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GearNews 17 April 14

Atomic Aquatics Blade Fins
Those clever engineers at Atomic have recently released their new Blade Fins. The Blade is made with a construction technique called Power-Loop Monocoque, and results in a fin that’s claimed to be fast and powerful, with snappy acceleration.

A brief history of leisure-diving rebreathers

Rob Palmer (left) wrote the first TDI SCR course In the late 1980s Peter Readey, recently retired from the Royal Navy, decided that rebreathers were the way forward for leisure diving. He constructed some prototypes of what he called the Prism in his garage and in the early ’90s, after some brief training in a pool, technical diving guru Rob Palmer and I joined him in the Red Sea for trials. more...

Bring on the ideas: America’s Dragons’ Den

Automated buoyancy control? Your own signs-of-life detector? A dive computer that texts? A clip-on underwater phone? Just what divers needed, or crackpot shots in the dark? JOHN BANTIN reports from the Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association show in Las Vegas more...

The right stuff

Setting off to dive somewhere far away from home, it’s crucial that you arrive at your destination with the right equipment for the conditions you’ll encounter under water. Five divers choose five very different destinations, and we feature the suits and other kit that they select to go with them more...

Big ideas & one-show wonders

Hollis Explorer Sport ESCR rebreather, for the Star Wars stormtrooper look The DEMA show is where the characters of the professional diving world – gurus, experts and the up-and-coming – choose to meet up every year. It was once all about product launches – now, not so much. Undeterred, JOHN BANTIN goes trend-hunting more...

A skipper’s point of view

Skipper Ian Taylor wants to know exactly where the divers in his charge are as they ascend After his recent review of electronic diver-location devices, NIGEL WADE turns his attention to those lo-tech items every diver should consider carrying for self-protection. And who better to consult than the man who is always on the look-out for ascending divers? more...

Where's Wally?

Emergency diver-location devices will soon become familiar, especially for southern Red Sea safari divers.
We may even start taking the type of installation into account when selecting a boat – or taking the initiative by investing in our own personal unit. Nigel Wade investigates

The kit in America

Dick Long, CEO of drysuit-maker DUI The apparel may be brash, but it was a comparatively quiet year for new dive-gear announcements at the latest big international trade show in Las Vegas. John Bantin
was there

The Stylish Diver

Style, élan, flair - whatever you call it, some have it and some don't.
It may not matter a jot to you, but it may be all-important to your buddy.
Usually it costs money, but not inevitably.
John Bantin considers the kit that makes a diver look cool

A place for everything

A popular feature of the UK's two Dive Shows are the kit-configuration workshops, and this month's London event will be no exception. In the meantime, John Liddiard looks at the vexed question of how best to stow your bits and pieces on a dive more...

Q&A: KIT February 2010

and the sensible - each has its own tank-valve Q&A: KIT February 2010 more...

Star Trek & iPhones

Orlando Conference Centre Non-tear drysuit seals; a hi-def video camera in your mask; a housing that fits some 450 compact cameras; even a dive-computer app for your iPhone! These were just a few of the eye-opening innovations on display at the DEMA show in Florida - John Bantin reports more...

Bubble-free Poseidon

No-one knows what future dive-gear will look like, but Poseidon is sure it will leave no bubbles. Its closed-circuit rebreather the Discovery VI is the breathing gear the Swedish manufacturer hopes will revolutionise diving.
Martin Örnroth reports, with additional images from Jesper Kjøller and Poseidon

Semi-dry or dry?

Everyone wears a drysuit in cold water, don't they? Well, most do, but it's not compulsory. For some, a semi-dry suit may offer advantages, including being half the price, says John Bantin. more...

The £1000 diver

You're just starting to assemble your own collection of dive gear - or maybe you're an experienced diver looking for a bargain. John Bantin outlines some affordable options more...

Light Light & Motion Sola Nightsea Lamp

Appeared in DIVER March 2014

Sola Nightsea black-light torch For most of us a new world is waiting to be discovered under water at night – the world of fluorescence.
Underwater flora, fauna and some marine animals give off fluorescent proteins that glow when excited by ultra-violet light.
This should not be confused with bioluminescence, which occurs when organisms produce light from within. This is commonly encountered under water at night – wave your hands around on a night dive with your torch switched off and you’ll see bioluminescent plankton glow brightly for a short time, creating a sparkling light show.

Bottom-timer XDeep Black BT

Appeared in DIVER March 2014

Bottom-timers display and record depth and time only, and when used in conjunction with pre-planned run-times calculated using decompression software or dive tables, they are an essential piece of kit.
Mixed-gas divers are raving about the new example from the Polish XDeep stable, so I took one with me on a recent trip to see what all the fuss was about.

Boots O’Neill FreakSneak 3mm Hi-top

Appeared in DIVER March 2014

I had to throw my old dive-boots away – they were worn-out, torn, threadbare and so past their use-by date that they were becoming somewhat of a health hazard.
One of the advantages of being Technical Editor for DIVER is that I mostly get to choose the gear that goes on the test track. When I recently conducted a comparison test of dive boots (Big Boots To Fill, January), it was at the back of my mind that the exercise could only help me find a suitable replacement pair.

Mask Atomic Venom

Appeared in DIVER March 2014

Atomic Aquatics has gained a great reputation for producing top-quality, high-end dive gear. Its policy is to use the best materials available in everything it produces, and the Venom mask is no exception.
I took one with me on a trip to Sulawesi to check it out.

