PERFORMANCE Apeks’ XTX reg line has been around for almost a decade and includes six different breathing systems. This year the entire line received some upgrades, which prompted us to retest two models to see if anything had changed in the performance department.
Turns out, not so much. The XTX200 — the top dog in the line — is still able to ace breathing-machine tests without breaking a sweat, and in the ocean, it breathes like a dream. For this year, engineers improved the reg’s gas flow and balancing properties (not that it needed it), and added a fifth port to the first stage to increase hose-routing options. The second stage continues to come with a ComfoBite mouthpiece and a choice of exhaust tees. The wider tee does the best job of keeping bubble interference to a minimum, but the narrower tee is lighter and more compact. The reg offers an efficient purge and great user adjustments.
BOTTOM LINE A smooth, dry breather in all swimming positions, the XTX200 is, as one test diver put it, a “kick-ass reg.”
Part of Apeks’ line of tec-oriented wing systems, the model we tested was built around a new ultralight travel plate, 18-pound-lift single tank doughnut, one-piece harness and SureLock weight system. You’ll need a bit of patience to adjust the harness and serrated retainers. Fortunately you need to fiddle with that only once, and the payoff is a rock-solid platform that earned top scores. Divers praised it for stability and comfort, rugged construction, a great tank-strap system, well-placed D-rings and flawless valve operation. The weight system — which divers rated “excellent” — holds up to 20 pounds. You’ll pay for all this performance. While the WTX mashes flat enough to fit inside a suitcase, it’s less compact and weighs a little more — and costs quite a bit more — than many other travel BCs. But you also have the ability to easily change components, such as a larger air cell for more tec-heavy use. For its performance and flexibility, the WTX is our Testers’ Choice for travel BCs.
Buoyant Lift: 18 pounds
AQUA LUNG LINEA
This Italian-made dive mask was designed for a woman’s face, but testers found you don’t have to be a female to get a good fit. The lens, skirt and Euro-sleek frame are molded as one rather than assembled or pressed together. This allows the lens to be positioned very close to the eyes, resulting in excellent field of vision as well as low volume — the lowest in this category. The Linea is built with a large skirt to provide more contact area with the skin and reduce those annoying mask marks on the face. The mask features Aqua Lung’s full-swivel Cardanic Joint buckles that hold fast but allow for quick micro adjustments. The buckles also have guards built in to prevent hair entanglements, and the strap has a wide headband for added comfort.
AQUA LUNG X-SHOT/SHOT FX
PERFORMANCE: The X-Shot features an elastomer blade fitted with a high-flex center panel and a unique “Power Zone” that acts as an intermediary to the blade/foot pocket connection. The Shot FX is the female version of the X-Shot. It offers special foot-pocket sizing and a shorter, softer blade. Performancewise, test divers loved the X-Shot. This includes the female divers, who liked the color of the Shot FX but felt the sizing of the X-Shot foot pocket better-suited them. While not as maneuverable as others, the X-Shot was one of the faster fins, able to generate good power without leg stress.
BOTTOM LINE: While the Shot FX garnered responses among female test divers, the X-Shot was a crowd favorite, earning a Top 3 Favorites list for this category
AQUA LUNG STRATOS ADJ
PERFORMANCE: The Stratos ADJ is the most traditional-looking fin in this year’s roundup, but looks can fool. The big blade offers enough stiffness to maintain stability with just enough flex to dampen leg and ankle stress. In speed and acceleration, it falls right in the middle of the paddle-fin pack. Using a slow, relaxed kick, the fin will move you quite nicely and will produce decent thrust when needed. It is pretty maneuverable too, in spite of its size, and test divers lauded the foot pocket for its comfort and fit. They also liked the easy-cinch straps with their grab-eyes and large heel loops, making this an easy fin to adjust as well as don and doff. The fin also scored high for its nonskid.
BOTTOM LINE: The Stratos ADJ is marketed as an entry-level fin, but vets will appreciate its performance. For comfort, solid kicking chops and budget price, it earned the Best Buy for this category
ScubaLab: Reg Review
PERFORMANCE If you want XTX200 performance but are looking to save some cash, check out the XTX50. Except for some cosmetics, the second stages are identical, with the same left/right reversibility, efficient user adjustments, choice of exhaust tees and ComfoBite mouthpiece. The big difference is in the first stage. The XTX50 first stage, while environmentally sealed like the XTX200, also offers a rotating lP port turret with a new fifth lP port perched on top.
Like its big brother, the XTX50 earned perfect scores in Scubalab’s standard breathing-machine tests, and was even able to dip a toe into the muscle-reg realm. In the ocean, test divers rated the reg’s user adjustments as among the best of this test group. It offers minimal bubble interference, an efficient purge and effortless air delivery in all diving positions.
BOTTOM LINE If you like diving top-end regs, but your wallet’s running on the light side, the XTX50 is a great way to enjoy a lot of breathing performance for not a lot of money.
