Most freediving equipment tends to be an afterthought by many manufacturers producing scuba diving equipment. The design is usually a slight modification, such as extending the length of a scuba fin and calling it a freediving fin, or changing the color of a scuba mask and saying that it is a low volume mask designed for skin diving. No innovative ideas or thought is given to the needs of the serious freediver.
The market has needed a company with the foresight and willingness to make Freediving equipment and take it to the cutting edge of design, materials and craftsmanship for its users.
The French company, ESCLAPEZ, is doing just that.
The name is a virtual unknown to many involved in scuba diving.
That’s not surprising. They don’t make scuba diving equipment.
Started in 1989 by the French company IMERSION, J.B. Esclapez has quietly made a name for itself for the quality of its products.
Specializing on the Freediving and Spearfishing segment of the market has allowed the company to create a very focused and technologically advanced line of equipment, some say, that is beyond compare.
This focus has brought with it a high level of acceptance within the sport, best known by many within freediving for their fins.
Rich Stillenger, head of CRS Distributors, who exclusively markets Esclapez here in the United States, stated that 15 of the 20 top divers at the U.S. freediving championships wore Esclapez fins. At the meet, both the US Team and the US National Champions did likewise.
This says a lot about product acceptance.
The design of these fins is exceptional, and the designer of these fins is not new to this sport.
Pierre Buffa, the originator of the Sporasub/Dussalt fin, is the driving force behind the cutting edge design and manufacture of the fin line for Esclapez. Pierre has been involved in diving for over 18 years, and has many insights into how a freediving fin should act and feel when being used by a diver.
So much so, that they have 5 variations for just the full foot pocket fin that they make. And those variations all have to do with the stiffness of the fin. ( they also make an open heeled version, but only in 2 stiffness’)
Utilizing a specially tapered fin blade (the only company utilizing this design), creates a fin with more flex, and yet more efficient power transfer than your typical scuba diving fin.
To show the companies unrelenting drive for perfection in its line, the current world record holder in the constant weight freedive division, Eric Charrier, went through 116 prototype variations of fins from Esclapez before he got the pair that he needed for breaking the world record of 241 ft! That commitment to the quality of these fins resulted in the No Limit fin, which is now on the market.
That quality commitment extends over to the line of masks that they produce.
Or should I say MASK.
That’s because they make only one mask, simply called the "No Limit" mask.
And as Henry Ford use to say…"you can have it in any color, as long as it’s black."
A special black silicone to be more precise.
But what the mask may lack in flashy color or other so called technological improvements, it makes up in absolute comfort and ease of equalization when descending.
It is an unassuming and simple piece of equipment that has a certain look of elegance to it.
And it fits virtually all face types.
Wetsuits and spearguns are also at the top of the scale in quality and design. Here again, the designs are simple, yet elegant and made with the best materials and manufacturing processes. Esclapez is constantly updating the designs of its product throughout the year, instead of waiting for a new or updated product release once a year which is typical practice of the majority of other companies in their marketing plans. That capability is due to its relatively small size (in relation to its competitors), and attention to customer input.
That’s the idea behind Esclapez. Make only what is needed, and make it better than anyone else.
That is quite a different approach from what the other equipment manufacturers goals are for the US market, which typically, according to Stillenger, is to make available the lower end product to U.S. consumers, such as spearguns, masks, fins, etc. while leaving the better quality gear outside of the U.S.
And Esclapez has chosen to do the complete opposite in its marketing.
Stillenger succinctly stated it this way…"What they (Esclapez) do(es), they do VERY well."