ScubaLab: 2013 Gear Preview + 4 Equipment Trends You Should Know
MARES AVANTI QUATTRO +
The Avanti Quattro has been around for a long time. Touted as the first fin to offer a four-channel blade, the fin placed near the top of the pack for speed when ScubaLab first wet-tested it back in 2003, plus it was stable and highly maneuverable in close quarters. However, it was considered a little too stiff. This year, Mares’ designers have addressed this by incorporating a new high-flex material into the blade and renaming it the Quattro+. Just handling the fin you can feel the increased flex. The new bungee fin strap is a smart feature too.
One of the high points of our year is The DEMA Show, where we meander among booths and revel in shiny new gear. This year we noticed exciting trends in drysuits, fins, BCs and LED lights. In the gallery above you'll see the models that particularly caught our eye. We can't wait to take them into the water for some test dives.
Fins - Say Bye-bye to Splits?
Split fins appeared on the diving scene some 15 years ago. ScubaLab tested its first split in 1999 — the Apollo Bio-Fin — and it was an instant hit. In no time at all, more split fins were being brought to market than paddle fins, because when it came to kicking performance, most traditional paddle fins simply couldn’t keep up. Paddle-fin makers just hated hearing ScubaLab report this, so they put their R&D departments into high gear and emerged with some innovative fin designs now referred to as “modified” paddles. These fins were fast and responsive, and didn’t trash leg muscles — and divers ate them up. By the late 2000s, more modified paddle fins were coming onto the market than splits (this was also due in part to the complex licensing requirements that have dogged split fins from the start, plus caused them to be pricey). Fast-forward to 2013: Based on what we saw at DEMA, for the first time in more than a decade, not a single new or redesigned split fin is slated to be released this year. Not a one. While a number of high-performance split fins continue to maintain a firm grasp on the fin market (Apollo’s Bio-Fin Pro, Atomic Aquatics’ Split Fin and SCUBAPRO’s Twin Jet are three of the best), modified paddles are definitely in ascendance.
Drysuits - Can you say Bulletproof?
Experienced divers spend a lot of time in the water, shelling out big dollars for their gear, so they expect a lot from it. This is especially true when it comes to drysuits. After dropping from $1,500 to often more than $3,000 on a quality fabric suit, you want to know it will stand up to aggressive use —and, yeah, even abuse — dive after dive, well into the future. If what we saw on display at DEMA is any indication, drysuit manufacturers are definitely listening. Heavy-duty materials designed to withstand virtually anything short of a nuclear explosion are all the rage this year. And we’re not talking about simply laying on more Kevlar; on the contrary, the mission is to use materials that can withstand lacerations, abrasions and punctures better than anything currently on the market, while still being lightweight and stretchable. This seems like a daunting task, but a number of drysuit manufacturers have come up with some truly amazing high-tech materials: strong yet lightweight, flexible yet resistant to chemicals, all packed with convenience features and designed for easy maintenance.
LED Lights - Powerful, Versatile, Dependable