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Mike's London Dive Store Blog

December 13, 2016


Scubapro MK25 EVO S620Ti Regulator Now Available

Scubapro MK25 EVO S620Ti now available

The Scubapro MK25 EVO S620Ti Regulator is now available in store and online at Mike's Dive Store. This is a seriously high performance regulator that uses the MK25 EVO first stage with its high flow-through balanced piston design and the new S620Ti that builds on the success of the S600 with a smaller and lighter second stage housing and titanium valve barrel to further reduce the weight and also provide a hard wearing and corrosion resistant finish.

To celebrate the release of the MK25 EVO S620Ti we have put together four high specification dive equipment packages using products that have been hand chosen to match the high performance of the regulator. These packages are definitely for the discerning diver that wants the absolute best.

December 13, 2016


BARE Drysuit 30% Professional Discount Offer

BARE Drysuits

It's back, the 30% professional discount offer.

Instructors and dive masters love BARE suits - and the good news is the hugely popular 30% price reduction offer for professionals is on again until 23rd December 2016.

That's a serious saving on the trade price off your choice of suit from the entire BARE drysuit range (BARE undersuits and base layers are not included in this offer.)

All you need to do to obtain the 30% price reduction on a BARE drysuit is
complete a simple form and provide some form of qualification to confirm your professional diver status.

Contact us to learn more.

Paul Toomer dives the X-Mission

He’s director of Dive RAID, an instructor trainer, explorer, deep wreck enthusiast and much more - now Paul Toomer has been diving the BARE X-Mission drysuit. His recent expeditions have included the HMS Hampshire, which was carrying Lord Kitchener and more than 700 others when she struck a mine and sank off Orkney in 1916.

Paul says: “The material the [X-Mission] suit is made out of is just amazing. I have NEVER been so flexible underwater.

“The skills I complete as a deep open and closed circuit diver are sometimes complex and the need to be agile not only make completing the skills easier, but actually make me safer.


HMS Hampshire

  •     58 metres deep
  •     8-degree C water temp
  •     120 minute run times
  •     8 dives over 12 days

"The cut of the suit is perfect and when using rock boots and the BARE gators I can literally fall asleep while decompressing. Pushing through wrecks where I am constantly adjusting my trim and angle is just so simple. I suffer from zero gas chasing around the suit.

“The valves are also in a perfect position and are easy to use.

“If you want this suit back you will have to cut it off me.”

Have you tried the X-Mission yet? Contact us today to find out more.

Christmas Gift Ideas For Scuba Divers

Christmas Gift Ideas for Scuba Divers

It's Christmas Time!

The madness that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday is over, December is here and that means that Christmas shopping can begin in earnest.

There are just so many shiny new things that we all want as a diver, that it can be difficult to decide what to put in your letter to Santa, so we have come up with some lists of our own to help inspire you.

Whether it's a little gift to go in your stocking or a big present to try and fit under the tree, we'll have something that is perfect for you or your loved ones.

To make things even easier to we have grouped products into price brackets:

Christmas Gifts for Divers - £0 to £30

£0 to £30

Christmas Gifts for Divers - £30 to £60

£30 to £60

Christmas Gifts for Divers - £60 to £90

£60 to £90

Christmas Gift Ideas for Scuba Divers - £90 & Up

£90 & Up

If you are still completely stuck you can always call us on 0208 994 6006 or email us at shop@mikesdivestore.com for more advice.

November 28, 2016


RNLI Wellpoint Kiosk Comes to Mike's Dive Store

RNLI Wellpoint

We all know that our health is important but when was the last time you had a check up? As divers we put our bodies under some fairly unusual stresses, we saturate it with nitrogen and then ask it to release it all again, we subject it to increased pressure, lift and carry heavy equipment on a regular basis.

With all those extra factors affecting our bodies it is important to take a little extra care of it and our health to ensure we are fit to continue diving. In line with that we are working with the RNLI and DDRC Healthcare to promote the importance of cardiac health for divers.

