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Gear of The Year: The Best New Dive Gear & Equipment

Monica Medina; Artwork by Rachel Brooks

The Gear of the Year issue of Scuba Diving is an annual tradition that highlights some of diving’s latest and greatest new gear. Whether deciding what to purchase for the first time, updating older gear or heading into something more specialized like tec, ice diving or freediving, this is the article for you.

OTS Spectrum

Full-face scuba masks often seem bulky, complicated and expensive. The Spectrum is none of the above. The lightweight silicone skirt is comfy and effective for a variety of face shapes and sizes, and doesn’t feel much different from using a typical scuba mask and regulator. The mask is compatible with most standard regs and can be used with OTS’s underwater communication systems. The Spectrum was our Testers Choice for full-face scuba masks.

MSRP $459; Contact Oceantechnologysystems.com

Cressi Atom

Instead of a traditional frame, this mask’s structure comes from a rigid core co-molded to the lenses. The result is a super-low internal volume for effortless equalization and clearing. It also puts the lenses right up against the eyes for a natural field of view. The stiff skirt is very comfortable, easy to seat and incredibly dry. The Atom was our Best Buy for duallens masks.

MSRP $84.95, $94.50 (With Mirrored Lenses); Contact cressiusa.com

Monica Medina; Artwork by Rachel Brooks

Sherwood Cruz

This low-profile mask sports a lightweight frame available in five eyecatching marbled designs. The soft, supple skirt provides a gentle, comfortable fit with a highly effective watertight seal—even for divers with smaller, narrower faces. A small internal volume makes the mask a breeze to clear and equalize. Colorful, comfy and dry, the Cruz was our Testers Choice for dual-lens dive masks.

MSRP $115; Contact sherwoodscuba.com

Tusa Zensee

The Zensee’s expansive single lens is seated close to the eyes for a very wide field of view and a low internal volume—and the pro version features a UV 420/AR lens treatment. The skirt is soft and smooth against skin. It fits a wide variety of faces and is stiff enough to resist deformation in strong current. The result is a very comfortable seal that took the top score in its category for dryness. The Zensee was our Testers Choice for single-lens masks.

MSRP $99, $169 (Zensee Pro); Contact tusa.com

Nex Maya with 2-Inch Second Stage

Pairing a super-compact first stage with an equally tiny featherweight second, this system is sized for easy packing and maximum comfort. It scored highly for ease of breathing on the simulator and in the water. The second stage controls—such as the grippy breathing adjustment and the supple, responsive purge—are both ergonomic and effective. The Maya was our Best Buy for regulators.

MSRP $539.98; Contact nexdive.com

Apeks XL4 Ocea

This high-performance reg offers dry, effortless breathing regardless of depth or breathing rate and is highly resistant to free-flow. The compact system includes a lightweight second stage that provides all-day diving comfort. In addition to its heavyhitting performance, divers will also appreciate this reg’s environmentally conscious construction, which uses recycled materials and plant-based bioplastics along with solar power and other eco-minded processes. The Apeks XL4 Ocea was our Testers Choice for regulators.

MSRP $729; Contact apeksdiving.com

Monica Medina; Artwork by Rachel Brooks

Oceanic+

Test divers loved the crisp, colorful characters and clean, organized layout of Oceanic’s exclusive Apple Watch Ultra dive computer app. It manages to pack in a ton of data—such as a digital compass—without feeling crowded or complicated to use. The device’s lightweight titanium construction and excellent ergonomics further cemented this smartwatch-turned–dive computer as a test diver favorite. The Oceanic+ was our Testers Choice for recreational dive computers.

MSRP $799.95 (Apple Watch Ultra); Free, With Premium Subscription Starting at $9.99/Month (Oceanic+ App); Contact oceanicworldwide.com

Genesis Graviton

With a slick watchlike look and feel, this ergonomic dive computer offers a user-friendly operation and a colorful logical display that is easy to scan quickly. Testers appreciated the inclusion of haptic feedback. Other standout features include a handsfree “twist to next” gesture recognition to cycle dive data and automatic dive log site name recognition using GPS. The Graviton was our Best Buy for recreational dive computers.

MSRP $690; Contact genesisscuba.com

Related Reading: Best Dive Gear Bags of 2023 Reviewed

Garmin Descent G1

Incredibly small and lightweight, this computer offers great comfort and ergonomics, especially for smaller divers. But it still manages to pack in a ton of features, including advanced modes for trimix and closed-circuit rebreather diving, as well as fitness, GPS and smartwatch capabilities. Operation is intuitive, and the monochrome dive display is clean and organized for easy reading. Optional solar charging extends run time in the field. The G1 was our Testers Choice for technical dive computers.

