Pathos Fireblade Review
This review is aimed at recreational and competitive Freedivers (deep diving):
After a disappointing run with my previous footpockets (Salvimar 4One – a review to follow), I decided to go for the other current favourite among spearos and freedivers…the Pathos Fireblade.
Before purchasing these footpockets I sent an email to a well known online dive store from whom I purchased my Salvi 4One’s, to ask how the Pathos compares to the Salvi footpocket.
The person helping me is a very accomplished Greek spearo and the response I received was the following:
here’s some more info regarding the footpockets.
The Fireblade is made with an angle. I haven’t measure it but I believe it’s 22 degrees. The footpocket is very soft so it would fit any blade from 15 to 26 and more. It is made with performance in mind and is preferred for dives under 30m of depth because it’s lighter. However the comfort is reduced. It’s usable with 3mm socks without any problem. With 5mm socks it’s getting just a bit uncomfortable but nothing to worry about. When I say uncomfortable I mean it compared to other brands. If you get OMER, the Fireblade is much more comfortable due to its softness… Compared to Salvimar though it’s just a bit less comfortable since the Salvi has a better pocket.
Here’s one thing that is very important – the groove on the footpocket is thinner to fit the blade directly. Therefore you have to glue the pocket directly. This means you can use the Fireblade only once! If you can’t change the blade without destroying the pocket!
I decided that I would give it a shot and had Linda Paganelli bring me a pair from Greece…
I’m writing this review after six months of full time use of the Pathos footpockets on carbon blades, using them for everything from daily instructing, my own deep dives, freedive photography and videography to safety dives in competitions. Therefore I can truly say I’ve put them through their paces and the review is based on multiple hundreds of dives under different conditions.
1. They are SERIOUSLY Light
This is probably one of the first things which come up in any conversation when discussing these footpockets and the reason it does is because it is so true it’s awesome. The weight compared to other footpockets is so huge in difference that the feather light weight of the Pathos on my Carbon blades makes it feel like I’m holding a sheet of paper (ok, not quite…but it’s really light). A single 42-44 size Pathos Fireblade footpocket weighs an incredible 390 grams! Does this matter…yes! Having a decent blade setup combined with feather light footpockets on deep dives makes a world of difference…like having the thrust of fins while feeling like there is nothing on your feet!
2. They ARE comfortable
In the email sent to me (above) it was said that these footpockets would be less comfortable than the Salvimar 4One’s…I disagree completely!
I do all of my diving in Dahab without socks and this is how I’ve been using my Pathos Fireblades. They are super comfortable and also soft but not so soft as to lose any power. An important point to make is that Salvimar loves to advertise the ‘power band’ over the bridge of the foot on their 4One’s. Incidentally the Pathos Fireblades have exactly the same feature, it’s just not made as obvious. The Salvimar 4One’s have some reinforcement in this area and it is ‘visible’ to the wearer by the ribbed shape banding on the surface of the footpocket (purely aesthetic and great to bring this feature to your attention). Pathos has a similar band of reinforcement over the same area but it is not visible when looking at the footpockets in store (smooth, clean surface), but it is however visible when viewing them underwater. As the rubber gets wet (and discolours) you can clearly see a different colour banding across the bridge of the foot…more importantly you can feel it as a thicker less flexible part over the bridge, even when using your fingers.
3. The most important part…Ribs
When blade manufacturers produces a blade they do so with very particular specifications in the sense that a blade is designed to flex a certain way, bend at a certain point and be able to have a particular ‘return’ (the speed at which the blade snaps to its neutral position after being flexed).
So many people spend hundreds of dollars/Euros on fancy blades and then deprive them of all their awesome features by sticking them into the wrong footpockets. The biggest problem:
The width of the ribs…(the two extensions which mount to the sides of the blade)
Its quite easy to understand, have a look at the comparison between the width of the Pathos Fireblade ribs and the Salvimar 4One ribs:
Due to the MUCH thicker ribs on most footpockets (like the Salvimar 4Ones), the blade is unable to flex at the point where they fit into the footpocket with the efficiency they were intended to. This has the biggest effect on softer to medium stiffness blades as you can have the softest blades in the world, but if you stick them in a footpocket with ribs the width of your wrist they just won’t perform the way they should. You end up with the majority of the blade flex occurring at the point where the footpocket ribs end.
Other footpockets have ribs which are too stiff resulting in poor blade performance…
The Pathos ribs are so narrow (hence the statement in the email which almost sounded like it was a matter of concern) that they allow the blade to function at is optimum specs. I have always been aware of this fact but recently it was proven quite efficiently when someone using a pair of carbon blades similar to mine (I designed the blades so the specs were identical) had them mounted in a pair of OMER footpockets. Trying his fins and comparing it to mine was shocking…even though its exactly the same blades it felt like they were 50% stiffer (due to the much thicker ribs) and diving felt noticeably harder due to a lack of thrust and an increase in weight.
Note the thin ribs compared to the original rubber profile of the blade
Based on this alone I’d buy Pathos Footpockets again and again…
4. To screw or to glue?
This point comes up quite a lot when selecting footpockets, sometimes even becoming the deciding factor. Personally I hate screws…they look crap and most importantly they weaken the blades (a point proven in my previous post).
The rib grooves on the Pathos Fireblade footpockets are so narrow that it is necessary to remove any blade trimming (like rubber profiles) and gluing the footpocket straight to the blade. The upside to this is what was mentioned before, there is less rubber ‘strutting’ to interfere with the performance of the blade but the downside is that once they are glued in, it’s permanent. I have had to remove a pair of Pathos footpockets from Fibreglass fins before and it involves cutting the footpocket to pieces (the blade of course survives), so in that regard the email above was correct. In my opinion it’s worth it…the Pathos Fireblade footpockets are constructed so well that it’s unlikely that they will perish easily so you should get years of (efficient) diving from them. As an instructor I’m in the water every day with mine and there is no sign of wear and tear yet, something my Salvimar 4One’s did not live up to…
Extremely thin ribs make the Pathos Fireblade very efficient in combination with the right blades
The Bottom Line:
I have no complaints about these blades and I’m unlikely to change brands again…despite the permanent nature of the Pathos in terms of mounting, I doubt I will have any reason to replace my current pair, but when I do I will most definitely go for another pair Pathos Fireblades.