First dives with my new Halcyon gear

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Posted by RobertM on August 23, 2000 at 09:32:01:

I had spent a long time researching and thinking of what to replace my Scubapro Classic with. Never liked the trim with the Classic, the thicker the wetsuit, the more weight on the belt, and the more "head up" my trim became, so I knew I wanted back flotation. Also, while a durable piece, the Classic never felt secure in the water, always shifting around. I am a recreational diver, but very serious about my gear and ways of improving it.

I had previously borrowed (thanks Michael Kane) a stainless steel backplate and 45# Pioneer wing to try out and so reported to the board. Had to use my old weightbelt, which felt rather kludgy, but it felt more than good enough to buy. I went for the much smaller 27# Pioneer wing based on my estimation of the max lift needed to float the rig and the relatively small amount of weight I ended up needing with the stainless steel plate. The Pioneer wings are specifically designed for single tank use and are NOT a bastardized doubles setup.

I also bought Halcyon's ACB integrated weight system. This weight system comes in two sizes: 10# or 15# per side. Since I only needed 10# with my thickest wetsuit, I went with the smaller pockets. There is a rolled up pocket on the left side that stows in a zipped configuration. I did not try to deploy this during the dives. Totally unlike most integrated weight systems, the Halcyon is almost impossible to dump accidently: it uses a large "fastex" quick release to hold the weight pouch in. The buckles pop open and the pouch pulls out with a large plastic handle. The pockets slide onto the waist section of the webbing and are secured to the backplate. Very durable construction and the system is foolproof. You will not be finding Halcyon weight pouches littering the sea floor.

Adjusting the webbing is a "do it yourself" affair, but not big deal with a little guidance. I got that from reading the net and MHK's quick tutorial. Getting the buckle just right is a PITA, with the stiff webbing fighting you as you try to move a half inch of it through the Scubapro buckle. I already know about where the crotchstrap needed to be and that was fine. The weight pouches took a 5# soft weight with no problems, but I really wonder if I could get the full rated 10# in each side. Maybe with hard weights, but I doubt it with two 5# soft weights. Of the several ways to attach the pouches, I used the "standard" method of looping the short webbing strap through a backplate slot and then back to itself. The pockets are far enough back that way to not be a nuisance, and far enough forward to easily reach the quick releases.

Attachment points are minimal on the harness, in keeping with the "don't take it if you don't need it" philosophy. On my borrowed gear dives, I had a hard time stowing my backup regulator as I had not converted yet to a long hose/necklace. I went ahead with my own gear and put the primary on a 5 foot hose and the backup on the original primary hose, complete with a bungee necklace tie-wrapped to the mouthpiece. My air integrated computer remains with me for now, and I attached it to the left waist d-ring. Not DIR, but getting there.

Gearing up on the boat held no surprises, other than trying to figure out the sequence of wrapping the long hose and putting the backup necklace over my head. Practice is needed. The dives were much as I remembered with MHK's gear: very very effortless, and even better than before with the weight integration. I could achieve virtually any position in the water I wanted, and stay there. Try that in your jacket BC. Even my wife noticed how easily I could move and manuever, and how compact and streamlined the small wing and harness were. We did do an OOA drill underwater with the long hosed primary as the donor reg and it went perfectly the first time we tried it. I had no problem finding the backup and popping it in my mouth. But this is a review of the Halcyon system.....

My dives were and are pure rec, and I could not be happier with the freedom and security of this system. I cannot believe how superior to my old Classic jacket this is, and am really baffled by the continued assertion that this is "tec only" gear. I see it as very durable, comfortable, and efficient recreational gear, and am going to be extremely happy using it for just that in the years to come.

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