We first became aware of Suunto’s D4i dive computer (or watch if you’d prefer) after reading Breath – SUP freediving in the Maldives article. Fernando Stalla puts this very same product to good use during breath holds and sweep strokes. With robust, versatile time pieces hard to come by (many fail after a few submersions in our experience – especially if price has been scrimped on) we were keen to check the D4i out for ourselves.
Coming in lime green flavour (it certainly stands out) this wrist located dive computer has lots of functions, as you’d expected, relating to underwater shenanigans. It features a continuous decompression algorithm – Suunto RGBM, four modes: air, nitrox, free and off, Innovative apnea timer, and a timer in air/nitrox modes, updateable firmware optional wireless air integration – current cylinder pressure, remaining air time, has a built-in dive planner, stores detailed graphical logs and dive data on your PC/Mac using and obviously tells the time.
Now while the D4i is a dive related product it’s actually applicable to recreational stand up paddlers (even more so if you use your board as a diving platform). As SUPers venturing out in sometimes varied conditions we demand products that stand up to the test. Cold water, waves, warmer weather and water slapping (after wipeouts) will all take their toll.
Something else you may not think is taking wetsuits on and off. With a correct fitting wetty comes tight wrist and ankle seals. If the watch you choose to wear isn’t tough then it can get pulled every which way during the de-robing process. In some cases watch clasps can become snagged. Suddenly your secure time piece is yanked from your arm and disappears (this has happened to us). Suunto’s D4i, however, didn’t show any signs of releasing. The silicone strap and tough locking mechanism works a treat.
The only slight nag when wearing a tight fitting wetty is mode buttons on the side of the D4i can depress meaning the watches display changes. This is only a minor point but you will have to faff about reverting it back.
As far as dive settings go there are plenty to choose from and all give accurate readings depending on indidual circumstances. We used the timer when messing about with freediving and it’s very helpful (and safer) to know how long you’ve been under.
Suunto’s D4i, while being a diving specific watch, makes a good product for SUPers. It’s tough and versatile design delivers the basic requirements of telling wearers the hour of the day without malfunction during heavy use. For those into freediving it’s an essential bit of kit that’ll help keep you safe. We also like the bold, colourful design and easy to use interface.