19th until Sunday 21st. I went on the Sunday.
I was surprised that it wasn’t that busy. There weren’t as many stands as I would have hoped. There were about 3 or 4 equipment manufactures the rest were scuba schools. After a quick look around we came across something that interested us. Full Faced Masks.
These masks were made by a company called Ocean Reef. It is an integrated mask and second stage. The regulator isn’t kept in your mouth allowing you to breathe through your mouth and nose. Luca, the sales rep, spent some time talking through the mask with us. When he offered that we try it out, we jumped at the chance.
So the first port of call was to get the kit so we could dive (obviously we didn’t bring anything of our own, just our swimsuits). We signed up with the Aqua Lung stand and we managed to organise what we needed. I was given an Apexs XTX 200 (however as I would be using the Ocean Reef Neptune Space I wouldn’t get the change to use it). The BCD was an Aqua Lung PRO LT, this is very similar to the PRO XLT that I am considering buying. The fins were Aqua Lung Hotshots, these were used without boots. We were also given a 7mm Aqua Lung Calypso Semi-dry, I had never used a semi-dry before and was looking forward to trying it out.
All we needed now were weights and cylinders. After waiting what seemed like forever (about an hour and a half) we were ready to go.
The dive wasn’t that exciting as it was in a 5m deep pool. We descended and Fabio (our instructor) gave us a demonstration and talked to us using the communication system. We then swam around a bit, talking to our friend Brad on the surface. It was a lot of fun. I only wish that I had brought my camera so we could have gotten some underwater pictures.
So here is brief review of the kit I used.
Ocean Reef Neptune Space
The mask is so comfortable to wear. It is easy to put on and it includes a SAV (surface air valve) that allows you to breathe above the water without using the air in your cylinder. It also has a communication device that allows you to speak to those that have a receiver unit. You push a button on the side of the mask to talk, holding the button it beeps when ready, you wait one second and then speak slowly and clearly. As the regulator isn’t in your mouth it is possible to breathe through your mouth, this was a novel experience. I did notice that the mask juddered from time to time when I was inhaling, to fix this you open the regulator more, but I found that it didn’t always work for me. Perhaps it is something to get used to.
Clearing the pressure in your ears is slightly different, it requires you to push the mask into your face, two silicon pins block your nose and then you clear by blowing against them. It is definitely something that would take getting used to. I wonder how it would fare on a fast descent. Also the mask covers your mouth so when you are on the surface and you have the mask on you cannot communicate well with those beside you. That said I really enjoyed it but the price tag of 500€ (without the radio) and 800€ (with the radio) is quite steep. It is something to consider once I get
Aqua Lung Hotshots
I found them a little uncomfortable to wear as I wasn’t wearing boots with them. I normally use Hollis F1 Batfins and these are a heavy fin; the Hotshots were very light and I had to fin kick rather than frog kick. Fin kicking was very easy but I couldn’t make much speed with them. I wonder how they would fair in a strong current?
Aqua Lung PRO LT
I have used a similar BCD when I was diving in Malta and I know that I liked it. The pockets on this one expand away from the BCD rather than into it, this means that they are much easier to access. It has integrated and trim weights, both features that I have come to like, once you have dived without a weight belt you want to keep it that way. It has the regular features of most BCDs.
Aqua Lung Calypso 7mm Semi-dry
My first time in a semi-dry and I have to say that I like it. However, I did not like the zip across the shoulders. I was unable to close it myself and I felt that on land restricted my movement, though once in the water I didn’t notice it. The suit did fit well and I was quite dry when I took it off.