Reporting in for the last day at DEMA, we’re pleased to say it was an excellent event. Here are some more products we think you might like to hear about:
- We’ve finally had a SeaLife conversion. After not thinking much of SeaLife for years we decided to take another look. We were pleasantly surprised. We learned that SeaLife makes photography easy. Their DC1400 camera shoots 14 mega-pixel still and HD video. While you can find other cameras with those specs, SeaLife makes it all simple for the beginning through intermediate or casual underwater photographer. The elegant ease of use starts with the 5″ wide and easy to understand piano style keys and large shutter button. The onboard software adds to the simplicity and makes setup a joy.We were equally impressed with the Sea Dragon flash, video lights and the Flex Connect arms that click together with ease. They even allow you to switch the setup underwater with bulky gloves. The video lights include options in 1200 and 2000 lumen models. The pricing for the video lights is much less than competing models of equal quality. The flash in the same power as the previous SeaLife flash but in a much more compact format. We will be getting a SeaLife kit to test and give it a full review for a future article.
- We saw a sample of the new line of “tactical” cases from Seahorse Cases. Seahorse cases are like and seem to be of equal quality to Pelican cases but are much less expensive. They have a unique feature that seems to be an advantage over Pelican cases in that they put the air release under the latch. This allows you to open the latch and release the pressure in one step. The new Tactical line offers ridges on the case which make them even stronger and easier to stack. They also claim to be the only fully airtight case available.
- Neptunic, the shark suit people, has been purchased from Jeremiah Sullivan by the team of Neal Andrea and Bob Kreusle. The new owners have extended their stylish soft goods line of clothing featuring the iconic shark logo. They also plan to add a suit which is targeted at free divers and spear fishers . This will be a combination suit with chainmail on the arms and shoulders and neoprene on the torso. It is set to come in at only 3.5 lbs. An aspect of their new mission is to engage young people in the range of 13-19 in the water sports.
- Fourth Element, makers of quality and innovative exposure protection were showing a new high end wicking layer embedded with super antibacterial silver ion material. This was tested on deep cave divers on the Bill Stone dive team. The divers had to stay in the same underwear for days on end. With this suit they found that the divers’ skin was in better shape after the trip than those at base camp who had clothing changes available. It retails at $199.They were also showing a new dry bag to hold wet gear that comes with a changing mat; a full jumpsuit rash guard; and the breathable Kevlar drysuit.
- UTD (Unified Team Diving) was showing their Z-Side mount system which includes an isolation valve. Last year, and for this reason, we awarded this system the best of Side Mount Systems in the show. But this year they wowed us with their new Paddle Dive scuba diving paddle board. This is an inflatable paddle board that blows up as stiff as most hard boards. It has been equipped with a longer standing area, 12 d-rings, and other features that make it a stable dive platform. The staff have been side mount diving from the board in the Pacific Ocean off of San Diego. It comes with a back support and can be used kayak style with a second paddle that snaps into the sup paddle. We will be getting a test loaner and report on full testing soon
- ScubaPro moved their Lite Hawk travel BCD into the SubGear line under the new moniker of “Levo.” We use and love the Lite Hawk for travel and pool sessions. What you may not notice is that this BCD is not limited to the 30/30 latitudes. Levo hides 56lbs of lift in this lightweight package. It can take on the full size weight pockets and become a cold temperate BCD.We liked the old Light Hawk so much we were worried about the change. But the new ScubaPro Lite Hawk is even more comfortable. It was a wow experience. With extra padding in all the right places it reminded me slightly of the of travel version of the Tec harness. But the bigger change is that this version has a soft center and can pack even smaller.
Speaking of weight pockets, ScubaPro redesigned theirs with perforated hard poly sides that allows for much better draining.
Also from the ScubaPro side we saw the new Equator jacket-style BCD. It features an adjustable cummerbund, an octo-pocket that eliminates the need for a separate octo-holder and hinged back plate for easier packing.
They also showed a new 3 mil Farmer John wetsuit and the Everflex 5/4 with a comfort notch neck seal and stylish white accents on the arms.
They’ve added a bright yellow option to the SeaWing Nova line. We dive the SeaWing Nova. They’re a great fin for those that want something between the soft leg of a split fin and the hard leg of a paddle fin. And back by popular demand is the full-foot version of the popular Twin Jet line.
They’ve added a promising and very light shell drysuit. The EverTec LT also features a durable and supposedly self-healing T-Zip. To help when you get a little water under the seals, a layered fleece undergarment with an offset angled zipper for warmth and neoprene cuffs goes with the new LT . The cuffs struck me as one of those ingenuous little ideas that we should have had all along. Good work SP.
Their new dry gloves are another creative pop. Their stand-alone dry gloves that can be used with a wetsuit or drysuit. Normally on drysuits, a dry glove snaps onto a ring in the arm of the suit or the seal. But these new gloves are anti-slip coated gloves that integrate with their own ring and latex seal. As Arte Shaw used to say on Laugh In, “verrrry interesssting.” We will investigate these more and give them a try for a later report.
Normally a diver who wants one of the popular large screen dive computers needs to pay big bucks. ScubaPro now offers a large screen for a budget price of $449. At first glance, it’s similar to the Galileo computers. Look closely and you’ll see it’s a wrist mount but does not have an a transmitter-air-integration option. Also, it’s a segmented number LCD computer (Think alarm clock numbers or those found on most other sub $1K models) instead of the dot matrix of the more expensive models. The Aladdin 2 (squared) will appeal to divers who want to read their computer but do not want to install cheater lenses in their mask.
