If you’ve spent the summer diving and find your gear needing some kind of an upgrade, now is probably the best time to buy. Too late for summer yet too early for next year’s dive season, you can upgrade your gear with this year’s current prices now, and be ready for next year’s season with brand-new equipment. Here are some of the latest goods that manufacturers have put out for 2013.

Rec/Tec BCDs
If you like exploring, going deeper and staying longer underwater, or maybe even considering doing some technical diving, a number of recreational and technical BCDs have been put out to address those requirements. The options make the transition from heavy recreational diving to light technical diving much easier, since you would no longer need to keep two sets of BCs. These rec/tec BCDs can be rigged to accommodate 2 cylinders, have at least 40lbs. of buoyancy lift –great for keeping you afloat comfortably even with an extra-heavy load – and come with more heavy- duty D-rings for attaching various accessories like a survive-balloon, flashlight, reel, slate, etc. Moreover, they’re made with tough, durable material that can withstand very rugged use. Some of these are the Apeks Black Ice, Oceanic Probe HLC and the Tusa BCJ-8000 X-Wing.

FINS: Modified Paddles
Once you’re hooked on diving you’ll often want to go where there’s a strong current as that’s where the action is – you can see pelagics and a whole lot of fish activity. Having a stiff fin can make a difference when moving against a strong current. But this is often hard on the leg muscles and can be a huge strain on the ankles. A split fin will work better and give you the thrust you need with less effort on your legs. But sometimes a split fin gets bent and can be an inconvenience. This year, no new developments have been made on the split fin though, and they’re probably on their way out anyway. Manufacturers like Mares, Aeris and Cetatek instead are banking on the modified paddles which give the desired stiffness for the propulsion that’s needed, yet with a flexible blade design that’s more compact– giving a shorter, lighter fin that’s more portable and suited for air travel requirements. They’re more comfortable, to boot. [No pun intended. ]

We all know the feeling of finding our drysuits unable to withstand the stress of wear and tear – a puncture here, a laceration there, or any kinds of minor abrasions in the most unexpected places. Imagine a leaking drysuit causing problems with your buoyancy! Knowing this, manufacturers have come up with drysuits made of specialized heavy-duty material that can withstand all kinds of stress. Companies like Bare have incorporated a high-tenacity nylon/butyl/polyester tri-laminate in its Trilam Pro Dry model; Waterproof USA’s D7 tri-laminate body is covered with an outer shell made entirely of Cordura; while USIA is playing around with nano-composite materials, creating a composite fabric that’s supposedly 15 times stronger than steel and 40 percent tougher than aramid fibers like Kevlar and Nomex — yet still lightweight and flexible. All these promise to give you years of trouble-free diving.

LED Flashlights
Everyone knows LED lights provide the punch of a high-wattage lantern with only a minimal power requirement but with a longer lasting battery life. Manufacturers are now coming out with smaller-sized units, small enough to fit into BC pockets but strong enough to be a primary light source during night dives. Such is the Ikelite Vega . It provides the convenience of bringing a single flashlight both for day — lighting holes and crevices – as well night dives. The Under Water Kinetics Aqualight E-LED on the other hand has adjustable light beams that can double up as a fill light, a spot light or focus light, or a floodlight for underwater video or still photography.

Lastly, SIZE AND WEIGHT still do matter . In 2012 we saw innovations for smaller and lighter gear. This year, the trend continues. More and more divers travel worldwide, so the demand for lighter, more compact equipment continues to be addressed. Meanwhile, we in the dive community have never had it this good.

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