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Craig, the weighted STA is strictly for SoCal (local) diving. The only reason I was using it was to get the weight off my belt. With the weight back on the belt trim is perfect.

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Craig, the weighted STA is strictly for SoCal (local) diving. The only reason I was using it was to get the weight off my belt. With the weight back on the belt trim is perfect.

I figured. Just wanted to discourage those looking for a travel solution.

 

Ever noticed how much a Ranger weighs as you pull it out of the water? It traps so much water it's unbelievable.

 

Just got an OMS IQ in. It's nicely made but may be too bulky for the goals of some people here. I'd like to try it with a DiveRite ABS plate if they're still available.

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Any recommendation on alternatives to the Balance (excluding the BP/Wings setup)? I had originally thought of going for a Ranger but since most of my dive time is spent on vacation in the Philippines or South Florida, I realize it's a bit much. I've seen quite a few recommending the Balance on various scuba boards and have checked Rodale's reviews of weight-integrated, back-bouyancy BCs. Ever try an Aqualung Malibu?

 

The Malibu and Balance are quite similar. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the Balance. I'm replacing mine because 1) it never fit quite right, it's a little big and rides up except when I'm diving dry 2) the Velcro that the weight pouches attach to are ripping out.

 

I have to use shop brand gear, so my choices for a replacement are somewhat limited. I wanted a minimalist configuration. The Balance does the job, but I'm not a fan of their velcro weight pouches. They have now changed the design, despite their claims that they hold just fine. Sorry, I've seen them fall out too many times.

 

I wanted a Dive Rite Transpac II, but we couldn't put together a big enough opening order to become a dealer. The Transpac with travel wings is about as minimal as you can get.

 

I was not averse to getting a BP and wings, but I wasn't interested in the continuous webbing harness. I'll take a few extra potential failure points in exchange for more comfort out of the water and I do have to spend a fair bit of time out of the water with my gear on while diving locally.

 

We are a Deep Outdoors dealer. They have their own alternative to the single continuous webbing type harness. But they only make a SS backplate, which doesn't travel well and is unnecessary for my local diving (fresh water/steel tank) most of the year. The company went to great lengths to see if I could fit their harness to someone elses AL backplate, but I chose not to go through the hassle of custom cutting additional slots in the BP.

 

I finally went with their back inflate, simplest lowest lift BC with no cummerbund, plenty of d-rings, couple of weight pouches, and crotch strap.

 

Back to point, as far as non-BP BCs go, the Balance (with new weight system), Malibu, Transpac or SP S-Tek will work fine and travel well. Just make sure it fits you well.

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Robert I have to agree with you 100%, my Ranger can weigh a tonne after a dive. I just thought I was lazy of tired at first.

 

I also have the weight pouches for the tank band that come with the Ranger and use them to achieve trim.

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I use a Zeagle Pro II in the Northwest with a dry suit. I change the bladder to the Escape bladder for the tropics (it rools up pretty small). The ripcord harness is the same. I modified the shoulder straps by adding stainless D rings, and other anchor points. I have both a cold water and warm water BC for less than buying 2 BCs and have a setup that allows for stage tanks and other hookups should I want them.

 

I like haveing a harness I know well on both systems.

;)

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...the Velcro that the weight pouches attach to are ripping out.

 

Gees, 4 pages of replies!!! Lots of good opinions, little rancor. Good discussion!

 

I felt the same regards the SQ velcro pockets. They are ok for maybe 6# or so a side plu up to 10# in the back pockets. But I gave up using it for cold water, it just isn't up to holding 30# and a steel tank. If I used it I would divvy up the weight into a weight belt also. But I use a Halcyon and SS plate for cold water. If I was doing deeper tech dives I would also use a travel plate and smaller wing.

 

That being said, for tropical diving, where I'm only using 12-14# of weight, the Balance works very well. It fits me well, YMMV. I think the Zeagle Escape is pretty close in design. Not sure if it's a hard pack or soft pack, I don't like the soft packs, the tank rolls around too much.

 

Jack

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I recall seeing a web page with a photo of a guy standing there with a harness/backplate system on. It had a quick tutorial for how to properly adjust a harness. Anyone know the URL?

 

I received my OMS aluminum backplate with harness, and it is really light and comfortable! But I want to make sure I have it adjusted properly. ;)

 

Thanks!

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I recall seeing a web page with a photo of a guy standing there with a harness/backplate system on. It had a quick tutorial for how to properly adjust a harness. Anyone know the URL?

 

I received my OMS aluminum backplate with harness, and it is really light and comfortable! But I want to make sure I have it adjusted properly. ;)

 

Thanks!

It might take a few dive to get it adjusted correctly.

 

BAUE Equipment Images

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It might take a few dive to get it adjusted correctly.

 

BAUE Equipment Images

That's the link! Thanks...

 

Can't be worse than my Chute II, which rides up all the time and can't be adjusted small enough to fit my frame.

 

Guess I need to eat more. ;)

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Can't be worse than my Chute II, which rides up all the time and can't be adjusted small enough to fit my frame.

