Objects of desire - the ultimate dive gear
If money were no object, what dive kit would you choose? Neil Hope picks out diving’s objects of desire - a Nauticam housing with a Canon EOS 1DX, a Nautilus Lifeline rescue radio, Suunto EON Steel computer, a Torid Pulse bubble ring generator, an AP Inspiration XPD rebreather, an Oris Carl Brashear dive watch, an Atomic Aquatics T3 regulator, Santi Max heated gloves and undersuit, a Tank2Go trolley, Ocean Reef underwater phone, a Dive Xtras Piranha scooter and a Tirton T6600 submarine
Housing £4,493; Canon EOS-1DX Mk II (body only) £5,199
Exploring caves, underwater archaeology or chasing the big beasts of the ocean are just a few of the paths the dedicated diver can follow. Whichever you choose, it’s obvious that in order to share your experiences with others you will need a camera system, and they don’t come much better than Canon’s flagship professional model, the EOS-1DX Mark II.
This 20.2 megapixel DSLR camera has a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor, boasts a blistering 14 frames-per-second shooting rate in stills mode and also has the ability to record cinema-quality 4K video at 60fps. With an incredibly high ISO sensitivity of 51,200, expandable to 409,600, the 1DX II combines a digital lens optimizer with in-camera lens aberration correction and a 61-point autofocus system to ensure that its images are as sharp as is possible.
Despite having such advanced technology, the camera does unfortunately still require the use of a waterproof housing before it can be used underwater, and from its machined aluminium body to its ergonomic controls and optically-coated glass and acrylic ports, Nauticam’s NA-1DXII housing provides the optimum solution.
Easily installed via a quick-release tray, the camera’s controls are automatically aligned with the relevant dials and switches within the housing itself to provide a seamless link to the camera’s functions for shooting in both still and video modes.
Externally, the NA-1DXII’s two rubberised ergonomic grips provide comfortable access to its oversized double thumb lever controls and the Multi-Controller Pad/Piano Key setup on the rear right side of the housing.
Taking such a valuable commodity underwater can prove a daunting experience but Nauticam’s integrated vacuum and leak-detection system offer peace of mind by monitoring the system’s integrity throughout the dive.
With twin Nikonos flash connectors, a patented port locking system, plus a host of optional extras including a 45-degree angled viewfinder, TTL flash trigger and
a variety of strobe mounts and arms, the NA-1DXII is easily customised to get the best from your photography. www.nauticam.co.uk www.canon.co.uk
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have surfaced some distance from your dive boat and watched helplessly as the skipper searched fruitlessly in the wrong direction, then you’ll know that this relatively inexpensive device will hold appeal for recreational and expeditionary divers alike.
The Nautilus Lifeline is a VHF marine rescue radio with integrated GPS. No larger than a conventional hand-held ship-to-shore, the Lifeline is manufactured from stainless steel and polycarbonate with its sealed-in electrical components accessed by a flip-top hinged cap.
Contained within the impact-resistant and shockproof housing is a colour-coded control button system – green for on/transmit, orange for emergency channel 16, and red to send an alert message/GPS position – along with a mic, speaker, antenna and USB charging port.
Depth-rated to 130m when closed, and to just under a metre when operated at the surface, the device has a voice range of between two and six miles with the distress signal able to be transmitted to any vessel within a 34-mile radius.
The Lifeline handles transmissions just like any conventional marine-band VHF and provides access to this data and other relevant information including GPS coordinates, remaining battery level, plus a position indicating light on the device’s easily accessible LCD display.
It’s a small price to pay for safety, especially useful when diving in remote locations, and should you have any interesting discoveries during the course of your dive, simply deploy the positively buoyant Nautilus Lifeline to the surface on a reel to provide the exact GPS coordinates for future visits. www.nautiluslifeline.com
Suunto EON Steel
It may not be the most expensive or even the most highly specified computer around, but the EON Steel has to be one of the sexiest-looking on the market. Far different from anything else in Suunto’s range past or present, the Steel’s reinforced composite body, full-colour TFT screen and brushed stainless- steel bezel conceals a multitude of features beneath its aesthetically pleasing exterior.
With four custom displays to choose from, plus classical or graphical views, the wrist-mounted Steel’s Gauge, Air/Nitrox, Trimix and fixed-point CCR modes are accessed intuitively via a simple three-push-button menu system.
