Holiday packing is always a chore. Dive holiday packing is often worse. Divers are some of the worst culprits alongside backpackers and sailors when it comes to obsessing over grams; but with the cost of travelling on the rise and space on boats at a premium who can blame them? So when going through our liveaboard packing checklist and seeing a changing robe as piece of ‘essential kit’ I must admit I scoffed at the thought. Surely my back up, back up torch was more important!
However, the only thing worse than my obsession with redundancy is my obsession with new kit. A habit I indulge in a bit too often here at Mike’s. Funnily enough, as I was discussing whether a changing robe was really necessary, we received a new shipment of the Fourth Element Storm Poncho in glorious burgundy. So, I thought why the hell not; new kit and I can look fashionable in it? Worst-case scenario I would be the best dressed diver on the boat!
Little did I know that that one little piece of gear would do more to raise the green-eyed monster than any other bits of dive gear I had brought along with me. It’s hard to marvel at the gorgeous Scubapro Mk25 Titanium X-Ti’s the boss lent me, or field questions on how comfy and sleek my Scubapro Hydros Pro BCD was in the water when 40-knot winds are ripping across the dive deck and everyone is hopping and screaming trying to get in or out of their kit as fast as possible. I, on the other hand, had a lovely time setting up my kit, warm and snug in my completely windproof poncho. Never mind that the cosy microfibre lining towelled me dry by the time I made it upstairs for my hot chocolate. By the end of the trip I must admit I was totally in love with my poncho and spent as much time in it as I spent in my actual dive kit. Other than fending off constant threats of theft from other jealous divers I could not recommend it enough!
Nor is it only for sunny Sharm. Here in the UK we are blessed with near-constant murky drizzle, and with a hydrostatic head of 10,000mm, the Storm Poncho will not only keep you warm it will also keep you totally dry. With side poppets for ease of changing, and two ginormous hand-warmer pouches, it’s the first thing I reach for when getting out of the water now and has become an essential part of my dive loadout. You won’t catch me diving without it.