With my interest and passion for diving but relative lack of experience when it comes to rebreathers I wanted to ask the experts…”What is the best rebreather they have ever used?”.
The basic premise of this article is that I went out found and asked many experts what rebreather was the best one they have ever used. Plus as I am still learning I wanted to hear what their number 1 tip is for people starting out diving.
Thank you for sharing!
Why Use a Rebreather?
Rebreathers produce less bubbles and allow for longer dives. As a result, fishes and other underwater creatures remain undisturbed allowing us to get closer as well as explore further.
Rebreather diving is more risky! But safer than base jumping!
Studies presented at Rebreather Forum 3 showed Closed Circuit Rebreathers (CCR) are 5-10 times more dangerous than typical SCUBA diving! So you definitely need to understand the risks before jumping up to the big leagues and CCR diving!
“With the caveat that they are “best guess numbers,” Fock concluded that rebreather diving is likely five to 10 times as risky as open circuit scuba diving, accounting for about four to five deaths per 100,000 dives, compared to about 0.4 to 0.5 deaths per 100,000 dives for open circuit scuba. This makes rebreather diving more risky than sky diving at .99/100k, but far less risky than base-jumping at 43 deaths/100k.” DiverMag
For many they believe with the right equipment, training and experience the benefit of getting closer and staying under longer outweighs the risks.
Big Thank You To Everyone Who Contributed!
Below are the experts who shared their experience to try and help novices like myself understand what equipment may be the best.
Before anything else, I would like to thank to all who contributed for being generous with their time and answers!
Some experts may not have directly answered the question about what the best rebreather is but I know their ideas are still worth sharing.
I wish you all enjoy reading this as I enjoyed putting this together.
Who are the Experts?
Contributors ( in order the contribution was received)
So without further ado, let’s get into…
What is the best rebreathers and the best rebreather diving tips?
We recommend rEVO and JJ CCR. This 2 rebreathers are the best what we have at the moment on the market and they are not only for recreational divers when you have enough experience.
Try to get a good dive center to start diving with a rebreather and when you have enough experience then join some of the best liveaboard in the world to get your ultimate rebreather diving experience.
The Poseidon SE7EN, of course! Poseidon started the rebreather revolution and the patented safety technology is light years ahead of the competition, so it’s great for recreational divers. It’s the easiest to use rebreather, too, as the entire dive is managed by the computer; the recreational diver just gets to enjoy!
Start with recreational rebreathers and don’t go straight into technical rebreathers, even if you’re an experienced technical diver and want to do technical rebreather dives later. Why? Just like with traditional scuba, it’s best to learn at a recreational level, learn about rebreathers in shallower, safer profiles. Then progress into technical, if you want to.
I travel widely to dive and, for that reason, my favourite CCR is the Evolution by Ambient Pressure Diving. (APD.) (I choose the Evolution over the Inspiration simply because it is smaller.) With an APD unit, you have a greater choice of places to dive where you can find technical expertise, support and parts. The company is well established and their international service is excellent.
Before embarking on rebreather diving, ask your dive buddies if they sometimes privately think you are an accident waiting to happen. If they say “Yes!” then stay away from rebreathers!
The Poseidon SE7EN. From teaching recreational diver all around the world on this unit, there are two reactions that stand out and are the most frequent. 1. Rebreather diving doesn’t have to be complicated. 2. Brings peoples diving up to a new level, which they didn’t think was possible with such a little effort as taking a rebreather diving course. The machines easy user interface and very advanced technology makes it the ideal for the recreational and semi-technical diver!
You don’t need to own your own rebreather to get started with this line of diving! There are plenty of rebreather centers that rent their units out so you can enjoy the rebreather when you choose to without the initial investment.
I must confess to you that I have not dived on a rebreather (RB) before, and would unlikely be doing so in the near future. I hope that you bear with me while I explain myself:
RBs used to be the domain of technical diving, and there were only a handful of RB manufacturers. However, in recent years, a whole range of RBs appeared, smaller and lighter, manufactured by new players in the industry, and the term “recreational rebreathers” were born. I know that PADI actually was teaching RB diving with the Drager Dolphin, but it was only in the last couple of years when “recreational RB” really boomed.
