'halcyon' b.c. test dives...

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Posted by kelphead on March 31, 2000 at 00:00:14:

for anyone who's interested. be aware that it is long (i almost forgot to post it!!):

On March 18, 2000 I and another female diver went out on a boat dive
trip to exclusively test out the Halcyon b.c. This would be my first time ever experimenting with a back inflation style b.c. The entire day, I tested the 36# wing with the aluminum sta and the stainless steel backplate.

I had loosened the crotch strap all the way in order for it to go over
14mm of neoprene, but later learned that I had loosened it way too
much. Also, when tightening the waist belt, it was extremely clear that I had double the length of webbing I truly needed and as a result I had a lot of slack webbing which I just folded under the left side of the waist belt. In other words, I definitely did not have the b.c. in an ideal 'size' to test out.

The first thing I noticed w/this b.c. is that upon descent, I went feet first. All other times in my own b.c. (Seaquest Diva QD), I have to do a head down descent. Not that I don't mind doing a head down descent, but I can never for the life of me be able to drop feet first despite the fact that I keep exhaling for God knows how long. After comparing my descent experience with the Halcyon and Seaquest b.c.'s and after discussing this issue with a dive shop owner, I have reached a tentative conclusion that my jacket style b.c. must be trapping air that is never fully vented upon the descent of a dive, whereas the Halcyon b.c. apparently isn't.

The one thing that did impress me about this b.c. is how free I felt in the chest/torso area. What a great feeling!! And I think I like back inflation b.c.'s in general now.

Also, when I took note while I was on the surface, the b.c. did not once try to push me face forward into the water--and we were in some
relatively rough surface current that day, too.

However, I had a heck of a time with the Halcyon inflator and half the
time I ended up using my right hand to inflate the b.c. This is a most
definite drawback to the b.c. and something I would try to rectify if I could upon purchase of the b.c.

More specifically:

**The inflator button itself is placed in a position that is 'outside' of the entire inflate/deflate mechanism; in other words, I had to try to use my short thumb to reach the inflate button and to push it whereas on my own Seaquest b.c. I would use my longer index or middle finger on the other side to reach and depress the inflator button. If my description of the problem is not clear, then the only other way I can think of explaining it is if you were wearing the Halcyon b.c. and you were holding the inflate/deflate mechanism and looking at it, then the inflator button is sticking out to the left of the diver. What I'm used to is having the inflator button sticking out to the right of the diver making it easier for my index or middle finger to reach and depress the button.

**Additionally, there is what I can only describe as a 'lip' around the orange inflate button. Why in God's name is there a lip there???!!! What is its function here on earth??!! This lip was another obstacle for my relatively short thumb to reach over to the button. The inflator button of my Seaquest b.c. does not have such a lip (and does not have such a long 'neck') which makes it that much easier for me to use.

**On top of all that, the buttons themselves (both for inflation and
deflation) were stiffer and caused me consternation when attempting to
use them. Perhaps the stiffer buttons are a fail safe way of preventing people from overinflating or overdeflating (???) but I can certainly tell you that the inflate/deflate buttons of the Seaqest b.c. are MUCH easier to use. Again, if I were to purchase the Halcyon b.c., I would try to rectify what I consider to be a problem by replacing the inflator mechanism with, say, the Seaquest inflator device.

Regarding the streamlining aspect of this b.c., I really can't comment on this issue as it is difficult to measure such a feature. Also, we had very strong surge that day and probably wouldn't have been able to conclude anything anyway. The only way I can think of to quantify the
streamlining aspect of a b.c. is to measure one's air consumption during a dive and compare that with the use of other b.c.'s. I hope to acquire the correct mathematical formula for calculating one's 'rmv' and then I can compare my air consumption with the use of different b.c.'s all under similar, if not the same, dive conditions.

As I dove more with this b.c., I got more comfortable with it but the fit was still not as snug as I had expected or would have liked it to be. Again, I had difficulty with the inflator mechanism and cursed it.
However, I liked the overall feel of this b.c. I even missed the jacket b.c. squeeze as I kept overinflating the wing on the surface, not realizing that the bladder was full and I was floating just fine. It's just a habit to feel b.c. squeeze to let me know that my b.c. is indeed being inflated. This was another pleasant surprise of the back inflation Halcyon b.c. I even think it was easier for me to surface swim on my back compared to my Seaquest jacket style b.c.


Unfortunately, we were not able to compare the Halcyon b.c. with the
Zeagle Ranger, which is the back inflation b.c. recommended to me by a
local dive shop.