From Monday 28thNovember 2016 we’ll be hosting a Wellpoint kiosk, which measures heart rate, blood pressure, weight, BMI and body fat. It also estimates the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years and estimates your heart age. It's quick and easy to use and guides you through a short Q&A about lifestyle and then gives you a personalised and confidential health statement. 

RNLI Wellpoint Kiosk

It’s part of an RNLI campaign which is encouraging divers, particularly men aged 45+, to have a general medical health check with a healthcare professional or diving doctor in order to reduce their chances of having a medical incident whilst diving.

We’ll have the Wellpoint kiosk in the store until 9th January. It's completely free, takes about 10 minutes and you can use it as often as you wish. Just pop into the shop and we'll show you how.

Introducing the NEW Apeks MTX-R Regulator Range

Apeks MTX-R Regulator Range

Apeks have announced the release of their new extreme cold water regulators, the MTX-R range, which have been designed in accordance with the United States Navy Experimental Dive Unit (NEDU) extreme cold water test.

Apeks has been working with and designing regulators for military use for years so it is not surprising that they have taken advantage of all that research and development time to create a new cold water regulator for all divers.

The range includes the MTX-R Regulator and an Octopus which are also available as a Stage 3 Set. Every piece of the regulators have been designed for extreme cold water use. In fact the test requires the regulators to perform in near freezing water at a depth of 60m without problems.

What does Extreme Cold Water mean?

The test that cold water regulators must pass is the EN250a which requires the regulator to descend to 50m in water temperatures of 2 to 4 degrees C for five minutes. The NEDU extreme cold water test goes well beyond this, requiring the regulator to descend to over 60m at 10m per minute in fresh water at a temperature of 0.5 degrees C (chilly!). It is then sat at 60m for 30 minutes at a constant breathing rate of 62.5 litres per minute with inspections for freeflow every 10 minutes before ascending at 18m per minute with a final freeflow inspection on the surface. A little more rigorous than EN250a!

Apeks MTX-R First Stage

The Apeks MTX-R First Stage just screams cold water performance with an environmentally sealed over-balanced diaphragm and a thorough covering of heat exchanging fins to help dissipate the cold temperatures created within the body.

There are four low pressure ports on the side of a parallel port turret and a fifth underneath the protective cap on the end. Two high pressure ports are situated on the main body at an optimal angle for hose routing.

Apeks MTX-R Second Stage

The MTX-R second stage is factory modified and adjusted for optimal performance and to minimise the risk of freeflows. As a result there are no diver adjustment controls fitted to the second stage.

A large heat exchanger is fitted over the hose inlet to the pneumatically balanced valve to help draw out the cold generated in the metal valve and pull in the warmth from the surrounding water. 

Apeks MTX-R Octopus The MTX-R octopus uses the same design and delivers the same performance of the second stage but is finished with a high visibility yellow hose, front cover and trim for better identification in an emergency.

The Apeks MTX-R regulator range is not just a extreme cold water marvel. The rugged design, materials and construction  means that they are capable of taken the knocks and bumps that are expected on any expedition, let along for for your average dive.

November 23, 2016


Black Friday Scuba Diving Equipment Deals

Black Friday Scuba Diving Deals

At Mike's Dive Store we have some unbelievable Black Friday deals on Scuba Diving Equipment including dive computers, regulators, consoles, BCDs and more. 

These offers are strictly whilst stocks last and first come first served so take a look through what is on offer now to make sure you don't miss out.

You can see all the products on offer HERE

Our email subscribers got early access to these amazing deals so make sure you sign up to our newsletter at the bottom on this page to avoid missing out in the future.

Choosing a Diving Drysuit

Choosing a Diving Drysuit

Divers looking to keep warm in colder water or during long dives have more choice than ever before but the choice is a very personal thing. Some divers will swear by a neoprene suit from one manufacturer whereas another will only dive in a membrane from another brand.

Besides the obvious option of membrane or neoprene you’ll also need to consider whether you want an off the peg size, customised fit or fully made to measure, what type of wrist and neck seals you want, the type of boots you’ll need and several other possibilities.

These days most drysuit manufacturers offer some degree of customisation, especially those that either make or finish the suits in their own facilities rather than receiving a finished product from a mass production factory.