Aqua Lung Titan LX -- June 2009 Editor\'s Pick
STORY LINE The Titan LX is new and improved — and that\'s more than just marketing. Fresh from a revamp
that some might say wasn\'t needed, the result is plenty appealing. KEY FEATURES A diaphragm first stage that, by design, is sealed against the environment, is also incredibly compact. It includes Aqua Lung\'s ACD (auto-closure device), which automatically seals the first stage when it\'s depressurized from a tank, thus protecting internal parts from moisture. The first stage is plumbed with four MP and one HP port. The system\'s second stage is also modestly sized and pneumatically balanced. It features a Venturi-adjustment lever that helps kill free-flow at the surface, a Comfo-bite mouthpiece for reduced jaw fatigue and a wide exhaust tee to help keep the diver\'s vision clear. DIVER IMPRESSIONS Aqua Lung\'s update was sufficient because we really can\'t find anything else to improve. Breathing performance was outstanding and comparable to only one other reg in our group. We\'re big, big fans of the ACD device, since it allows the reg to be given a freshwater bath without flooding the first stage, and we still love the Comfo-bite mouthpiece. The Venturiadjustment switch was easy to find and manipulate with gloves, and the exhaust tee positively slings bubbles away from the diver\'s face. MSRP $440 CONTACT aqualung.com.
With the available adapter rings, the Airsource 3 allows you to use it on almost any BC.
The Airsource 3 stands out from the crowd with a high-performance balanced second stage well suited to the modern \"overbalanced\" first stages available today. It\'s also notable for a redesigned \"Trim Grip\" in the middle of the hose. This can be tugged at to vent air from the BC, and it houses a bayonet mount that allows for easy detachment of the reg for packing and traveling. The Airsource 3 also uses a standard hose connection between the first and second stages for better performance rather than a quick disconnect. A cutoff valve has been added to shut off air supply to the unit in case of a malfunction.
Aqua Lung Slingshot - Editor\'s Pick - March 2009
The only fin on the market with a three-speed transmission. And yes, it\'s a stick.
Unique silicone Power Bands help keep long paddle blades in tension. On each kick cycle, the bands stretch to store energy and then release it just before the upstroke for an added boost of power. The blade itself hinges at the midpoint of the foot pocket, which not only provides a wide range of motion but also reduces foot and leg strain while kicking. The fin\'s Power Bands are also adjustable. Three settings are available so divers can fine-tune performance to best suit dive conditions as well as their own leg strength. A well-shaped foot pocket is built for both comfort and security and easily handles all types of dive boots.
Visit sportdiver.com/slingshotvideo to watch Editor Ty Sawyer\'s review of this fin.
Aqua Lung is excited to offer Slingshot - a revolutionary fin that will take the dive world by storm.The Slingshot™ will make diving more comfortable, efficient and fun. Its innovations include Power Bands, Gear Shift and Mid-foot Flex Joint that all add up to provide a wonderful diving experience.
COLORS AVAILABLE: Black / Silver, Blue / Silver and Red / Silver
SIZES AVAILABLE: Small, regular and Large/X-large
Features of Slingshot:
Pure silicone Power Bands are loaded with energy on the power stroke. They release their energy prior to the upstroke to provide an added boost of power
Instead of wasting your energy, you accumulate it and reclaim it!
Power bands lessen fatigue and add thrust
3-speed Gear Shift customizes your speed to effort ratio to fit the specific conditions of your dive
Three different settings are available
Easy to shift during the dive, even with gloves
Mid-foot Flex Joint
The blade is attached to the foot pocket using two Mid-foot Flex Joint
This takes the strain off of the toes and the top of the ankle. The result is a dramatic improvement in comfort
You can now use the entire foot to power the fin rather than just the front half of the foot
Provides the blade a significantly larger range of motion, often up to 5 times that of a conventional fin
Aqua Lung Micromask - March 2008 Editors Pick
EDITOR\'S PICK - MARCH 2008
Lots of viz and little to clear make this mask great for free diving — and excellent for all-round use. KEY FEATURES The Micromask\'s patented structure allows the lenses to fit in the ocular orbit, bringing them closer to the eyes for an extremely wide peripheral view. Extra-low volume makes this mask easy to clear. It features patented cardanic (double-joint) buckles that rotate both up and down and in and out, providing adaptability and comfort to a wide range of head shapes. Aqua Lung\'s quick counter-posed push-button activation makes the buckle easy to use, even while wearing gloves. MSRP $100 (with black silicone skirt, $115)
SAFEThe intuitive i3™ will change the way you dive forever. With this innovative technology, a lever helps you control your buoyancy. It’s that simple.
It’s diving made easier — take control of yourself.
The i3 (patent pending) allows you to take control of your diving. Mastering buoyancy control is one of the most difficult skills to learn. The i3 not only makes the skill easier but eliminates potential out-of-control-ascents caused by a diver reaching for the wrong dump valve. The i3 also allows for rapid location and activation of the inflator to establish buoyancy at the surface in case of an emergency.
The i3 is simple and intuitive. Move the lever up to inflate; down to deflate your jacket.
Unlike a traditional inflator at the end of a floppy hose, the i3 never moves. It is stationary at the same location where your left hand normally rests. It is always in the right place at the right time.
The i3 does not utilize pneumatics or hydraulics to activate the Flat E-Valves. Therefore, there is no possibility of failure due to leaks. Using push-rod technology, as found in aircraft, the design remains simple and robust.
The i3 is just plain fun to use.