Camera GoPro hero3+ Black edition

Appeared in DIVER February 2014

As a versatile action-sports camera, the GoPro has all the bases covered. more...


Appeared in DIVER February 2014

A super-light wing-style BC from Poland grabs NIGEL WADE’s imagination among the new test gear this month. more...

It’s the thought that counts

Appeared in DIVER December 2013

Alex Mustard tries out the latest diving innovation from the Netherlands – clogfins It’s the season for giving, but how do you come up with a gift for the underwater photographer who has everything? If you’re Dutch, the answer is obvious – clogfins! PETER DE MAAGT was the considerate giver. Main picture by JARRET BROWN more...

My favourite kit – Andy Torbet

Appeared in DIVER July 2013

Andy Torbet Scots man of action ANDY TORBET started diving at 12. He is a cave-, mixed-gas and rebreather diver and freediver and a military and commercial diver and supervisor. He gained a degree in zoology before spending 10 years in the Forces as a paratrooper, diver and bomb disposal officer, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and the Falklands. Andy is also a mountaineering
instructor, caver, sea-kayaker and extreme sportsman. Recent TV projects included Operation Iceberg and Coast and he is currently filming with Monty Halls

My favourite kit – Alex Mustard

Appeared in DIVER May 2013

Alex Mustard It’s all about saving weight on diving equipment for internationally renowned underwater photographer ALEX MUSTARD – because that means he can take more camera gear on his travels. And he travels a lot. Trained as a marine biologist, he worked in that field but became a full-time professional underwater photographer and author nine years ago. He has won many awards, including multiple wins in the two most prestigious competitions for underwater photographers: the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and France’s World Festival of Underwater Photography. His first photo book The Art Of Diving, a collaboration with Nick Hanna, was followed by Reefs Revealed in 2007 and he is of course a regular contributor to DIVER with his popular Be The Champ! series

My favourite kit – Doug Allan

Preparing to dive in typically challenging Arctic conditions Described by Sir David Attenborough as “the toughest in the business”, wildlife cameraman DOUG ALLAN was born in 1951 in Dunfermline, and started diving in 1968 before studying marine biology at Stirling. He worked as a pearl diver, diving instructor, commercial diver and biologist in the Red Sea, then made his first trip to Antarctica in 1976 as diving officer on a British research station. He spent five winters and eight summers down south before in 1986 becoming a full-time freelance photographer and documentary film-maker, specialising in polar wildlife. Doug has been involved with more than 60 films and TV series and has made more than 50 trips to the poles for series such as Planet Earth, The Blue Planet and Frozen Planet. Awards include four Emmys and five BAFTAs, and he has twice won the underwater category in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He has three Honorary Doctorates in recognition of his work, as well as the Polar Medal and bar. more...

My favourite kit - Michael Aw

Michael Aw Michael Aw is one of the world’s most influential wildlife photographers – and over 27 years his images have earned him more than 60 awards.

He has won five Palme D’Ors at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures, and last year was a judge for the prestigious BBC Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, in which he has himself won three awards. He has produced many books and his conservation work, particularly campaigning against shark-finning, has been widely recognised. Recently he has been project director of the Elysium Epic imagery expedition, in which 57 of the world’s leading image-makers and scientists retraced Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition to document the flora and fauna of the region. Michael is based in Australia.

My favourite kit – Martyn Farr

Martyn Farr Renowned Welsh cave-diver MARTYN FARR has discovered many miles of cave passage in many countries in the course of his career. He started caving at the age of 10, and cave-diving in 1971. By 1981 he had set a world record for underwater cave penetration, in the Bahamas. In the UK he made his name exploring Wookey Hole in 1977 and 1982. He has taken part in expeditions all over the world and is a leading cave-diving photographer, as well as the author of the classic book The Darkness Beckons. A PSA Cavern, Nitrox and Cave Instructor-Trainer, he has taken many celebrities underground, including the royal princes, and his cavern and cave-diving courses have provided a gateway to the sport for hundreds of today’s cave-divers. more...

Big Boots to Fill

Appeared in DIVER January 2014

Have you opted for any old dive-boots in the past? NIGEL WADE’s test of 17 pairs of the latest, ranging from £16 to £90, shows how you can add a spring to your step more...

Deep Oceans 12

Appeared in DIVER May 2013

Take 12 of the latest regulators to the Red Sea to compare and contrast their performance – who knows, it might just provide a short-cut when you're next ready to buy. NIGEL WADE reports, assisted by co-tester CATH BATES more...

Which computer watch?

Dive-computers you can wear all day, every day, are now a common badge of a diver, but choosing one is based on far more than wrist appeal. JOHN BANTIN assesses the market more...

Behind the mask

If you need a new mask, it’s often easiest to pick up whatever your local dive shop has on the rack. It might be even better to know exactly what you want – JOHN BANTIN assesses the current crop of divers’ eyewear.

BCs Fully Loaded

Comparing 11 ‘feature-rich’ jackets was the assignment for NIGEL WADE, but we asked him to compare them with each other, not with his own well-worn favourite! more...

Electronic flash: The Magnificent 7

We say ‘magnificent’ because it appears that the old ineffective brands of flashgun for underwater use have departed, leaving the way clear for the brighter sparks. JOHN BANTIN tests the seven and looks at two extras more...