MSRP $549.99, $649.99 (Solar); Contact garmin.com

Related Reading: Artist Spotlight: Rachel Brooks

Bags

Monica Medina; Artwork by Rachel Brooks

Gili Gear Medium Gear Bag

Handcrafted of colorful repurposed vinyl mesh, this bag is as simple as it is rugged. The tough, sandproof mesh is mildew-resistant and fast-draining and will look like new after many years of use. The medium-size bag we tested is 26 inches long with a 14-inch diameter, but several other sizes are available to accommodate a variety of kits. Sturdy grips and a duffelstyle handle make for easy handling. This bag was our Best Buy for mesh bags.

MSRP $88; Contact giligear.com

Akona Huron DX Mesh Backpack

This large-capacity backpack can hold any assortment of dive gear. A wide drawstring top and convenient side zipper provide easy access to the bag’s contents. Padded adjustable straps make it easy and comfortable to carry gear long distances. The coated mesh is super durable and won’t snag on gear while packing. Test divers loved the rolltop dry pocket, which provides accessible waterproof stowage for personal items and small electronics. The Huron DX was our Testers Choice for mesh bags.

MSRP $115; Contact akona.com

Stahlsac Abyss

With three sizes to suit any load, this tough, weatherproof hybrid duffel/backpack can be used to keep water in or out thanks to its 100 percent waterproof TPU laminated material and RF welded construction. The boxy design makes the most of the interior space, and the large U-shaped flap lies open for easy packing. It has several interior compartments, including two waterproof pockets. Plentiful grips and handles make for easy lifting and lashing. The Abyss was our Testers Choice for dry duffel bags.

MSRP $199.95 (50L), $229.95 (75L), $249.95 (100L); Contact stahlsac.com

Osprey Shuttle 36”

This big bag stands solidly and handles well thanks to multiple ergonomic grips and a heavy-duty chassis with all-terrain wheels. Its large size allows it to accommodate an average set of dive gear, clothing and personal items in a single piece of luggage. Multiple compartments, including a hidden magazine pocket with drainage holes on the spine of the bag, make for easy organization. Large, padded panels and exterior compression straps ensure any size load is snug and secure. The Shuttle 36” was our Testers Choice for large roller bags.

MSRP $375; Contact osprey.com

Cressi Whale

This bag maintains a squat, compact profile that is easy to wrangle but large enough that it can accommodate an average set of dive gear with ease. Multiple interior compartments, including one that can be accessed from the outside, allow for easy organization. An EVA foam protects the back of the case, while the soft front panels and compression straps help cinch down less-than full loads. The Whale was our Best Buy for large roller bags.

MSRP $234.95; Contact cressi.com

Monica Medina; Artwork by Rachel Brooks

Xs Scuba Passage

This snorkel’s dry top proved to be bone-dry during our in-water testing. Not only did it stop water entry from surge and submersion alike, this snorkel also earned the only excellent score for air delivery in its category. Other convenient features include a flexible elbow, a purge valve and a removable mouthpiece. The sliding, rotating strap adjustment features an easy-to-use quick disconnect for easy attachment and removal. The Passage was our Testers Choice for dry snorkels.

MSRP $49.95; Contact xsscuba.com

Riffe Stable

This low-profile, semi-rigid snorkel scored highly for dryness and air delivery. Test divers described it as both comfortable and convenient. The snorkel attaches to the mask strap using an intuitive pinch-release clasp that doesn’t require loose parts and can be operated with a single hand. The large lower cavity keeps water away from the user’s airway and has a purge valve for exceptionally easy clearing. The Stable was our Testers Choice for semi-dry snorkels.

MSRP $52.50; Contact riffeinternational.com

Related Reading: The Best New Dive Computers of 2023 Reviewed

Tusa Reef Tourer

Simple and affordable, this basic snorkel impressed test divers with its overall performance and comfort. During our in-water ergonomics testing, it scored very good for dryness, air delivery and ease of clearing. The snorkel features a rotating mouthpiece for improved comfort. The top of the snorkel tube uses high-visibility reflective tape. The snorkel’s soft, flexible construction allows it to be folded up for easy stowage in a BC pocket. The Reef Tourer is our Testers Choice for open-top snorkels.

MSRP $20; Contact tusa.com

Fourth Element Splash

This semi-dry snorkel showed solid performance overall during our in-water testing. The highly effective splash guard helped it take the top score for dryness in its category. It features a twopiece pivoting mask attachment, which includes a low-profile quick-disconnect. It is very comfortable to use, and test divers especially liked the mouthpiece. It is very stable while swimming, with no wobbling or shaking. The Splash is our Best Buy for semidry snorkels.

MSRP $44.10; Contact fourthelement.com


Rachel Brooks is a scientific illustrator based in the Scottish Highlands. Her highly detailed subject matter draws from her background in scuba diving and marine biology. Brooks’ travels to the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef and Lembeh Strait inspired the intricate designs she created as backdrops for this issue’s Gear of the Year feature. Learn more about her process as well as the inspirations behind her meaningful art here.