A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to try the new Hollis 500SE side breather regulator. Being the first side breathing regulator since the demise of the Oceanic Omega regulator, I was quite excited to dive it. I had not dived the Omega, but had heard many good things about it, and how the few flaws of the Omega had apparently been corrected.
SE500 Side Breather Regulator
Having never dived a side breathing g regulator, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about, and to see whether I found that it indeed performed as people said – better than a conventional regulator of equal standing.
For anyone who understands a regulator with a servo assisted valve, they know that the flow of air is much greater from a much smaller inhalation effort. It as it is designed with its exhaust system at the side, the regulator will also perform equally as good with the exhaust oneither the left or the right. Perfect for use as a Sidemount regulator coming from the left post, as you would normally need to feed a standard 2nd stage regulator from the left, around behind your head for it to sit correctly. The side breather, being breathable with the exhaust on either the left or the right, can be attached to a much shorter 2nd stage hose not placed around behind the head.
To get a good feel the regulator, I decided to test it on a 2 hour Sidemount excursion around Bare Island, La Perouse. This would give me plenty if time to see just what I thought of it. Setting the regulator up on my Sidemount equipment, I straight away found the shorter hose more convenient. Testing the regulator was quite a surprise as well, as I was amazed at how little effort it actually took to inhale, and how strong the flow if air was! I thought, this is going to be great!!
I began the dive breathing from the 500SE side breather regulator and did not really notice how much nicer it was to breathe until I switched to my other conventional regulator of the right Sidemount tank. Straight away I wanted to switch back! But due to the nature of Sidemount configuration, I was unable to switch back until the gas in my right tank had leveled out to the same pressure as the left.
Towards the end if the dive, we encountered a strong outgoing current that was extremely difficult to kick against. Part way through this part of the dive, I switched to the side breather regulator and immediately found it much easier to breathe. As I was breathing heavier kicking into the current, the added ease of breathing and higher flow of air being delivered by the side breather regulator, meant I could actually keep my heart rate and air consumption down. Awesome! It has been some time since I have dived with any new equipment and thought how much better it actually is. This is one of those pieces of equipment. I am actually now thinking about converting my existing Sidemount regulators to the Hollis 500SE Side Breathers. If you have not tried this new regulator yet, or have never dived an Omega, you definitely have to try one and see what all the fuss is about!