There are some sights you just have to see in sharp focus. From hiking in the mountains to watching your favorite sports team from the nosebleed seats, small binoculars can help you make the most out of your adventures. Compact binoculars are a particular favorite for travelers, event attendees, hunters and birdwatchers alike thanks to their ability to enhance an image without being unnecessarily burdensome in their size and weight.
Most people find that compact binoculars are the best option for general purpose use as well rather than a full size set, even if they don’t have a specific hobby that might call for the regular use of binoculars.
No matter how you plan to use them, this guide gives you all the info you need to find the best compact binoculars for the money at a variety of different price points. Before you start exploring your options, take some time to learn more about what sets compact binoculars apart and how to identify the perfect pair for your needs.
Compact Binoculars: 2018 Buyer’s Guide
There are just a few things you should consider when looking for a great pair of binoculars in a compact or lightweight form. The obvious thing like size and weight are specs you should be aware of but you should also be able to understand the magnification and field-of-view specs. These Specs are viewed as MAGNIFICATION X OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER.
Give this guide a thourough look and keep in mind the types of activities you plan to do with your new compact binoculars. This is usually the best way to decide on which pair is going to have the features and specs that are right for you.
Portability and Features
Compact binoculars are the smallest class of binoculars, offering the most portability with respect to size and weight. They’re designed to be easy and comfortable to wear around the neck and portable enough to pack into a backpack or suitcase.
Most compact binoculars usually weigh less than 2 pounds or 850 grams and, some designs even fold so you can tuck them into a jacket pocket when they’re not in use. You can find a range of different price points and features in this category, including compact binoculars with image stabilization to keep your viewing experience smooth and efficient.
This may come as a surprise, but binoculars actually aren’t inherently safe from damage when used in wet conditions. Though they don’t have electronic parts, the buildup of moisture can cause serious problems for delicate internal mechanisms and optical components. Whether you’re planning to go hunting in the rainy Pacific Northwest or you want to take your binoculars out on a boat trip in the Bahamas, you’ll want to err on the side of caution and opt for a pair of waterproof binoculars. The best compact waterproof binoculars tend to be on the spendier side, but the extra upfront cost is worth it for the extra protection you get.
Binocular magnification/power is measured by how many times larger the view is when seen through the lenses. For example, a pair of binoculars with 5x magnification will show you items in the distance at five times their size of what you see with your naked eye.
Some binoculars may offer some sort of zoom, rather than a fixed magnification, so magnification may be listed as a range such as 2-10x. Some binoculars show magnification ranges with a slash, such as 5/10x. This indicates that there are two different fixed-power magnification options that you can switch between. In either case, the magnification range is often listed before a different number. This number after the x indicates the size of the objective lens (the lenses at the very front through which light enters). For example, binoculars listed as 5-20×25 offer a zoom range of 5 through 20 times with objective lenses in a diameter of 25mm.
The zoom is appealing, but it’s not necessarily the best option. Some critics say that even the best compact zoom binoculars deliver unreliable performance, so if you really want a good pair that will stand the test of time, you may want to simply opt for a pair with a single fixed-power magnification option. As you’ll see, many of the highest-rated options in this category offer only a single fixed-power setting. Most users find this sufficient for general use and even specific activities like hunting. Whether you choose multiple magnification settings or not, most compact binoculars do not offer the strongest-possible magnification, typically topping out around 12x. If you know you need more power than that, you might need a larger binocular style.
Visibility and Field of View (FOV)
The amount of light that enters binocular lenses has a big impact on how clear your point of view will be while looking through the eyepieces. Many people assume that, because compact binoculars tend to have small objective lenses, they don’t provide as much brightness as binoculars with larger objective lenses. While lens size is important, it’s not the only factor in determining how bright your view will be.
The best rated compact binoculars tend to balance out a smaller lens size with better materials to deliver the best-possible view. The quality and clarity of the glass used for all the lenses and internal parts makes a big difference, and cutting-edge lens coatings can further improve brightness regardless of lens size.
Field of View, or the amount of the magnified area you can see through the eyepieces, is another important visual element to consider. Binocular field of view is measured in feet based on the width of the space you can see from 1,000 yards away. Many binoculars let you adjust field of view, but some of the less expensive models may not offer this feature. If you’re going to be doing something that requires a broad view, such as watching a concert in an arena, you’ll want to find the widest field of view possible.
A broad field of view is also useful for bird watching and hunting because you’ll be less likely to lose sight of a fast-moving animal. This means that the best compact binoculars for bird watching tend to be those that allow you to see a panoramic view of the landscape around you. The trade-off of a larger field of view is usually size and weight as the binoculars will need to be equipped with larger diameter obective lenses.
Price doesn’t necessarily determine quality when it comes to finding the best compact travel binoculars. Though some features, like waterproofing and high-quality optical glass, do tend to cost more, the overall quality of the binoculars, from the exterior housing to the lenses inside, doesn’t necessarily correlate directly to where that pair falls on the pricing spectrum. It’s more important to know the specific details that define quality for each individual pair of compact binoculars rather than price alone.
Believe it or not the quality of glass can have a huge impact on the image quality achieved by a set of binoculars. Carl Zeiss was a pioneer in the arena of optical glass and founded the company known as ZEISS which supplies many different manufacturers with lenses used in all sorts of devices ranging from cameras to binoculars. Great glass will certainly improve the image but it will also contribute to premium prices.
This high quality glass is engineered to provide distortion free images. It is also manufactured with the highest quality standards to ensure there few to no imperfections in the class which can degrade the viewing quality.
Binoculars use prisms for a variety of reasons, but the main reason is image correction and achieving the magnification in such a small device. When light enters the objective lens the image is inverted so a prism is used to allow the viewer to see the scene correctly. These complex lens arrangements also serve to reduce the size of binoculars. There are a few configurations and prism types but the basics can seen in the graphic below.
Lens coatings are used to achieve many different affects on the lens. These coatings and lens films serve to reduce glare and reflection, or even increase light transmission and increase color vibrancy. Lens coatings can absolutely improve the viewing experience through binoculars but keep in mind they can be costly. It is a price some are willing to pay to have the best small binoculars available!
- Coated: Thin anti-reflective coating on one or more lenses.
- Fully Coated: Thin anti-reflective coating on both sides of each lens and the long side of the Prism.
- Multi-Coated: Multiple coatings on one or more lenses
- Fully Multi-coated: Multiple coatings on all lens surfaces.
- Phase coating:: Common in most bird watching binoculars, this coating is used in Roof-Prisms to correct for light waves going out of phase which causes interference in the form of reduced sharpness and brightness.
The Best Compact Binoculars – Top 5 Reviews
These five options represent the cream of the crop in the world of compact binoculars. Remember that while the most expensive options tend to have more features, they aren’t necessarily the automatic best choice. This is especially true if you’re planning to use your binoculars in rugged conditions in which they might be at risk for damage.
Waterproof and fog-proof, these compact Bushnell binoculars are rugged and ready for just about anything. Their rubberized exterior coating absorbs shock, making them useful in rough terrain, and their optical components are multi-coated for superior light delivery and image quality. With a slight fold at the center hinge and twist-up eye cups for users with glasses, these binos are a great choice for most casual users. They’re even small and durable enough for kids to use with minimal supervision, and their intuitive, simple operation is generally user friendly across different age groups.
Sure, they’re inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean that these binos aren’t a great choice. Bushnell is a trusted optics brand, and the this model offers a compact 4-inch length and dependable performance at a reasonable price point. They don’t provide bells and whistles beyond the basic high quality optics and easy-grip, shock-absorbing rubber coating, but if you aren’t looking for more than portable waterproof magnification, these may be the ideal choice for you. They may be a little difficult to open and close at the center hinge, but at a low price tag of less than $50, that might be a worthwhile trade-off if the visuals are what really matters to you.
These are a great choice for someone needing a waterproof option. If you need even better low light performance than the 25mm objective lens provides, check out the Bushnell H2O Series 10X42
Bushnell H2O Series Key Features
- FOV: 341ft. @ 1,000 yards
- Waterproof/Fog proof
- BaK-4 prisms
These all-terrain binoculars are a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts looking for a ruggedly reliable pair of binos from a world-renowned manufacturer. With waterproof and fogproof construction and antireflective lenses featuring multicoated clarifying power, Nikon’s Trailblazer ATB compact binoculars are a powerfully rugged choice for those seeking well-made and portable equipment for all their endeavors.
The 10x magnification and generous field of view makes these binoculars a particularly good choice for use in heavily wooded areas, further demonstrating value for ornithologists. And while that magnification factor isn’t so powerful that it’s overwhelming in the brush, it’s strong enough for hikers and others to take in far-off scenery in greater detail. On top of all that, these binos feature a streamlined, efficient design with a rubberized grip that gives you just the right range of functions in a hard-to-drop package. The optics on these compact Nikon binoculars is so crisp and clear that you’ll actually avoid eye strain over long periods of use, adding yet more value to this powerful and appealing option.
Nikon Trailblazer ATB, 10×25 Key Features
- FOV: 342ft. @ 1,000 yards
- Waterproof/Fog proof
- Relative Brightness: 6.3
- Multi Coated Lenses
Outclassing most competitors in this field in terms of its field of view, these Pentax binos are an excellent choice if panoramic views are a high priority. The trade-off is that their uni-body design isn’t quite as compact as some competitors when the eyepieces fold in for storage, but with a length and width of less than 5 inches each, that may not be an issue for many users. Plus, they weigh in at just over a half a pound, making them one of the lightest options even among this generally petite binocular category.
Another feature that really sets the Pentax 8.5×21 U-Series Papilio II apart is the fact that they have a 20-inch minimum focus distance, which allows you to magnify objects that are up close and personal. You can inspect plants, flowers, sand and other details and then adjust your focus distance out into the horizon to get a closer look at a mountain or a ship out at sea. Overall, these binoculars offer a great range of functions, but they aren’t waterproof, which might be a deal breaker for some users.
Pentax U-Series Papilio II Key Features
- FOV: 315ft. @ 1,000 yards
- Fully Multi-Coated Optics
- Tripod Ready
If you want a compact pair of binoculars that spares nothing when it comes to quality, the Zeiss Terra 10×42 ED is among the best compact bird-watching binoculars on the market. Though these are on the larger end of the spectrum when it comes to compact form, the larger objective lens allows more light in allowing the Terra ED to shine in low light conditions. If size the size is an issue but you don’t want to compromise the quality, definitely check out the Zeiss Victory Compact Binoculars
This particular model of Zeiss binoculars are so affordable because they are not manufactured in Germany like the Victory model above. These are manufactured in China using all of the same technology available in other every other Zeiss binocular model. This allows them to offered up comparably affordable. That said, the build quality isn’t quite as great as other Zeiss models but you are getting the same great glass which is what is most important.
Zeiss proprietary hydrophobic multi-coated optics are excellent at resisting dust, dirt, and oils while improving light transmission, color rendition, sharpness, and contrast. The focus wheel is also very fast and easy to use making sure you get your targets in focus quicker not missing critical viewing moments. For anyone ready to take their binocular collection to the next level but reluctant about spending so much money, this is a great set to start with.
Zeiss Terra Key Features
- FOV: 330ft. @ 1,000 (8x zoom)
- Extra Low-Dispersion SCHOTT Glass
- 5.25ft Min Focal Distance
- Extremely Comfortable Eye-cups
- Zeiss Hydrophobic Multi-Coated Optics
If you’re ready to make a significant investment in compact binoculars, the Canon 10×42 IS II offers top-of-the line function with a full complement of features that allow you to take on any situation. In spite of the large lens size, these binos weigh less than 2.5 pounds and are less than 7 inches long and 5.5 inches wide, settling them firmly in the compact category. Waterproof construction and state-of-the-art image stabilization technology mean you can use these compact binos rain or shine from any vehicle or terrain. With superior ability to smooth out and account for bumps and jolts, you could even use these binoculars to spy on wild animals from the back of an off road expedition truck.
These compact binoculars are a first for Canon, combining the optics manufacturer’s famed image stabilizers with superior waterproofing. The image stabilizer is activated with a simple push of a button, and while it does require battery power, you can easily stash a spare set of 2 AA batteries in the padded carrying case that comes with each new Canon 10×30 IS II. This is truly a top-of-the-line option for those who want compact size without sacrificing any additional tech features.
Canon IS II Key Features
- FOV: 328ft. @ 1,000 yards
- Excellent Light Retention
- Superb Image Stabilization
- Porro II Prisms
“Best Compact Binoculars For Birdwatching”
Any serious birdwatcher knows that Nikons Monarch line of binoculars are great choice for bird watchers looking to get serious when it comes to quality, durability, and overall ability when out in the field. The Monarchs provide exceptional image quality and are very durable all provided at an accessible price.
These compact binoculars from Nikon are all terrain, waterproof, fog-proof and have extra-low dispersion (ED) glass to enhance brightness and color accuracy. The Monarchs ergonomic ergonomics have proved to be incredibly comfortable and lightweight allowing users to use them over extended viewings without becoming burdensome.
The Monarch 7 8×42 provides an exceptional wide field of view that makes it easy to find and focus in on your subject. Prism coatings provide accurate color reproduction and high-contrast images even in fair light conditions. The rubber coating and weather-proof housing makes these compact binoculars resistant to harsh condition as well providing a long useful life. If you are looking for an upgrade to an intermediately priced binocular for bird watching these are one of the best options.