 

Guess I need to eat more. :P

I had a chute II I think they are brilliant :D Sadly it got warn out.

You cannot be any smaller than my ex. Hers fit brilliantly, but guess she had a couple of natural extras to fill it out a wee ;)

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So I tried out the OMS aluminum plate with harness, Oxycheq STA and 45lb wing in the pool today, and I'm NEVER going back to a BCD. Man. It is amazing in the water. No drag, no riding up.. and the Oxycheq wing just feels... right. I was also wearing a Henderson 7mm semi-dry, and I put 2 x 2lb weights in side pockets on the lower cam band, and had to wear 14-16 more lbs around my waist to feel like I'd be nice and heavy with an empty tank.

 

Seems like a lot of weight. I can see how the 6lb backplate would be handy for local diving!

 

Not cheap, but not necessarily more expensive than a nice BCD.

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Who did you buy the Oxycheq wing from?

 

You should have gotten the Koplin dogbone travel plate.

 

Did you get the Hog harness?

 

Also, why did you go with a 45 lb. wing instead of their 30 lb. wing?

 

My DM prefers the 45 lb. wing due to its extra lift. I used to have a 27 lb. wing but it was not enough lift to help out another diver, so I have switched to a 36 lb. wing.

 

I dive in temperate waters, 12-24 degrees C, normally with a drysuit or wetsuit in summer, steel tank. If you're diving in the tropics 27 lb. is enough, 36 lb. is more than enough, and 45 lbs. is way overkill.

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Who did you buy the Oxycheq wing from?

 

You should have gotten the Koplin dogbone travel plate.

 

Did you get the Hog harness?

 

Also, why did you go with a 45 lb. wing instead of their 30 lb. wing?  

 

My DM prefers the 45 lb. wing due to its extra lift.  I used to have a 27 lb. wing but it was not enough lift to help out another diver, so I have switched to a 36 lb. wing.

 

I dive in temperate waters, 12-24 degrees C, normally with a drysuit or wetsuit in summer, steel tank.  If you're diving in the tropics 27 lb. is enough, 36 lb. is more than enough, and 45 lbs. is way overkill.

Oxycheq wing, direct from Patrick. I do have the dogbone travel plate (manufactured by Koplin, but sold through Oxycheq (?)). Why is it more comfortable than a full AL wing? I am going to try it out, but probably later.

 

Got OMS deluxe harness.

 

45lb wing because 7mm semi-dry, and probably overweighted so I sit still on the bottom for photo. Wasn't sure that a 30lb would do it. Although, I did get the 30lb as well because I'm sure I will be diving tropics soon. ;)

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Your next purchase should be the SS plate, because it is much better to get the weight off your belt and distributed on your back.

 

But wait until Patrick comes out with the SS plates with slots for tank bands.

 

The dogbone plate is smaller, but I have not weighed it against the Halcyon Al. The fit is better than a standard plate for me and the suit I am wearing with it.

 

Oh yeah, disclaimer, I sell Halcyon and will be selling Oxycheq soon.

 

I tried to send you a mail, but the system gobbled it up...

 

Scott Koplin makes plates, SS Goodman handles (really really nice) and a bunch of other great stuff and Oxycheq markets and sells them. Scott also will sell direct if requested.

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Your next purchase should be the SS plate, because it is much better to get the weight off your belt and distributed on your back.

 

Scott Koplin makes plates, SS Goodman handles (really really nice) and a bunch of other great stuff and Oxycheq markets and sells them.  Scott also will sell direct if requested.

Yeah. Well, for local diving I'll get a SS plate. The OMS AL plate seems to fit me fine. If I have problems with it, I'll experiment some more.

 

Most likely, I'll rig up some sort of travel tropical rig with the dogbone plate and a much more simple harness than the OMS deluxe one.

 

What's a SS Goodman handle?

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No need to reinvent the wheel, that's why everyone has gone back to the Hog (DIR) single piece of webbing method. Those of us who like to carry stuff utilize drysuit pockets or RH pocket.

 

Do you have the OMS no sag pockets? Let me know if you have problems with the zippers.

 

The Goodman handle Halcyon and everyone provides with their cannister lights is aluminum. It is a hands free handle, meaning when you have the light head in your hand, you can still use your hand to do stuff, like save your buddy or whatever.

 

I am still experimenting on using this with digital camera photography.

 

BTW, send me an e-mail, please.

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No need to reinvent the wheel, that's why everyone has gone back to the Hog (DIR) single piece of webbing method.  Those of us who like to carry stuff utilize drysuit pockets or RH pocket.

 

Do you have the OMS no sag pockets?  Let me know if you have problems with the zippers.

On Craig's recommendation, I got the OMS BCA 266 Utility Pouch, which is large enough for my needs.

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I use a Halcyon SS backplate and their single-tank (27 lb lift) wing, and love it. the main things I like are reduced drag (even compared to a wing-style Seaquest Balance, my old BC), much easier trim, and a significant reduction in total weight (including backplate) needed on a dive. Maybe I should repeat "reduced drag" two or three more times, as I believe that is by far the most important advantage of this rig for u/w photographers.

