What’s new in the world of Mares? I had the liberty to talking to Sergio Angelini, chief technology officer at Mares who gave me a tour of their DEMA 2016 showcase.
What jumped out at me was a regulator that had the words “Ground Breaking” across the display. Intrigued by the VAD and VAD+ (Vortex Assisted Design) settings I asked Sergio to explain. He briefly stated how the two modes were settings for personal comfort. Then he said,
“But this is old news, what is hot right now is the Loop.”
So I took the bait and followed him to a regulator that didn’t seem “all that.” The Loop 15x gets its name from the loop the hose takes as it makes its way under the arm and up the chest and connects to the bottom of the regulator.
OK, no judgement yet, “but why?” I asked. Thinking to myself,
“Is this a case of if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it, or did Mares think something through that I myself as a consumer and avid diver have been missing?”
So lets break this regulator down and find out.
Sergio was excited to show me how the compressed gas bypasses the 2nd stage altogether. It does this by an attached little metal tube (thinner then a traditional drinking straw) which skips the bulk of the regulator and exits right next to the mouthpiece. Sergio said this prevents any freezing up of the 2nd stage in cold water situations.
OK, now to talk about the elephant in the room: Why does the hose stem from the bottom?
Sergio started with ergonomics, streamlining and ended with comfort. Then he brought up the question, what if I need to share air?
A lightbulb goes off in my brain and I’ll tell you why. My students have a hard time following protocol for deploying their safe seconds; what I currently make them do is detach the safe second from the clip and position the hose from under the shoulder to over the shoulder (for more length).
Now here is where the students always get confused and these next steps are crucial in an out-of-air scenario: The donor holds the safe second by the hose — not the second stage as so many students like to do. Holding the regulator might prevent the receiver from being able to purge, thus clear the regulator.
And the icing on the cake is when the student hands the safe second upside-down, which may create issues like the exhaust vent colliding with the mask, purging the reg upside-down could potentially take your mask off with the force and just added discomfort are a few of the problems that might arise.
That thought alone makes me like this design; the sheer simplicity while sharing air or deploying one’s safe second in an emergency. Just hold the hose like a microphone and there will be no issues in the transfer of the safe second!
So would I use this as my primary? I would have to try it out in the water. Is it practical? It is definitely a step in a good direction and I see the benefit of the Mares Loop 15x as my secondary regulator.
The Loop 15x first and second stage retails for US$380/358 Euros, while the 15x Octo second stage retails for $150/141 Euros.
— By Mike Sasso