ScubaLab Testers Choice and Best Buy winners are selected in head-to-head testing for various categories of scuba diving gear. Results are based on scoring by ScubaLab test divers and the results of objective testing of performance, such as on a breathing simulator, in a pool or in a decompression chamber.
Cressi is proud that several of its products have received numerous Testers Choice and Best Buy Awards. For this 2020 and 2021 we had new awarded products:
Compact and streamlined, the Patrol is a travel-friendly solution that sacrifices little convenience or performance. Though the rear-inflation air cell provides an impressive 46 pounds of buoyant lift in size medium, an elastic bungee keeps the system stable and streamlined, with very little drag. Test divers scored it very good for attitude and stability. “Like being cradled in the hand of God,” one tester described it. Scoring very good for comfort, the harness is plushy and padded throughout. Integrated weights scored very good for security and ease of ditching, but just good for loading, as the pockets can be a tight fit when filled with more than a few pounds. The power inflator was a little sluggish when exhausting, but three pull dumps are easy to reach and quick to vent excess air. Six D-rings and a spacious drop-down pocket provide room for all of the essentials. A favorite among test divers and modestly priced, the Patrol was our Best Buy for back-inflation BCs.
In addition to its high finish quality in terms of seams, heat-sealing and patterned design, the Desert stands out for the use of Neoprene pre-compressed from 7 to 4 mm. This Neoprene has the advantage of excellent thermal protection in the base due to its incompressibility in addition to a reduced weight belt requirement. It also reduces the need to use large undergarments as with trilaminate suits. The rigidity of this type of neoprene has been compensated with the use of exterior lining Ultraspan© with a brilliant finish, hydrodynamic gliding and great elasticity in all directions. In this way, we combine the comfort of a wetsuit with a premium look and outstanding technical performance. The areas with the tendency for the greatest wear are reinforced with Small Dyamond© exterior fabric: shoulders, the upper part of the chest, armpits, inseam, knees, and ankles. It features the Liquid Seal technology, used for sealing and protect the seams for a greater resistance to wear and fraying. The areas that may require repairs or replacements: sleeves, collar and booties have traditional seams to facilitate replacement if necessary.
The inflation valve located on the chest utilizes a lateral button to avoid accidental activation, the bleed valve is located on the upper left arm. Marine brass BDM© 8 pitch zipper guarantees reliability without overly sacrificing suit elasticity in the dorsal area. The suit entry is oversized to facilitate donning and the zipper is protected by an external flap to prevent tearing and abrasion. Neoprene hip storage pocket. The zipper is made by BDM, a brand pioneer in dry zippers for drysuits, a YKK company.
The knee and tibia areas have elastic anti-wear Tatex® reinforcements. This type of strengthening provides sufficient strength and allows suit donning without limiting the elasticity of the neoprene. Booties without soles with reinforcements limited to support areas in order to not reduce the adaptability to different foot sizes. Highly abrasion-resistant Black Diamond© fabric sole. In this way the stocks and orders are managed, the thermal conductivity of the suit is improved, normal fin sizing is maintained and the key hard boot-calf union is avoided, one of the most common areas for breaks and water leaks in dry suits. Hood and paraffin zipstick included.
The Gara Modular Sprint fin is the new 2020 model part of the Cressi Gara line. It is a shorter version of the Impulse fin, which proved to be hugely popular with freedivers worldwide, both amateurs and the most demanding professional freedivers. This is also confirmed by the large number of articles dedicated to it by specialized journalists in sector magazines. Sprint is designed to meet the needs of freedivers and spearfishers who practice this sport in wintertime and when a fin as long as Impulse is not necessary. Both fins have been designed using expensive finite element software programs that allow highly complex and equally high- performance sections to be defined.
The blade of Sprint, like the Impulse blade, is made of a single thermoplastic elastomer, although it would be more correct to refer to an angled sublayer and an overlay. The sublayer follows the shape and dimensions of almost the entire fin. It has a uniform thickness and a flexible longitudinal propulsion wing of variable length. In contrast, the so-called overlay covers the propulsion wing selectively and has a thickness that slopes from the maximum value to zero longitudinally towards the tip of the blade. As a result, the fin offers a new way of storing and releasing elastic potential energy, greatly assisting the movement of the freediver’s legs and thus guaranteeing a net improvement in propulsive output. When disassembled, the blade and foot pocket occupy the space of a normal snorkeling fin.
The Scorpion’s flexible backplate, lightweight harness and trim, tightly bungeed air cell give it a minimal feel and profile, but it also has more than 40 pounds of lift, cargo pockets and integrated weights that handle up to 20 pounds.
The Scorpion earned top scores for comfort and streamlining, with testers impressed by its solid stability and lack of drag. "Don’t even feel it," one test diver commented. The vertically mounted weight pockets are located near the body’s centerline. That added stability both submerged and at the surface, where the Scorpion took top score among back-inflations. The rear placement of the weights allows the Scorpion’s cargo pockets to be a bit more forward where they’re easy to reach and even see into; they’re not the biggest here, but their boxy shape makes the space useful, and they don’t get tight no matter how much air is in the cell. That earned a very good score for stowage.
With a comfortable, stable streamlined design that was a favorite of test divers, the Scorpion is our Testers Choice for back-inflation BCs.
The Master Cromo’s distinctive elliptical, brushed stainless-steel second stage may look familiar since it has appeared in—and won—past ScubaLab tests accompanied with other first stages. But this time, it’s paired with the new, balanced-piston AC25, which has a revolving turret and five low-pressure ports, and may be its best teammate yet. On the simulator, it came within a hair of taking excellent scores across the board, and that performance extended to our test dives, where divers rated it excellent for ease of breathing in swim position and very good for dry air delivery in all positions. It also tied the top score for low noise. “Silent runner,” one tester noted. The second stage isn’t especially small and has a fair amount of hardware, but felt lighter underwater than it looks, earning a very good score for comfort. Testers found the breathing adjustment ergonomic and effective, if a bit stiff; one gripe was the way the soft diaphragm cover and stainless front plate can occasionally catch a fingertip while purging.
A quality reg at a reasonable price, the AC25 Master Cromo was our Best Buy for regs.