Reviews

Hollis 38LX wing and solo technical harness

Having bought a twin-set set-up earlier this year and used it 'lots' over the summer I am now completing the write up on the arrangement of the wing, harness and backplate, all from Hollis and all very good!

Firstly the backplate......it's stainless, it's shiny and to be honest although in my case it's Hollis it really doesn't matter whose wing you use, if you feel particularly affluent you can go to Halcyon or if you just want a lump of stainless with holes you can go to dive-rite. In the case of a backplate it really, really doesn't matter!

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The set-up

Ok onto the specifics, this wing is very well put together, the backplate slips neatly inside without snagging or nipping and when fully inflated there are no areas where you feel that you are being pushed away from the backplate.

The wing is a 'doughnut' which means that it is circular rather than the previous 'inverted U' shape wings where there was no lift at the bottom of the rig. In water I never found there was a problem with a 'U shape' wing but on the surface the extra lift at waist level really does help lifting your head and shoulders up and out of the water.

The lift capacity at ~38kg is more than adequate to cover the weight of cylinders, backplate and any V weights and will lift your head well clear of the water when waiting to be picked up. It would be possible to use the 25 version of the wing on a twinset but it would have less lifting capacity, the 38 version is the ideal choice for any twinset arrangement.

The first wing that I ever owned was a nice piece of kit from Halcyon where you wrapped bungee coard all around it in order for a deflated or part deflated to be a minimum size, lowering the possibilities of snagging. The Hollis wing has an outer skin made from 1680D Cordua which has some strectch meaning that when it's deflated it shrinks back, its ideal, no need to wrap the wing in bungee with the associated problems of failure and a neat rig when diving. My only concern would be how 'elastic' the system remains after extended use, I shall report back in a few years!

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Deflated and wrinkly

My main gripe with the wing is that I find the corrugated inflator hose a tad too short, I would prefer the hose to be about 10cm longer as it sits, in my opinion, fractionally too high on your left shoulder. Now maybe this opinion is formed because of my other kit (Inspiration Rebreather and Travel Pac) but the hose length on my other equipment is that tad longer so right 'too hand' when I need it.

Oh the inflator mechanism is the small, compact easy to use plastic set up, so populat on BCD's and wings, again nothing really to add, it's small, it works, you may wish to replace with an auto-air a few people do although I'm not sure why when you are twin-set diving......

There is a single kidney located dump valve which is ideal for releasing water at the end of the dive it's the standard design so I would say no more on it!

As a final aside don't forget to regularly wash out your wing with warm fresh water if you are diving in the sea. Salt water will get into the bladder and when it is drained the residue drys to form small salt crystals which over time do wear holes in the bladder, sure the bladder is made from tough nylon but why create the climate for failures?

Onto the harness, now at this point some of the more 'tech' tekkies would cry heresy as it isn't really made from a single piece of webbing and there are small stainless steel joints as shown below.

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The Joint Plates

Now on a personal front I have no issue with the harness being made out of more than a single piece of webbing, yup I buy that this potentially introdues failure points but I am not hung up on the issue. These failures tend to occur over time as the webbing frets through on sharp edges, now talking about sharp edges! Having being 'bitten' with the problem of sharp edges on my travel-pac I carefully checked this Hollis harness and can happily confirm that there are no sharp edges on the stainless joint which would slowly eat through the webbing. that said in the event of failure you can't simply fit a new piece of webbing you need to send the entire harness back to Hollis and hope that the warranty system is robust.

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Typical Chest Strap

The chest straps have two stainless steel D rings which are useful for clipping on various bits and bats and when used in conjunction with the waist D rings ensure that these bits and pieces (SMB reel and blob) don't flap around when you are diving. There are also velcro straps on each strap which ensure that your corrugated hose can be kept close to hand......even if it does sit a wee bit too high!

The straps are adjustable at the back-plate and have some padding in the chest area and to be honest are just about spot on, there is plenty of webbing present which you can either fold up nice and tidy or cur short and re-seal the end with a hot iron, I'm a big lad and there is loads of spare webbing, porkers of the world can buy this rig in the confidence that it will fit. I guess that it has been design and built wth the US market in mind and there are some eally big lads, and lasses that dive in the states!

The crotch strap arrangement is terminated with a webbing loop which simply slips over the waist-band, simple and nothing to wrong, again its verrrrry long and you can shorten significantly and still leave enough webbing spare for most 'other' divers. There is a ring on the crotch strap which you can use to secure kit or your john line, should you use one, it's a nice feature which is useful but unobtrusive.

The cost of the various components, well the back-plate is around £100, the harness around £90 and the wing around £240 so all in about £430 which does compare very favourably with the top end BCDs. There are loads of extras which you can purchase to make the rig more 'BCD like' or customise it depending on your stand-point! I have fitted two shot pouches which allow me to get rid of some weight to make a buoyant ascent should the need ever arise, there are many other bits and pieces and it all jus depends what you want but that's the joy of this type of set-up you customise it to what you want and not what a manufacturer thinks the majority of the demographic want or will buy.

Richies rating 9/10 : well made and put together although the inflated hose could be tad longer!



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