Here we will cover some of the basics of how to choose the right drysuit for you and we will start by looking at the differences between membrane and neoprene drysuits. You can find out more about the two different suits by clicking the links for more information about how they work.

Membrane Vs Neoprene

The two suits are significantly different. By themselves they offer different thermal and buoyancy properties, the fit is different because of the stretch of the materials and components such as the seals, zips type and zip placement options can be different.

Membrane Drysuits

Let’s start with the membrane variety. When we say membrane we are referring to a drysuit that is made from a fabric material rather than neoprene and might also be called a trilaminate drysuit.

The ‘Tri’ refers to the typical three layers of materials that make up the fabric which include a hard-wearing outer, a waterproof middle and a softer more comfortable inner. There are and have been drysuit that are only made from two different materials and there are some that are made from more than three.

Membrane drysuits are very versatile and the possibilities that can be achieved by a manufacturer are almost endless because there is so much choice of material combinations. If you want a heavy duty suit you might add a Cordura or similar material to the outer layer for outstanding abrasion protection, if you need a lightweight suit you go for lightweight materials that fold and roll easily.

The major weakness of a membrane suit is that it has next to no thermal insulation itself so it is essential that additional thermal layers in the form of an undersuit is also bought. This might sound like a big disadvantage but it can also be a massive advantage if you dive year round or in various dive destinations where the water temperature various.

A few pros and cons are listed below but the merits and pitfalls of this type of suit are discussed further in our Membrane Drysuit Guide.

Pros

Cons

  • Versatile – Much more design, material and component options
  • No buoyancy fluctuations due to material compression.
  • Quick drying
  • The design is more forgiving for diver weight and size changes.
  • Negligible thermal insulation – an undersuit is essential
  • The fabric has little stretch so are baggier to accommodate movement

Neoprene Drysuits

Neoprene drysuits also offer some degree of material choice but generally we are choosing the thickness of the neoprene and whether it is standard neoprene or been subjected to compression or crushing processes.

Neoprene is thermally insulating so the need for additional thermal layers is reduced but neoprene is also buoyant because it is full of tiny air bubbles which is what helps to provide that insulation. The trouble with air when diving is that it compresses as you go deeper. As with a wetsuit the neoprene is naturally compressed, the suit gets thinner and its buoyancy is reduced making the diver heavier at depth.

To help reduce this problem manufacturers offer suits made from compressed and crushed neoprene that has been through a process of altering the structural make-up of the neoprene to pre-compress the air bubbles and therefore reducing the fluctuation of buoyancy as you dive. Compressed and crushed suits offer slightly less thermal insulation than standard neoprene because the air gaps have been shrunk and can cost a little more due to the extra steps needed during manufacturing.

A few pros and cons are listed below but you can find out more about neoprene suits in our Neoprene Drysuit Guide.

Pros

Cons

  • Neoprene is thermally insulating reducing the need for additional thermal layers
  • Neoprene stretches with movement allowing for a snugger fit
  • Neoprene is buoyant and affected by compression
  • The suits tend to be heavier and bulkier to transport
  • The snugger fit is not so accommodating for diver weight and size changes.

Fit

Getting the right fit is important and it is better to be able to try on different sizes with the appropriate thermal clothing for the style of suit and the expected water temperature to ensure a comfortable fit.

There are essentially three options when it comes to sizing and fit:

  • Off the peg – Standard sizes
  • Customised – An off the peg size suit that usually can be modified slightly in the arms, legs and boots for a better fit.
  • Made to measure – A tailor made suit to your exact dimensions

Off the peg suits will typically offer a good list of features at a very reasonable price as they can be manufactured in bulk and stored ready for distribution and purchase. The disadvantage is that they must accommodate a range of size variations so might not fit perfectly compared to a customised or made to measure suit. If you want to change the valves, add extras or modify it from the original specification this may not be the option for you as any modifications may affect the warranty.