- Subgear has a very nice and budget friendly fin back to go along with their equally valuable regulator bags. They also showed a no-zip boot so you never have to worry about missing a dive due to a broken zipper.
- I spent the better part of an hour with Dean Garraffa and Doug Toth, co-founders of Atomic Aquatics learning why their new paddle fin is not just another paddle fin. We’re excited to be getting a pair soon for a live dive test.Next up we will have the DEMA show wrap up listing some of the trends we spotted and point out our favorite offerings.
- Mares showed the Power Plana; their first Tec fin to compete with the Rocket, Jet and Bat, fine models from other manufacturers. Their upgrade of the popular X-Vision line adds 20% to the already wide field of vision for this line. They also offer changeable lenses for those needing magnification.Mares gets the award for the most fascinating bag of the show. It is their new or maybe first only “Yacht bag.” It is basically a large backpack-duffle that turns into a dive locker. You would not know it was a bag when it is open and hanging. It features a large area of mesh for good air flow, a waterproof bottom with pull drain and sturdy gear hangers (see photo).
- We learned that Vindicator has been vindicated. This was in small part instigated by a bit of ScubaGadget intervention. Vindicator makes those tank valve handles that show green when on and red when turned off. The first year they were showing at DEMA we noticed that XS Scuba also had a copycat product. We asked a few questions of XS and went back to question the Vindicator inventor to see what he thought about this. He immediately confronted the XS team and a few heated words were volleyed. Now years later we have learned they are best buds because, after the Vindicator patent was finalized, XS signed a licensing agreement with retroactive commission. Everybody is happy.
- We had lunch with Rick Stratton and obtained a copy of his new magazine “Scuba and H2O Sport” (said as “scuba and water sport”). This is replacing the Dive News Network regional and National offerings. The new journal will broaden the base to include all water-activities from SUP to gold mining. Stratton also talked about the new evolution of the northwest regional consumer dive show, known to divers as the “Tacoma Dive Show.” The new show will, like the magazine, cover the full range of watersports. It will debut in early April and is moving from Tacoma to the Seattle waterfront.
- We checked back with our favorite little ROV the Deep Trekker. This small format round and light weight ROV is designed to be simple to deploy and use. It is also priced starting at $3000. This year’s model has brighter lights, HD video and an optional LCD controller. If you ever wanted or needed and ROV you should meet Deep Trekker.
- Diviac is another one of the new slate of cloud based dive logs. Divac also has Facebook like social networking features. It is free to divers with only a small $10 per year charge to add the capability to upload previous dive logs to your account. The Swiss company offering Diviac says there will be no advertising to keep the clean look.
- Hotshotz is an instant portable hot pack new to the diving market. A few long term divers will tell you they have slipped these packs borrowed from medical industry into their wetsuits for added warmth. Hotshotz says they are completely non-toxic and infinitely reusable. They look like a normal icepack with a button inside. You click the button and the liquid crystalizes and become 130 degrees warm and stays warm for an hour or more depending on the size of the pack.What is geekey cool about these hot packs is the mechanism of how they work. It is a literally a “hot ice pack.” The mixture inside is liquid at room temperature but will freeze when triggered by a micro force with the button is clicked. The freezing is an exothermic reaction which puts off heat. We are taking one home to try in our drysuits and will report in a later article.
- What’s a Zayak? In some ways it’s your personal mini glass bottom, self-powered boat. It is an 18lb, roto-molded (like a plastic sit on top kayak) paddle board with a Plexiglas or glass window on the bottom of small chamber that is covered with a black neoprene skirt with a face hole. The skirt is like an old photographers black sheet and keeps the glare and light off the window. We think they could spread beyond the warm waters to bring underwater vision to avid snorkelers around the world. They could also make a good tool for teaching students about the shallow marine environment without needing to learn to snorkel. The Zayak starts at $295.
- Liquivision certainly gets the award again this year for most remarkable booth display. Their double wide sign is fronted by falling streams of water. We were told that it takes at least eight hours to setup. They almost flooded the back-adjoining booth at one point. But there is much more of interest here than just the booth. Their new Lynx passive OLED, hoseless-air-integrated, wrist dive computer is different than any other transmitter computer on the market today. This is the first transmitter to use long-range ultrasonic over the standard short-range radio frequency. The Lynx can track up to 10 buddies at a range of 100 meters. But that’s not all: you can use the system to find them also. The display can track and guide you to the buddy you pick from the list.They are planning to add a boat transmitter also, so you can return directly to the boat. Some divers have already made their one boat transmitter by hanging a small tank and regulator, equipped with an extra transmitter to guide them home.
Almost anticlimactically the unit also includes a digital compass on board. Although we did notice that the display, while functional does not match the detail of some other digital compass computers. They also have a feature in the works to track two side mount tank pressures on one display screen.
The system retails at $1399.
- We checked up on the vastly updated version of the unique Bladefish scooter. This was the scooter that looked like a household fan on the first go round. The new version is sexy. It looks like a hand-held jet engine. The new system is slated to start at $899 will weigh in at only 13 lbs. It is also a complete redesign on the inside. They made a conscious decision to make sure it would be easily serviceable and all parts would be replaceable. Top on the list is an easily swappable battery pack so you can get an extra for multiple dives on one day. We were impressed with the new look.