Pt 2 – Reflections Of a Rebreather Rookie

choosing a rebreather

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed why I chose to switch from open circuit diving to closed circuit rebreather diving. Choosing a rebreather can be confusing. In this installment, I’ll discuss how I came to choose the rebreather I did.

Why I chose the rebreather I did

So now that I had decided to switch to a rebreather, I had to decide which unit to buy. Choosing a rebreather is a daunting task. I began where most people begin, I suspect, by asking rebreather divers their opinions of various units. This proved to be far less useful than I had hoped. Everyone I asked proudly told me that the best unit was one they had. Conversely, whatever unit they did not own was terrible. It got very confusing very quickly. I was able to glean some useful bits of information, but some opinions had to be taken with a huge grain of salt. One piece of advice I found immensely helpful was that I should choose a rebreather that has good support locally (or at least regionally). And if I have dive buddies who dive that unit, even better because I can draw on their knowledge and experience (and spare parts).

My next move was to try and compare rebreathers objectively, based on features. I looked at axial vs. radial scrubber, back mounted counter lungs vs. front mounted counter lungs, software used to monitor CCR function, types of redundancy, and many other features. How was I to know which options I wanted when I had no experience diving a CCR?  So once again, I found a little useful information, but not enough to make a definitive decision.

Another factor to consider is training. There are fewer CCR instructors around than I thought. There were only two or three instructors in the United States for some of the rebreather brands I looked at. Obviously if I thought was of those units was really the one for me, I would have spent the money and travelled to the instructor. In my case though, these units were at the bottom of my list, so I had no problem cutting them.

Just as I was getting frustrated and thinking about giving up, things started looking up. I saw a used Hollis PRISM 2 advertised in an online forum. The ad said the unit had low hours and being in excellent condition. The price seemed too good to be true. I know several people who dive the P2, one of whom is an instructor and the regional rep for the manufacturer. He also happened to know the dealer that had originally sold the unit and knew the current owner. I was able to find out that everything in the ad was true. The original dealer said the unit was in perfect condition. I contacted the seller and asked for more pictures of the unit. She obliged with a bunch of photos of every piece of the rebreather. Everything looked good, so we negotiated a price and made the deal. I was now a rebreather owner, but not yet a rebreather diver. The next step was learning how to dive this thing.

In the next article, I will describe my experience training on the unit and gaining experience diving it.