The advantages of a RB is obvious: longer dive times as opposed to the constraints of a limited gas supply in open circuit diving; because is gas is recycled, it isn’t as dry; and the absence of bubbles means divers can approach marine life without scaring them, which is a reason why photographers and videographers like RBs. They also like the fact that bubbles will not get into their shot. For technical divers like myself, the most attractive point of a RB is cost, because breathing helium on an open circuit, is akin to breathing out dollars when you exhale.
The disadvantages and dangers: The biggest thing that worries me is that the only way you can monitor the oxygen level is via a computer. I’m never a fan of fancy gadgets to measure critical parameters, such as gas pressure. A lot of divers love using the transmitter which screws into the high pressure port of the regulator’s first stage, which sends information of the amount of gas in their tank. With something as critical as knowing how much gas you have left, which determines your dive plan, I seriously wouldn’t leave it to a computerised piece of equipment which needs a battery to tell me that. I still trust my trusty ol’ mechanical gauge. Even with a depth gauge, I have a Suunto Stinger which serves primarily as a timekeeper and a backup depth gauge, but my primary depth gauge is the venerable Uwatec depth gauge. I also have had friends who suffered from CO2 poisoning while diving on a RB, several of whom were military divers. That is why some manufacturers have a semi-closed system, where the system would purge the gas and the cycle starts again. This eliminates the possibility of the partial pressure of the gases from reaching dangerous limits. If I was to dive on a RB, this would be the type that I would consider. It’s about limiting the dangers and possibilities. Halcyon’s website has a great write up about how their semi-closed RB works.
Diving on a RB requires a lot of meticulous pre-dive checks, and frequent checks on the status of the RB during the dive. Some RB’s computers even forces the diver to go through a checklist before the computer unlocks itself for the dive. But just like the online questionnaires, how many times do we actually look at the details when we tick our response? Some RBs even have an override function for the pre-dive check, for the sake of convenience. But that effectively eliminates all the safety measures that were put in with all good intents and purposes. A seriously rigorous training is also of paramount importance, because if the system fails, you will need to know the bail out procedures to get you to safety. For GUE, the pre-requisite to qualify for the RB course is that you have to be a technical diver level 2, with at least 25 dives at that level. This strict level of entry ensures that only a well trained and experienced diver would be qualified to handle a complex and potentially dangerous piece of equipment. If the diver fails, they will not be given the key that unlocks the system. Then again, Halcyon RBs are made for technical diving. But rigorous and continuous training should still apply to recreational diving.
The Poseidon MKVI/Seven as it is user friendly, automated, travel easy, and has all benefits associated with fully closed circuit rebreather diving. Here is a link to a recent article I wrote for Poseidon about our implementation of the unit, feel free to use part/whole of it.
Aside from seeking a good Instructor with plenty of field experience, build time on the unit.
The cardinal rule to selecting a proper rebreather is to find one fit for purpose; one that suits your mission requirements. Whether the mission is recreation or work, the would-be owner has many variables to consider. The military spends large sums of money going through a mission analysis, and then testing equipment for the mission. And that’s all before the first rebreather is used for an actual mission. Oftentimes several different brands are tried before a decision is made. That’s a sensible strategy for anyone.
Advice for the new owner: never stop learning about rebreather diving and your equipment. Ask yourself before you start each dive, “How while my precious try to kill me today?”
You better have in mind all those ways, and more importantly, have in mind all the ways you will prevent your equipment from killing you. There is no room for shortcuts.
I personally have only just begun my adventure into rebreather diving. I was trained on the Hollis Explorer which I think is a great rebreather to start on and be used for recreational diving. I am looking to get closer to animals, not go deep, the Explorer allows me to do so.
My tip would be to find an expert in your local community or online. Take a course with them, learn all that you can about rebreathers, get comfortable on a unit and dive it as much as you can.