by Carl Fallon
In the Red Corner; weighing in at just under 6lbs, the newest travel BC on the market with 23 – 27lbs of lift and made from 1000 denier material and looks so bloody fantastic is…. the new… Hooollllliiiissssssss… Rrrrrrrriiiiiiddddeee! (Cheers from the croud)
This feature packed travel bcd certainly requires a bit of an introduction. This isn’t your usual travel bcd; it looks like a tech rig, feels like a tech rig, even dives like a tech rig… It must be a tech rig. The one thing it that doesn’t have is the weight of a normal tech rig. Normally travel bcd’s are made of lightweight flimsy materials and reduced down so much it doesn’t even really resemble an BCD at all. The Hollis Ride has been minimalized without affecting the normal functionality of the streamlined tech rig.
I just went on a dive expedition to Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea, where I was lucky enough to get to use this fabulous BCD and put it through its paces. We did 12 dives using 95cf Alli tanks to depths of 40m and shallower in a range of conditions from drift to casual still water diving. This blog is of my ‘Hollis Ride BCD’ experience.
Sturdy webbing holds this rig together, threaded in a way that allows for very easy adjustment from the waistband. The webbing threads through an opened stainless eye located at each hip, which allows you to adjust the tension of the shoulder straps by simply tightening the waistband; a very clever design indeed. You are supplied with adequate length in the webbing to be adjusted for any waist size, and it is easily shortened with a pair of scissors and a lighter to finish off the freshly cut webbing.
Probably the best part of the webbing design is that when you are donning and doffing your kit, once you unclip the waist buckle the shoulders loosen to allow you to easily slide out. Gone are the days of looking like you are getting out of a straightjacket each time you go for a dive in your tech kit. If you have owned a standard tech kit you would know exactly what I am talking about and probably giggling to yourself about now.
A special note also must be said about the new added 2nd tank band. This holds the tank firmly to your back making it move simultaneously with your body. Because of the minimalistic design, looking down your body it doesn’t look like you are wearing anything, and when you tighten and adjust it correctly to be honest it doesn’t even feel like your wearing your kit either.
With a simple adjustment of my weight position, I could hold a hover in most positions with little effort. The slim lined bladder is held close to your back by sturdy bungee cord, which gives you greater control of the where the air is held. With a shift in your body position, you could easily migrate gas throughout the bladder.
The bladder is also a full donut design and not a horseshoe. This gives the gas full motion through the jacket without having any capture points. This helps with the positioning of the gas and also with releasing and fine-tuning your buoyancy. It is easy as. It is as simple as a slight lift of your left shoulder, and a press of the deflate button and out it goes, every time without fail. This is exactly what I want when I am in the tropics cruising along, relaxing. No fuss BCD, for no fuss divers, doing no fuss diving.
You ask, there must be downsides on the design…
One of the only things I noticed was that when I rolled around while underwater, due to the tighter restriction in the top of 23lb bladder caused a little bit a noise just behind your head.
Also, with the Velcro attachment that holds the corrugated hose to the left should strap. It would be better if didn’t slide up and down the strap. It would be great if there were an option to fix its position.
But hey, these are very small nit-picking things. To be honest, given the huge benefits of the remainder of the design wouldn’t even be a consideration if I were looking at purchasing one.
So all in all, I would give the Hollis Ride BCD 4.7 out of 5, which is pretty damn good. If you are thinking of getting one, then go for it. The only considerations I would remember is the lift capacity and the style and type of diving you are considering using it for. Keep in mind that I was doing recreational single tank diving with not much additional kit. For me it was perfect.
If you are looking at purchasing one, I would definitely recommend you purchasing it from ‘Australia’s Dealer of the Year’ for the last 4 years running, Abyss Scuba Diving in Sydney. Check it out at www.abyss.com.au
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