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January 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 46, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Taste of the DEMA Show November 2019

not much in the way of new gear

from the January, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Every year, people from all elements of the diving industry meet at the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association show to exchange ideas, promote diving destinations, display new products, and tell stories over drinks. It's time when people in the industry from all over the world can get together, and this year it was held in Orlando in mid-November.

So what new products were displayed at the show? Well, not a lot, actually. Scubapro was notable by its total absence, and few other manufacturers had anything really revolutionary at their booths. Familiar products were refined or simply refreshed.

For example, Cressi showed its all-new Cressi AC25 high-performance piston-type regulator with a first-stage that looked remarkably reminiscent of the Scubapro Mk20/25 series. (

Divewear News

Perhaps the return of colored wetsuits, such as those from Problue (, after a decade or divers dressing in nothing but black, has been prompted by the recent popularity of brightly colored masks and fins, epitomized by those from French manufacturer Beuchat. ( Even Shearwater offered colored straps for its otherwise serious technical diver's Shearwater Teric computer/watch. ( Otherwise, this Undercurrent reporter had to trawl the aisles searching out what might be interesting, and I wasn't helped by a dearth of anything new in the New Product Showcases.

Greenprene, made from plants, takes the place of neoprene.

The Weezle Scientific Combination SuitThe Fourth Element Surface wetsuit is said to finally be available from this British manufacturer, despite being announced last year. It's the world's first certified sustainable wetsuit made from reclaimed plastic. At 3-4mm thick, it's only suitable for use in warmer waters and didn't look too robust, but it's certainly a step in the right direction, even though it only comes in last year's somber black. For cold-water divers, Fourth Element also showed the HALO A°R undersuit that, despite its name, actually contains no rare gas. (

Another British company, Weezle, claims to make possibly the best drysuit undersuits in the world, combining Swiss technology with British workmanship. They displayed the Weezle Scientific combination suit in a bright yellow/lime color that, so brightly colored, ensures there's no danger of the wearer getting accidentally run down while walking about in it. (

Henderson stepped up technologically with a range of suits made from 'greenprene,' a plant-based insulating material -- as opposed to petroleum-based neoprene -- ranging in thicknesses from 1mm to 7mm. The material has been tested and approved by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture as a 'biobased' and 'biopreferred' product. The wetsuits also use recycled laminates and a durable abrasion-resistant exterior fabric made from recycled plastic water bottles. (

Garmin inReach MINIFor When You Are Lost

Of particular interest to Undercurrent readers, Garmin revealed the Garmin inReach MINI, a device for ensuring that you get picked up even if you surface far from your dive boat. Initially aimed at yachtsmen, and as such, waterproof for close-to-surface use, an underwater housing for divers is rated to 330-feet. Communicating via its base in Texas using the Iridium satellite network, it allows lost divers to confirm they are safely at the surface, to reveal their GPS position, and even to have a two-way text conversation with first-responders using pre-written stored messages that are selected as appropriate. Most importantly, the unit is so compact at half the height of a soda can and a frontal area around the size of a credit card, it's no imposition to carry it. It's expected to sell for around $300. (

Underwater Photography Equipment

Underwater photography supplies have become a major feature of the DEMA show in recent years, and as usual, all the major manufacturers of underwater photo equipment were there. The Chinese company, Nauticam, is attempting to dominate this sector, continually introducing new products for a vast range of cameras. This time it showed the new version of its Nauticam WW conversion lens, specifically intended for use with compact cameras. Nauticam also displayed a prototype of its endoscopic lens, suitable for recording the tiniest subjects in the most inaccessible places. (

In the underwater strobe category, the Ikelite DS-161 has been updated with a bigger circular flash tube for significantly greater output and a wider beam angle and now offers converters for use with Nikon, Sony, Panasonic and Olympus cameras. ( Seacam revealed its Seaflash 160 Digital strobe. (

The rebreather demonstration diver collapsed and had to be rescued.

Backscatter showed its diminutive Mini Flash Underwater Strobe MF-1, suitable for mounting on top of a housing and intended for use with compact cameras ( while the Seafrogs ST-100 Pro strobe was devoid of too much complication to keep the price point low. (

Technical Diving International's 25th Anniversary

Mares Horizon SCRIt was the 25th anniversary of TDI/SDI, the technical training agency founded by Bret Gilliam, among others, who was seen strolling the show (a rare sight indeed) and looking more and more like an English Tudor monarch. Mitch Skaggs, another founder, had lost his trademark military flat-top haircut and was unrecognizable in the guise of a '70s boy-band member with a floppy blonde look. TDI's celebration party at the Bahama Breeze was oversubscribed with around 1100 noisy enthusiasts in a far-too-crowded venue. (

TDI certainly did a lot to popularize technical diving (that is, venturing beyond the 130-feet depth-limit of recreational divers), and this was reflected at the DEMA show in the number of rebreathers that have become mainstream.

Dräger launched a semi-closed-circuit unit at about the same time TDI started, but it soon faded to oblivion. The Hollis Explorer SCR unit that received so much fanfare, was soon dropped when Huish took over the troubled Hollis/Oceanic empire, confirming the market resistance to the semi-closed solution that gives no advantages in deco obligation but can extend gas duration.

Notwithstanding this, Mares launched the Mares Horizon SCR at this DEMA, presumably hoping that association with Paul Raymaekers, designer of the successful rEvo closed-circuit rebreather (a product since taken over by Mares), will give it the necessary credibility. Time will tell. (

Hydroid Aquabreather closed-circuit rebreatherStar of the show had to be the Russian Hydroid Aquabreather closed-circuit rebreather. Looking like something created by the imagination of Jules Verne, it's a rebreather entirely enclosed within a diving-helmet-like device. This includes a head-up display and two regenerative scrubber cartridges, both the size of Coke cans, and, according to the salesman, a tiny high-pressure O2 gas supply. The website says, "There are no oxygen cylinders in Aquabreather," which caused some confusion. (It was probably something lost in translation.)

It weighs 10 pounds and is said to be good for an hour underwater. The manufacturer claims it's good for 138-feet deep, and as Bret Gilliam wryly asked, "What could possibly go wrong?"

We didn't have to wait long to find out. The demonstration later in the DEMA display pool fell flat on its face when the unfortunate volunteer diver collapsed and had to be rescued, later to be taken away by ambulance. It's probably only a one-DEMA product. (

-- John Bantin

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