Depth-rated to 150m and powered by an inbuilt rechargeable battery capable of up to 40 hours of use from a single charge, the computer also features a 3D tilt-compensated compass and has the capability of switching between ten gas mixes. It can also be paired with Suunto’s Tank Pod for wireless tank pressure monitoring, while Suunto’s Fused RGBM algorithm takes care of any decompression obligations. www.suunto.com
$140; $170 (with hose)
H2Odyssey’s Torid Pulse could be described as the underwater equivalent to paintballing. Connected to your primary or secondary air supply by a 40-inch, quick-release, low-pressure hose, the Pulse is a high-performance underwater ‘gun’ that produces harmless bubble rings that can travel distances of up to 35 feet (11.5m) in any direction.
A simple control lever on the top of the device adjusts the performance of the unit to produce larger and slower or smaller and faster rings.
While the Torid Pulse can also be utilised as a signalling device to attract your buddy’s attention or fire a plume of water above the surface to signal the dive boat, its primary function is just plain fun! www.h2odyssey.com
AP Inspiration XPD
AP Diving introduced the world’s first production closed-circuit rebreather (CCR) nearly two decades ago and the manufacturer’s current incarnation of the classic Buddy Inspiration is now available
in three different configurations, as the AP Inspiration XPD, EVP and EVO.
Described as large, medium and small respectively due to their different scrubber and cylinder sizes, the daddy of them all is the XPD with its 2.5-litre scrubber capacity providing a maximum diving duration of three hours.
Custom-built to match the user’s size, body frame and type of diving, any of the trio can be configured to suit recreational or Trimix specifications and the units all provide the same host of unique multi-patented features, including back or front-mounted twin-bag counterlungs, dual oxygen controllers, fibre-optic HUD, dual power supplies and an insulated scrubber canister.
AP’s new 2020Vision display provides high-definition, colour text and graphics direct from the rebreather controllers as real-time data with an optional OLED Heads-Up Screen that allows a magnified virtual image of the same information to be projected to the diver’s eye.
Fully user-upgradeable via software upload and with a host of extras to customise the unit to your heart’s content, the AP Inspiration truly makes the ocean a ‘silent world’. www.apdiving.com
Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition
Despite the inevitable rise of the diving computer, diving watches still retain their iconic status among divers and non-divers alike. Hot on the heels of Oris’s retro remake of its original divers’ watch, the Divers Sixty-Five, comes the Carl Brashear Limited Edition.
Commemorating Brashear’s well-documented battle to overcome both racial prejudice and the amputation of his lower left leg on his way to becoming the US Navy’s first African-American Master Diver, the limited 2000-run watch is supplied complete with its own luxury wooden presentation box. Comprising a multi-piece bronze case, minute-scale top ring and domed sapphire top glass, the timepiece has a stainless steel engraved and numbered case back, automatic winding rotor and blue dial with superluminova-coated indices and hands.
Oris’s first-ever creation from bronze will no doubt become even more desirable as the metal’s natural process of oxidation makes each individual timepiece even more unique. www.oris.ch
Atomic Aquatics T3
Atomic’s signature T3 regulator may have a premium price but it is very much a premium product.
Precision-machined from solid titanium, this lightweight regulator has a high-flow balanced piston and environmentally sealed first stage with a total of two HP ports, four LP ports plus a high-flow, LP port specifically designed to accommodate the primary second stage.
The second stage itself has a diver-adjustable inhalation control, in addition to an Automatic Flow Control that continually adjusts performance during the dive to maintain optimum efficiency. It also features a patented all-titanium comfort swivel with black PVD coating.
Nitrox-ready up to 40 per cent and supplied in a deluxe padded travel bag, this luxury regulator is covered by Atomic Aquatics’ three-year/300 dive service interval and lifetime warranty. www.atomicaquatics.com
Santi Max+ Heated Undersuit and gloves
£799 (not including battery pack)
For those of us who dive in temperate waters, the winter months can be somewhat daunting as water temperatures plummet. And while the mind may be willing, the body may tell us the exact opposite and necessitate a prolonged break from regular diving activity.
Good-quality thermal undersuits can go a long way to combat the cold, but for extreme conditions and particularly low- temperature-sensitive souls, Santi Diving’s ‘Winter Is Not Coming’ tagline heralds a comprehensive line of heated apparel including vests, undersuits and gloves.
Available individually or as a package such as Santi’s Max+ heating system, this particular combination features a full-length 420g per sq metre Thinsulate undersuit partnered with a pair of lightweight fleece-lined gloves.
Both components contain an inner core of evenly-distributed thermo-protective cables with integrated and unobtrusive sleeve plugs allowing easy connection between the two garments.
At the heart of the system is the dual-function Thermovalve, a replacement drysuit inflation valve with an integrated 12-volt connector. From this device, an inner push-pull waterproof cable connects directly to the suit connector, while its external counterpart mates with a choice of external 10Ah or 20Ah battery packs.