 

My wife uses the Halcyon aluminum backplate with the same wing, and also loves it as well. We also both use it with their storage pack to hold a SMB (submersible marker buoy). We only dive single aluminum tanks, tropical Indo-Pacific, so this wing has plenty of lift for our needs.

 

The one big downside with the SS backplate is travel weight, so I was very interested to read on this thread about the Koplin/Oxycheq "dog-bone" travel plate and immediately went to check their website.

 

According to the travel plate weights 1.0 kg (2.2 lbs), which is about the same as the Halcyon (and most other) aluminum backplates. A light-weight single tank adaptor (also cut away) to go with the dogbone plate weights another 0.5 kg., which takes the total weight 3.4 lbs. (about 1.55 kg). That's only 2.6 lbs (or 1.2 kg) more a full stainless steel backplate (6 lbs, or 2.7 kg).

 

The dogbone plate looks neat, but the only reason I'd ever leave my stainless steel backplate behind would be to save weight on a flight. ,So it seems it would make more sense for me to get a STA-less aluminum backplate for trips, and save as much weight as possible.

 

The other drawback of the fishbone design I see is that I wouldn't be able to stow my SMB in the Halcyon storage pack, which bolts to the backplate, meaning I'd have to carry it externally. I carry the largest SMB I've been able to find (the OMS 10 foot sausage), which would be quite awkward to carry externally and would probably add a lot of drag, so this is not a minor consideration.

 

In any event, if you're still diving with a wrap-around vest BC, or even a "wing-style" BC like the Seaquest, you owe it to yourself to try out a backplate and wing sometime, particularly if you're in the market for a new BC. But if all available funds are already committed to buying new camera gear, on the other hand, then I'd strongly suggest postponing that test-dive.

 

Robert Delfs

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I have both an aluminum backplate and the new Oxycheq travel plate. They weigh about the same. The aluminum plate feels better on your back and is more compatible with a few things like the Halcyon BP pad. The Oxycheq is more durable with may be important to some people. The travel plate may travel a little better.

 

I've switched from the Halcyon 27 to the Oxycheq 30. There is considerably more lift that the 3 pounds implies and I'm pleased with the new wing. The only thing I miss is the built-in handle. The Halcyon 36 and 45 trap air and don't handle as well as I'd like. The Oxycheq 45 looks good but I haven't made a dive with it yet.

 

I personally don't like doing without the STA. The rig stays together better when it's bolted together and the tank is more stable with an STA. I also have a tendency to hit my head on the first stage so the extra space is welcome. The cost is 1 pound of travel weight (for the Oxycheq one). You get the pound back in reduced lead while diving.

 

I also used the Halcyon BP pad and the liferaft/liftbag but gave it up. The bag can be bulky on your back if it doesn't sit right. When the pad is new it holds everything well, but soon enough the elastic starts to weaken and the liftbag becomes a nuisance. It eventually will be falling out of your rig all the time on the boat. The lift bag is designed for an inflator hose connection which won't work if you're using an Air2. I now use a conventional signaling tube stored in an OMS pocket. It's plenty streamlined and provide 5-7 pounds of additional lift at the surface if you need it.

 

I'm now using an OMS IQ pack with a modified Dive Rite ABS plate inside it. It provides the comfort of a BP with the adjustability of a BC. It weighs more than a basic BP/harness but about the same as my old Al plate with a deluxe harness and a Halcyon pad/liftbag. The Dive Rite ABS plate is barely lighter than an OMS Al plate and considerably thicker. I used it because I could cut holes in it more easily than aluminum. I see no reason otherwise to recommend the ABS plate.

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I've got about 50 dives on an Oxycheq 30 now, and am more than happy to recomend it.

 

I've used it primarily with the M Koplin plate and LW STA, but have also had it on the travel plate/LW STA & and OMS STA-less aluminum plate w/ deluxe harness.

 

I far prefer the STA, it is way more stable.

 

The Oxycheq wing has extremely little drag, and I love my position in the water. I too have sold my Halcyon 27 and OMS 35.

 

I think I'll stick with this one for a while...

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Here's a link to the oxycheq page w/ their new 30# wing:

 

http://www.oxycheq.com/Wings.html

 

Yes, I am a convert now (thanks Craig!) - or on my way to being one. I have some parts on the floor in the living room and others on the way...

 

Cheers

James

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OK, I put together my BC:

 

Dive-rite Al plate

OMS IQ harness

Dive-Rite 27# wing

Lightweight STA from Fred Tagge

 

The lightweight 2 piece STA is super sweet. I'll attach a photo so y'all can see how it works.

 

If anyone's interested, Fred makes all kinds of stuff. I can post his pricelist if anyone wants to see it.

 

Cheers

James

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James, is that a yellow safety sausage (SMB) you have on your rig?

 

What is the rationale for that?

 

When you shoot a bag from depth, they mean the following:

 

Orange SMB=Deco or safety stop

Yellow SMB= Emergency

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