By Ron van der Marel
Scubapro Hydros Pro: A Game Changer?
The Scubapro rep has been down to Adelaide with 4 demo models of the new Scubapro Hydros Pro BCD. It is said to be a game changer, it won Best in Show at DEMA (the world’s biggest dive show) this year, so we were dying to give it a shot. We opted for the pool first, but decided to take it for a dive at Noarlunga to see how it would feel in the open water!
Let’s start with the new features and why it is considered a game changer! First of all, the BCD’s major components are all made from Monprene TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), the same material Scubapro has used for their revolutionary Seawing Nova Fins. This means that, according to Scubapro, the BCD feels extremely soft and forms to your body shape as it stretches around it. It also doesn’t absorb water, so the BCD is almost dry as soon as you step out of the water.
The monprene is extremely during and makes the BCD very light as well, making it both a great all rounder and an ideal travel BCD. Combine that with the fact that the BCD components are almost all modular, which means you can add and remove pretty much everything on it, and this BCD really seems to have it all. Add a crotch strap, remove your weight system, add extra pouches or change the colours of your BCD in a matter of minutes! This also means that if over time something does break or eventually wear out, you can simply replace that part of the BCD, without having to replace the whole BCD!
So it’s modular and it’s light weight, but it also folds up very flat. You can take the weight pockets off the BCD to make it a very slim travel BCD, so you buy a robust system for local diving and a light system for travelling in one go!
So how did we feel when we tried the BCD on? Our rep had brought down a small white female version for Denise, a pink female Medium for Sharon and a black male Medium for myself. I am used to a Scubapro X-Tek backplate and wing system (and so is Sharon) and Denise is used to a Scubapro Ladyhawk back inflation BCD. The first thing we noticed is how light the systems are – because everything on the BC (the backplate, the pockets, the shoulder straps, etc.) is made from the earlier mentioned Monprene, it feels like a soft rubber that bends around your body. It is definitely light weight and when we took them out of their backpack (yes, they come with a dedicated backpack) we could see how small they are when you fold them up.
We inflated the BCD right away and found that the lift is a bit over the top. The small ones come with 35lbs lift and the medium and large ones with 45lbs lift. I’m not sure when I would ever need that much lift – in comparison, my X-Tek system has a 30lbs bladder on it and that is plenty to lift me out of the water, but maybe if you’re a bit larger than me (I’m about 70kgs), the additional lift may come in handy. Obviously you don’t have to inflate the BCD to its max though, so I guess it’s nice to know you have the extra lift if you need it.
It’s a back inflation BCD so it inflates behind you and around the tank, so you don’t notice it at all when it inflates. You can change the height of the chest strap and you can easily slide the weight pockets in and out of the system with one hand. To take the complete weight system off (outer and inner pockets, to make it an even lighter travel system) is a matter of a minute or two and you can install a thigh pocket or crotch strap in the same amount of time.
On the dive we did a few barrel rolls to see whether the BCD stays in place and sure enough, it didn’t move at all. The Monprene sticks to your body and doesn’t let go easily. We didn’t notice any drag on the dive and we actually felt a bit heavy on the dive, which may be because the BCD is neutrally buoyant compared to most BCDs which are positively buoyant, which means you can carry less lead.
We noticed the difference on the walk down and back from the dive site as it is definitely lighter than the systems we’re used to, which is nice for the long jetty walks that we tend to do here when diving in South Australia. The bladder is a bit big, but I guess that doesn’t hurt and may come in handy one day and the system is lighter and definitely more compact than anything we’ve ever used before. The Monprene is indeed a game changer and I think we’ll be seeing it more and more in the industry. It is so comfortable that the BCD feels like it’s custom made for you.
WOULD I ORDER IT?
Yes I would. In fact, I liked it that much, that I have pre-ordered one and so has half our team. We have pre-orders ready for our instructors Denise, Lara, Brendan, Carl and myself and Divemasters Shelley, Sharon and Rob M., which is great news, as that means we’ve got heaps of demo models for you to check out!
We’ve been using demo models, so the final product could see some small changes. We are expecting them soon, but Scubapro hasn’t given us a definite release date yet. Fingers crossed it will be June/July (we do know the colours though: it will be available in Pink, Purple, White, Black and Orange for girls and Blue, Black, White, Orange and Yellow for guys).
Scubapro US Website (it’s not on the Australian one yet): http://www.scubapro.com/en-US/USA/bcs/products/hydros-pro.aspx