Nikon Monarch Key Features
- FOV: 420ft. @ 1,000 yards
- Excellent Light Retention
- Fully Coated
- Roof prisms with phase-correction
- Nitrogen-filled housing for fog/water-proofing
Choosing a pair of binoculars can be daunting but I hope that we’ve made it just a bit easier for you and you choose a pair perfect for whatever adventure you have in store. As always, leave a comment letting us know about your favorite pair!
If you are in the market for the best duck call, you are in luck. With decades of duck hunting experience, I have had the opportunity to try out duck calls in the field from just about every manufacturer including Duck Commander, Haydel’s, Primos, Rich-N-Tone, Zink and many more. If you are just starting your search, check out the buyer’s guide guide or jump straight into the list of the best duck calls, most of which can be had for under $50.
Every year, August approaches and I start my search for the latest and greatest duck hunting gear and I usually start with duck calls. Since there isn’t much that changes from year to year, other than the colors and looks, I can check that off pretty quick. I have done this for years now and have become the go to person in the hunting club for duck calls.
Growing up in south Louisiana I had access to some of the best duck hunting in all of North America. If you are not familiar with the Mississippi Flyway, it is a 2,300 mile North to South stretch of watershed along the Mississippi River. This is the most heavily used migration corridor for waterfowl and other birds in North America.
I have hunted up and down this corridor all of my life, and frequent the famous coastal marshlands of Louisiana, flooded timbers of northern Louisiana and Arkansas which I first learned about watching the Duckmen VHS tapes as a kid, like the clip below. Another popular venue are the crawfish ponds littered throughout the state which also serve as rice fields part of the year. The only constant in these extremely different habitats is the duck calls and duck decoys. Even then, you will use different styles of calls and different decoy spreads.
Having easy access these famed hunting areas, you get to networked with so many great hunters and trade tips and tricks. Although, you also learn quickly that no one will give up their hot spots! One of my favorite topics aside getting updates on where they are flying (marsh, fields, or timber) is what duck calls folks are using and are they seeing more success with one or the other.
I have tried pretty much every duck call out there over the years and for the most part there are just are two types of calls in a couple of configurations. I have put together a very comprehensive guide to help you sort out the details and decide the best duck call to put on your lanyard for the different habitats hunters will frequent. Feel free to drop a comment any questions as well.
How To Choose: A Guide to Duck Calls and Whistles
There are really only two types of duck calls you will commonly find on the shelves of stores. The traditional reed-based duck call that produces the quack sounds most people are familiar with. The other is the whistle, which most newcomers to the sport aren’t previously aware of.
At minimum you are going to want at least one reed type duck call and one whistle. This will provide you an arsenal of different call types you can achieve when trying to call the ducks into your decoy spread. I am most certain that you will likely fill up your lanyard with 5-6 calls if you are anything like me and want to be ready use the most nuanced of duck calling techniques.
Whatever the call, it should be able to make these basic calls; the quack, the feed call, and the hail/comeback call. The “quack” is the most used in hunting and is a short, sharp note. The feed call is a bit more difficult and is a sequence of rapid short notes of varying pitch that ducks make while feeding. The hail/comeback call are the loudest and longest notes, typically used to attract the attention of far-away ducks.
Reed type calls reproduce the quack sound made by mallards which is the most prevalent and hunted ducks. However, the quack isn’t exclusive to the mallard so manufacturers also make calls tailored to other duck species as well.
When searching for duck calls you really only have two things to look out for. Reed configuration and the material the duck call is made out of. These two things will determine how the call performs, and how the call will sound.
- SINGLE REED: This configuration of duck call is extremely versatile but that versatility comes at the cost of difficulty in mastering. Since there is only one reed in this configuration there is less resistance and forgiveness to the air that passes and causes the vibration of the reed. This requires greater control over the air you blow and tongue position which usually takes a while to master.
Difficulty aside, a single reed configuration will allow you to produce louder calls which are great in open fields/water, which will reach ducks off in the distance. It will also allow you to produce a wider variety of sounds, allowing an expert caller to mimic the sound of several duck species with a single call.
- DOUBLE REED: A much more forgiving configuration, double reed calls are much easier to use and are the recommended style duck hunters just starting to use a duck call for the first time.
This beginner friendly style of call is much more forgiving when using the louder hail or comeback call as well as quieter more controlled “quack” call. A newcomer can pick this call up and produce a decent sound with minimal practice. PRO TIP: The better quality calls will come closer to sounds and loudness that single reed calls achieve.
- TRIPLE REED: You can expect the same performance out of the triple reed as a double reed but at an even more subdued degree. Pushing air past a three reeds requires more air to produce the same affect giving you more room for error. It also produces a much raspier tone much like the double reed than a single reed. PRO TIP: Calls with multiple reeds are prone to having the reeds freeze together after they have been used in extreme temperature. Keep the calls tucked into a jacket when not being used.
There are three common materials that duck calls are made of which include, wood, plastic/polycarbonate, and acrylic. Each material will have distinct characteristics as well as pros and cons to them.
- WOOD: The very first duck calls were made out of wood and it is a time tested material. You can expect wood to have particular characteristics like having a softer & smoother tone and being somewhat quieter than its poly and acrylic counterparts. The best wood for duck calls will depend on the type of call you plan to use it for but they perform best in timber hunts or close encounters. Soft tone woods like Cedar, Mahogany, and Rosewood will provide richer yet softer, quieter sound. Hard woods like Cocobolo, Walnut, and Maple will produce louder sharper sounding calls.
High quality wood duck calls can produce some of the most realistic duck sounds. The best duck calls made from wood are usually cheaper than the acrylic calls as well. The downside of wood calls is that the can be sensitive to temperature change and moisture, but this is dependent on the wood used and the finishing techniques. Durability concerns can also be minimized with proper care and use. PRO TIP: Purchase wood calls with brass or steel rings which will prevent splitting.
- ACRYLIC: The most popular choice among hunters for high-end duck calls is without a doubt acrylic. Acrylic calls are the most durable, long lasting calls that produce loud and accurate sounds. The high density material produces loud yet crisp tones allowing hunters to achieve extreme control in their calling.
The only downside if there has to be one, is the cost of an acrylic duck call. Acrylic calls are usually the most pricey duck calls by a healthy margin. I have seen some acrylic models top $150, by comparison I have yet to see a wood or poly call top $100 much less $75.
- PLASTIC/POLYCARBONATE: Polycarbonate and high-impact plastic calls have come a long way as formulas have got better. Poly calls can have similar characteristics to the pricier acrylic calls but a much cheaper price. These duck calls are durable and will last a long time even under a good amount of abuse. Plastic calls will be even cheaper and have slightly different characteristics than polycarbonate.
While the characteristics of poly calls are similar to acrylic, this material will not be as sharp/precise as acrylic, and as forgiving or realistic as wood calls. That said, the cheaper priced polycarbonate calls are usually the best duck calls for beginners, while the high-end models are great for more experienced callers.
If you are new to the duck hunting world you may not have realized but some species of ducks are also known to make a whistling call or sound. These include the Mallard Drake, Teal Drake, Pintail Drake, and Wigeon. This is must have on the duck call lanyard as it is cheap and extremely versatile, mimicking the call of several species in a single whistle.
There a several variations of the duck whistle ranging from the very straight forward in which the whistle is made to make none other than a whistle sound. Then there are the whistles that have things like little balls within the whistle that roll around attempting to make varying duck sounds without much work from the caller.
Personally, I think the popular 6-1 whistle that several manufactures make variants of is all you will ever need. This plastic call is cheap and can mimic all of the whistling duck sounds as well as dove and quail.
WOOD DUCK CALL
Technically this is not a whistle call, in fact, it is a reed call. However, it creates such a high pitch sound, almost like a squeal, folks sometime think of it as a whistle. That said, the same characteristics that affect reed calls above apply to wood duck calls. The best wood duck calls are going to be made from poly or acrylic as they will achieve the sharp sounding squeal or chirp better than wood can.
Now that I have covered everything you need to consider in a duck call, you should consider the types of conditions and areas you regular hunt when choosing the best duck call for your needs. For example, if you hunt flooded timber a lot, a wooden duck or one in a double or triple reed configuration may suit you perfectly as you won’t need a loud call like you would if you were calling ducks in from far away in an open field on a windy day.
The 7 Best Duck Call Reviews
These are the best duck calls on the market right now and are revered by hunters and serious duck callers alike. I as well as all of my hunting buddies have great success using these calls and I’m certain you will too.
Probably one of the best all around duck calls on the market, the Triple Threat is an easy to blow triple reed duck call that is versatile, durable, and sounds great. With this call you won’t be sky busting anymore since even the inexperienced will likely be calling flocks into decoy spreads.
It is designed to easily replicate the Mallard hen quack, feed call, and hail call. The Triple Threat’s ability to mimic the low gravel tones for mature hens to high scratchy pitch for young hens is pretty impressive. Another great thing about this call is how easily it is to clean and tune.
If there were anything negative about this call is the lack of a lanyard ring but with a little creativity anyone can make it work. The feeder call doesn’t excel with this call either but again, an experienced caller can make it work or you can load up another on the lanyard for the feed call. If you have had trouble in past finding success with calls, I highly recommend the Triple Threat.
The Double Nasty is an outstanding double reed call that achieves both the raspiness and the range of a single reed call in an easy to blow barrel. Outfitted with Buck Gardner’s Spit Tech, this calls has the ability to resist sticking of the reeds giving callers consistent performance.
Another great thing about this call is the control you get. I find it incredibly versatile and can achieve a variety of calls including the feed call with great precision and control. The poly-carbonate barrel combined with Spit Tech makes this a great all weather call that is very durable.
If you are looking for versatility and durability you will definitely be impressed with the Double Nasty and the best part is how affordable this call is. If you haven’t tried this call, I highly recommended and the best part is it is so easy use you can let the little ones give it ago and see their face when calling ducks into the spread.
One of the best finisher duck calls I have found, the Duck Commander Camo Max was specifically designed to use for those close up encounters with ducks. If you are having trouble with ducks circling the blind just out of shooting range, this call will seal the deal or at least give you the best chance at finishing it.
The Camo Max is a highly durable solid plastic call finished in a Realtree Max 4 camo pattern that keeps this call hidden in the blind. The call gives a precise mallard hen sound blown soft or loud and brings them ducks in! It is important to point out this is definitely a duck call the falls into the specialty or niche category. It is not as versatile as other calls on the list but it serves its purpose extremely well.
If you haven’t found a duck call to finish the job this is it! The best part is for a specialty call, it won’t break the bank to pick this one up along with a few others to have an arsenal of calls at the ready. Finally, If you are worried how it fairs reaching ducks at distance, an experienced caller should have no problem working it.
Haydel’s Game Calls #1 seller, the Deceiver is a great duck call that is fully adjustable using a floating double reed system. Another duck call perfect for the beginner, this affordable call is easy to blow and is quite loud.
The plastic construction is not as robust as others which makes it prone to freezing in extreme conditions but keeping it tucked inside your jacket or pocket you won’t have to worry too much about that. This call is surprisingly loud for a double reed system which allows for reaching those far away flocks.
This is a tried and true call that many hunters rely on with great success, and if you need a call that just works this will certainly fill that role. Another versatile call that fits in well with any expanded collection.
If you are looking for a premium call made from wood, the Timber Hunter is one of the best duck calls made of wood and won’t break the bank like some others. A single reed call that utilizes a custom crafted wooden barrel, it is a very nice looking call.
The the combination of the single reed with a wooden barrel will allow you to achieve both loud and low raspy calls easily. The wood allows you achieve a warm natural tone while being an easy to blow call. Blowing too hard on this call will not really produce an off putting sound like other single reed calls so beginners will have good success with this call as well.
If you want a nice looking wooden duck call, the Timber hunter is certainly one to check out. Rich-N-Tone is a very respectable company and they make very high quality duck calls that are highly recommended. Grab the Timber Hunter for a different calling experience compared to the more common plastic and poly calls.
The Faulk’s Deluxe duck call is a great wooden duck call made of walnut that is tuned for smooth, natural mallard tones. What you see is what you get with this call and most folks I know that use love the consistency they get from this call.
The wood construction also makes it great at resisting freezing compared to the plastic and poly duck calls. This duck call also has a nice raspy sound to it that mallards love. I have also found great success calling in Gadwalls more than any of my other calls.
If you are looking for a classic looking and sounding call that won’t break the bank, this call is just what you need. It meets both of those criteria and is a nice addition to a collection if all you own are poly or acrylic duck calls.
Zink’s Nothing But Green is the only acrylic call on my list because it is one of the best acrylic duck calls on the market and since they are so expensive there aren’t many that are worth it. This duck call is best in the hands of expert callers due to the price, but in those expert hands it will wow you.
Nothing But Green is one of the most versatile calls in the Zink line and in the hands of an advanced caller, you will have no trouble getting a limit even on the quietest of days. It has a substantial, ringing high end and a low end feeder chuckle that will absolutely grab their attention. The advanced design of this call allows you to sound like multiple hen mallards, effectively creating a cone of sound that is certain to grab their attention.
The Z-Cut no-stick tone board allows a huge range of sounds and virtually eliminate any reed lock and sticking. The call comes complete with an extra reed, instructional DVD, Zink leg band, and a protective hard case. If you have the cash, and are a confident caller, this is the acrylic duck call you want.
