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February 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Disintegrating Dive Gear

from the February, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Undercurrent subscriber Dan Panzica, who lives in Arizona, was disappointed recently when his 15-yearold Apollo Prestige fins disintegrated during a dive trip to Cabo San Lucas. Later, the strap of his Uwatec Smart Z computer literally fell apart in his hands despite being packed in its original manufacturer's case and stored in a closet. While he has had a similar problem with nondiving rubber-wear, including storage bins that were kept outside his home, he thought dive gear should be made to a higher standard.

Latex rubber tends to dry out and perish in low humidity. Unfortunately, manufacturers often only discover such problems with the different thermoplastic mixes they use long after their products have hit the market. Materials used in both fins and computer straps are often modified as the longevity problems become apparent.

For example, Ryan Crawford of Suunto told Undercurrent that his company has changed the material from which its computer straps are made and the latest are actually silicone.

These materials often give off a gas over a long period, and the low humidity and maybe higher temperatures of Arizona cannot have helped. To counter such problems, the straps of Scubapro (Uwatec) computers are a very different composition today than years ago.

Keep anything made from neoprene, such as wetsuits, out of the hot sun. You see, the integral nitrogenfilled bubbles that make neoprene what it is expand in the heat and leak, meaning the material becomes thinner and loses its former insulating qualities. It's best to keep all your dive gear out of the hot sun, though it is tempting to dry it quickly in the sun at the end of a dive trip.

So, Dan, disintegrating gear is not unusual. But, after 15 years, you probably have had your money's worth.

-- John Bantin

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