BC Scubapro Glide 3000
Sometimes the solution to a problem is so simple, so glaringly obvious, that everyone misses it. And what are the design problems on which BC manufacturers seem to have become fixated recently One: getting rid of the now-thought-to-be-redundant corrugated hose. Two: integrated-weight systems falling out unexpectedly, with dire consequences for both those suddenly heading for the surface and those waiting to be concussed below.
     Dumping air has never really been a problem. All but the most basic BCs have some sort of dump valve operated by a toggle on the end of a cord. Of course, this needs to be positioned at the highest point of the buoyancy bag. The alternative of raising the hose to dump air from the manual inflation valve lets lots of water back in the other way, but people still seem oblivious to that.
     They do it all the time. Why Because they can!
     So is the corrugated hose necessary All we need is some form of direct-feed control to put air in.
     The direct-feed control to your drysuit has no corrugated hose. Scubapro has simply fitted the direct-feed control it supplies with its drysuit range directly to the body of the BC buoyancy bag of its Glide 3000 BC.
     So no complex pneumatic controls, no cocky fly-by-wire joystick. Its neat and simple and it rotates so that you can feed it from any angle. It gives the opportunity to run the hose from the regulator either neatly under your arm or over your shoulder. Job done.
     As there is no corrugated hose, neither is there a dump-valve at that side of the BC. This area is now taken up with the oral inflation system, a small hose that feeds to where a dump valve might have been and is tucked away under that shoulder-strap facing, with only its red end-cap revealing its whereabouts. It took quite a puff to inflate the jacket manually at the surface. Heavy smokers need not apply.
     Two dump-valves are provided and both are on the right side of the BC. One is at the shoulder top, operated by a toggle-ended cord fed neatly through to where it falls conveniently to hand. The other is at the lower back, for use during fast head-first descents.
     I was keen to test the efficiency of this manner of dumping air but had no problem with air unwilling to be released from the buoyancy bag.
     So why was the corrugated hose invented in the first place Because the original ABLJ design had to be inflated by mouth and air dumped by repositioning the inflator/deflator valve. The corrugated hose gave the flexibility to do this before the direct-feed was invented. Does this suggest that divers are prepared to accept new ideas only provided they do not have to let the older ones go
     Now that we have direct-feeds and reliable dump-valves, the corrugated hose is likely to be consigned to history in the same way as the starting-handle of a car. Time will tell.
     Scubapro is the third manufacturer as far as I am aware to have consigned the corrugated hose to history, and its solution is a simple one, cleverly using components it already has in production. That brings us to simple solution number two.
     All BC manufacturers are racing to find a way of keeping integrated-weight pouches where they belong. Scubapro has simply added large pinch-clips to those of the Glide 3000. Its as neat and simple a solution as any.
     Some will argue that pinch-clips make the weight-pouches more awkward to jettison in an emergency. I would argue that a correctly weighted diver should be able to get positively buoyant in a moment, simply by swimming up a little and letting Boyles Law do the rest.
     Many divers strap on unnecessary quantities of lead. Few remember to jettison lead in an emergency - we are not well practised at doing it. However, there have been plenty of emergencies caused by lead going into unexpected free-fall.
     Pinch-clips are more useful when passing up lead before climbing into a small boat. However, it does take two hands to do each side, one to hold the attached weight-pouch D-ring, one to release the pinch-clip. This can be a pain if you have to hold onto the boat in rough conditions or if the boat is being blown down on you, but it is not impossible.
     The Glide 3000 is an otherwise conventionally shaped BC. It has two toggle-zipped pockets which are quite small and almost impossible to get to under water, a comfortably cushioned collar area, a hard backpack with a cushion and cummerbund which are separate from the buoyancy chamber, two large stainless-steel D-rings at the shoulders and two at the bottom edges, the usual waist strap closed by a pinch-clip and a very normal sternum strap.
     There are two mini stainless-steel D-rings from which less bulky items can dangle, and I assume the designer intended these items to lodge in the open pockets.
     As with presumably all new Scubapro BCs, the Glide 3000 has the benefit of the recently improved camband buckle, which allows quick swapping of any tanks of identical circumference. Apart from the improved integrated-weight system, there are two very visible trim-weight pockets closed by pinch-clips at the rear.
     Instead of struggling for complexity, Scubapro has come up with two simple solutions. Theyre so obvious, I cant think why no-one else thought of them!
The Glide 3000 costs £375, including the integrated-weight system.
  • Scubapro UK 01256 812636, www.scubapro.co.uk

  • Divernet Divernet Divernet
    + Two simple solutions to two modern BC design problems

    - Only two dump valves
    - Almost useless pockets