The 3 Best Wood Duck Calls & Whistle Reviews
Hailed as the best Wood Duck call of the market, the Robertsons and the Duck Commander team have taken their decades of experience hunting Mallards and Wood Ducks in the flooded timbers and created the most effective wood duck out there. The D-1 is a single reed, high impact plastic call will produce consistent calls while standing up to abuse in the field.
As I said above in the guide, a Wood Duck call sounds nothing like a traditional quack sound, but this call mimics a Wood Duck like no other. Each call is individually tuned and blown prior to shipping out so you can be sure this call will offer a variety of accurate flying and sitting sounds of the Wood Duck.
This call does take a bit of practice to produce the proper sound but there are a ton of YouTube videos to reference to get you started. Once you get your bearings this is also a great in the late season as a confidence call to attract wary ducks. With this call you’ll be knocking woodies down like never before.
As far as duck whistles go, this is one of the easiest manual whistles out on the market. Perfect for the kids or beginner callers in the blind to compliment the reed calls. This 6 in 1 call will mimic calls from six different species including, Teal Drake, Pintail Drake, Mallard Drake, Wigeon Drake, Dove, Quail.
I like to refer to this call as the gumbo call because of all of the possibilities packed into this tiny little call. This is duck whistle is a must have on any duck call lanyard. You just can not beat this call as it is cheap, versatile, and can even double as your dog whistle out in the field.
After picking up the Duck Commander 6 in 1 Duck Whistle be sure to head over to YouTube and grab some tips. You will hit the ground running with this call after learning a few things from those videos.
While not as versatile as the 6 in 1, Primos High roller takes some of the guess work off of you and produces the whistle of the Pintail, Mallard drake, Wigeon and teal with little manual work on your part. The built-in ball creates the fluttering sounds made by ducks with only a simple blow of the call.
Another great duck call for the beginner or kids, for its ease of use and durable plastic build. A great grab and go call for anyone to have on the lanyard.
I hope that you found the duck call guide useful and found duck call that worked best for the situations and habitats you hunt in. If you have a favorite call that isn’t on the list drop us a comment and let us know what you have had success with. If you are looking for more hunting gear, check out our compact binoculars guide which are great for hunters.
Don’t forget to grab a lanyard when you start build that collection, personally I have found the Delta Duck Para-cord Lanyard to be the best lanyard for duck calls. It doesn’t really tangle and has been quite durable over many seasons.
Cressi Travelight vs Oceanic Biolite: Travel BCD Comparison Review 2018
TLP’s pick for the best travel BCD is the Oceanic Biolite mostly for the back inflation style and durability! Cressi’s Travel Light went up against the Biolite as it is the best jacket style travel BCD that has enough functionality to be used as a primary scuba BCD as well! Read on for an in depth comparison of the two best travel BCDs.
If you are in the market for a travel BCD and aren’t really sure what to look for in a scuba BCD specifically made for dive travel, you aren’t alone. Gone are the days of free baggage check on most airlines. This has left divers in need of light equipment capable of folding down to a compact form. You can certainly travel with a standard BCD if you choose to pay the additional travel cost or can spare the room but with all the gear divers travel with it is very difficult. You can view that list of top Scuba BCDs and guide here!
Scuba BCDs designed for dive travel will usually have most or all of the same useful features of a regular scuba BCD but they may not have as many and may be constructed of light material. You will find travel BCDs in both jacket style and back inflation style which is great as you won’t be limited to limited in your choices.”
After years of trying out many different travel BCDs, along with my scuba diving peers, we chose both the CRESSI TRAVELIGHT TRAVEL BCD and the OCEANIC BIOLITE TRAVEL BCD as our top picks! Why did we choose two? Basically, some of us prefer a back inflation scuba BCD and others prefer the jacket style! Despite our preference for a particular style, we all agree that each of these were the best travel BCDs for each style.
Check out the reviews of the CRESSI TRAVELIGHT or OCEANIC BIOLITE below!
Cressi Travelight: The Best Jacket Style Travel BCD
It is no secret that the Cressi Travelight is well regarded and a very popular travel BCD. A few of my friends have used this BCD for many years and continue to enjoy it. This BCD is just like any of the traditional jacket style BCDs but Cressi has designed it for the traveling diver. Cressi has reduced the weight of the Travelight as well as enabling it to be folded down to a compact form.
By carefully selecting strong but light materials, you are able to fold down this BCD to be packed into a very small carry bag that Cressi includes with the purchase. The 210-Denier nylon bladder has been reinforced with urethane by laminating it to the interior providing extra strength. Cressi has also used alloy D-rings in place of stainless steel rings to further reduce the weight.
Amazingly, Cressi was still able to utilize a fully integrated weight system in the Travelight while still maintaining a light and compact form. It is also equipped with more traditional features like lower rear and right shoulder pull dumps, an inflator pull dump, and manual deflation from the inflator assembly. These feature combined with two pockets for storage, a fully adjustable harness system, and the padded back pad with twin cylinder cam bands makes the Travelight a fully capable scuba BCD.
Loading the Travelight with all of these features provides the diver the ability to use this as a primary BCD as well as a travel BCD. For someone who is a frequent travel diver and can’t really afford two BCD’s this is the perfect solution. Being halfway across the world and having the confidence that your scuba BCD is fully equipped definitely improves your dive experience.
Some of the great things I have noted about the Travelight is its incredible light weight (just around 5 lbs), extremely small when packed down, and of course the full array of features. It is also incredibly comfortable both on the spine where the tanks sits as well as how it hugs me and secures to my body with the adjustable cummerbund. It also dries out incredibly fast, so I have been able to dive in the morning and fly out the same evening with a dry packed BCD.
There is usually a bit of bad when you hear of something so great but I have only heard of a one or two instances and personally seen one instance of many. I know someone who had a seam come undone but Cressi provided great service to remedy the issue and offered a replacement if the BCD couldn’t be repaired. The other thing to consider may be a given to a few but considering this is travel BCD, the lift capacity is slightly less than that of a traditional jacket style BCD.
All in all, this is a great jacket style travel BCD and everyone I know who owns one has been consistently satisfied. If you prefer jacket style BCDs and need something for travel, the Travelight is one of the best options on the market and priced very affordable for such a well-rounded and feature rich travel BCD.
Oceanic Biolite: The Best Back Inflation Travel BCD
When it comes to back inflation, the Oceanic Biolite is a stellar travel BCD. It has the perfect balance of features and benefits of a travel BCD. Even as I tried many other outstanding models like the Zeagle Scout, the Oceanic Biolite is simply the best back inflation travel BCD currently on the market. Underwater this is an amazingly freeing setup. The majority of the BCD is neatly tucked behind you.
A simple, clean, and straight forward design is what I enjoy so much about the Biolite. It weighs a mere 5.5 lbs and packs down to an unbelievably small footprint. Oceanic was able to equip the Biolite with a very low profile bladder by utilizing a flexible material that stretches and conforms to your body. The material is able to stretch while remaining airtight allowing Oceanic to use a smaller air cell, creating less bulk and drag underwater. I am able to move freely and comfortably in any conditions I dive in.
The harness on the Biolite has several adjustment points allowing you to achieve a very good fit and improve you comfort while diving. My female dive partner is able to wear the same BCD and finds it very comfortable when adjusted for her. The straps are also contoured and never touch my neck and rest perfectly in the middle of the back. The padding on the back is very comfortable and have had no issues with discomfort.
It also has a very convenient integrated weight system that also feature a quick release system. Another thing I like about the this BCD is the two weighted tank band pockets as they definitely improve the stability in the water. It only takes a few dives to get the trim weights and the BCD position perfect before you are effortlessly maintaining a horizontal position with a pivot point level with the weight pockets. I could predictably glide from a horizontal to semi-vertical and back by just by bending my knees and adjusting my folded arm position. That was a great feeling!
When I first tried the Oceanic Biolite the first thing I noticed was the incredible lift capacity. I was expecting it to be on par with some of the other travel BCDs. I have been able to dive in cold water gear no problem as the Biolite has ample lift capacity to counter all of my gear. There aren’t any pockets which might bother some but fortunately there are accessory belts for the days you need them. On the other hand it has two poly D-Rings and a few other attachments points which carabiners can utilize and I am always able to attach every piece of gear I typically dive with.
With such durable construction you can be assured that the Biolite will last you many years. The incredible durable construction and 1000D denier Cordura fabric in crucial areas will give you the confidence to travel with this BCD and not experience any failures. I have been in and around caves and reefs and there are little to no abrasion marks on my BCD.
The Oceanic Biolite is such a great option for both warm and cold water dive travel. For the recreational diver, you can pack this BCD in luggage and be assured you are perfectly equipped for any dive you embark on. You will not be more thrilled with this BCD. If you need a minimal setup without compromising durability, or just want to travel more efficiently definitely check out the Biolite.
The Best Scuba Diving BCD: Recreation, Travel, Tec…It’s On Our List
It is important for divers to find the best scuba BCD for their needs because a buoyancy compensator is one of the most expensive investments you can make into your scuba diving gear aside from a dive computer. Your scuba BCD will also be one of the most important pieces of gear and can be the largest contributor to an improved diving experience. When you are familiar with your scuba BCD, you will be more comfortable underwater and know exactly where to access other equipment you have attached to it.
Owning your own buoyancy compensator will allow you to get familiar with all of its intricacies. You will have an easier time trimming underwater, finding neutral buoyancy quickly, and accessing dive tools like your dive knife or under water flashlight.
With all of the models out there to choose from, the search can get tiring, but I will keep it simple and help you find a good scuba diving BCD to suit your needs. I have including a simple guide and the choices on my list range from the best beginner scuba BCD to the best travel BCD and everything in between.
Let’s jump right in to our list of best scuba BCDs and quick guide to find right buoyancy compensator for you!
Guide: How To Find The Best Buoyancy Compensator
If you have been searching for a scuba diving buoyancy compensator you may be overwhelm with the choices and styles. Luckily, between myself and my local dive group we have tried many of the best (and worst) buoyancy compensators on the market. With that experience you begin to understand the features that are great, some that are gimmicky, and some that really improve the performance of a buoyancy compensator.
Like most dive equipment, think of the types of diving you do and this short scuba diving BCD guide will help you narrow down the list to the dive BDC that is best for you. You will learn all of the different styles and features of popular models, and then you can use the handy table to sort on the features that are important to your needs. Below the table you will find a short review of the best scuba BCDs and their features.
TYPES OF BUOYANCY COMPENSATORS
There are few different styles to look out for when searching for a dive BC. For beginners it is usually best to go with a jacket BCD as it will offer the easiest solution for inexperienced divers.
The JACKET BCD is the most common style of dive bc and great for those just entering the sport. The air bladder on a jacket style BCD typically wraps the torso and around the back and when inflated, provides equal support in lift around the diver. This is great for beginners as it is extremely stable in all positions on the surface and underwater, as well as being easier to control underwater.
The BACK INFLATION/WING BCD places the air bladder behind the diver which provides a more comfortable diving experience. This allows for easier arm movement and less clutter in front of the diver. Back inflation also helps divers maintain perfect horizontal trim underwater. The main complaint of the back inflation is divers transitioning from jacket BCDs is the tendency to push divers face forward on the surface. This can be easily remedied with the use of trim weights positioned on the tank or rear of diver.
The HYBRID BCD incorporates the best of both the jacket style and back inflation style in terms of recreational use. The Hybrid BCD air bladder is designed to provide less front clutter than the traditional jacket style and a comfortable horizontal diving position that the wing BCD usually provides. The unique design still allows for a comfortable upright position for the diver as well.
The TRAVEL BCD can be full featured or not, jacket style, or back inflation style. The main difference in travel BCDs is their ability to pack down and fold into a very small footprint to be packed into a suitcase. They are also made to be lighter than a regular dive BC and usually by limiting the features you might usually have.
The BACKPLATE & WING BCD (not to be confused with wing style above) is widely considered the most versatile setup and is the most common among tech divers. You can achieve virtually every combination of setup with this dive BC style by purchasing individual components to be assembled to the design of your choice. There is almost unlimited combinations in backplates, wing design/size, and harness design & hardware when putting together the backplate and wing system. This system, however is usually reserved for the experienced diver who is usually conducting more advanced dives such as technical deep dives, cave diving, and wreck penetration. Putting together a good system requires great knowledge and experience.
Lift capacity is the measurement of weight the buoyancy compensator hold in positive buoyancy (keeping the diver above water) when fully inflated. If you carry a lot of gear or extra weight to counter the positive buoyancy of a thicker wetsuit in cold water diving, you should keep this measurement in mind. If your dive BC doesn’t have enough lift capacity you might struggle to stay afloat on the surface.
In general you can follow this lift capacity guide to figure out how much lift you may need.
- Tropical Diving (little to no wetsuit protection) – 12 to 24 lbs
- Recreational Diving (full wetsuit or dry suit) – 20 to 40 lbs
- Technical Diving (loaded with equipment, multiple tanks, etc) – 40 to 80 lbs
ATTACHMENT POINT AND STORAGE
Storage and attachment is important to consider if you dive with a lot of scuba accessories and dive tools. You will need to either attach your gear to D-rings or loops for a carabiner or stow you dive tools in pockets. Pockets are great for a backup scuba mask or small dive knives and rings are great for dive torches.
