Choosing a Rebreather

I get asked a lot of questions about what the best rebreather is and to compare different units. Here’s what I recommend.

 

First of all ask the right questions when shopping for a rebreather.

Next, know that there isn’t a perfect rebreather out there. Every manufacturer, instructor and dive shop will tell you the one they have is the best. Many rebreathers have different features and depending on the type of diving you do there will be one that fits you the best. Also, know that even though it’s a big purchase this may not be the rebreather you have for 10 years. You may decide a year or two down the road that your first choice didn’t fit your needs as well as you thought. That’s ok though because now that you have the experience and can be more knowledgable choosing your next rebreather.
Closed Circuit Rebreathers (CCR) are machines with electronics and just like a computer or a car expect for things to happen. If you can’t handle that then CCR’s may not be for you. The technology is still advancing and evolving. That means there will be hiccups. Some divers are under the impression that they will never have issues after you buy your CCR. Well then you may want to stick to Open Circuit because that won’t be the case. We train for when failures happen, and when they do it could be user error, mechanical or electrical. Someday one will happen. I’ve been actively diving rebreathers for 14 years now and had my share of issues from small to large. That’s where training and practicing skills is extremely important after you purchase a rebreather. The course may end and you may receive your certification but the learning goes on for years and that’s called experience.
Rebreathers used to be built in garages and used by true explorers and they still are. Do you think each one of those garage built CCR’s were perfect? They have to evolve and issues will arise. This is what pioneering is about. If you’re just an end user then realize you’re buying into a machine that is still evolving and you’re an early adopter of the technology. Things will go wrong no matter which you own you may someday have some problems. Sorry to bust that bubble. Of someone tells you they don’t have problems they are lying or don’t dive enough on that unit.

Questions I suggest asking / researching when shopping for Rebreathers.

1. Where is the rebreather built? How easy will it be for you to get parts?
2. If it needs to be serviced where does it go? Does it go to another country?
3. How is the flood tolerance?
4. How is the work of breathing in all positions?
5. Can you work on it yourself if you’re in a remote location?
6. Does it have proprietary parts such as hoses, valves, or connections that are hard to get?
7. Who teaches the unit? Do they have a good reputation? Do they do the type of diving you want to do in the future?
8. How easy is it to travel with the unit? Can it be carried on?
9. What type of diving do you want to do in the future? Cave? Trimix? Is the unit capable for that?
10. How long has the unit been in production?
11.. If you can go to a dive show, touch and feel the units, do a demo dive if possible.
Every geographical area will have a saturation of a specific rebreathers depending on what instructors are in the area. Where I live it’s the Megalodon since I’m teaching here and a lot of rEVO, JJ’s, and SF2 since there are instructors here for those units. When becoming a CCR diver you have to know all of this going in. That’s why the above questions are important.
For those of you wondering if CCR is for you here are some ideas. Have you tapped out what you feel you can do on Open Circuit? Are you already a technical diver? Are you at the point where you know you want to do trimix dives in the future? If you answer yes then you’re in a good place to take a rebreather course. Agency standards are too low in my opinion and they only require Nitrox and 25 dives. I don’t believe in “recreational rebreathers” and I don’t believe they are a recreational tool for everyone. I recommend some technical diving experience because that will set you up for success and make the transition to CCR will be smoother.

Benefits to CCR

  1. Longer bottom times
  2. Unlimited depth range depending on the unit
  3. Mix gas electronically creating the “Best Mix” at every depth – perfect blending machine.
  4. Bubble free at depth so you can get closer to marine life
  5. Allows you more time to solve problems in extreme situations
  6. Warm moist breathing gas in loop
  7. Better deco profiles
  8. Easier to fill tanks and bailouts typically stay full for years
  9. Lighter than a set of doubles
Rebreathers are amazing tools. They’ve allowed me to spend extra time in caves and on deep shipwrecks. Sometimes on a job I may only get one chance to get the shot I need and the rebreather has allowed me to accomplish so much more underwater. I have a huge respect for them as tools and they require more maintenance and prep time but the benefit of more time underwater outweighs all of that to me. I prefer to dive CCR and after years of experience feel safer in caves and on deep wrecks diving closed circuit vs OC. I travel a lot with my unit and I depend on durability and being able to work on it myself in the field.
Feel free to visit my website www.MegDiver.com or email me if you have rebreather questions. I will try and help you out the best way I can. Becky@LiquidProductions.com
Safe Diving Everyone,
Becky Kagan Schott
TDI Mixed Gas Rebreather Instructor #19409 
Becky is certified on 6 rebreathers and 3 versions of the electronics on the Megalodon (Legacy, Meg15, Tiburon)
Becky has been actively diving rebreathers since Jan 2007 in Open Water, Caves, Shipwrecks, Deep and Shallow and for working dives traveling all over the world.