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I am looking at purchasing a Mares Proton Ice, both for warm water diving and also for cold water diving (maybe some ice diving). Is this a good choice or are there others I should consider?
Another question I have is NITROX compatibility. On the Product Page of the www.mares.com website it says:
"The Proton Ice has been tested by the Notified Body INPP of Marseilles with binary (Heliox) and ternary (Trimix) mixtures to a depth of 100 m. The results are compliant with the recommendations of European Regulation EN 250. Breathing effort proved to be much lower than the regulation requires."
I read that as meaning that I should be able to use it with NITROX mixes. However, the manual (my friend has a Proton Ice) says clearly that the Proton Ice should not be used with anything but compressed air. This also confused my friend as he was sold the Proton Ice with the shop assurance that it is suitable for NITROX.
I had the same discussion with my shop. For some time Mares did not want to say NITROX compatible. I’m not sure why. The manuals all said air, and they were used for NITROX, but Mares did not want to say it.
Maybe because NITROX used to have a bad rep. Some of the Old salts can give some details. I’ve just heard that when NITROX was a brew your own gas some people toxed and the gas was perceived as dangerous.
Anyway Mares is changing their attitude, that is why you trimix ref on their site.
You should have no problems with a Nitrox mix up to 40%. Mares had problems with some of their older regs when they used titanium HP seats for a while, but the Proton Ice came along well after those days.
I think a lot of the reason has to do with (1) liability for O2 flashes (which did happen with the Ti Planet as I'm told) and (2) increased revenue for Mares (cheaper regs have specific Nitrox versions) and the LDS (for checking your reg to verify compatibiliy and/or changing out a couple of o-rings to be doubly sure).
If you're going to dive a mix with more O2 than 40%, I'd get it O2 cleaned and have the o-rings replaced, otherwise, you're good to go.
The second on the Ice is a little much, but I think the V32, once environmentally sealed, is one of the best first stages available - Apeks and Scubapro included.
The V32 is the first stage. One thing that I have noticed with the Mares line is that they market nitrox specific regulator sets. This would probably be the reason why they do not specifically mention nitrox for use with their standard line of regulators. Why sell something for $380 when you can put a cool little "Nitrox" faceplace on it and charge $450?
A side note: I've been through all current Mares reg sets (and a lot of old ones too) and the "Nitrox" regulators appear to be nothing more than a standard Mares reg put together with O2 compatible lube and O2 compatible orings.
Excuse my ignorance, but can you please expand on what you mean by "... V32, once environmentally sealed, is ..."
Mares sells a kit, called the CWD kit, that environmentally seals (keeps water out of) the first stage (v32 in the case of the Proton Ice). This keeps the first stage cleaner and will allow you to dive it in cold water, high sediment, etc.