Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Check & try excursion

Düsseldorf not being just around the corner, we decide to go to Munich on a check & try excursion to various diveshops, in stead of visiting the huge boot watersports fair up north, where I could easily spend a couple of days browsing the multitude of stands brimming with dive equipment & gadgets, in the process most probably ending up succumbing to the temptation of acquiring just a few more bits & pieces of extraneous gear. Maybe next year I'll get to go back to wonderland...

From Sonthofen it's about two hours by train to München HBF. With a Bayern Ticket, costing 27€ and valid for up to five persons, we can travel the whole day within Bavaria (= south Germany), with unlimited use of any bus, tram, metro or train! It snowed last night and everything seems to be covered with a thin layer of powder sugar. Maybe this time it's for real?

First stop: Gerda's dive shop, a typical small scuba store fully packed with goodies. My eyes are pulling me all over the place and I've got a hard time getting focused on our primary objective. That is, until I get it in my hands: the Reef Rider, a wing-type travel BCD from Aeris. It fits Petra like a glove and while a bit small, it feels pretty snug on me too. Perfect fit indeed. Very clean uncluttered front. Breast strap. Reflective strips. Eight small plastic D-rings (in stead of heavy stainless-steel ones so loved by tekkies). Two small but useable pockets unencumbered by the two ditchable weight pockets positioned near the hip sides. Two removable trim pockets located on the cam-band. The four weight pockets together should be good for up to 10kg of lead. More than enough for tropical diving. Besides the inflation/deflation hose, there's one dump valve on the lower left side. Thanks to it's minimalistic design, the Reef Rider, at about 3kg, is very light compared to standard jackets - another definite plus. The only minus is it's rather limited lift capacity of only 24lbs in size M. Though it should be enough for warm water diving, I'd feel a bit more comfortable with a few pounds more, as with the 32lbs in size L. All in all, from a dry point of view, a recommendable jacket that I'd very much like to test underwater.

Lunch of the day in the -where else- Wassermann café-bar-restaurant.

Second stop: Tauchsport Manta, another small dive store, where we want to check out some of its second-hand stuff: a Bare 5mm wetsuit and a Cressi S111 jacket. Unfortunately the suit's too tight for Petra and the jacket (size XS), while nicely built, a bit too small, too bulky and too heavy.

Third stop: TTS Sport Kaindl, a modern sports shop with a great selection of Camaro & Mares wetsuits and various jackets among other things. But nothing that fits the missus.

Coffee & muffin break in Starbucks for a quick recapitulation of today's findings. For while we didn't get to buy anything, we certainly learned a lot and eliminated quite a few options.

Stroll around München's city center before heading back to the train station and returning home. Without even having bought a dive magazine! I guess I'll just have to get my fix online then.