Product Review
Dive Rite Sidewinder Reel

Product Tested
Dive Rite Sidewinder Primary Reel
Model# RE50400, #24 line 400 feet

Product Description
Dive Rite's Sidewinder series of reels are designed to be anti-jam by using precision machine tolerances between the frame and the spool making it nearly impossible for the line to slip between the spool and the handle. Features include:
-- DuPont fiber braid line provides strength and minimizes fraying.
-- Injection molded polycarbonate spool resists breakage and cracking.
-- Marine grade stainless steel axle is corrosion resistant.
-- High quality aircraft grade aluminum frame is corrosion resistant.
-- Marine grade stainless steel bolt snap is corrosion resistant.
-- Knurled lockdown screw has a low profile to prevent snagging
-- Weight 1.37lb

Cost
$170*

Would recommend buying this reel?
No! Why? Very expensive for a reel that breaks so easily. The reel should include a replacement winding knob and lockdown screw, and there should be a clear disclaimer that "by-design", these items are a typical failure point.

*Prices are approximations and near what an average consumer might pay.

Dive Rite Sidewinder Reel
Dive Rite replacement winding knob
Replacement winding knob.
$3.00*
Dive Rite replacement lockdown screw
Replacement nylon lockdown screw.
$2.00*

Additional / Replacement Spool
$15.00
*

The Review
Ergonomically, this is is a great reel. It fits comfortably in either hand, with or without gloves, and can be wound right or left handed. The spool sits at a comfortable thumb distance so you can put a little drag on the line or just feel it spooling out when running lines. As advertised, jamming is tough to do with this reel. The tight machined tolerances keep your line from getting caught between the spool and the handle. The downside of this reel is the lockdown screw and also the screw for the winding knob are made of some sort of plastic material that breaks easily.

PROS

  • Precision machine tolerances between the frame and the spool make it nearly impossible for the line to slip between the spool and the handle. We have not had anything even close to a tangle yet.
  • Solid aluminum frame/handle. Lightweight and corrosion proof.
  • Stainless steel axle/shaft. Durable and resists corrosion.
  • Marine grade stainless steel bolt snap that continues to actuate easily even after many dives.
  • The plastic spools are easily swapped out by simply removing the E clip, so you could have additional spools on hand with different gauge/colors of cave line.

CONS

  • The lockdown/tension screw is made of some sort of plastic material and is extremely prone to breaking. The unit we tested had this screw actually snap off on the boat the very first dive it was used. We had the reel clipped on and were about to enter the water, and this nut hooked under the bench and snapped right off as the diver stood up. You may argue that this prevents damage to the reel or keeps the diver from an entanglement hazard, but we firmly disagree. It would be all too easy to have this nut break off during the dive or when use of the reel is critical. Easy enough to fix on your own you say?? Not necessarily. We have quality reversible bits and easy-outs in our shop and it was still a challenge to get the Teflon/plastic shaft out of the threaded hole. We have since replaced the plastic tension nut with a stainless steel wing bolt.
  • The winding knob on our tested reel popped off and disappeared into the abyss after less than 6 dives with the reel. This knob is held on by a plastic screw, and disappeared during a dive.

Final notes
We really like Dive Rite products. As of writing this article, all of our regulators are Dive Rite units, as is our wing, stage bottle kits, lights, and more, however we would not recommend purchasing one of these reels. You might be thinking to yourself that the cons are just trivial issues and if we had just been more careful with our gear this wouldn't have happened. True, to a point, but why not get a reel that you REALLY have to be rough with before it starts falling apart. A reel is an integral part of your gear, and your life could depend on it's proper functioning some day. Why take a chance? We have since found out the a replacement winding knob ($2.65) and lockdown screw ($1.10) are very inexpensive, but there's shipping charges on top of that. (our local dealer didn't have replacement parts in store) If you do decide to purchase a Dive Rite Sidewinder Primary Reel, be sure to order spare winding knobs and lockdown screws as backup, and check knobs and screws for tightness before and after every dive. We've had extremely good success with Light Monkey reels. Built very tough. Simple design. Foul free.

 

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