Warm Water Survival Kit

What do you get when you head to the Yucatán with a haul bag full of the latest snorkeling and scuba gear, on a mission to cull the best of the best? These six superlative choices.

Feb 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

A.B. Biller Travel Spear ($94; 630-529-2729; www.abbiller.com) Never forget the lesson of the first season of Survivor: He who spears fish, thrives. A.B. Biller's four-piece travel spear turns any desert island into a sushi buffet, yet it breaks down small enough to fit into a backpack. Multiple tips are available, but you'll most likely want the Paralyzer, a dagger well suited to a variety of species—provided you've checked local customs and regulations beforehand.

Tusa Platina Hyperdry Mask ($83; 800-482-2282; www.tusa.com) With its latest Platina Hyperdry, Tusa fixed a major drawback of purge-valve masks by moving the exhaust valve from the nose and tucking it in the silicone skirt below the left lens. The result: a comfortable, low-volume mask that clears easily with a gentle exhale, even when completely flooded. And because of the valve location, bubbles pass to the side, not directly in front of your field of vision.

Ocean Master Dry Snorkel ($55; 626-582-8000; www.oceanmaster.com) Dry snorkels—which eliminate the need to clear water from flooded mouthpieces—have come a long way since the old ping-pong-ball-in-a-cage models. Ocean Master's patented design means no unexpected wave or dunking can spill brine into the barrel from the top, period. For any water that sneaks in around your lips, a mouthpiece purge valve provides a quick exit. There's one negative to the design, however: The air-filled tube pulls annoyingly at your mouth and mask strap when you dive.

Fab Force Fin SK2 ($125; 800-346-7946; www.forcefin.com) Everywhere snorkelers congregate you see them—suckers who rented cheap fins and are paying the price in the form of blisters. Sure, SK2s are pricey, but they're the gold standard in comfort and durability. An open-toed adjustable foot pocket makes 'em feel like slippers, not fins, and the snappy polyurethane blades have a light and zippy flipper action.
Henderson Polyolefin suit ($80; 856-825-4771; www.hendersonusa.com) Even paradise has its dark side. For snorkelers in tropical waters, it manifests as tiny stinging jellyfish, nasty coral scrapes, or the searing pain of a sunburned back. Luckily, Henderson's tropical-weight dive suit keeps those hazards at bay. Made from a 17-ounce poly/Lycra blend, it has neoprene knee-pads to protect the stretch fabric from tears, so you won't look like a wreck even though you're a certified beach bum.

Suunto Advanced Computer Watch ($775; 800-543-9124; www.suunto.com) For those infogeeks (myself included) for whom warm-water memories aren't enough, the Suunto Computer Watch is data-rich salvation. The handsome, stainless-steel-cased watch is a fully functional dive computer, depth gauge, and bottom timer. That means it'll chart and store every freedive you make below four feet, information which, when you get back to the office, you can download to the company PC and view with Suunto's accompanying Dive Manager software.

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