Baby octopus
Until recently the only octopus in the Scubapro range was the R190. Now, to go with its new generation of regulators, the company has brought out another octopus. The R380 range is medium priced and pitched at the general recreational diver. We decided to compare the R380 octopus with the ever-popular R190. Our test team used both octopuses with a MK20 Scubapro first stage.

The team
The following divers were involved in testing both the Triton Millenium and the R380 and R190.
Matt Crowther, a BSAC and PADI instructor and a DIVE reporter.
Steve Warren, a veteran of Dive International’s equipment testing and a BSAC and PADI Instructor.
John Coyne, an HSE part 3 and 4 commercial diver and recreational instructor.
Andy Talbot, a full-time PADI Divemaster at Fort Bovisand. Andy also has a specialist skill. He can swan dive, including a double somersault, from a crane more than 40 feet above the water – not relevant to the tests but great to watch.
Chris Bently, a PADI Rescue Diver and trainee Divemaster who has travelled extensively using many different makes of regulator along the way.

Air supply: above, the R190; top, the R380

When an octopus is correctly configured during a dive it should be easy to locate. Both models have a reversible hose attachment, meaning you can bring the 1m-long hose from the left or right.

The smaller R380 sits with a low profile when it’s clipped in place on a BCD (Scubapro even supplies the clip). Its size means that, for divers with smaller hands, it’s probably easier to grip than the R190. Both second stages are yellow and easy to see underwater when secured to your BCD, although the size of the R190 makes it more visible.

The test divers were asked to assess the purge button. Although both scored highly for ease of use, several of the team commented that the purge on the R190 is more clearly defined and therefore easier to use. One of the team, an instructor, felt that the purge on the R190 was ‘ideal when making demonstrations to students’.

Both second stages feature a system to preserve the life of the seal inside them. On the R190 you simply depress the purge slightly and turn it through about 20 degrees, whereas the R380 has a simple on/off switch. Both must be set before entering the water.

Basically, most of the working parts in the R190 and the R380 are the same, so you would expect the same performance. However, Scubapro faced a problem when it shrunk its second-stage design. Using a smaller diaphram meant its designers had to change its shape and set the demand lever higher to avoid a significant drop in performance. Did they achieve it?

In fact, the R380 was superb during our tests. It was a great breathe at depth and very comfortable to use. Each tester marked its inhalation resistance as better than the R190, but felt the delivery of air from both was the same. The R380 also scored higher on comfort, with one tester commenting that he made most of the dive on it, because he preferred it to his primary second stage. Praise indeed.

The scores were very even. The R380 just pipped the R190 in the end on design and inhalation resistance, but every tester agreed they would be happy to use either as an octopus and, perhaps more importantly, would be happy for a future buddy to one of them. The R380 octopus costs £89.95. Telephone Scubapro on 01256 812636.

We reckon
A stylish octopus for the new generation of Scubapro regulators
+ ease of breathing, comfort
– less obvious purge button

Price R190 £79.95 R380 £89.95
Diameter R190 85mm R380 70mm
Weight R190 215g R380 172g

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