Breathe easy as you dive a bit deeper with the STEPDive SCUBA system

The beauty of SCUBA diving is undeniable — an underwater world full of wondrous, and oftentimes strange, environments and creatures that never fail to capture the imagination of any diver. The problem lies in actually getting to the point where the experience can be enjoyed as the complexity and heavy equipment involved with SCUBA diving has a way of scaring off newcomers.

patent-claimedTo help, the team at SnorkelDive Innovations designed the STEPDive, a lightweight and highly portable diving system for new and advanced users alike. The system is comprised of three parts: a base station raft that holds an oxygen tank and sports a deck and cargo net to hold gear, a floating depth control unit and a range control clip that controls how far an attached diver can go. Together, the system allows for a step-by-step SCUBA learning experience that eases newcomers into basic diving techniques and good habits and allows advanced divers to go along.


UBA takes snorkeling to a new height, er, depth

The Premise. Nothing quite compares to scuba diving, but it’s not without its challenges. Without a scuba license, underwater enthusiasts are limited to snorkeling. While a fun activity, snorkeling has its limits. It doesn’t allow for diving too far beneath the water’s surface and presents the constant risk of inhaling saltwater water into the tube. Perhaps the solution lies in removing the first two letters from “SCUBA.”

The Product. UBA offers a more evolved and versatile version of the traditional snorkel. The UBA looks like a traditional snorkel, except with a  much more flexible tube that has a red fin attached to the top. Inspired by the anatomy of dolphins, UBA’s floating fin-like apparatus keeps the top of the tube above water no matter what position the diver is in and hides the top of the tube well enough so that water can’t get in. The fin on top also shuts the tube when underwater, giving the diver a little pocket of air for deeper diving. When resurfacing, the tube opens up again automatically. In addition, UBA includes a separate valve that allows for easy water purging if necessary, unlike traditional snorkels that need a big exhalation of air to clear out.

The Pitch. UBA’s Kickstarter campaign isn’t quite as cool as its product. UBA’s creators would benefit from including a better explanation of their product’s different features. The video showcases UBA in action, with swimmers on and below the surface of the water using UBA. UBA hopes to raise $50,000 in its campaign. More information can be found on the product’s Web site.

The Perks. UBA offers several early-bird reward tiers in addition to a regularly priced tier. For $55, $60, $65 (the early-bird prices), or $70 (regular price) backers get a UBA with travel bag from UBA’s first production run. The top tier goes for $1,000 and includes not only a UBA with travel bag, but also a chance to help UBA’s creators test new products as they come out. Estimated delivery is set at May, June, August, September and May 2014 respectively for the reward tiers listed above.

The Potential. There are no other well-known snorkel alternatives quite like UBA. UBA allows for range of motion and other conveniences that a traditional snorkel simply fails to provide. In addition, UBA presents a much cheaper alternative to divers who can’t afford or don’t have the time to get their scuba license. Its flexible tube and unique fin make it a must-have for water enthusiasts in summertime or on vacation.


Off’n’Up makes getting out of your wetsuit as smooth as your wetsuit

The Premise. If you’ve ever tried to get yourself out of a wetsuit after a day at the beach, chances are you know that it’s not quite as easy as it looks. It’s an awkward task to take on, especially when you get down to the legs of the suit. For those who spend a lot of time in the water, this can be a nuisance standing between you and the next part of your fun day outdoors.

The Product. Laura Taylor of Galway, Ireland has created what she’s calling the world’s first patented wetsuit removal tool, and while it’s not the most attractive-looking thing in the world, it appears to work quite well. Essentially a foot long metal “gripper” with a plastic handle and head, the Off’n’Up works by running the shoehorn-like product against your leg, during which the plastic piece grabs the wetsuit material and pulls it down to your feet. The project’s campaign page states that there’s no other product like it on the market, and it is indeed hard to find anything similar out there. It not only lets you remove the wetsuit efficiently, but while standing. And as a bonus, it can also double as a hanger for the wetsuit.

The Pitch. The campaign video starts off by having a young man flail around on the ground demonstrating just how difficult it is to get out of a wetsuit after being in the water. This is followed by the company’s founder speaking about the history of the product. The description accurately walks the viewer through how to use the product, but the tone fails to really capture much excitement associated not only with the fun activities one can engage in while in a wetsuit, but the opportunity to get on with things after one is out of one.

The Perks. Early adopters of the Off’n’Up can do so for an entry price of $50 (the prototypes will be shipping in July). Considering that the Off’n’Up may find daily use with some people, the price itself is manageable, if a bit high. For those who only wear a wetsuit on occasion, however, it’s difficult to justify making such a purchase. Other perks (guided adventures with the founder, for example) are offered at much higher prices, with a five-day Ireland adventure for 2 clocking in at just under $900.

The Potential. There’s really nothing out on the market that serves the same purpose as the Off’n’Up, but it’s a bit pricey for such a limited-use product. Even among those who wear wetsuits often enough to find a strong need for it would likely find it an awkward implement to bring along. A collapsible version, though, would be a more compelling option for separating a wetsuit — and some funds — from a prospective buyer.