Admit it: you’ve always wanted to have your very own underwater scooter, also known as a diver propulsion vehicle, or DP, ever since you saw James Bond use one in Thunderball.
Underwater scooters let you cover more ground underwater without tiring you out. Because you aren’t as tired, and because you haven’t used as much of your available oxygen, you can get more adventurous by exploring even more remote dive sites and shipwrecks.
With better battery life and more powerful motors now available, it’s entirely possible to have an underwater scooter that’s leagues better than Bond’s.
Here’s a look at our picks for the best of the bunch
TUSA SAV-7 EVO-2 DPV Scooter
With a range of up to 120 minutes (2 hours!) and 4.5 miles, the TUSA SAV-7 EVO-2 DPV scooter is easily one of, if not, the best underwater scooter in the market.
If you’re serious about getting around in the water, this DPV is for you. With a three-speed prop and a top speed of 2.6 mph (4.2kph), the SAV-7 EVO-2 gets you there quick. While it is depth rated to 230’/70m, TUSA tests these scooters up to 300’.
That’s far deeper than any other scooter on this list. What’s more, with the included saddle, it’s now possible to pull two more divers with you without any loss of range or mobility.
Sea Doo-SD15002-RS2 Underwater Sea Scooter
This speedy beauty has a run time of 75 minutes, a top speed of 6kph and has a depth rating of 40m/130 feet.
By far, this is the fastest recreational lightweight DPV for snorkeling. Lithium-ion batteries ensure consistent operation times. The batteries are detachable and externally rechargeable.
The hull is self-filling, allowing it to maintain neutral buoyancy. This is smaller and lighter than the VS, but a whole lot of fun.
Sea-Doo SD6545X VS Supercharged Sea Scooter
This “supercharged” DPV has a maximum speed of 3mph, a maximum depth of 100 feet, and a run time of 90 minutes.
Sea-Doo is proud of its reinforced nose cone, which protects the body in harsh environments and from rough handling by other humans.
The VS carries two levels of thrust and has adjustable buoyancy control settings.
Sea Doo Dolphin Sea Scooter
While it does say it’s a sea scooter, and is named after a dolphin, the Sea Doo Dolphin Sea Scooter is best suited for pool or lake propulsion for children aged 8 and up.
That may be because it putters about at 2mph and has a maximum depth rating of 15.5 feet. The Dolphin Sea Scooter runs for around 90 minutes and has waterproof circuitry.
I’ve heard these things can be a bit fragile. How long do these underwater scooters last?
As with anything, your mileage may vary. The main killer for underwater scooters is having an open battery compartment, which shortens operating life to mere seconds. However, with proper maintenance and understanding where the DPV’s fragile points are, these scooters can last several years.
Is there anything I should be especially aware of when using a DPV?
A DPV moves you faster through the water, which makes monitoring your depth even more critical. With monsters like the TUSA EVO-2 scooter able to take you to depths of up to 300’ (that’s as tall as a 30-storey building!), you’ll need to mind your exit points – it’s already way too easy to lose spatial orientation without a DPV.
How about power issues?
Most DPVs have a maximum operating range of 60 minutes. That’s not much; if you run past that time you’re lugging around as much as 20 extra pounds of dead weight. Because battery length decreases with each recharge (even if you use a lithium-ion battery), it is always better to plan your dive to end way before you use up all your juice.
Can I use a DPV to scare sharks?
There is a lack of scientific material to support anecdotes of DPV users noting far fewer shark sightings, but the stories do exist. The leading theory is that the electric field generated by the DPV engine is unappetizing for sharks.
DPVs are the next step in a diver’s growth, but can prove to be quite costly. Remember that your mileage may vary on reliability and build quality of the scooter.
It’s important to be familiar with the skills needed to properly pilot a DPV – experience gained from taking courses on using DPVs from dive shops can help you extend the useable life of your DPV, and help you come to an informed decision on which DPV to choose.