Ever since James Bond’s incredible underwater battle in Thunderball (1965), generations of divers have been interested in sea scooters. While they used to be prohibitively expensive for most people, with advances in technology, the underwater scooter is now much more accessible to the average freediver or scuba diver.
An underwater scooter – otherwise known as a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) – is a piece of diving equipment that increases a divers range underwater. They are useful for a variety of different applications, from increasing the range you can cover underwater, to snorkeling, to cave and wreck diving. Whatever type of diving you plan on doing, having the right underwater scooter can save you plenty of time and energy. They are also a blast to use!
Picking the right underwater scooter can be a bit of a challenge however, as there are many options. In this review, I’ll go over the best sea scooters for several different uses, and how to select the perfect sea scooter for you.
Quick Answer: 4 Best Sea Scooters
The 4 Best Underwater Scooters
What to consider when choosing an underwater scooter?
The best type of underwater scooter is the one that will best fulfill your particular needs. Are you looking for something the kids can use in the pool? Or something you can use to quickly transport you to the bottom on scuba dives over 100 feet? The ideal sea scooter will largely depend on what you plan on using it for.
Buoyancy simply means how much an object floats in water. Sea scooters will either have positive, neutral, or negative buoyancy. Positively buoyant scooters will have a tendency to float towards the surface. These scooters are typically made for kids and will not handle deep water well. Neutrally buoyant scooters will neither sink nor rise to the surface on their own. These scooters are good for all around use. Negatively buoyant scooters will have a tendency to sink slightly. These are typically used in professional scooters for deep dives. The negative buoyancy makes descending faster and easier.
More expensive models will often have adjustable buoyancy of some kind, which will optimize the buoyancy depending on the situation.
Be sure to check the depth rating on any underwater scooter you consider. Most standard models will have a rating of around 100 feet, which is enough for recreational divers. Professional models will be able to handle depths of 200+ feet. Cheaper kids models often are only rated for 15 feet, so they aren’t appropriate for scuba diving.
Speed is an important consideration, especially if you like to go fast! Cruising on the surface is one of the funnest things you can do with an underwater scooter, and you don’t need scuba gear either.
If you are using the scooter for scuba diving, a faster scooter will allow you to cover more distance quickly. Also, depths below 50 feet you’ll want a powerful scooter to counteract the effects of pressure.
In most sea scooters there is an inverse effect between power/speed and battery life. If you want maximum battery life, you will have to sacrifice a bit of speed. Most scooters will have a battery life of around 1-2 hrs of typical use.
The type of battery is another important consideration. Lithium-ion batteries will recharge faster and are more expensive than lead-acid type batteries.
Weight can be an important consideration when choosing the best underwater scooter. If your scooter is very heavy, transport and especially plane travel can become an issue. Most recreational scooters weigh approximately 15 – 25 lbs, while professional models can be well over 40 lbs. Weight is only an issue outside of water though, in the water they will be similarly weightless.
Prices for underwater scooters vary widely, from several hundred dollars to several thousand. Expensive professional models will undoubtedly outperform cheaper models, but you can definitely find an excellent underwater scooter for a reasonable price.
Underwater scooter uses and benefits
Underwater scooters can be a lot of fun, but they also provide several key benefits to divers, which makes them a useful tool for several different applications.
- Range. Every diver encounters the problem of restricted range due to gas consumption. During descent, divers will use up a fair bit of their compressed gas by exerting themselves. A sea scooter will allow you to descent/ascent effortlessly, conserving key breathing gas, and giving you more time on the bottom. Because underwater scooters work so effortlessly, it’s important to pay careful attention to your depth and not ascend/descend too quickly.
- Cave and Wreck Dives. Underwater scooters work particularly well for cave and wreck dives. They enable the diver to navigate compact areas easily and exert less energy during exploration.
- Snorkeling. Underwater scooters aren’t just for scuba divers either. They work great for skimming the surface while snorkeling and allow you to cover far more distance than you could with regular fins.
- Photography. Most underwater scooters come with a GoPro or camera mount included. They are a great option for underwater photographers, as they allow you to focus more on taking photos or video and less on swimming. You can also cover far more distance with a scooter and even keep pace with marine wildlife.
How to use an underwater scooter?
Underwater scooters are fairly simple to use. You simply grip the handlebars, which act as both the throttle and steering mechanism. Most scooters will have 2 or 3-speed settings, so you can easily control your speed in the water. As a safety feature, if you release the dual throttle on the handlebars, most scooters will shut off automatically. A grille also protects you from coming into contact with the propellers. The max speed of the fastest underwater scooters is around 5 mph, which may not sound like much but is quite impressive in the water.
When using the scooter it’s important to keep in mind the amount of battery power you have left. Keep a close eye on the battery power indicator, and don’t push the machines limits, especially on deep dives. Of course, it’s always a good idea to dive with a buddy in case you run into any trouble or have a malfunction. Underwater scooters can be deceptively powerful, and cause you to descent/ascent too quickly if you don’t monitor yourself carefully.
Most importantly though, get out in the water and enjoy yourself! Underwater scooters are a ton of fun for anyone who enjoys exploring the incredible world beneath the waves.
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