The Dive Otter

My Dive Gear - Chicagoland

Bouyancy Control Devices

xDeep Zen Standard - BPW

  • - Large Stainless Steel Backplate (~13lb travel weight)
  • - 42lb Toroidal Wing \w Double shell Cordura 1100
  • - K-Type inflator
  • - Padded Backplate and Shoulder Straps
General Opinion: Chosen because of the modularity and my intent to have (1) BPW that can dive both cold and warm in either skin/rashguard, 3mm, 7mm or Drysuit. And so far it has done it all. When diving a 3mm in fresh water I only need 1lb of weight in the top right tank band (bcd is ~6lbs negative buoyant and the wetsuit is ~6lbs positive buoyant). When diving salt water in a skin/rashguard only, I do not need any additional weight. I originally had the "Deluxe" harness configuration, but found the buckles got in the way of streamline flashlight placement on the shoulder straps.


Aqualung Legend - Regulator(s)

  • - DIN 1st Stage
  • - Overbalanced diaphragm design
  • - Environmentally sealed
General Opinion: It's a regulator..nothing particularly awesome about it. It's comfortable in my mouth and breaths just fine (as far as I can tell).

Luxfer AL80 Tanks (Yoke)

  • - 77.4 cft volume / 3000psi nominal
  • - 1.7lbs negative buoyancy when full
  • - 3.4lbs positive buoyancy when "empty"
General Opinion: They are tanks...nothing special. I picked up 4 of them on Facebook Marketplace for $300 total. 4 tanks allows me to have (2) 2 tank dives on the weekend and not have to visit a local shop for airfills when most of them are closed on Sunday.

Dive Computer / SPG

Perdix II + Air Integration

General Opinion: Haven't dove it enough to have a valid opinion

Dive Rite Mini 2" SPG

  • - Easy to read with 100-psi increments
General Opinion: I use the SPG to confirm air pressure while kitting up...and then only use it for backup, as needed, during the dive.


Venom Frameless/Low Volume Mask (RX)

  • - Custom prescription lenses from See The Sea
  • - Have spare identical non-RX mask in different color
General Opinion: Works fine. I get mask squeeze during the first 10ft of decent, but once I equalize I'm fine for the rest of the dive. I get a VERY small amount of water in the nose pocket that I have to live with during the dive. This has been the case for every mask I've tried to use. Water near/in my nose doesn't bother me (water polo days kicking in) so it's virtually unnoticeable.

Stream2Sea Mask Defog

  • - Reef Safe
  • - Little goes a long way
General Opinion: Far better than soap/water mix or spit. Apply it before every dive (including the 2nd one of the day) and you'll see clearly.


Santi E.Lite+ (Semi Custom)

  • - Neoprene Socks
  • - Low Profile Apex Exhaust Valve
  • - Si-Tech Quick Neck (Silicone)
  • - Santi SmartSeals ring system (Silicone)
General Opinion: So far so good. Seems to fit me perfect and worked as expected on my checkout dives.

DRIS "Grey Dry Glove" - Size XXL

  • - Latex / Rubber without a cloth liner
  • - Substantially more expensive than other options, however these should last longer and they are way easier to put onto the Santi SmartSeal system than Showa 660's or other cloth lined gloves
General Opinion: Gloves worked as expected and did not diminish my dexterity. Only complaint from folks is probably the cost. We'll see how long they last.

Dui Rock Boot - Size 12

General Opinion: It's a just fine.

Exposure Protection - Cold Water

Brynje Super Therm Base Layer

  • - Uses a Polypropylene yarn in a mesh structure to create air pockets for warmth and keep moisture away from the skin
General Opinion: Ooooh nice. Warmer than just my Patagonia/Mountain Hardware polyester baselayer. They look a little....strange....when you have them on. I'm not use to wearing essentially what looks like a fishnet body suit.

Patagonia/Mountain Hardware Midweight Top and Bottom

  • - 100% polyester baselayer for wicking. Keeps the fleece of the Arctic undersuit away from direct contact with my skin for reduced thermal transfer. While also adding additional wicking capability.
General Opinion: Also useful for hiding my fishnet body suit from my dive buddies cause ain't nobody wants to see that.

4th Element Arctic - XL

General Opinion:
Oh my....toasty warm. I got the two piece because of my body proportions allow me to have one size for the top and one size for the bottom and have it fit better than a single size for the entire body. Fits perfect.

