Weighing in at just 17.2 pounds, the AirBuddy claims to be the smallest and lightest dive gear ever created. The unit is able to cut a considerable amount of weight by doing away with a traditional scuba tank altogether. Instead it employs a unique design, which includes an air compressor that floats on the surface above the diver, pumping fresh air through a flexible tube that is connected to a mouthpiece regulator. The device can reportedly run for up to 45 minutes on its rechargeable battery, allowing the diver to descend as far as 40 feet below the surface without being encumbered by heavy equipment in any way.
The designers of the AirBuddy are quick to point out that their gadget bridges the gap between snorkeling and scuba, delivering some of the best elements of both activities. For example, because the device is so lightweight compared to traditional dive gear, users can take it with them just about anywhere, allowing for more spontaneous adventures. And while renting and refilling a scuba tank can cost upward of $50 each time you want to use it, the AirBuddy only needs to recharge its batteries between dives. And unlike snorkeling, which keeps you relatively close to the surface most of the time, this device actually allows divers to stay submerged for extended periods of time. Best of all, the AirBuddy doesn’t require any kind of scuba certification to begin using it either.
Built specifically with reef diving in mind, the AirBuddy can be put to use in other ways too. For instance, it is a great option for dive training, as well as performing routine maintenance on a boat. Underwater photographers will also appreciate its ease of use and quick set-up time, allowing them to get in and out of the water quickly to capture a shot. The device will also likely prove very popular with beach resorts, which can offer guests an affordable and safe alternative to a traditional scuba experience. The AirBuddy can even be shared by two users at the same time with a reduced dive depth, or two units can be used in tandem as well.
The team behind the AirBuddy are hoping to raise about $128,000 to get the device into production. If successful, it is expected to ship in June of 2018 with a price tag of about $1,400. Early bird Kickstarter supporters can order one now for just $983 however, which makes the initial investment about on par with good scuba gear and lessons. The savings comes later on tank rentals and refills.