Customised suits provide the option of altering a standard off the peg size suit slightly to offer a better fit or perhaps change some of the components before it is finished such as swapping for a different seal system. The options available will depend entirely on what the manufacturer offers, will require extra time to finish the suit and may cost more than the standard price for the different components. As the suit has been customised for you there is the possibility that returning the suit may be difficult so it is important that you are sure about your choice and alterations.

Made to Measure suits offer the pinnacle of fit with the suit being made to your exact measurements. Made to measure suits are more expensive and will take time to complete so it is worth the effort of being expertly measured. You will typically be able to have much more say about the components and extras fitted to the suit such as thing pocket, etc as they can be accommodated during the manufacture.

Components

Zip

All drysuits are fitted with a dry zip either across the back of the shoulders or diagonally across the front of the body but there are several different styles of zip.

The standard style of zip is made from a combination of brass teeth and rubber seal that zip together to create a waterproof seal. Brass zips are the cheapest option but are stiff, must be cleaned and lubricated to ensure correct zipper movement and can be prone to damage if bent the wrong way.

Another option is a composite zip which are entirely made from lightweight synthetic materials. These zips are highly flexible, are much thinner and easily to maintain but may cost a little more.

Where the zip is positioned can affect the flexibility of the suit and determine how self-sufficient you are when getting in and out of the suit. Suits that feature a brass zip are restricted by the rigidity of the zip so the suit will not be as flexible wherever it is placed. Rear zips traditionally offered better flexibility in the rest of the suit but require someone else to close and open the zip for you. Front diagonal zips allow you to close and open the zip yourself but traditional brass zips limit the movement of the suit. New composite zips significantly reduce the flexibility problems so front entry drysuits have become much more popular.

Seals

Seals fitted at the neck and wrists keep the suit watertight when in use with neoprene and membrane suits being fitted with different material seals as standard. Neoprene suits are typically fitted with neoprene seals and membrane suits get latex seals as standard.

Neoprene seals tend to be more comfortable but divers often comment about a little water entry whilst diving. Latex seals are stretchy but can feel very tight when new and can deteriorate over time, especially if not properly maintained.

Silicone seals are offer the best of both worlds, the comfort and softness of neoprene but the flexibility and stretch of latex. Silicone seals cannot be directly fitted to the suit so require a mounting ring that it glued to the suit. Silicone seals need a little more care when getting the suit on and off but do not deteriorate like latex does over time. The ring system also allows for replacement of a damaged seal in minutes rather than hours of preparation and gluing.

Valves

Valve design hasn’t changed in many years and there are only a few truly trusted manufacturing brands. Your choices will be whether you would like a swivelling or fixed orientation inflator valve and either a cuff dump, standard auto dump or low profile auto dump.

The inflator valve is what allows air to be injected into the suit to increase buoyancy and maintain that thermal barrier. A fixed orientation valve is simply fitted and pointed in the general direction of the inflator hose whereas a swivelling valve can be rotated to the best position by the diver.

Deflation valves allow the diver to vent air to reduce buoyancy. This can either be achieved via a manual cuff dump that is activated by raising the wrist sufficiently and lowering to stop. The alternative is to use an automatic valve that works on internal air pressure to open and close the valve depending on the sensitivity set by rotating the valve. These are fitted to the shoulder as this is typically the highest point when ascending and are available in standard and low profile versions.

Boots

Drysuits either come with a heavy duty rubber boot or neoprene socks, both of which are glued to the suit. The choice is personal but the advantage of a neoprene sock is that it allows you to pick the style of boot you put over the top of the sock.

The integrated boot is heavy duty with a thick sole, will have good tread for traction and usually incorporate a strap retainer on the heel. They do the job and mean it is something else you don’t have to remember to bring.

If you go for the neoprene sock option there is a wide choice of boots including the standard neoprene boots used for wetsuits which will offer an extra thermal layer over your feet or canvas style boots that are hard-wearing and offer excellent abrasion and puncture protection.

There is a lot to think about when choosing a drysuit and will typically have a big monetary value attached to it so it is important to weigh up all the options. We are available to answer any questions about the suits we offer or sizing queries. We have a wide range of suits available in store to try on so please give us a call to arrange a fitting session with one of our specialists.

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