Refrigiwear Insulated Wool Grip Glove - Size XL

General Opinion: Rated for 10F with 40g of insulation and fleece lined for extra warmth. They fit perfectly in the XXL Santi glove but with considerable loss of fine motor skill dexterity like working bolt snaps.

H2 Short Bib 5/7mm Hood (XL)

  • - If I'm wearing the drysuit I wear this hood
General Opinion: It's a hood. Fits well and keeps my ears warm.

Surf Fur Water Parka

  • - Hooded
  • - Hand thru pockets for dressing/undressing
General Opinion: There is not much worse than being cold and wet after a dive. Years of standing on the side of a pool in the wind during water polo matches taught me to invest in a good parka. For 10 months out of the year in Chicago I have this parka in my truck. I even loaned it out to a diver doing their checkout dives and shivering at the picnic table.

Deep6 Eddy "Flippers" (XL - White)

  • - Slightly Negatively Buoyant
General Opinion: Easier to use for precision movement than the Mares but straight line top speed is probably cut by +25%.

Flashlight (Torch)

OrcaTorch D710 (Primary)

  • - 6deg beam
  • - 400/800/1700/3000 lumens
General Opinion: Great flashlight for the price. It goes with me on every dive on my left shoulder DRing. I can work the push button with large cold water gloves with no issues. I like the ability to select the lumens based on murkiness of the water and what I'm trying to do. When I believe I'll be using it frequently, and when not in use, I will clip it off to a small Dring wrist band I wear on my left arm so my hands remain free.

OrcaTorch D580 (Secondary)

  • - 6deg beam
  • - 530 lumens
  • - Can take (3) AAA batteries
General Opinion: Chose this as my secondary because I can use AAA batteries with it. So if ever I have re charger problems, a quick swap of batteries and I have at least 1 flashlight working for the next dive. It stays in my right thigh pocket unless my primary fails or I want to hand one to a dive buddy during the dive.

When Not Diving Dry - Greater than ~65F

Bare Velocity Ultra (3mm) size XLT

  • - Good for me down to ~65F
  • - 6lbs of positive buoyancy
General Opinion: My favorite wetsuit and the one I wear until the water temperature gets below ~65F. The ~6lbs of positive buoyancy is perfectly offset by the ~6lbs of negative buoyancy in the xDeep Stainless Steel BPW.

Mares Avanti Quattro+ Fins

  • - Slightly Negatively Buoyant
General Opinion: These are what I learned in and have served me well and what I usually pick unless I have a very good reason to use the tech fins. Not as easy to use when looking for precision adjustments of movement but they are super fast on a straight line flutter kick.

Chuck Taylor (10.5)

General Opinion: I generally pair these with 3mm socks. These "boots" are much more stable when walking on gravel for shore entry than traditional wetsuit boots. And...I mean...they also look cool and match my BPW harness color and my 3mm Bare why not?

Bare Ultrawarmth Glove (3mm) size Large

  • - Worn on most of my dives
General Opinion: My absolute favorite gloves so far. So nice, I purchased another pair just in case I loose one or I wear them out. It's like I'm not even wearing gloves and they can go anywhere my 3mm wetsuit can take me (down around ~65F).

Sharkskin Titanium 2 Hood size XXL

  • - Worn whenever I'm diving my 3mm
  • - Neutrally Buoyant

Dive Rite - Bellows Thigh Pocket

General Opinion: Added to the right side of my BPW when I am diving a wetsuit and plan to have more than my dSMB/Spool with me and want to be able to stow something like a dive slate or collect trash.

Other Equipment I'm Usually Taking


  • - Strap mount holster
General Opinion: Have used this to cut lost/abandoned fishing line in the local quarry where I dive. It is mounted to the underside of my Dive Computer strap on my wrist or along my waist belt on the right side. I've been playing with both places and have not decided on which I like best.

Dive Rite Trauma Shears

  • - Stainless
General Opinion: I keep these on my left side waist belt and have used them repeatedly when doing line work in my home quarry. Easy for me to grab and re-sheath and no chance of cutting myself or any dive gear.

Diving Mirror

General Opinion: I've not dove with it much yet. So no real opinion.

Neoprene Mat for changing on

General Opinion: Primarily for when I'm using my drysuit as I do not want the neoprene socks to get torn up more than they need to be from walking/standing on dirt or cement. I picked a cheap one on Amazon that was large. Works fine.