John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.
SUIT DRYER UK HANGAIR DS
TO DO A SIMPLE DIVE TEST AT AN INLAND SITE, focusing on a single item, I have to prepare two sets of equipment, checking that everything works faultlessly. One set is for me, the other is for my stand-by diver; a requirement of the Health & Safety Executive for those who dive while at work. We can't afford aborted dives because of a technical problem. Once the dive is over, the equipment has to be rinsed in clean water and dried, then put away ready to be used again. For some items, this could be many months hence. It would be nice if I could leave everything outdoors to dry, but while my children are confident enough to leave precious possessions out in any weather, you know that I'd be wasting my time. How many of you hang your drysuit for days in the bathroom, fending off the protests of others who want to use the facilities? Yet it still smells dank when you next want to wear it. I've tried everything, including big bags of silica gel lowered down the legs with scrunched-up newspaper. Now Underwater Kinetics, the US company that makes lots of highly regarded underwater lamps, has come up with a solution. It's a hanger that has broad shoulders to open up the suit while it hangs, and a built-in fan to push air down into its depths. The fan doesn't work very quietly, so if you were forced to hang your otherwise dry-on-the-outside suit in your bedroom, its whine would probably keep you awake at night. It wasn't easy to get the neck of the hanger through the latex neck seal of my suit from the inside. It popped out a couple of times while I was doing up the zip. My telescopic torso suit is rather tall when hanging up, so I had to find somewhere high to hang it from. A G-clamp on a beam finally provided the answer.
THE HANGER IS MADE FROM TOUGH PLASTIC RESIN that, combined with its steel hook, can support up to 45kg. The low-voltage transformer (110/240V supply) is at the end of a lead of sufficient length, bearing in mind that the hanger will always be up high while electrical sockets tend to be low down, on the skirting board. A simple push-switch starts it. The suit inflated nicely. The press release from Sea & Sea, the British distributor, tells me that the waterproof fan pushes air at the rate of 120cu ft per minute. I couldn't see what was happening inside, of course but the suit had to be drying better than if it was lying down, or draped over something. Waiting for it to dry gave me time to read the instructions. You can set the dryer to 'High' for quick-drying or 'Low' when you have more time. I also learnt that no part of the product was in any way edible, and that looking at a light through the fan might give me an epileptic seizure. They don't take chances in America! Avoiding both hazards, I managed to spot within the text that the HangAir WDS is a Wetsuit Drying System, and intended for a damp wetsuit. Oops! Well, I've always got plenty of those, because whenever I pull my previously dried wetsuit out of my bag on returning from the tropics, it seems to be sopping wet again. Either way, if this product allows a wetsuit or drysuit to be dry on the inside within hours - it took about six hours on this occasion - rather than days or not at all, that's a good idea. There's nothing else like it on the market.