Pockets will either have Velcro or zippers to secure them closed and zippers being the most secure. D-rings are typically stainless steel but and are strongest but they can also be durable plastic or aluminum. For advanced diving you should look for a dive BCD with at least 4 D-rings om which you can attach surface markers, whistles, or anything else you see fit.
Size is very important to get right. Without a proper fit the scuba BCD may ride up or just might not give you a comfortable fit which will affect your dive experience. Keep in mind the type of exposure protection you will be diving with when getting fitted and choosing a size. If you are diving with both dry suits and thin wetsuits you will need a suit that can adjust for that.
Integrated weight is a great feature on most scuba BCDs that allow you to put weights directly into special pockets on the BCD. Just as they are convenient, they are useful with adjusting your trim by strategically place weight pockets on the dive BC. You will not need to wear a weight belt which are not that comfortable and it is one less accessory to keep track of.
A great feature of some integrated weight systems is the quick release mechanism. If you are in an emergency situation and need to ditch your weight, a quick pull on a special string or tab will instantly drop your weight and allow you to ascend. You will need to carefully inspect and attached these special pouches so you do not accidentally lose them due to improper attachment.
BCD FOR WOMEN
I already emphasized the importance of fit above and it is no question men and women would need a different fit in a dive BC. While some women may not be bothered by the fit of a BCD proportioned for men, others may not be comfortable with the fit they provide.
Good news is every major manufacturer has a scuba BCD design for a woman’s body shape and they provide a more comfortable and secure fit. The major differences will be a shorter torso length on a woman’s scuba BCD which improves the position of the cylinder on the back making it less strenuous. The other difference being the wider placement of the chest strap as well as the width and placement of the shoulder straps.
It is certainly possible to get a great fit with a unisex BCD but I recommend trying it out and seeing if it will make your investment into a scuba BCD even more worth your while.
Now that you have all of the information you need to choose the best scuba BCD for your needs, you can take a look at the table and sort on the options to compare the best buoyancy compensator!
Top 10 Best Scuba BCD – Comparison Guide
|Image||Scuba BCD||Style||Lift Capcity||D-Rings||Pockets||Price Range|
|Zeagle Ranger||Wing||44 lbs (20 kg)||6||2||$$$$|
|ScubaPro KnightHawk||Wing||44lbs (20kg)**||4||2||$$$|
|Cressi Travelight BCD||Jacket||36lbs (16kg)**||4||2||$$|
|Mares Hybrid Pure BCD||Hybrid||33.7lbs (15.3kg)||2||1||$|
|Zeagle Stiletto||Wing||35lbs (15.9kg)||5||2||$$$|
|ScubaPro Bella||Jacket||42lbs (19kg)**||6||2||$$$|
|Oceanic BioLite Travel BCD||Wing||38lbs (17kg)**||2||0||$$$|
|Cressi Aquaride||Jacket||42lbs (19kg)**||6||2||$$$|
|Sherwood Avid CQR3||Jacket||36lbs (16kg)**||6||3||$$$|
|TUSA Conquest II||Hybrid||49lbs (22kg)**||5||4||$$|
|Bonus Pick: Zeagle Scout||Wing||24lbs (11kg)||4||2||$$|
|Bonus Pick: Zeagle Zena||Wing||31lbs (13.6kg)||1||4||$$$|
**Note: Lift capacity will vary with size.
The Best Scuba BCD – Top 10 Reviews
“Best Rear Wing Scuba BCD Featuring Modular Capabilities”
The Zeagle Ranger may be the priciest diving BCD on the list but this is the most rugged and adaptable scuba BCD I have encountered. Zeagle’s modular design allows the Ranger to transition from a tropical travel BCD to a cold water diving BCD that can accommodate wet or dry suits with minor modification.
Zeagle was the first to introduce a diving BCD that was heavy duty, weight integrated, and featured rear flotation. It is so versatile you can use it with twin cylinders, an optional bladder assembly providing up to 2 x 85 lbs lift, and even easily mounted back-plates for technical diving. This makes it one of the best BCD options on the list for technical diving as well.
All of these features easily make it the best scuba BCD for divers who anticipate a wide variety of dive conditions, as well as those needing a capable travel BCD. If you are looking for a buoyancy compensator made in the USA, Zeagle is a great option.
“Durable and Quality High Lift Rear Wing Scuba BCD”
ScubaPro’s Knighthawk is another high end option that is a very robust yet comfortable rear wing scuba BCD. The integrated weight system allows you to put weight in trim pockets to easily adjust your pitch and the streamline design allows for more effortless control underwater.
You will find plenty of options for storage and attachments as well with the two pockets and the four D-rings on the Knighthawk. ScubaPro also has a travel BCD version called the Litehawk that has a lot of same great feature in a light weight form great for travel. There is also a version designed for women called the Ladyhawk which is another top rate buoyancy compensator!
The ScubaPro KnightHawk is a excellent rear wing bcd with high lift for those carrying a lot of gear or diving in cold water. A more affordable option than the Zeagle Ranger with a lot of the same great features.
“Best Travel BCD For 2018”
The Cressi Travelight is one of the best travel BCDs on the market as it is full featured yet light weight, compact, and very affordable. The jacket style BCD has all of the same features as a regular buoyancy compensator but it is designed to fold down to a compact form making it great for dive travel. Being full featured and having a jacket style makes it great for beginners and seasoned divers alike.
Since it is a full featured dive BCD you don’t have to worry about maintaining two buoyancy compensators either, as the Travelight can function just as well as a main scuba diving BC. Be sure and check the Travelight out if you need a full function travel BCD.
Check our article that compares the Travelight vs Biolite as the two best travel BCD options.
“Best Cheap Scuba BCD With Full Features”
Mares Hybrid Pure is the most affordable scuba diving BCD on my list. It is a minimalist design wing BCD that is easy to balance and comfortable to wear. The minimal design also makes this great if you need a travel BCD as it will fold down quite well and is very light.
If you are looking for your first scuba diving BCD or even your first wing BCD, the Hybrid Pure is an attractive option at its price point. It will get you in the water at an affordable price and provide the necessary feature you need in a buoyancy compensator. A great all around BC that is stable, comfortable, and affordable that can easily be customized to add features.
“High-end Lightweight Scuba BCD cold Water Capable”
If you need a more rugged and versatile travel BCD the Zeagle Stiletto is another great option albeit pricier. The Stiletto is a full featured buoyancy compensator that is light weight and capable in both warm and cold water diving conditions.
If you are wondering how it differs for the Ranger, it has 1 less D-ring, slightly less lift capacity, and is not modular but this trade off comes at a reduced price compared to the Ranger. If you don’t need the extra lift or modular capabilities, the Stiletto is a very capable high end wing BCD.
“Best Womens Scuba BCD 2018”
If you prefer the jacket style BCD, the Bella is cut just for women and has a spine pad and many adjustment points so you can achieve a perfect and comfortable fit. With its custom fitting combined with ScubaPro’s quality and comfort, The Bella is at the top of the list for the best scuba BCD for women!
My Dive Master friend usually recommends this to women looking for a recreational scuba BCD that is cut for their body. It also has plenty of D-rings and pockets for stashing and attaching all of your gear. If you don’t like a wing BCD like the Ladyhawk definitely give the Bella a try.
“Best Lightweight Travel BCD”
Oceanic has really delivered a quality dive bc in the Biolite. Only slightly more expensive that the Cressi Travelight, the Biolite is my pick for the best lightweight travel BCD that utilizes a wing style rear inflation. It provides extremely great lift at up to 38 lbs in such a compact and lightweight package.
The simple and clean design provides a comfortable buoyancy compensator that can be easily folded down a packed for travel. The minimal design that provides high lift makes this a great choice for those that frequent both tropical conditions and cold water conditions in which you are carry lots of gear. The lack of pockets is the only negative but there are plenty of options for hooking your scuba gear to the BCD harness.
For anyone searching for a high lift travel bcd, this lightweight option will give you an uncluttered dive experience no matter wear you chose to dive.
Check our article that compares the Travelight vs Biolite as the two best travel BCD options.
“Best All Around Jacket Style Scuba BCD”
The Cressi Aquaride is one of the most comfortable jacket style buoyancy compensators I have tried. Full featured with weight integrations, 6 D-rings, and 2 pockets, you will have no trouble with lift when you are loaded down with gear as the Aquaride provides up 42.7 lbs of lift for the largest size.
A fantastic all around dive BC and one of the best jacket BCD options on the list. If you need an affordable full featured diving jacket that is capable in both tropical and cold water dive conditions the Aquaride is a rugged and dependable scuba BCD.
Sherwood’s Avid is another quality jacket style buoyancy compensator that is comparable to the Aquaride. It provides slightly less lift than the Aquaride but features all of the other great options plus an additional pocket so storage is definitely not lacking with the Avid. The new CQR-3 weight system is even more convenient and easy to remove and install than previous versions.
“Best BCD For Beginners”
The price point and the fact that the Conquest II is a full featured hybrid scuba BCD makes this an excellent choice for those just starting out and wanting their own gear. The Tusa Conquest is the most affordable jacket style BCD on the list and my pick for both the best hybrid BCD and the best scuba bcd for beginners.
Tusa has upgraded the padding on the back-plate on the Conquest II making it even more comfortable. The Conquest II also has very high lift capacity as the largest size provides up to 49.5 lbs of lift. There are so many options for storage with this scuba BC as well as it has 5 D-rings and a whopping 4 pockets. For the price, you can’t beat the Conquest II as your first scuba BCD that is both durable and feature.
Zeagle’s Scout scuba BCD earns a bonus pick spot for getting the Zeagle quality at an affordable price. The Scout doesn’t have the lift as some of the others and isn’t as feature rich but the minimal design provides you with a great quality option for travel or tropical diving as the scuba BCD packs down nicely.
The Zeagle Zena is my bonus pick for those looking for the best wing style scuba BCD for women. It is very light and comfortable! Since it utilizes rear inflation and features several adjustment points, you can achieve the perfect fit and perfect trim while diving.
A dive knife is the one piece of scuba gear you should have on every dive. While a scuba knife may only get used on rare occasions for most, it is the one time you need it that may save your life in an emergency situation. Aside from emergencies, dive knives can come in handy for many other situations, whether it be using it knock on your tank to alert a buddy, or using a blunt tip diving knife to dig a stuck treasure out of sediment.
If you plan on venturing into technical diving you may need a large titanium scuba diving knife as well as a small backup diving knife attached to your BCD. Only into recreational diving, you may only need a good small dive knife or dive shears just for an emergency. There are many styles of scuba knives and you may not know what you need, but just as I have done with other key scuba gear like dive masks and scuba fins, I put together a quick guide to help you.
When searching for a good dive knife just take into account what type of diving you do the most, scuba gear you already own, how it will fit in with your current gear, and how you might use the scuba diving knife. Just remember, the best dive knife for spear fishing may not be the best dive knife for treasure hunters as each usually need a different style of knife tip. Also, a cheap scuba diving knife may not be the best option for a frequent salt water diver who uses the knife on every dive as it likely will not be as durable.
Let’s jump right in to our list of best knives and quick guide to find right scuba knife for you!
QUICK ANSWER: Best Dive Knife
- Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock
- Promate Barracuda
- Atomic Aquatics Titanium Ti6
- Aqua Lung Argonaut
- Tusa FK-940ti X-Pert II
- XS Scuba Beta
- XS Scuba FogCutter Recon
- Underwater Kinetics Blue Tang
- Spyderco Atlantic Salt
- Cressi Lima
- Bonus Pick: PROMATE Titanium Scuba Diving Knife
- Bonus Pick: Cressi Orca
How To Choose The Best Dive Knife – Quick Guide
If you have been searching for scuba diving knife, you have probably realized that there are not as many options of dive knives like there are with dive lights, but just about every scuba gear manufacturer has a couple of models to choose from. Finding out which of the bunch has the best scuba diving knife can definitely take some work but luckily the work is already done.
Like most dive equipment, think of how you might use the scuba knife and types of diving you do. This short dive knife guide will help you narrow down the list to the scuba diving knife that is best for you. You will learn all of the different styles and features of popular knives, and then you can use the handy table to sort the list on features that are important to your needs. Below the table you will find a short review of the best dive knives and their features.
WHEN DO YOU NEED A DIVE KNIFE?
The quick and easy answer is ALWAYS! You never know when you may encounter an emergency which is why it is best to a carry scuba diving knife with you on every dive. It also doesn’t have to be a traditional scuba knife as you can also choose to carry dive shears as well which can be used to cut free of entanglement as well.
TYPES OF DIVE KNIVES
The FIXED BLADE DIVE KNIFE is the most common style divers choose to carry. The advantage of a fixed blade is ease of use and attaching the dive knife sheath to an easily accessible part of the body with the dive knife straps and equip the knife with one hand.
The FOLDING DIVE KNIFE is more compact, lightweight, and can be stored in BDC pocket very easily. They are great as a backup scuba diving knife but can take longer to equip and unfolding them will usually take two hands.
DIVE SHEARS are another tool divers can use with one hand to cut their way out of danger or assist another diver or trapped sea animal. A quality pair of dive shears can take on anything from mono-filament to steel leaders.
There are a few different materials scuba diving knives are made of which are titanium, steel, and less commonly, ceramic.
