Apeks LifeLine Spool Review
It is about time we did an. These spools were by far our best selling spools of 2019 and 2020.
This Apeks LifeLine Spool review will explain to you, in detail, the different Apeks LifeLine Spools, the specific design features of them are that make the Apeks Spool unique and some of the applications in scuba diving that you could use each spool for are.
If you're trying to find out exactly which spool to purchase for your type of diving and want to know if that Apeks LifeLine spool is for you, then you're going to love this post. We are going to outline the best features that, in our opinion, make this the only spool to choose for your dive bag.
This blog post was written by Alex Varnals, PADI Course Director and Technical Instructor trainer. Alex has been teaching scuba diving since 2002 and has been working full time in the UK dive industry for over 20 years. We thought, who better to get to review this spool than the man with more shiny stuff than a flock of magpies.
Lets get started
This Apeks LifeLine Spool Review includes:
- Unboxing The Apeks LifeLine Spool
- Strength Through Build Quality
- Quality Of Line Chosen
- Spool To Line Ratio
- Large Holes For Ease Of Clipping
- Conclusion of the Apeks LifeLine Spool Review
Unboxing The Apeks LifeLine Spool
Getting new dive gear is a great feeling. You have spent time researching, spoken to dive buddies, the person at the dive centre (if you are Scuba Leeds it was probably with a brew in your hand) and now you have made your decision.
The first thing that hits me when I get the Apeks LifeLine Spool in my hand is the simple packaging. Gone are the days of the spool arriving in a plastic snap-closed bag with a barcode on it great thing about the new Apeks packaging is that since 2019 they have been focusing on a project to eliminate single-use plastic from all their packaging. In around June 2020 they retired their shrink wrap machine. Farewell trusty shrink wrapper!
The Apeks LifeLine Spools all come in a new specification of cardboard packaging, which are made from recycled material and pulp sourced from managed Forest Stewardship Council forests. Yes, there is a small chance that the cardboard and print may be a little scuffed or creased when your shiny new reel arrives, but we agree with Apeks that the removal of the single-use plastic is more important for the planet.
The Spools all come with a marine grade stainless steel bolt snap attached to the cardboard packaging. This is the best choice of bolt snap for use with a spool as the trigger mechanism is far less likely to seize or jam as occurs with cheaper bronze bolt snaps.
Strength Through Build Quality
The Apeks spools are all manufactured in the UK from aircraft grade aluminium. The choice of material ensures the product is light weight, while ensuring it's strength is not compromised.
The is CNC machined from a single block of aluminium. The choice of machining process ensures the spools structural integrity is greater than with cast aluminium products.
If you had two spools made from identical materials and cast one and machined the other from a billet, the billet version would come be stronger. Casting materials are heated and cooled more times during the manufacture process. This heating and cooling changes the structure of the metal itself. Every additional step introduces flaws to the material, such as tiny air pockets or a weaker crystal structure. The machined billet does not suffer from this, so is inherently more consistent and as such stronger.
In the image above you can see the spool on the left is still waiting to be trimmed from the solid aluminium billet. This is the additional material that is gripped by the CNC machine grips while the spools while is in production. Being an environmentally aware company, Apeks recycle all of the metal waste from the machining process.
As a diver, I want to ensure that the spool I buy is the highest quality material. A spool is one of those bits of gear, that gets bashed and knocked about more, trapped between cylinders, sat on, and generally takes a bit more hammer than the your regulator second stage. As such, knowing that the spool has no weld joints or seams means I know that the spool is the strongest construction possible.
The unique flared design of the aluminium spool allow easier winding whilst wearing gloves. The outer edge of the spool has a rigged effect which makes spool handling easier underwater. and an outer grip for ease of use
High Quality Line
The line on the LifeLine spools is a high tensile strength which means the line can resist a higher level of tension before if snaps or breaks. This is particularly useful for divers when they are using the spool for line laying into an overhead environment such as a wreck or a cave.
This high quality, high visibility line is sewn instead of tied to increase strength. Apeks chose to go for an orange coloured line as this is the best colour for low light conditions. This makes the LifeLine spool ideal for cave and wreck dives as well as for use with surface marker buoys.
The line has swivel on the end, similar to a spinner from fishing tackle. This has been added to the end of the line to reduce the amount of twists and entanglement issues found with standard lines.
Spool To Line Ratio
For the first time, a manufacturer has got the spool size to line ratio correct. What I mean by this is that the amount of line on the centre of the spool does not sit higher than the holes on the flared sides of the spool. By not over winding the line, the Apeks Spool allows easy clipping of the bolt snap for stowage (more on that in the next section).
Allowing the spool to have the correct amount of line also gives you the opportunity to add additional line to smaller spools. Personally, I wouldn't do this as the additional line would reduce the ease of clipping the bolt snap off. But the opportunity to do so is there with these spools.
Large Diameter Holes
All four spools in the Apeks LifeLine spool range come with oversized holes. This includes the large diameter centre hole for use in cold water whilst wearing gloves. One problem many divers find while diving with thick wet gloves or dry gloves is that the centre hole of the spool is too small to easily lay the line. This problem has been removed by increasing the diameter of the centre hole. This hole also features a smooth curved edge, which improves the comfort and ease of use for the diver.
The surrounding holes in the spool are a very useful additional feature. Clipping and un-clipping a a double ended bolt snap to a spool can be difficult with small diameter holes. This has been resolved with the large outer holes on this spool.
Conclusion of the Apeks LifeLine Spool Review
This spool has been designed by divers for divers. There are so many features that benefit you as a diver while underwater. There is more to this than first meets the eye, and when these features are identified, explains why this has become the weapon of choice for so many experienced divers.
The Apeks LifeLine spool comes in 4 lengths, you can check them out here: