Postcards from the Edge – Notes from the Annual DEMA Show

While it could stand for Diving is Expensive, it Makes my wife Angry, DEMA is the Diving Equipment Marketing Association and it’s annual trade show is the high point of the year for any gear guy. Here, all the training agencies, equipment manufactures, and dive destinations get together to show off the latest and greatest to dive retailers. If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist in the dive world. So what to my wondering eyes did appear?

First lets talk tech. DEMA has done a complete 180 from four years ago when they wouldn’t even allow technical diving equipment to be shown. Now, every BCD maker has a “Tech” model out there. But ballistic material and a few dozen D-rings doesn’t make a BCD fit for technical diving. You need one that will give you different options for bladder size and tank configuration. I tried quite a few on and still feel that the Dive-Rite TransPac II is still the best. It’s tough, comfortable, full of options and well worth the price.

A quick show of hands, anyone not know what Nitrox is? (It’s like air but with a higher concentration of Oxygen that limits your depth but increases your bottom time.) Nitrox programmable computers are now pretty much the norm. They allow you to set the computer for air or whatever percentage of Oxygen you’re using. For only about $70 more than regular computers, you can get one with this feature. I feel that within a few years, Nitrox will be like dive computers, you’ll be short changing yourself unless you’re using it. I saw two great new Nitrox computers. Mares introduced the Air Lab. It’s air integrated, Nitrox programmable, has back lighting for night or low light diving and even has small lights on the side for low air and deco warnings instead of an annoying beeping. The other was an air integrated, Nitrox programmable, hose less computer from Aeris called the 750 GT. In the quest to become more streamlined, the loss of the high pressure hose is a plus. You can mount it on a retractor to your BCD so you don’t need to mount it on your wrist.

Scubapro pioneered the idea of a regulator built into the BCD inflator. The AIR II has under gone a new design and will once again blow away imitators. I got to talk with the engineer who designed it. He said that at 175 feet he couldn’t tell the difference between the Air II and about five other high performance second stages. He sees the day coming when the Air II will be used as a primary regulator. I guess it might make an okay alternate.

Toys, toys, toys. For a gear guy, DEMA is the ultimate toy store.

Let’s go diving!
Spring 1999