This year’s DEMA show, in Orlando, FL, revealed more new and innovative changes in the scuba industry than we have seen in the last two years. Another shift this year are that the innovations we are seeing are not from small creative startups, but are from the major brands. We were wowed by some and impressed by others. However, we were truly floored by the revolutionary new HYDROS PRO, by Scubapro. This time we can safely call this a “game changer” and it is the clear winner of our DEMA Show 2015 BEST IN SHOW award.
We spent at least hour and half with the HYDROS PRO designer Rhys Couzyn, most of the time with our jaws hanging ajar. Every few minutes he would point out a new feature that was revolutionary. They didn’t think outside the box, they said “What box?” and just designed a “high tech buoyancy system” from the water up.
The HYDROS PRO’s design is a complete departure from the traditional BCDs which are layered with water absorbing foam and fabrics. The major components of the HYDROS, including straps and “backplate”, are made with Monprene ® TPE (thermoplastic elastomer). Just in case you are not up to date on your TPEs, Monprene is a high performance line of TPS materials, great for applications requiring stretch, flexibility, and soft-touch feel. This is the same material used for the Scubapro Seawing Nova fins. One marvelous characteristic of Monprene is that it can be injection molded like a plastic, but it also can have the feel and flexibility of rubber. Another thing that Monprene means is that nothing on the BCD will absorb water – instant drying. The material is also extremely durable and will stand up well to UV, chemicals and abrasion.
Other manufacturers are exploring non-absorbing BCDs, but for the HYDROS PRO this feature is just a prelude to a symphony of design genius.
Another benefit of this material is that it allows the BCD to conform to your body. When we tried-on the BCD it truly felt like it was instantly molding itself to our shape. It also has movable connection points for customization and to allow the BCD to adapt to you as you lean forward.
When released, the HYDROS PRO will be ready to dive the entire world. With a quick switch of the clips and just one minute you can remove the integrated weight pocket system and add straps to convert it into a lightweight travel BCD. In either configuration, it will roll up and pack down into a small day pack or in a 25 liter dry-bag along with your mask and regulator, computer and accessories.
SUPER MODULAR HUMAN FACTOR DESIGN
Most everything on this BCD is modular. You can quickly and easily add, remove, adjust or replace weight systems, straps, pouches, and much more… Or easily add accessories in multiple colors of course.
Among other benefits the modular design will allow almost infinite sizing and make the BCD feel like it was customized for your body. It also comes in multiple sizes including customization for women. There will also be a shorter inflator hose option so the hose matches the BCD.
As Steve Jobs would say, “one more thing” – the straps can be set to temporarily hold in place which basically gives you an invisible buddy holding your straps out for you.
TOO MANY COOL FEATURES
Need more? There are so many more new features you will not go hungry, including outboard mounted trim weights which are placed to offset the surface position problems found with other back-inflate BCDs and a bladder with a dual personality for a really trim swim. The weight release system is completely different and makes it simple to load or drop weights with one hand. The strap systems have single point adjustments. There are height adjustable D-rings and a movable sternum strap. As for the other features, you’ll have to wait. The HYDROS PRO is scheduled for 2nd quarter of 2016. There will likely be some changes as the unit is still going through final certification and test trials. The price has not been announced but even at a premium price, the easy repair of the modular design could make this a BCD for life. We will follow-up all the details and have a full review as soon as we get one.
NEXT UP: DEMA SHOW 2015 Honorable Mentions, Trends, Silly Stuff and Wrap Up.