However, I have come to a tentative conclusion about the Halcyon

1. I do like the back inflation style b.c. compared to the jacket style. One thing I noticed (which I failed to mention earlier in my review) is that just before the first dive of the day, when I was at the gate putting on my fins, I suddenly realized how much easier putting on my fins was. The reason being that I could actually, literally breathe freely-something that I honestly have trouble doing in my own Seaquest b.c. I tried to reason the logic behind this pleasant surprise and I think the reason I have trouble literally breathing in my own b.c. is because of the cut of that particular b.c.: the way it is cut for a woman is that the cummerbund is higher than it would be on a man. In fact, when trying on the Zeagle Ranger at the store, I noticed that the cummerbund was indeed lower on my abdomen, unlike the Seaquest Diva QD which has its cummberbund higher on my stomach (just under my lungs).

I felt utter and complete relief after donning the Halcyon b.c. and then putting my fins on, standing up and bending down, because I had
always attributed my huffing and puffing and hardness of breathing to a combination of wearing a 2 piece wetsuit and the fact that I don't work out and am out of shape. Now I suspect that my "woman's" b.c. has an insidious role to play in this respect--when I bend down at the waist to put on the fins, my b.c. must be pushing in on myself and inhibiting my breathing(???), whereas there is nothing anywhere on the Halcyon to do that.

2. I like the feeling of having even less in my chest area than I do with my "woman's" b.c. The Diva QD is a world of difference compared to the rental b.c. during open water certification; but the Halcyon b.c. is a world of difference apart from the Diva QD. I'm glad for the Diva QD, but now I'm ready for something even more superior when it comes to comfort underwater as well as topside.

3. I like the simplicity of the Halcyon system and its 'flat', pancake
design. I was told by a local shop owner that the Zeagle Ranger has an
advantage over the Halcyon b.c. when it comes to packing for travel.
Well, all I can say is that the Ranger barely fit into my 40gallon
Rubbermaid dive cart that I take with me on the boat because the
Ranger was just too 'fat', while the Halcyon b.c. not only fit with all my other gear, but barely took up any space.

4. The backplate felt comfortable on me in the absence of the
padding--keep in mind, though, I was wearing 14mm of neoprene on my

5. I like the fact that most of the weight was on my back as opposed to my hips. I was unable to test the Halcyon with its weight integrated system and instead used the dreaded weightbelt--which is definitely something I will try to avoid at all cost--but the good news is that I didn't have to wear that much on the dang weightbelt since most of that weight is 'built-in' to the Halycon.

While I'm on the topic of weights, I must confess that I am EXTREMELY
fond of the wt integrated system of my Seaquest Diva QD. I can honestly say that I personally have NEVER EVER EVER lost my wt
pouches accidentally while doing a giant stride entry or even at depth. I have had up to 10#'s in each of the pouches (now I carry more like 6#'s in each pouch) and have NEVER encountered any problems with the wt integration system. When I saw the wt integration system of the
Halcyon, quite frankly, I was shocked!! How can anyone willingly dive
with Fastex buckles holding in the wt pouches???!!! Isn't such a design considered a hazard??!! Though I would most certainly have liked to test out the wt integration system of the Halcyon, I wonder if I would ever invest in a design that inherently seems counter to the idea of ditching weights easily and quickly--especially if one is wearing thick gloves or mitts. Since I don't like weightbelts, I have limited options when it comes to the Halcyon b.c.: either use the Halcyon system, go with the weight and trim harness system (which I am unfamiliar with), or use a keel weight and dive with no ditchable weights at all. (...Or I could rig up some pouches 'Seaquest style' for the Halcyon...)

6. When it comes to the inflator, I, so far, absolutely hate it. I would suggest that Halcyon try to modify this piece of hardware in regards to design to make it easier to reach the buttons and to depress them --OR-- allow the inflate/deflate device to be replaced altogether by the owner.

7. Since I had tightened the crotch strap even more for the 3rd and last dive of the day, at the end of the dive swimming back to the boat and climbing up the stairs of the boat, I could begin to feel the chafing at the armpits that I was warned about. I did not feel this chafing during any other part of the dive day, but that's because the b.c. was too loose, apparently. I've been told that this chafing is also due to the fact that the webbing is still new and stiff and needs to be 'broken' in.

8. I did not find the b.c. easy to get out of after unbuckling the waist buckle and releasing the crotch strap. I still had to physically peel each of the shoulder straps off as they did not just fall/drape off upon loosening of the waistbelt/crotch strap.


Overall, I find that the Halcyon b.c. has some definite advantages over my current Seaquest Diva QD b.c., but it also has some shortcomings (in my humble opinion). Still, I would very much like to try this b.c. again to at least see if the b.c. will indeed fit me more properly and to get more well acquainted with its unique features. I would also like to compare this b.c. with the Zeagle Ranger that I did not have a chance to try yet. Though, I am not completely sold on the Halcyon b.c. as of yet, I am definitely sold on the idea of back inflation.

I hope you find this review helpful in some small way.


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