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Shop ‘Til You Drop: Comparing Tech DPVS

OK, admit it. If you don’t already have a diver propulsion vehicle or two, it’s likely on your Lust List. Here’s a DPV shopping guide comparing 19 different models.



by Nadia Lee and Martin Pieters

Header photo by Julian Mühlenhaus

We initially created the tables below as a tool for our community, the Orange County Underwater Explorers (OCUE), to be able to quickly compare the diverse selection of DPVs available on the market today. In our home waters off the coast of Southern California, we are fortunate to enjoy diving in a variety of spectacular seascapes. They are as wide ranging as shallow rocky reefs, kelp forests, plunging ocean walls, and wrecks in deep technical ranges 

The ocean here, however, is as dynamic as it is sublime and stunning. Particularly as divers venture into technical training, it becomes increasingly likely that they will encounter ripping currents at open ocean dive sites. It only takes a few brisk kicks with doubles, drysuit, and a stage bottle chasing the drop line in a swift current before divers begin to eye their teammates’ DPVs with envy! With strong currents commonplace and several offshore reefs and walls only accessible by DPV, it is no wonder that DPVs are a hot commodity in our community for reasons of both safety and fun. 

A few notes regarding the table

We selected manufacturers and models that have been of most interest to our community, typically from word-of-mouth, trade shows, and experience. We did not intend for this comparison to be an exhaustive overview of the market. As minimum requirements, we selected models that are at least capable of the ranges and depths we would demand of DPVs in our local diving. For the specifications, we chose the most commonly included categories provided by manufacturers. For the sake of simplicity, we did not include model-specific features. 

Photo by Craig Walker.

Certainly, we recognize that there is much more to a full comparison than simply numbers. It would be impossible to concisely capture unique features, materials, build, and durability. We encourage a healthy amount of research before making a decision. We noted  that the specifications were provided by manufacturers on their websites, but results may vary depending on the parameters they chose for testing (e.g. equipment, diver size, and conditions). Regardless, we have found this table to be a useful tool, and we hope others will find it helpful as well. Happy DPV shopping!

Click the images to view them larger.

Nadia Lee and Martin Pieters began their underwater adventure and addiction with an open water course in 2012. Over the last eight years, their love of the underwater world has only deepened—both figuratively and literally—with technical and cave pursuits as well. Martin and Nadia particularly enjoy diving with newcomers, and they are actively involved in growing their local GUE (Orange Country Underwater Explorers) and Project Baseline communities. On any given weekend, look for them swimming through the rocky reefs of their “backyard” in Laguna Beach, California!

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Project Divers Are We

Diving projects aka expeditions—think Bill Stone’s Wakulla Springs 1987 project, or the original explorations of the Woodville Karst Plain’s Project (WKPP)—helped give birth to technical diving….




Header image: Divers positioning a decompression habitat during a recent GUE Project Diver core module. Photo by SJ Alice Bennett, courtesy of GUE.

Diving projects, or expeditions—think Bill Stone’s Wakulla Springs 1987 project, or the original explorations of the Woodville Karst Plain’s Project (WKPP)—helped give birth to technical diving, and today continue as an important focal point and organizing principle for communities like Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). The organization this year unveiled a new Project Diver program, intended to elevate “community-led project dives to an entirely new level of sophistication.” Here, authors Guy Shockey and Francesco Cameli discuss the power of projects and take us behind the scenes of the new program.

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