When Dive Rite opened its doors in 1984, and started manufacturing equipment for serious divers, one of the first pieces of gear to be launched was a dive reel.
Three decades on this Florida based leading technical diving manufacturer has produced a series of rugged reels that are dived the world over. Now Dive Rite has augmented their equipment range with the launch of the ‘Slide Lock’ reel.
What ever kind of diver you are, you need a dive reel. It is a core piece of equipment. Different diving disciplines have distinctive equipment needs. Cave divers rarely, if ever, need to lock down a reel in order to hang off it to conduct safe decompression. They want a reel that smoothly deploys line without ‘spooling off’ or ‘birds nesting’. While wreck divers similarly demand an easy-to-use reel for deploying a SMB, they also require a positive spool lock. This feature ensures an easier, more secure hang on a safety or decompression stop. Although there are other locking reels on the market, apparently Dive Rite customers have requested a free spooling reel - ie one that does not have a ratchet action - that can be quickly and easily be locked off with one hand. Hence the new 'SL’ or ‘Slide Lock’ reel has been launched.
Aficionados of Dive Rite will quickly spot that they have incorporated a popular feature on this ambidextrous reel, a ‘side-handle’. This style of handle is liked by explorers because it allows the diver to effortlessly switch the reel from hand to hand, when laying line, regardless of water temperature and thermal protection worn. The side-handle also lets the diver use their hands for other tasks, while still holding the reel. And because it is manufactured out of high quality hard-coated aircraft aluminium, it is corrosion resistant too.
So how does this new Slide Lock reel work? The spool on Dive Rites's Classic and Sidewinder reels are secured in the traditional manner - by a knurled lockdown screw – and this requires a two handed operation. One hand holds the reel while the other one handles the lockdown screw. With the new reel – the Side Lock – you can achieve the same result, instantly releasing or securing the spool with a simple thumb flick. The injection moulded ABS plastic reel spool is positively released or fastened with a spring loaded Locking Pin. This pin looks like a miniature door bolt. To activate it you simply place your thumb on the pin and slide it into the alternative position to release or lock the spool in a second.
There are a couple of different methods of securing a line when you have finished using the reel and want to stash it. Some divers tie a permanent loop in the end of the line and hook it over the reel knob. While this does work, it can be a bit of a fiddle, especially in cold water. Others like a bead on the end of their line because it makes it easier to grab. Dive Rite's bead is called a ‘Line Stop’ and they have spent some R&D time developing a self-centering version. It is about the size of an olive and has four grooves, that make it easier to hold onto / grab with cold or gloved hands. To deploy the line, simply slide the Slide Lock with your thumb to release the line, and then grab the Line Stop. This makes it a simple process to slide your hand into the loop to either attach to a bag or to tie off and start laying line.
Dive Rite offers divers a choice when it comes to the line they can use. Reels used for cave diving will be fitted with #24 braid line giving 220 lbs / 100 kg of breakage strength. Meanwhile wreck diving reels are fitted with #36 braid line, giving 350 lbs / 158 kg of breakage strength.
Dive Rite is using a new style clip on their new SL Series Reels called the ‘shackle snap’. Double ender clips aren't always the optimal solution. Divers can lose them, they get ‘borrowed’ and sometimes they can roll open depending on how it sits on the reel. This low profile shackle snap is secured so that it won’t accidentally undo, however if the diver wishes to change it out for a different solution, they can. The big gate is easy to open in cold water with thick gloves.
This looks as though it could be an ideal 'divers first reel'. And as the divers experience grows, this reel’s flexibility and capability will continue to support their diving needs, so they never grow out of it.
Four models of Slide Lock reel
- Jump / Gap Reel fitted with 50ft / 15 mt line
- Safety Reel fitted with 140 ft / 42 mt line
- Explorer Reel fitted with 250 ft /76 mt line
- Primary Reel fitted with 400 ft / 121 mt line
DuPont Fibre braid line (provides strength and minimizes fraying)
Reels used for cave diving will be fitted with #24 braid line giving 220 lbs / 100 kg of breakage strength
Reels used for wreck diving will be fitted with #36 braid line giving 350 lbs / 158 kg of breakage strength
Injection molded ABS spool (resists breakage and cracking)
316 marine grade stainless steel axle (corrosion resistant)
316 marine grade stainless shackle clip
Made in the USA