Providing a maximum temperature of 45ºC with constant-use run times of between 1.2 and 2.5 hours, the product also benefits from an overheat safety switch and is machine washable. www.santidiving.com
£130 (single cylinder); £140 (twinset)
Twinset divers of slight frame, advancing years or suffering from recurring back pain can be forgiven for seeking an alternative method of transport for their weighty kit, instead of having to stagger uncomfortably along the jetty.
While a DIY-store trolley may appear an attractive proposition to begin with, its bulkiness and deficiency in build quality may conspire to eventually prove it a hindrance in itself.
Venture Diving has provided a simple solution for both twinset and single cylinder users with a marine-grade stainless-steel trolley that remains attached to your set-up – even when in the water. The lightweight, one-size-fits-all Tank2Go trolley attaches directly to the cylinders’ twinning band bolts, with an extendable handle and durable rollers, combining to make transportation an almost pleasurable experience rather than a back-breaking chore.
With upper and lower grab handles also providing easy lifting points for transporting over rough ground, loading into a vehicle or in and out of the boat, the Tank2Go can be left in situ permanently, with the only regular maintenance required being a rinse with fresh water. www.venturediving.com
Ocean Reef Alpha Under Water Cell Phone
The technological advances of mobile phone technology have seen our lives transformed over the past two decades, to the point where there’s now very little of the earth’s surface that can’t be reached by these miniaturised marvels of communication.
Underwater, however, it’s a different proposition and as a consequence, it’s not unusual to see a flurry of divers rushing anxiously to their mobiles to check for missed calls as quickly as they can after returning to the surface.
Underwater communication diver-to-diver and diver-to-surface isn’t something particularly ground-breaking, with many hard-wired and wireless systems used on a daily basis both commercially and recreationally. Cellular phones,however, have proved an entirely different proposition – until now.
Ocean Reef’s Alpha Under Water Cell Phone (UWCP) offers a workable solution that permits any cellphone with bluetooth and voice-dialling capabilities to send and receive calls while wreck diving, reef diving or even as a means to pass the time during lengthy deco stops.
Easily installed on any of Ocean Reef’s range of full-face masks, the unit’s integrated speaker and microphone is hardwired to the surface via a 40m-long, quick-release cable. The phone itself sits within a water-resistant box, which also houses the unit’s bluetooth interface and is mounted securely within a custom-made buoy, complete with diver flag. The unit’s push-to-talk button is utilised for both outgoing and incoming calls, but do note that for the voice-activated feature to succeed you must initially record your command while wearing the mask on the surface, in order for it to recognise your request underwater. I’m all for innovations but please, please, fellow divers – no irritating ringtones or inane ‘I’m on the wreck’ conversations! www.oceanreefgroup.com
Dive Xtras Piranha P1 Dive Scooter
Described by its manufacturer as the lightest DPV (diver propulsion vehicle) in the marketplace, Dive Xtras’s modular Piranha P1 weighs in at only 11kg.
The scooter is neutrally buoyant in seawater straight out of the box and, with removable weights for use in fresh water. The 180m depth-rated scooter offers a maximum speed of 71 metres per minute with a runtime of 50 minutes and a cruise range of 5.6km from a single charge of its 36.6-volt lithium battery.
Utilising similar ergonomics to that of a bicycle grip, the unit is controlled by a reversible trigger handle – complete with GoPro camera mount - and uses a Gates belt drive to power its one-piece propeller (with an integral line trap to prevent fouling). Additional self-contained battery modules attached in-line via a simple cam-strap can be added to increase duration, and programmable electronics allow customisation of the number and speed of gears through an optional PC interface. Accessories include a gauge mount, travel flight battery, a deluxe camera mount for DSLR or video housings, a vacuum tester and a handy ‘power slice’ module that allows the connection of lights or even a heated undersuit via an E/O cord. www.dive-xtras.com
For those days when you don’t want to get wet, when the water is a little too cold or you just want to go a bit deeper, you and your buddy can jump in your two-person Triton 6600/2 mini sub and spend up to 12 hours exploring to depths of 2,000m inside the thickest acrylic pressure hull ever made.
If 12 hours’ exploring isn’t enough, head up to the surface for an hour’s break and your vessel will be recharged. It is available in a variety of colours including matt black and comes with hand-stitched leather seats and integrated sound system.
Being the pilot of the mini sub is relatively easy with a joystick and touch-screen controls with a manual override. Movements are accurate because of the multiple thrusters and dynamic vectoring. And you can cruise around at speeds of up to three knots.
There are high output LED external lights for lighting up the depths. There is an emergency kit on board, which hopefully you won’t need, that includes oxygen and a carbon dioxide scrubber. If the basic model isn’t enough you can add extras such as cameras, various scientific equipment and other custom gadgets. www.tritonsubs.com