I have been scuba diving for 35 years and for the last 15 years I have been a dive instructor, running my own dive center in Bar, Montenegro.
Recently I had a visit from my good friends and underwater photographers Ivana O.K. and Janez Kranjc to do some diving together. Being Mares ambassadors, they had loads of brand new Mares equipment. Something that immediately attracted my attention was this odd looking regulator, the Loop 15X, with its downward intake hose. When asked if I would like to try it, I jumped at the opportunity!
The first thing you notice is a longer hose than usual which you are supposed to loop under your arm, just like you do with your octopus. The design of the 2nd stage is streamlined and it is very lightweight.
‘Oh’, I noticed, ‘it doesn’t have a fine tune nob’. I had a bit of an odd feeling putting the equipment on at the surface which dissipated when I submerged. The regulator sat squarely in my mouth, and it was perfectly balanced at every depth. I didn’t really have any need for fine tuning.
On this wreck dive, I suddenly realized that the downward, tucked away hose would eliminate the chance of entanglement and damage on such dives, even when doing underwater work. Another thing that came to mind was the deployment of my octopus. From my experience as dive instructor, I can tell you that there is about a 50/50 chance that a student will try to turn the 2nd stage upside down when deploying it during an exercise. At the same time, there is the twisting of the hose. The Loop design eliminates both problems, a big plus for me personally.
Will this be a regulator for everyone? Probably not. Most people do not easily change old habits. I remember the first time I drove a hybrid car, it felt so weird. You step on the gas pedal and there is no sound. There’s something very unnatural about that, right? Well, since then I have owned 4 models of hybrids, and now I also drive an electric scooter; it’s not weird at all anymore! I think, if people had a chance to try this regulator first, more people would buy this excellent, innovative piece of equipment.
Review by Zeljko-Jake Dragutinovic from Scuba Quest dive center, Montenegro.
Photos: Janez Kranjc
Model: Ivana O.K