TITANIUM DIVE KNIVES are the favorite among regular divers and tech divers due to the incredible strength and durability as well as being very resistant to corrosion and rust. Titanium is difficult to sharpen due to its hardness but it also means it can maintain its edge longer and is typically maintenance free.
STEEL DIVE KNIVES are cheaper and easier to sharpen but they require more maintenance. You will have be sure to rinse the knife after each salt water dive and coat it with oil or silicone paste to further protect it from corrosion. It is true that not all steel will corrode as easily, the 400 alloy is most susceptible and the 300 alloy being closer to a titanium knife. Spyderco uses yet another process that will substitute carbon with nitrogen making it nearly rust proof yet it is easily sharpened.
The CERAMIC DIVE KNIFE is not the best material for a dive knife that will be used a lot as it is a brittle material. The benefits of ceramic blades are the sharpness you can achieve which can be great if you only plan to cut things but not great as a tool to pry or dig.
BLADE EDGE AND TIP
When choosing a scuba diving knife you will need to consider its primary use and whether you will find a blunt or pointed tip more useful. Also consider the edge and whether you will benefit more from a serrated edge diving knife or a straight edge.
The TIP OF A DIVE KNIFE can be pointed, blunt, or tanto (combination blunt/pointed) tipped. The drop point is what you typically think of a blade point and is great for cutting and puncturing and will usually be sharp up to the point on one side and dull on the other. The blunt tip dive knife is great for digging, prying, and chiseling. The tanto tip fits somewhere in between the two in regards to its utility, its slanted tip features both a blunt and pointed aspect to it.
The BLADE EDGE can be serrated or straight and most scuba diving knives will have a straight edge on one side and a serrated edge on the other. The best dive knife for spearfishing will have two straight edges and a very sharp point to easily pierce the fish but they should be handled carefully when not protected in the dive knife sheath. Another useful addition to some knives is a line cutter notch to easily cut small lines.
CARRYING YOUR DIVE KNIFE
Where and how you carry your scuba diving knife is really a matter of preference but there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a location. A common place to attach the dive knife sheath has been the lower leg or thigh using dive knife straps. This works very well for both large and small scuba knives but it can get in the way in confined diving conditions.
Many divers are choosing to attach their scuba diving knives to their BCD so it is never forgotten on the dive boat and it is always accessible. Wherever you choose to strap or attach your scuba diving knife, attach it opposite your dominate hand as you will have a better ability to access it.
Now that you have all of the information you need to choose the best scuba diving knife for your needs you can take a look at the table and sort on the options to compare the best scuba diving knives!
Compare the Top 10 Best Dive Knives
|Image||Dive Light||Material||Edge||Tip||Blade Length||Price Range|
|Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock||Stainless||Dual/Serrated||Tanto||3"||$$|
|Atomic Aquatics Titanium Ti6||Titanium||Dual/Serrated||Blunt/Point||4"|
|Tusa FK-940ti X-Pert II||Titanium||Dual/Serrated||Point||4.5"||$$|
|XS Scuba Beta||Titanium||Dual/Serrated||All||5"|
|XS Scuba FogCutter Recon||Stainless||Dual/Serrated||Point||6"||$$|
|Underwater Kinetics Blue Tang||Titanium||Dual/Serrated||Blunt/Point||5"||$$|
|Spyderco Atlantic Salt||H-1 Steel||Serrated||Blunt||3.2"||$$|
|Bonus Pick: PROMATE Diving Knife||Titanium||Dual/Serrated||Blunt/Point||4.4"||$|
|Bonus Pick: Cressi Orca||Stainless||Dual/Serrated||Point||7"||$|
The Best Dive Knives- Top 10 List Reviews
This compact dive knife has an outstanding dive knife sheath mechanism. With a quick squeeze of the handle the knife will be ready for action. The 3″ stainless blade features a line cutter as well as a dual straight/serrated blade making it a very versatile dive knife. The blunt tip will also make this knife a very useful tool underwater. The Squeezelock is very affordable yet useful stainless steel dive knife that is also available in a titanium version as well.
If you are looking for a high end dive knife at an affordable price, the Barracuda is just that. It has all of the features more expensive full size knives but at reasonable price for a titanium dive knife. You can find the Barracuda in either 5″ pointed or blunt tip option that includes a dive knife sheath and straps. The ergonomic handle is very comfortable while gripping and using the straight or serrated edge. The Barracuda is the best titanium dive knife under $100 on the market offering all of the popular features of a good dive knife.
The Ti6 is another great full featured dive knife that has a really great sheaf design. The titanium blade is virtually maintenance free and at only 4″ is a great choice if you don’t want a compact dive knife but also don’t want something as large as a typical full size dive knife. The Atomic Aquatics Ti6 will cost you a bit more but it is very high quality dive knife and should last forever.
If you are looking for the best the Argonaut is certainly one of them. The simple construction of one solid piece of titanium wrapped in 7′ of para-cord provide excellent grip underwater with a place for your forefinger for added grip control. The Argonaut’s Spartan option has a serrated section near the handle with a sharp straight edge on both sides meeting at the point. The Spartan configuration is the best spearfishing knife of the list for those wondering. If you need a bit more utility you can always get the Argonaut with a blunt tip and have confidence you are equipped with one of the best dive knives on the market.
The Xpert II is a great all around dive knife with a very comfortable rubber grip. You can also fully disassemble the grip for cleaning if needed. With a 4.5″ pointed tip blade and priced right in the middle of all the other scuba knives, it rounds out the list offering something just a bit different from the others. The Xpert also comes with a great dive knife sheath as well that will give access the the securely held knife with the press of a button.
Th XS Scuba Beta is a great comfortable scuba diving knife that is available in all styles of knife points. The utility of this knife is great and the titanium blade will not corrode and has exceptional hardness from the custom alloy XS Scuba used for this dive knife. The sheath is very secure and will require deliberate action to remove the knife which is great for to ease any worry of losing the knife by accident. A good quality dive knife that will serve its purpose for many years.
An incredibly versatile dive tool, the FogCutter is a fixed blade, line cutter, and dive shears in one convenient package. At 6 inches, the blade has both straight and serrated edges and a nice guard on the handle to keep from slipping onto the blade. The stainless steel blade is also treated with chromate to enhance the rust prevention. I have heard diver’s comment on the sheath lock not securing the knife as well as others but other than that it is a great dive knife.
UK’s Blue Tang is a great all around scuba diving knife that is very affordable. The rubber ergonomic grip is also very comfortable in the hand at only 7 ounce the knife is easy to work with. The quick release sheath lock allows for easy access and secures the knife really well when not in use. Easy disassembly allows for thorough cleaning. The only thing this knife is missing is a lanyard hole at the end, otherwise this is really great dive knife.
The best folding dive knife and only one worthy of making the list, Spyderco’s Atlantic Salt has an outstanding blade. Don’t let the steel blade deter you for fear of rust as Spyderco uses a special steel alloy that replaces the carbon with nitrogen in the steel giving it superior corrosion resistance while maintaining the durability of regular 400 stainless. The full length serrated edge blade is a cutting machine and will make quick work of anything needing to be cut and is proof by how many commercial divers carry it. I keep this dive knife on a retractable lanyard attached to my BCD and gets used as often as my fixed blade dive knife.
Whether you choose the stainless steel blade or the titanium blade, the best affordable dive knife under $50 is the Cressi Lima. I own this dive knife as well with a titanium blade and it just works! It is small, light weight, and can be attached pretty much anywhere, including hoses in you so dare. The locking mechanism is easy to use while wearing dive gloves and holds the knife securely. Whether you are looking for a backup dive knife or something for the sake of security, this is one of best dive knives for the price.
The Promate Titanium knife earns a bonus pick spot as it is the best full size dive knife under $50. It has all the features of the pricier options but is much more affordable.
The Orca has been around for decades and it is a classic. If you want a great stainless steel dive knife, the Orca is a great knife with a lot of nostalgia for those that have been diving a while. Sharp and heavy, if you want to be able to feel your dive knife pick this one up.
Thank you for checking out The Leisure Pro’s list of best scuba diving knives! Be sure to let us know if you have a favorite scuba knife in the comments. Remember to dive safely and take extra precautions when wielding your knife under water!
If you have ever been on a night dive exploring reefs, or experienced the beautiful cenotes in an underwater cave, you know that having the best dive light for the situation will dramatically improve your experience. Besides an improved experience, a great underwater flashlight will also give you a level of comfort when diving in dark conditions.
If you have recently found yourself in need of a scuba diving flashlight for the first time, there are just a few things you should know. For typical recreational dives, an underwater flashlight that has a standard depth rating should be sufficient for conditions requiring a primary dive light (did you know even daytime dives can be improved with a bright scuba light). For those diving deeper and longer into dark waters may need something better like a pistol grip style underwater torch or a lantern style scuba light, which boast lots of lumen power and have larger battery capacity.
Below you will find some favorite primary and secondary dive lights that myself and my scuba friends own or tried over the year, and a short list of features that make them so great. These are currently the best underwater flashlights on the market, and I included a range of prices and features in order to suit a variety of budgets and needs. I am confident you will find something on our list of best scuba diving flashlights of 2018. Unsure about your needs, head down to our handy dive light buyers guide, know what you need!
QUICK ANSWER: Best Primary Dive Light
- Dorcy Dive II Dive Torch
- Tovatec Ultra III Underwater Flashlight
- UK SL4 eLED L1 LED Dive Torch
- Princeton Tec Sector 5 Dive Torch
- BigBlue AL-450 Dive Light
- Tovatec Search Light SL1 Dive Light
- BigBlue AL1100WP Underwater Flashlight
- Phantom Aquatics Impulse LED Dive Light
- UK Light Cannon eLED L1 Scuba Light
- Tovatec Beacon BCON Dive Light
- Bonus Pick: Light & Motion Sidekick DUO
- Bonus Pick: Tovatec Galaxy Video Light
QUICK ANSWER: Best Secondary (Backup) Dive Light
How To Choose The Best Underwater Flashlight and Dive Torch – Quick Guide
If you have been searching for scuba light you have probably realized just how many options are and are probably overwhelmed. In previous articles we have put together a short guide to assist you in choosing the best scuba mask or the best scuba fins, and I now I will provide a short guide to help you find the best dive light for your specific needs.
Once you know what type of diving you will be doing most, this short and simple dive light guide will help you narrow down the list to the diving flashlight that is best for you. You will learn all of the different styles and features of popular lights suitable for underwater use, and then you can use the handy table to sort list on the features that are important to your needs. Below the table you will find a short review of the best scuba lights and their features.
Scuba Diving Scenarios Requiring Underwater An Diving Flashlight
The type of diving you plan to do will determine or influence the type of dive torch you will need. Below are few dive conditions in which a dive torch is either required or highly recommended.
Night diving is a really obvious scenario where you will need a light underwater.
Cave diving and Wreck Dives are another scenario where conditions are dark and an underwater light is needed.
Underwater Video and Photography usually requires a specially designed underwater light.
Daytime diving is a less obvious situation but you would be amazed at how a dive light will improve your experience during a daytime dive.
Types Dive Lights
PRIMARY DIVE LIGHTS are just what the name suggests. This will be the light you rely on most, should be very bright, and have a long lasting battery.
SECONDARY DIVE LIGHTS are more compact and lightweight. It is usually stowed away in a BC pocket or attached somewhere to be used as a back-up in case the primary light fails
UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO LIGHTS are extremely bright lights that normally have a wide beam angle which illuminates very large areas. In some cases multiple lights are mounted to the camera housing.
MARKER LIGHTS are typically small compact lights that blink or put out constant but low illumination so divers can locate other divers. They are often used in lieu of glow sticks which are not reusable.
Styles of Diving Flashlights
UNDERWATER TORCH STYLE dive lights look and function like your typical baton style flashlight. This is the most common style of dive light and can be found in numerous configurations.
PISTOL-GRIP DIVE LIGHTS are held in the hand like the name suggests and usually have a combination beam that is both a wide and narrow focus. This style is usually a bit larger and can accommodate larger battery capacity which can provide a longer burn time and/or brighter dive light.
LANTERN STYLE DIVE LIGHTS usually use the exact same light housing as the pistol style but the handle is configured in a way in which the light is under the hand rather than on top.
CANISTER DIVE LIGHTS house the batteries in a canister separate from the light unit. This style is fading in popularity as battery technology has improved and batteries are smaller and more efficient.
A dive light’s beam angle will determine how wide or concentrated the light beam is. When looking at a light’s specs, a lower number corresponds to a narrow beam angle and the larger the number the wider the angle. It is really a matter of preference but consider your dive conditions when choosing.
Narrow beam angles are the most common choice for primary dive lights and secondary lights and suitable most dive conditions. Whether you are on a day dive peeking into a reef’s dark crevices, cave/wreck diving long narrow underwater paths, or diving low visibility water with a ton of disturbed sediment, the brightest dives lights with narrow beams will excel in these conditions. The strong and narrow beam is able to provide needed illumination far out into the distance.
Wide beam angles are also an option for your primary dive flashlight but they are most common on underwater video lights and photography lights. The ultra-wide beam will cast a flood of light so you are able to see a wide are illuminated. This is useful for underwater videographers to capture a wide area in the cameras frame. A wide angle beam will only cast its beam a short to intermediate distance.
