AQUALUNG PRO HD BCD – SHORT REVIEW
The Aqualung Pro HD BCD is a personal favorite of mine. I owned the previous version of this (Seaquest Pro HD, before they were re-branded) for several years and found it an extremely comfortable jacket-style BCD. The air pockets have some structure to them, so the air bubbles doesnt move all over the place (as in some other BCDs) and robust tank support and structure in the back means that the tank stays firmly put, without rolling from side to side.
This BCD has integrated weights and one feature i consider near-essental – trim pockets. These are weight pockets located around your shoulders: by storing 1-2 kg there, you can move the center of your buoyancy higher up, which allows you to get a better, neutral trim (in other words, you can hold any body position you want – horizontal or inclined – without any issues). This system of distributed weights (2 integrated weight pockets and 2 trim pockets) gives you more ditch options: if you are diving in cold water where you need to plan for the contingency of dropping weights, this gives you more options as compared to a weight belt (which is all or nothing).
The Aqualung Pro HD BCD uses a high-denier fabric, which is more robust, more abrasion-proof and less likely to fade or look raggedy over time. Lastly, the BCD comes with more than enough lift to handle cold water diving as well (13kg of lift for a size M). And it has more than enough D-rings and attachment points to hold all your accessories.
As I mentioned earlier, I used to own this many, many years ago and sold it because i was diving with a tech harness only. In terms of price/performance, this is probably one of the best BCDs in the market today, period.
APEKS ATX40 REGULATOR – SHORT REVIEW
I am a creature of habit when it comes to scuba. I don’t chase the latest technology or the fanciest bit of kit (which usually is finicky and more expensive to maintain). I have been diving with the same Cressi Master Frogs for nearly 2 decades. And I have been using Apeks regulators for almost 25 years. Apeks makes very high-end regulators as well, if you want the latest in breathing rates, materials, light weight, etc. etc. And they make bomb-proof, ultra-reliable workhorse mid-end regulators that simply work, work, work without any fuss. I’ve always owned their mid-end line, as that’s where I feel the best value lists – my TX50 has gone down to 94m, has been to the Dorea, has done nearly a 1000 dives in cold water (<10C) and has gone embarrassingly long durations between servicing, and yet has performed reliably. 4000-something dives without any issues.
The Apeks ATX40 is the modern day equivalent of my venerable regulator. It doesnt have the highest-end features and technology (honestly, I dont even know what they are – we are talking regulators, which are basically pressure-assisted springs whose designs haven’t changed for decades). However, what it does have is the following:
– A very robust design
– Very easy to breathe at all depths you are likely to go to as a recreational diver (and then some)
– Cold water suitable
– Adjustable flow rate controls for surface/underwater (to prevent free flows)
– Comfortable mouthpiece
Again, if you want higher-end regulators, we have them for sale. But really, other than trying to save a couple of hundred grams in weight, there is very little in the way of actual, tangible performance benefits that you will notice in real-world diving.
Another price/performance leader, and another one that I have a LOT of experience with, and recommend highly.