The following are the highlights from the show floor of the 2012 Pacific Northwest Dive & Travel Expo in Tacoma WA.
- Seasoft Booth: The new sales manager is really doing her job. She showed me some exciting new products from Seasoft including their “Raygun” dive light family. These are remarkably light and inexpensive 300 lumen lights starting at $99. They have wide and narrow beam versions as well as a rechargeable model for slightly more. I also liked their WATERMARK NITE-EDGE™ Glow-in-the-Dark Titanium Knife. But, most interesting was the new SEASOFT XV-4™ Drysuit. This suit’s 4 mil crushed neoprene was noticeably more flexible than other CN suits. The material was also very slick, as it incorporates the same technology used by swimmers competing in the Olympics to minimize drag.
- Edge Gear Scuba was showing their new EXP regulator with balanced first and second stages for only $239 msrp. They claim it is the cheapest balanced reg available. The also have balanced octos for $79.
- Peter Hunt was there to sign his book Setting the Hook: A Diver’s Return to the Andrea Doria
- Scuba Pro was showing their elegant Meridian multi-function watch/full function dive computer. It features a unique integrated Heart Rate Monitor that senses your effort, incorporates it into the workload calculation and then adapts the decompression algorithm.
- Sub Gear has a brand new air integrated version of the XP10 computer. The XPH is a full featured (including nitrox) hose-air integrated computer for only $475.
- The Cousteau history exhibit is one the best features of the NWDS. The exhibit is a small subset of features from the Flashback Scuba Museum located upstairs in the nearby Tacoma Scuba Center. The museum is open from 5-9 pm, usually with an included special event on the 1st Friday of each month. Viewings are available by appointment at other times. They recently partnered with the nonprofit Northwest Diving History Association. For information, contact Ryan Spence, the owner and curator at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also selling the Richard Hyman book, FROGMEN The true story of my journeys with Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the crew of Calypso, as a fundraiser. I recently started reading this book and highly recommend it.
- Whites Diving is showing their new super-cozy, super flexible Thermal Fusion Undergarment. This is must see for any temperate diver and is an ScubaGadget Editors Choice award winner.
- Rendezvous Diving Adventure of Barkley Sound BC, was showing (selling) their new video, Kelp and Critters to raise awareness and money for their ongoing stewardship projects which include a sixgill shark counting.
- Eric Morris, president of High Tide Dry Suits was helpful in illustrating an answer to a long held question of mine. I have always wondered about the effective life of neoprene wetsuits. He showed me the cuff of a new 5 mil neoprene suit next to a the cuff of the same model suit after 350 dives (see a photo on http://facebook.com/scubagadget ). The used suit looked like a 2 mil suit and obviously no longer had any use for thermal protection. Eric said that on average a sport grade neoprene (F02) wetsuit or uncompressed drysuit looses it usefulness in less than 200 dives or on any dive deeper than 100 feet. On the other hand, a compressed neoprene drysuit should last over 2000 dives.
- Ocean Edge Outfitters was showing and selling their EEZYCUT TRILOBYTE simple and safe cutter for lines and nets (see http://www.scubagadget.com/?p=1790). We feel safer diving with this cutter. They also have the Santi (of Poland) drysuit undergarment heated vest and heated jumpsuit.
- American Underwater Products was showing their unique Lavacore garment line. These include jumpsuits, tops, pants, vests, socks and hoods designed to be used as a fleece wetsuit in warm water or under a regular wetsuit for extra warmth and comfort. The windproof garments also work for après dive or most any outdoor sport. The were also showing their unique and new Hollis Explorer, fully automated, recreational rebreather which is reported to be coming soon for around $5500.
- Liquivision has a new model in the line of OLED, button-less dive computers. After the demise of UEMIS, the Liquivison “Axiom” is the only recreational wrist mount air and nitrox, recreational, OLED computer. It retails for around $895. They are also promising to have an air integrated model soon for nearly the same price (Can you say “Osborne Effect”)
- We saw Mares X-Stream fins (see http://www.scubagadget.com/?p=1555) in new colors, pink, soft blue and black-black. It was a limited run, but could become more if sales are good. They wear also showing the interesting Instinct regulator. The revolutionary design of this second stage has a side exhaust deflects the exhaled breath. The design is supposed to make sure that hardly any bubbles will ever crowd your view. They also have a new mouthpiece made from their super soft “Liquid Skin” silicon used in Mares masks. We also learned that some Mares masks have optional cheater lens inserts available that are much less expensive than current (send away) options.
- The Octopus Gardens Diving shop in Port Townsend at the SSI booth. Shop owner and regulator master Don Peterson is available there for any regulator queries you have.
- The fashionable shirts and bags at the Rum Reggae boot were drawing a crowd and worth a look.
- The Midland XTC Wearable Video Cameras were on exhibit. These surprisingly small (only 3 1/3" long, 1 2/3" tall and 1 1/6" wide) cameras are said to be easy to use even when wearing gloves. Like the GoPro, they capture action on the go. Unlike the GoPro the kit comes with the flat port needed for making videos while diving. The booth is also showing UV video taken with this camera. The MSRP for the Midland XTC150VP2 with four mounts, 2 AAA batteries, USB cable and owners manual is only $109.99 (online and store pricing may vary). The other models have an MSRP from $99.99 to $249.99. Midland will soon release an XTC350 having a camo finish and 1080p True HD resolution (like the XTC300VP4).