Objective, independent gear reviews — that's the foundation of Scubalab, now celebrating 25 years.
This year we celebrate not only Scuba Diving magazine’s silver anniversary, but also Scubalab’s. In the June 1992 premiere issue, Scubalab’s then-director tested and reviewed travel BCS, a new trend at the time.
I was hired as an editorial assistant, and one of my tasks was to fact-check the features and prices of the gear. We didn’t have email, and I wasn’t yet researching on the internet. Over the years, we’ve evolved how we do things, but I’m always amazed that a small magazine elected to take on such a big responsibility.
In 1991, when thenpublisher Rodale was undertaking an industry analysis for publishing a dive magazine, they needed something that would set it apart from Skin Diver, the first national magazine for diving, launched in 1951. Rodale executives heard the same thing from a number of scuba divers and industry professionals: Dive journalism was lacking objective travel and gear reviews.
We've come a long way, baby: Travel BCS were a new idea — and pretty funny-looking — in 1992, when Scubalab featured them in its first-ever review of gear.
That became our guiding principle, and it is the foundation on which Scubalab was built. It’s difficult if not impossible for a diver who wants to buy a piece of gear to collect a half-dozen or so models and run tests such as putting regs on an ANSTI breathing machine, using a chamber to compare dive computers, or checking the inherent buoyancy and buoyant lift capabilities of BCS in a pool.
Scubalab founder Jon Hardy shared that vision. His first Scubalab report was also an industry first: Divers could now get objective test results about the design and performance of the life-support equipment on which their lives depended.
Scubalab exists to help divers become informed consumers of dive gear. Nobody devotes as much
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manpower, spends as much money, or invests as much time to provide objective and practical information on dive gear as Scubalab. It is with great pride that we present this year’s Gear of the Year, ScubaLab’s Testers Choice and Best Buy winners for 2017, on page 33. — PATRICIA WUEST,