2010 SCUBA SHOW – An onsite Review of the event
Turn off the television, stop listening to the news, and head to the Long Beach Scuba Show. That was the mantra of the West Coast Scuba diver this past weekend. One of the most impressive sights at the Scuba Show this weekend was the attendance! The aisles were full of divers. Over the past year, subtle vendor reports were that there were more vendors at these trade shows than attendees. That rumor was glowingly not true in Long Beach!
Estimates ranged from 5000 to 10,000 attendees this weekend. However, the buzz from people at the show would mute any number. It was common to see people one or two deep at just about every booth.
Starting the day off on Saturday, I had my show program marked off as to the number of booths I wanted to attend. My mission: To find that interesting product; that interesting gadget that should be a must have for every diver’s gear bag. To find the Best of Show products that we all crave. The usual dive manufacturers were well in tow at the Long Beach Show. Folks from Atomic, Mares, Dive Rite, OMS and many others, while austerely represented, had their wares and smiles and were eager to talk to the throngs of divers streaming down the aisles.
Custom wetsuits were all the rage (and if you dive California, you know why). Folks from JMJ Wetsuits and Wetwear were proudly displaying their advantages over “off-the-rack” manufacturers. However, wetsuit manufacturers like Pinnacle and Camaro were just as eager to discuss their high quality, lower cost options to the custom option.
There also seemed to be a fair amount of light companies touting their tools for the night, technical, cave and wreck diver crowd. Of which, California has a robust population. Some of the more impressive vendors in this category were Light Monkey and Big Blue by Bossk. Light Monkey had an impressive display of high powered HID canister lights that even a diver on a modest budget could afford. Big Blue Dive Lights were “beaming” at the end of the aisle with their HID and LED light series that was a perfect fit for the recreational diver’s wallet and the performance needed by a seasoned technical diver. Princeton Tec and Underwater Kinetics were well represented with their product line as well and continue to lead the pace for divers needing to brighten up their dives.
Gotta Go Diving!
There were many travel companies displaying at the Long Beach Show. Destination companies from as far away as Wakatobi to our neighbors in Loreto showed that they were eager for divers to come and visit. Rumblings were abound that destination focused dive travel was suffering from the worldwide turn in the economy. A bargain hunting shopper could find some deals on the various tables at the Scuba Show. Destinations like St. Croix, Fiji, Cozumel Mexico and Curacao all had attractive brochures, warm smile and inviting waters for the West Coast Diver.
The Local Diver
Where destination diving was suffering, good reports from local dive companies were abundant. It seems that local diving is prospering. Just reviewing the schedule at the booth for the Peace Boat demonstrated that local divers are still blowing bubbles in places like Catalina and the Channel Islands. Local dive shops like Beach Cities Scuba, Sport Chalet and Ocean Enterprises were thriving with visitors and in many cases had lines outside the booths. All this in mind, the California diver is heartily maintaining its spirit and desire to continue visiting the kelp forests and marine life unique to California waters.
Top 3 Interesting Products at the Scuba Show in Long Beach
Off in the back corner a small company was displaying its worry free valve handle. The Vindicator replaces your current valve knob with their Vindicator Valve Handle. When turned on, the Vindicator strip is green. When your air is turned off, the Vindicator strip is red. The concept, you don’t have to jump off the boat or walk into the surf and worry about whether or not your air is turned on. As one diver said, while standing on the boat, “this obviously isn’t a must have gadget, but it sure is a good idea.”
The Vindicator by Scuba Stik is definitely a “Best of Show” product.
The Tank Dolly
For those who didn’t find it, there was an aisle off to the side that had few visitors, but lots of value. Tucked away on this aisle was the Tank Dolly. For divers who have humped tanks to and from their car at La Jolla Cove, this is a dream come true. Tech Divers were eager to jump at this innovative design to do the “heavy lifting” with their doubles. The Tank Dolly is a double tank trolly with safety straps, knobby wheels that work on rough terrain and a carrier for weight bags at the bottom. My thoughts, save your back and a couple of bucks at the Scuba Show and buy this Tank Dolly. The Tank Dolly by Shark Bite Scuba is definitely a “Best of Show” product.
Bonica Dive Cameras
People say pictures are worth a thousand words. I would guess that video is worth a million. For divers eager to relive their dive vacations and that “special moment” under water, Bonica gives a high quality option at a relatively low cost with their underwater video systems. Bonica’s distinguishable yellow booth was highlighting their HD1080 camera system with their video light package. Moderately priced, this system lets an average diver take “High Def” video while visiting far off reefs or the local California wrecks. Bonica, true to their tagline, was capturing attention at the Long Beach Scuba Show and is definitely a “Best of Show” product.
As the doors slowly closed on Sunday, there was a little more optimism and a lot more enthusiasm about the dive industry and divers. Some folks walked away with new gadgets and a few pieces of new gear. However, everyone walked away with a renewed passion for the sport that we all love. Dive safe, see you next year.