On a recent cold-water dive trip, I decided to try out a bunch of new gear to see how it performed in the chilly — no wait, refreshing — waters of Tobermory, Canada. Wrecks, caverns, 47 F (8 C) water, and sometimes silty conditions provided a good environment for a cold-water immersion gear test with my brand new Cressi gear.
Cressi has environmentally sealed the MC9-SC/Compact Pro regulator, so it’s a good choice for cold-water diving. My dive buddy and guide mentioned multiple times in his briefing to the group that free-flows in the chilly water were not uncommon. I had no such issues, and the silt didn’t seem to bother it either. This capable reg breathed the same at 100 feet (30 meters) as it did on the surface.
The jacket-style Aquapro+ BCD turned out to be a good one for beginners. It’s affordable; it’s light for travel; and did its job well. Its large pockets and four D-rings make storage for your odds and ends easy. Since I was in cold water, I required a lot of weight to get my thick neoprene-covered body to descend. I did find that this BC had a bit of trouble providing the lift I needed at depth. Overall, it’s a light, simple jacket, with ample storage and great gravity weight pouches, but it might not be the best choice for very cold water.
I like short fins. It’s rare for me to wear fins other than the ones I’ve been using for years. Throw just about any other piece of gear on me and I’ll make do, but I’m pretty picky about my fins. However, I can’t wear booties with my favorite fins and booties were a necessity on this trip. I buckled on the Frog Plus EBS fins and was pleasantly surprised. As far as fins go, they’re not super long (a bonus for me), and I was able to frog kick, helicopter turn, and even hit reverse with them on. Given that this was the piece of gear I had the most reservations about, I didn’t mind being wrong about them.
Big Eyes mask
The low-volume Big Eyes mask lives up to its name. I feel like it did give me a wider view. While the skirt was a little softer than I usually prefer, the fact that it was so easy to clear made up for that. Unlike my usual mask, I could easily use this one freediving. It was extremely comfortable and adjusted easily.
I know what you’re probably thinking: a computer is a computer, cold water or not. But, I wanted to see how this one did alongside all my other new gear. One thing is for certain — it absolutely confirmed to me how chilly the water was. I could easily hear the alarms (bad Shelley!); the info on the screen was easy to view, and it was simple to program. The Giotto turned out to be overall great computer at an affordable price.