Adjustable beams are also an option for you dive torch. Tovatec’s Fusion line as well as BigBlue offer dive lights with adjustable beams. The beam can be adjusted using a slider or twisting motion to adjust the beam from a narrow beam to an intermediate to wide beam which can be very useful when encounter different dive conditions in the same dive.
Dual Beam lights will usually have a toggle switch in which you toggle between two different bulbs that are set for a narrow beam and a wide beam. These are most common on underwater video lights. Another form of dual beams can be found on the pistol grip style lights in which a portion of the beam is set to a narrow focus and the other is set to cast a wider beam, using the same bulb to achieve two different beam angles.
Alkaline Batteries are available pretty much anywhere in the world and are inexpensive. They can offer a longer burn time before being replaced but offer a lower performance than other options.
CR123 Lithium Batteries perform excellent in dive torches but they are much more expensive than alkaline batteries and may not always be available in remote locations. You may also encounter special travel requirements when flying with them.
Rechargeable Batteries are usually the best choice for frequent divers. Money is saved in the long by not have to purchase new batteries after they are depleted which is another plus for the environment. In some lights that handle both rechargeable and alkaline, the rechargeable options can sometime provide a boost to lumen output. You will need to plan ahead to ensure you will have access to power to recharge your batteries when planning your dives.
LED Dive Lights are pretty much the standard now. The best LED dive lights are offered by virtually every manufacturer and there is really no need to look any further than an LED dive light.
HID Dive Lights used to provide unmatched brightness and color temperature and were the preferred option over xenon bulbs. HID dive lights have since been surpassed by the new generation LED lights. You can usually find LED dive lights that are now using the same form as your old favorite HID models.
Zenon Dive Lights are less expensive than the LED counterpart but they do not match the brightness of LED and HID and have a much shorter battery life. Zenon lights due have a more natural warm color temperature but LEDs are also gaining ground in this area as well.
Now that you have all of the information you need to choose the best scuba diving light for your needs you can take a look at the nifty table sort on the options to compare the best underwater scuba light for you!
Compare The Top 10 Best Dive Lights
|Image||Dive Light||Style||Beam||Lumens||Battery Life||Battery||Price Range|
|Dorcy Dive II||Torch||Wide||220||8 hrs||Alkaline||$|
|Tovatec Ultra III||Torch||Narrow||500||6 hrs||Alkaline||$|
|UK SL4 eLED L1 Dive light||Torch||Narrow||400||10 hrs||Alkaline||$$|
|Princeton Tec Sector 5 Hi-Power Dive Light||Pistol||Narrow||550||24 hrs||Alkaline||$$|
|Bigblue CF-450||Torch||Adjustable||450||4 hrs||Alkaline||$$|
|Tovatec Search Light SL1||Torch||Narrow||250 - 800||7 hrs||Alkaline||$$|
|BigBlue AL1100WP Underwater Flashlight||Torch||Wide||100-1100||2-20 hrs||Rechargeble||$$$|
|Phantom Aquatics Impulse LED Dive Light||Torch||Narrow||500-1500||18 hrs||Rechargeble||$$$|
|UK Light Cannon eLED L1||Pistol/Lantern||Narrow||440-1100||16-20 hrs||Alkaline||$$$$|
|Tovatec Beacon BCON||Torch||Narrow||800-2500||2-6 hrs||Rechargeble||$$$$|
|Bonus Pick: Light & Motion Sidekick DUO||Mounted||Adjustable||150-800||1-4.5 hrs||Rechargeble||$$$|
|Bonus Pick: Tovatec Galaxy Video Light||Mounted||Extra Wide||800-2500||1-3 hrs||Rechargeble||$$$$|
The Best Dive Lights – Top 10 List Reviews
Dorcy’s Dive II is a very affordable dive light with 220 lumens and 8 hours of burn time. At the price, this is a great entry level primary dive light but is compact enough to stow away as a quality secondary light. If you need high quality on a budget, this is definitely a great underwater flashlight.
One of my primary dive lights, the Ultra III is light, comfortable, and well suited for recreational night dives. You will get 6 hours of burn time on the batteries at 500 lumens. The narrow to medium beam angle will illuminate nicely at distance while also providing a wide enough beam near you for close observations. I am often surprised it is only rated at 500 lumens as it often outshines other lights rated higher. You will also be surprised at how affordable this light is for how quality and the amount of light it puts out. This is a truly great underwater flashlight!
If you have already been on a casual night dive there is no doubt that you have seen this dive torch in action. It is a popular choice because this led dive light is both rugged and packs a powerful beam suitable for many dive conditions. Its durability and ease of use is the reason many dive shops stock this dive light as a rental and its has a long burn time as it utilizes 3 C-cell batteries. It may not be the best looking light but with 500 lumens and the SL4’s reliability, it is a proven choice for recreational divers.
The Sector 5 diving light is a very comfortable light that is easy to hold with its pistol grip form. At 550 lumens and its medium beam angle you will illuminate both near and far providing you with plenty to see in front of you. If you are really looking to light up your night dives or peak into reef shadows this makes for a great primary dive torch at a very affordable price. One of the early versions of this light was my first dive lights and it served me well for years.
BigBlue’s CF-450 dive torch edged out the ever popular Ikelite Gamma on our list. While the Gamma is certainly a great choice, there is no question that the CF-450 is just a better choice as it has almost double the lumens and adjustable beam angle for a slightly better price. BigBlue also has a wide variety of accessories to go with their dive lights that make using them even more convenient.
Tovatec has long been a respected brand that was formerly part Intova until splitting off and are well known for their quality and the SL1 is no exception. If you are looking for a dive light that is well suited for technical dives the Search Light SL1 has you covered with its narrow 800 lumens beam. The tight powerful beam will illuminate wrecks and caves at extended ranges making it a popular choice for technical divers needing a quality underwater flashlight. You will also have plenty of time to explore as this light will easily last 7 hours on a set of batteries.
The AL 1100WP is one of the most affordable underwater flashlights out there having at least 1000 lumens. The wide beam angle makes this light a great choice for divers who are taking underwater videos or photos as it comes with light filters and is very bright. This light also has an adjustable output for times when you aren’t needing the full 1100 lumens or need longer burn time from the rechargeable batteries. BigBlue’s AL1100WP is a quality yet affordable dive torch for those who prefer a wider beam.
Phantom Aquatics Impulse is another great compact dive light option for those needing a lot of power in a small form. The Impulse features multiple brightness levels which are easy to toggle with the press of a button even wearing dive gloves. Its rechargeable batteries will also give you plenty of dive time as it should last up to 20 hours depending in the settings used. Very impressive for its size, it is the brightness underwater flashlight we have tried that sports the compact form. This is a higher end dive light but there is definitely a lot of value with it as well.
If you really want a versatile dive torch, the UK Light Cannon is a great choice. The UK Light Canon can be purchased in either a lantern or pistol grip configuration and can easily be converted to either style making it a great choice if you dive in many different conditions. Another great aspect of this powerful dive light is it can be used with regular alkaline batteries with an outstanding 16 hours of burn time at 1100 lumens but if swap in the rechargeable battery unit it will nearly double your lumens output to 2100! This dive torch is certainly on the high end of our list cost wise but it is definitely a quality light that performs outstanding.
Literally the brightest dive light I have ever seen or used, the BCON’s 2500 lumens will surely have you wide eyed underwater. It is a good thing Tovatec implemented multiple light modes with the BCON as this light is truly blinding at full power. Not only is this one of the brightest underwater flashlights it is extremely durable and the rechargeable batteries are also very high quality and long lasting. The beam angle is also ideal for any diving conditions and will last 2 hours at full power and up to 6 hours at 30%. If your budget allows this is one of the best underwater flashlights you can get and is rugged, quality built, and well suited for any conditions. If you need a high quality scuba diving flashlight you can depend on, this is it!
Designed to leverage existing GoPro mounts, the Sidekick DUO is a very versatile underwater video light which feature both a 600 lumens flood beam and a 400 lumens spot beam you can toggle between. Rechargeable batteries will get you between 60-240 minutes of burn time.
Need a more serious underwater video light, the Galaxy is just that. With up to 2500 lumens of flood you are sure to light of entire reefs or larger areas of the sea floor. The rechargeable batteries will provide up to 2 hours of light as well.
I hope you found The Leisure Pro’s List of Best Dive Lights useful. Be sure and let us know what your favorite light is and if you picked up one off of the list! Remember, all dive gear needs to taken care of if you want it to last, so check out the few tips below to keep your lights in top shape.
Dive Light Care and Maintenance
Before each dive trip, inspect your o-rings and look for cracks or nicks. Keep them clean and use the silicone lubricant provided by the manufacturer to prevent flooding. Rinse the lights with warm water after using them and remove the batteries from the light when you aren’t using it.
Be aware of the type of battery you have, some need to be charged and discharged at regular intervals, or they will lose capacity and stop working at all. Read you manual from your scuba light for proper battery maintenance.
Some manufacturers have amazing customer service, they will usually replace pretty much anything that goes wrong with the light at no cost. This is especially true for the premium scuba light manufacturers like Tovatec and BigBlue.
Below is our current picks of the top 10 best scuba fins of 2018. This is the result of personal experience, surveying my fellow scuba diving peers, and ratings from online marketplaces. You will find both split fins and paddle fins on our list as each style has its benefits. I have also included a mix of full foot fins and open heel fins but you can usually find your favorite fin in both options.
Jump right in and check out the quick answer of best scuba and snorkel fins. Below the list you will find more information on different dive fin features as well as our comparison table. I finish up the article with a brief summary of each scuba fin on the list and its best features.
QUICK ANSWER: The Best Scuba Fins of 2018
- Appollo Bio Fin Pro
- Cressi Frog Plus
- Cressi Gara 3000 LD Fins
- Mares Avanti Quattro Plus
- Mares Volo Power
- Atomic Aquatics Split Fin
- Scubapro Jet Fins
- ScubaPro Seawing Nova
- Sherwood Triton
- Tusa SF15 Xpert Zoom Z3
- Bonus Pick: ScubaPro Twin Jet
- Bonus Pick: Apollo Bio Fin Pro XT
Whatever the configuration of a scuba fin, it usually comes down to diver preference which is most important, but in some cases you will want to take into account your typical dive conditions. You will certainly want to choose a scuba fin that is comfortable and works well for the style of diving you find yourself in most. All of these will work great as snorkel fins as well but not all will work as well for technical dives or strong currents.
Being familiar with your scuba gear is very important when diving for both your confidence and your underwater ability. That is why owning your own set of scuba fins is a worthwhile investment, as well as not having to rely on a dive shop having your fin size or a fin that is comfortable for you. There is nothing like ruining a dive (or subsequent dives) by using poorly suited scuba gear and ending up with blisters or sore legs.
Choosing The Best Scuba Fin: 5 Things To Consider
- Fin Blade Style: Split Fin vs Paddle Fin
Probably the first and most important thing to consider when choosing the right dive fin is the fin blade style. The two main types are split fins and paddle fins.
- Split Fins are a designed to impose less resistance and strain (helping to conserve air) on the diver while still providing sufficient propulsion. This style is well suited for most dive conditions and are quite fast in straight lines. It may not be the best choice for technical dives requiring max propulsion (strong currents) and wreck dives where alternate kick methods (frog kicks and back kicks) are needed. Some divers will still get by with a split fin that is stiffer in these conditions.
- Paddle Fins are good choice for maneuverability, precise movements, and high acceleration but can require much more effort from the diver. This is due to the larger surface area causing more resistance. Paddle fins work well in currents and in confined areas like wreck dives. Strong swimmers who like to feel their fin work tend to like the paddle design.
- Full foot fins should be worn barefoot. They are usually a good choice if you only need a snorkeling fin or will exclusively be diving in warm water. They are usually lighter and shorter.
- Open heel fins secure the foot with a strap and need to be worn with scuba booties. This is by far the most popular style, as well as the most versatile style. You will need open heels to fit over a dry suit or booties when cold water diving. You may also need booties if you do any diving off of rocky shores.
- Size and weight are minor considerations you should take into account. If you plan on doing a lot of dive traveling you may need to consider the weight and size your fins will add to your luggage. Some divers will travel with their favorite scuba fin no matter the size and weight.
- Fins: Consider the materials and features a fin may have in regards to durability. Some fin designs and materials will be more resistant to abrasion or malfunction.
- Straps: There are typical two types of straps, rubber straps which can be prone to wearing out and the pricier stainless steel coil spring straps which are a favorite with frequent divers and technical divers as they will likely outlast the fin itself.
- Scuba fins usually come in a variety of colors and can be more than just a style choice. Bright colors are good for easily spotting a diver underwater or keeping track of a fin that inadvertently falls off while diving.
Compare The Top 10 Best Scuba Fins
|Image||Scuba Fin||Fin Blade Style||Foot Pocket||Price Range|
|Appollo Bio Fin Pro||Split||Open||$$$|
|Cressi Frog Plus||Paddle||Open||$|
|Cressi Gara 3000 LD Fins||Paddle||Full||$$|
|Mares Avanti Quattro Plus||Paddle||Open||$$|
|Mares Volo Power||Paddle||Open||$$$|
|Atomic Aquatics Split Fin||Split||Full||$|
|Scubapro Jet Fins||Paddle||Open||$$$|
|ScubaPro Seawing Nova||Paddle||Open||$$$$|
|Tusa SF15 Xpert Zoom Z3||Split||Open||$$|
How to Care For Scuba Fins
Like all scuba gear you should rinse your dive fins in warm water after each use. When you are ready to store them between dive trips you will want to make sure they are completely dry and stored flat and without any bends as it can permanently deform a fin.
Best Scuba Fins – Top 10 List Reviews
Apollo Sports was the first company to introduce a scuba fin with a split blade design which is pick for the best split scuba fin. Manufacture with 100% rubber, the Bio Fin Pro is an extremely durable fin. Its 20 degree angle provides great performance, low strain, and reduced air performance. The Bio Fin Pro is one of the fastest fins even though it is one of the most efficient designs available making it one of the best scuba diving fins for speed. With a rigidity factor of 65, the Bio Fin Pro series excels in most conditions and is my choice for the best scuba fins for recreational diving. I recommend getting a pair with stainless steel straps both for durability and easy on-off. Be sure to check out my full review of the Apollo Bio Fin Pro if you want to know more.
The Apollo Bio Fin Pro XT shares they same great design as the original Bio Fin Pro but it is manufactured with a stiffer rubber. With a rigidity factor of 75, the XT provides even more propulsion to divers and will perform better in strong currents and utilizing alternate kicks. The Bio Fin Pro Yellow is yet another option in between the regular Pro and XT with a rigidity factor of 70. This is by far the best split fin design for technical divers looking for an alternative to paddle fins.
The Cressi Frog Plus is a very affordable paddle fin and extremely durable at that is resistant to cracks and bends. The fin design creates a channeling effect that allows energy to be to transferred in both the up and down kick much like the split fin design. The Frog Plus is a very lightweight fin which makes them a great option for dive travel. The paddle design allows for divers to achieve great power and will accommodate any kick style. If you are looking for an affordable option the Cressi Frog Plus is the best open foot scuba fins under $100.
The Gara 3000 LD is actually marketed as a free-diving and spear fishing fin but performs extremely well as a recreational scuba fin as well. The LD (long distance) version of this model uses a softer blade and is less demanding on the diver so they can be used for longer periods without the worry of leg fatigue. The softer blade also makes these fins very suitable cold water fins as they will not overly stiffen the fin. These are an excellent choice for a beginner diver, snorkeler, or even an experienced diver who just wants to take it easy on their dives. A truly outstanding recreational scuba diving fin.
Powerful enough for strong currents and flexible enough for subtle movements, the Mares Avanti Quattro Plus is a proven scuba fin that many divers love. These are on the stiffer end of the fins on this list but that translates to very powerful kicks. The Quatros are design with a more rigid plastic with softer channels allowing you to move a lot of water with your kicks. With its bungee strap, these fins are very easy to slip on and off which can be a huge plus on a crowded dive boat. If you need power, these fins wil suit you well.
The Mares Volo Power utilizes a pivoting blade system that allows the blade to maintain an optimal angle through kicks. This design is also much more efficient that traditional paddles fins which reduces cramps and fatigue. You will get great thrust form these fins at much less effort than a traditional paddle fin, and the ability to perform any alternate kicks where some split fins perform poorly. These are best summed up by more power, less energy! Another great choice for traveling divers as they are fairly light weight.
An affordable option in the full foot version of this fin, Atomic Aquatics has done a great job with this fin. The price of these make them great for warm water divers and snorkelers and are really the best full foot scuba fins as well as split fin under $100. The split fin design will also make it easier on scuba divers as they can kick along for long periods and not cramp up or experience fatigue. The price of these along with the light weight and efficient design make them a great choice for someone just starting out wanting to build their collection of scuba diving gear or a diver. Divers needing a lightweight travel fin will also find these to be a great buy at an affordable price.
The classic “Old School” fin design, the Jet Fin has been the choice of fin for countless professional and technical divers for decades! The high quality rubber and vented design gives divers excellent power and propulsion when kicking with reduced leg strain. Get the Jet Fins with spring straps and a metal buckle for extreme durability. These fins can tackle anything thrown a divers way whether it is a strong current or technical kicks during a wreck dive. Like the rubber Bio Fin Pro, these are extremely durable and will last years if maintained properly. A tried and true fin that stands the test of time.
Similar in design to the very technical ScubaPro Jet Fin, but Twin Jet utilizes a split fin blade. These scuba fins are great for recreational divers who want a more efficient fin.
The ScubaPro Seawing Nove is probably my favorite fin in the paddle fin style. It has the acceleration and maneuverability of the paddle fin and efficiency and comfort found in split fins. The articulating joint allows the fins to kick with less effort than a traditional fin and the pivot motion stores energy and releases it at the right moment. The fin also has a tapered blade edge which aids using alternate kick styles. The Seawing Nova also incorporates a heavy duty bungee straps for easy on/off. The only real negative of these fins is the price point but that is usually expect with the best scuba gear on the market. The Seawing Nova usually grabs the attention of the most serious scuba divers.
Sherwood took the old school fin design and improved on it with the Triton.The fin vents reduce drag on the up kick reducing leg fatigue. The Tritons also use a slightly softer material than some the other paddle fins which improves the comfort of the foot pocket as well as the efficiency of the divers kick. A speedy fin capable of performing any of the alternate kicks a diver may need to use in a technical dive. If you are looking to move from a split fin to a paddle fin, this is a good fin to move to as they wont cause excessive strain on your ankles or knees.
An excellent split fin with a great price, the Tusa Xpert Zoom Z3 is the third revision in the series, improving the design each time. The fins are quite large which makes dive travel a bit cumbersome but the performance of the fin more than makes up for it. Divers consistently remark on the efficiency to power ratio as well as the comfort of the Zoom Z3. Usually split fins are noted for not performing well using alternate kicks but like the Apollo Bio Fin, myself and others had no issue with these. These fins would be my number two split fin choice.
I hope you found The Leisure Pro’s List of Best Dive Fins useful. Be sure and let us know what your favorite scuba fin is and if you picked up one off of the list! Remember, all dive gear needs to taken care of if you want it to last! Safe diving!
The Need for a Better Pair of Scuba Diving Fins
When I first became interested in scuba diving over 13 years ago I was clueless about scuba gear, and had never even seen the Apollo Bio Fin before. I was all set to start my first scuba diving class but I had not purchased a pair of fins yet, much less did any research, so I had to borrow my brother’s fins. I cannot recall exactly which fins they were, but what I do remember is how uncomfortable they were and how difficult kicking in them was. The other thing I remember is how stiff they were since they were mostly made of plastic.
I had been doing pool sessions for my scuba certification for several weeks and the fins became unbearable. I couldn’t keep up with other divers, my ankles really hurt after every class, and I noticed I would tire more quickly than others in the class. Our open water certification dive was quickly approaching in the Gulf of Mexico of the Florida panhandle. I knew there was no way I could use those fins and enjoy diving 85 feet below the surface in the gulf so I started researching.
As I began my research, I quickly became overwhelmed with all of the choices and styles. I took a step back and used my bad experience and everything I hated about the fins I was already using to pick a pair of scuba fins that were best for me. I knew I needed a much more pliable fin with a more comfortable foot pocket. More importantly, I also knew that my kick style was not well suited for stiffer fins as I would tire more quickly trying to keep pace with other divers. Being able to kick efficiently with your fins is very important as you will use less air if you are exerting less effort which will allow you to stay at depth longer.
Purchasing the Apollo Bio Fin Pro
I narrowed my choices to a short list because my open water dives were just around the corner. At this point I knew I wanted a split fin as they were well known to reduce ankle strain and fatigue, which were my main complaints of the stiffer paddle fins.
I read all the reviews of every split fin and all of the better ones were relatively expensive, considering I was a college student at the time. Ultimately, I felt that good fins were an investment and after seeing a National Geographic program in which every one of the divers, including photographers, were using the Apollo Bio Fin I quickly made up my mind. If they were good enough for underwater photographers and videographers, I was certain they would be good enough for me. I quickly ordered my pair of the Apollo Bio Fin Pro model with the regular straps and anxiously waited.
My First Impression of the Apollo Bio Fin Pro
I received my fins in time to make a few pool sessions with them before making the open water dive in the gulf. I remember thinking how simple the design was as well as how heavy they were. They were not any heavier than the large mostly plastic fins I had previously been using, but it was certainly something that stood out to me. The Bio Fin Pro is made with 100% rubber which is why they are heavier than you’d expect.
Since the Bio Fin is only available in the open back configuration, it is important to have a comfortable pair of booties. After examining them thoroughly for any defects and seeing how flexible they were, I tried them on. They fit perfectly and were very comfortable so I expected no comfort issues in the water. I did not get the stainless steel coil spring straps as I couldn’t spare the extra expense at the time but the straps it came with were very durable and comfortable and I have never had issues with them.
The next day I had my first pool session with the new fins and I was shocked at the difference with these compared to the paddle style fin I was using before. They were extremely comfortable and kicking was a breeze. It probably took me about 30 minutes or so to adjust my kick style and get comfortable in maneuvering, but once I adjusted I had no issues keeping up with others and fatigue was no longer a factor. By the end of the session I could tell I was much more maneuverable using the Bio Fin Pro and any reservations I had about my open water trip were gone.
Diving the Ocean with the Apollo Bio Fin Pro
When it came time to dive out in the Gulf we did two dives a day and a few shallow water drift dives over a three day period which amounts to several hours of diving with the Bio Fins in conditions ranging from calm high visibility to light to moderate currents. In those several hours of dive time I had no trouble keeping up with other divers, I never experienced leg cramping or ankle pain, and my air consumption was noticeably lower.
Structures and Maneuvering
One of our first dives was a shallow water natural spring dive which was certainly an easy dive but there were several man-made obstacles that were good for trying out the maneuverability of the Bio Fins. I swam in and around the structures sometimes chasing small fish and had no issues maneuvering through them. I was able to execute any change of direction without getting stuck or having to use the structure to aid in my maneuvering which gave me even more confidence in the abilities of the fin.
The next day we did a somewhat shallow dive near an entrance to the bay. This was supposed to be an easy dive as well but the current had picked up a bit which had everyone working hard. This was definitely not an extreme current but it certainly caught everyone by surprise and gave most of us our first experience fighting a current. I was able to stay with the pack during this dive and sometimes even lead with my dive buddy against current as some divers were noticeably behind.
Speed, Acceleration, and the Open Water
Our next dive later in the afternoon would be at a depth of roughly 80 feet and other than a slightly leaky mask in the earlier dive I was feeling very confident. The next three dives with the Bio Fin Pros proved to be absolutely awesome. Being at depth with 20 or so other divers I was really able to get a feel for their speed and acceleration as well as sustained paddling and in each case I was not let down.
When accelerating hard or kicking for speed I felt really confident in the acceleration I was able to achieve in relation to other divers around me who were using both paddle style fins and split fin designs by other manufacturers. There was only a few instances I felt that I could not compete and that was with one of the other dive instructors who had quite powerful legs as well as paddle fins. He was quite fast and could accelerate very quickly with his stiffer paddle fin. Other than that, I felt really good about the power to stress ratio I achieve using the Bio Fin Pros.
A Decade Strong as My Primary Dive Fin
Although I have tried out many other fins over the years the Apollo Bio Fin Pro remains my primary dive fin. It continues to suit me and the conditions I dive in very well. Whether I am doing a flutter-kick, dolphin-kick, or frog-kick this fin always performs outstandingly and suits me better than any other fin I have tried which includes every other well regarded split-fin.
There are certainly situations in which other may fins excel. Scenarios like really stronger currents where a paddle fin that is a bit stiffer may excel, or a technical dive were a compact dive fins that could maneuver confined spaces of a wreck without kicking up silt may be better. In each of those conditions I would still use my bio fin pros confidently. I would not spend extra money to purchase a better suited fin as I am rarely in those conditions and when I am in them, they are not a major concern with these fins.
As I said previously, these fins are top quality and I have maintained the same pair for roughly 13 years and they are still serving me well. Admittedly I do not dive hundreds of times a year like some but I know of a dive instructor who had logged over 8,000 dives on the same pair of Apollo Bio fin Pros with the stainless steel coil spring strap before needing a new pair.
Apollo Bio Fin Pro: Pros and Cons
Scuba Fin Pros
- Extremely Durable
- No Cramping
- Fast with great acceleration
- Reduced air consumption and energy output
- Negative Buoyancy
Scuba Fin Cons
- Less power compared to paddle fins
- Do not excel in technical dives
- Performing alternate kick methods are more difficult compared to paddle fins
- Heavy weight makes traveling with them difficult
Apollo Bio Fin Pro Technical Specs and Design
Bio Fin’s split fin technology provide lift and propulsion with less effort and more power. Unlike other fins which push water up and down, Bio Fin blades direct water flow over the leading and trailing edges to provide power, lift and forward thrust on each stroke.
- Open Heel
- Adjustable rubber strap or stainless steel spring strap
- 100% natural rubber blade and foot pocket
- Low Strain 20º angled blade works with the natural resting angles of ankle and knee
Apollo Sports designed the Bio Fins with a 20º angle to accommodate a diver’s natural tendency to bend slightly at the ankle and knee. The angle is crucial to top performance and comfort. The result is maximum propulsion with the least amount of stress on the body. Apollo’s natural rubber and design provides divers with quick acceleration, power, speed, and control.
Apollo Bio Fin Size Chart
|Fin Size||Men's Shoe Size||Women's Shoe Size||Fin Length in inches||Fin Width in inches||Fin Weight Per Pair|
As I said previously, these fins are top quality and I have maintained the same pair for roughly 13 years and they are still serving me well. Admittedly I do not dive hundreds of times a year like some but I know of a dive instructor who had logged over 8,000 dives on the same pair of Apollo Bio Fin Pros with the stainless steel coil spring strap before needing a new pair.
If I ever did feel I needed a bit more speed or acceleration to battle strong currents I would likely go with the Apollo Bio Fin XT or Yellow design. These models utilizes a stiffer rubber, the stiffest being the XT with a rigidity measurement of 75 and the Yellow being in between the two with a rigidity measurement of 70 (regular Bio Fin Pro has a rigidity of 65), which would provide the needed extra thrust.
The years I have spent with the Apollo Bio Fin Pro have only made me fonder of them. The longer I had them the better I got with my control and maneuvering. My years diving with them is the reason I am comfortable in almost any situation with them. While there are certainly some other great scuba fins that I have tried, I have yet to find myself in conditions that warrant a different pair.
If you are wondering, I usually dive in warm to cool waters with current ranging from none to moderate. I mostly dive natural and artificial reefs with the occasional wreck and I do not have very large muscular build but I certainly athletic. I hope this gives you a better idea of how the scuba fins perform in those conditions.
Still need more, here is a link to a technically detailed comparison review over at the scubadiving.com forums where a very experienced diver compares the Apollo Bio Fins in a 3 way test against ScubaPro and Aqualung fins.
Check out The Leisure Pro’s list of best scuba fins and find out what fins were good enough to join the Apollo Bio Fin Pro!
Buying a scuba mask is one of the best investments you can make into your scuba gear (along with a dive computer) and will likely be your first. If you are considering getting into scuba diving or just need snorkeling gear, you will quickly find out what most of us have already learned. Masks come in various shapes and sizes which can be good but it also makes it challenging to find the right one.
Jump right in and view our quick list! Below that are a few things to consider when searching as well as comparison chart and summary list detailing the best scuba masks. Our picks include various configurations and price ranges so there is something for everyone.
How To Choose The Best Scuba Mask – Quick Guide
Below are a few things to consider when searching for the best scuba mask for you. Try not to get overwhelmed as there is no “best configuration” only one that is best for you. Also, there is usually no difference in a scuba mask and a snorkeling mask as they are one in the same.
You have probably already noticed that there are single lens masks, dual lens masks, and even multi lens masks and you may be wondering if one is better than the other but that is something you have to decide. You can expect a few differences with each. A single lens will be less obstructive to your view but it will not accommodate prescriptive lenses. A dual lens can accommodate both prescriptive and replacement lenses but some do not like the vision split between the bridge of the nose. Multi lenses (my lens style of choice) will have a pane on each side of the scuba mask that provides a brighter and even greater field of vision.
Each dive mask will have a different angle than that of a diver’s face. The degree of angle will impact two things, the internal volume of the mask and most importantly, the lower field of view which is used most during dives and snorkeling. Note: Some divers find that the really low angled masks will cause the frame to put pressure on the bridge of their nose due to the lower part of the frame being designed to sit closer to the cheekbones and out of view.
One of the most important parts of a scuba mask, the skirting needs to provide a perfect yet comfortable seal to keep water from entering and obstructing a diver’s view. The quickest way to ruin a perfect dive is a leaky dive mask. Just about every manufacturer uses high grade silicone which everyone agrees is the best material for comfort and seal. Some have even started marketing mask skirting with a skin-like feel which is said to improve comfort even more.
The best masks will have a secondary skirt which increases the surface area that creates a water tight seal. Another aspect often overlooked is the skirting color which is typically either black or clear. It is certainly a preference thing but I prefer clear skirting due to the increased light it lets in (which is great for night dives) whereas black skirting feels too closed in. Clear skirting also allows me to detect movement in my periphery. I will note that sometimes clear skirts can allow a glare on the lens when used near the surface as a snorkel mask but I have never had an issue.
The most common dive mask has a rigged frame in which all components are attached to including the lens, skirt, and strap buckles. There are also frame-less masks which mold the silicone skirt directly around the other components which makes the mask very slim and low volume but if any one part fails it usually cannot be repaired and you will need to buy a new scuba mask.
Frame-less masks are great as a backup mask however due to the very low profile which allows them to be easily stowed away in a BC pocket. If your primary use will be as a snorkel mask then you can probably skip the added cost and purchase a rigged frame snorkel mask. Note: Frame-less masks usually do not accommodate prescription lenses as an option and will have to be sent to a third party in which RX lenses will be epoxied to the mask lens. I personally just wear my contact lenses as scuba mask with prescriptive lenses are pricey.
BUCKLES AND STRAPS
Diving masks usually come with a silicon strap which is looped through a buckle which is either attached to the skirt or the frame where you can adjust the strap. Having the buckle attached to the skirt reduces the tension put on the sides of the mask but I do not feel one system is better than the other. One essential accessory for your straps is the
slap strap! The dive mask slap strap is a wide neoprene sleeve that fits over the silicon strap which protects your hair from tangling in the strap and makes it easy to take the mask on and off.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR SCUBA MASK
With proper care your mask will easily last many years. After every dive be sure and rinse with plain warm water to remove any dirt or salt that may be on the dive mask. After you have rinsed it be sure and let it dry completely before storing it away in a dry location out of direct sunlight.
My list of best scuba masks was determined based on personal experience, mask features, quality, price, as well as customer reviews of each mask across several websites. Determining a single best scuba mask is something that is really not possible considering all of the different face shapes and preferences. My list contains the 10 best scuba masks which feature the most important and popular configurations so you can decide the best scuba mask with the features and fit you desire.
Compare The Top 10 Best Scuba Masks
|Image||Scuba Mask||Lens Type||Mask Frame||Skirt Color||Price|
|Atomic Aquatics Frameless||Single||Frameless||Black/Clear||$$$|
|TUSA Freedom HD||Single||Rigid||Black/Clear||$|
|ScubaPro Synergy2 TruFit||Twin/Single||Rigid||Black/Clear||$$$|
|ScubaPro Spectra TruFit||Twin||Rigid||Black/Clear||$$|
|Cressi Big Eyes Evolution||Twin||Rigid||Black/Clear||$|
|Atomic Sub-Frame ARC||Single||Rigid||Black/Clear||$$$|
The Top 10 Best Scuba Mask Reviews
The Hollis M1 is a frameless, low volume mask, and has an outstanding field of view. The M1 single lens is made with extra crystal clear Saint-Gobain Diamant Tempered Glass and has a low iron content, providing higher light transmittance and reduced green tint than other glass. Visibility is also outstanding with this mask and distortion free.
The M1 is also very comfortable to wear and has a very durable skirting. This is a great mask for both primary use or stowed away in a BCD pocket as a backup. If folds up nicely and is very slim when folded down for storage in a pocket. If you need a high quality, light weight versatile mask, the M1 is a great option.
Manufactured very much like the M1 with a low iron tempered glass, the Atomic Aquatics Frameless also boasts an “Ultra Clear” view and an extremely wide viewing angle with its single lens and low volume.
Atomic focused the mask design on fit, comfort, and functionality by equipping it with Easy Squeeze-to-Adjust buckles that are mounted behind the lens providing better access and a more hydrodynamic design. You can find it available in a regular or medium fit (for smaller, narrower faces).
Another comfortable, low volume option that can be used as a primary or stowed away in a BCD pocket as a backup.
The Freedom HD mask is a Single Tempered Glass Lens Mask with an incredibly wide field and a 180° Rotational Buckle System, which allows it to Fit a variety of face sizes while maintaining a low profile. The buckle system also gives you more options with how you choose to position the strap.
This mask also features a dimpled skirt surface with varied silicone thicknesses and stability ridges in addition to a double feathered edge skirt surface allowing it to maintain a great seal while conforming to varied face shapes. The Tusa Freedom is a great choice and a great mask at very reasonable price.
If you have had issues with mask fit and finding a mask that can seal to your face, definitely give the Tusa Freedom a try.
The Synergy2 is a single lens mask utilizing ScubaPro’s Ultra-Clear lens which provides exceptional clarity, light transmission, and no color distortion. This mask utilizes the latest TruFit skirt which features an inner thin skirt for amazing comfort and a thicker outer skirt. This provides support and rigidity near the frame, combined with the swivel buckles system it provides the best fit.
Synergy2 also has a twin lens option if that is your preference. Overall both masks offer an extremely comfortable fit and an amazing seal.
Same great shape as the Synergy2 but uses a single, varied thickness skirting, combined with the swivel buckles system it to, provides the best fit. It is also slightly cheaper that the Synergy2.
The Spectra is a two window mask with ultra-clear tempered lenses and features Scuba Pro’s first generation TruFit ultra-soft skirt which incorporates a uniformly thin silicone for max comfort and a universal fit. Its low profile and low volume makes for easy clearing of the mask.
The easy to reach nose pocket is also extremely convenient for ear equalization while wearing thick gloves. ScubaPro’s Spectra is an all-around great mask that fits well and is very comfortable.
For those with smaller faces checkout the SCUBAPRO SPECTRA 2. A smaller version of the Spectra without the Trufit Skirt but all of the other great features of the Spectra and a slightly cheaper price.
The mask is made from High Seal, a new material that offers extraordinary comfort. The new design uses High Seal silicone for softness and comfort, and new the design allows a point of contact between the mask and the face that has a very open angle. The entire structure of the skirt is differentiated, with internal ribs that stiffen the parts of the mask that are most stressed.
The raked inverted drop shape lenses are brought as close to the pupils as possible, so the visibility of the Matrix is increased by 25%. Big Eyes Evolution has been created to take prescription lenses: a small screwdriver and a few seconds are all it takes to replace the standard lenses with prescription lenses.
The Cressi Nano design utilizes an extremely low internal volume and hydrodynamic shape to reduce drag and improve efficiency making it especially useful for free-diving and spearfishing. The nose bridge has been thinned and strengthened to eliminate uncomfortable contact between the mask frame and the face.
The low profile and streamlined design makes this one of the best scuba masks for spear fishing. If a quality mask in a small form factor is what you are after, the Cressi Nano is certainly a great option.
The Solo is a single lens mask that offers a panoramic, low-volume field of view in a streamlined design. The crystal clear double-sealed silicone skirt molds to the face to create a comfortable, watertight seal.
Buckles with flexible mounts on the skirt allow you to easily route the non-slip strap to achieve the perfect fit. These are a great option to have corrective lenses added to the lens.
Sub-Frame is a low volume mask that features Atomic Aquatics developed ARC (Anti-Reflective Coating) technology to reduce reflected light and actually increase the amount of available light transmitted to a diver’s eyes. It greatly improves transmission at 98% of available light while also great at reducing any glare from stray light.
The Sub-Frame is one of the strongest masks on the market and carries a lifetime warranty against frame breakage. If you are concerned about durability, the Sub-Frame is one of the best scuba mask options.
The Impression’s lens, skirt, and frame are molded together in one shot as opposed to other masks where multiple pieces are snapped together. This allows the lens to come closer to the face which maximizes the field of vision.
The mask skirt goes further back on the face increasing the contact surface between face and silicone skirt enhancing comfort. The mask’s low volume also helps enhance the field of view.
Divers that have tried the Impression often comment that it is one of the best fitting masks they have tried. This low-profile mask seals great both on narrow and wide faces alike. A useful tip when choosing this mask is the black skirt is slightly softer than the clear skirt.
Quick Tips: Best Way To Prevent Mask Leaks and Lens Fogging
Once you have purchase a scuba ask you need to know a few tips to keep your mask from leaking or fogging up. A leaking or foggy mask will turn a fun and enjoyable scuba dive into a bothersome dive real quick. You will be constantly clearing your mask of water pooling at the bottom of your mask from leaks or water you intentionally introduced to clear any fog accumulation.
Avoiding Leaks: The main thing you want to focus on is achieving a proper fit. The two most common causes of leaks are facial hair or an encroaching hairline, and a mask that is pulled too tight with the straps. A scuba mask doesn’t actually have to be secured too tightly by the straps as the under water pressure does a good job of securing the mask. When the straps are too tight it will deform the skirting preventing a proper seal. Loosen that mask up if you are getting leaks and they will likely clear up.
As for hair under your skirting, this is an unfortunate factor for a lot of divers but there is a silicon paste you can use to improve and maintain the seal but there is no perfect solution.
Foggy Masks: Aside from being annoying a foggy mask can actually be dangerous as it limits diver awareness by obstructing your view and making you focus your attention on clearing the lens fog. The best way to deal with lens fog is prevention! You should always follow a manufacturers guidelines before attempting this but most masks will need to have the protective coating removed from the lens and a common way is rubbing toothpaste over the lens. You can also you a few drops of dish soap spread all over the lens and rinsed just before a dive, as well as products like antifog sprays to help keep your scuba mask from fogging up. These are cheap and easy solutions that can be easily stowed away in a dive bag.
Be sure and let us know which scuba mask you think is best in the comments and maybe we will check it out and see if it is worthy of the best scuba mask list. Feel free to check out our other reviews and lists of the best scuba diving gear at the links below!