BC Suunto Equilite 1100W

Why do so many divers dump air from their BCs by raising the corrugated hose and opening the oral-inflation button It was to such a question on the www.divernet.com forum that I felt compelled to add a reply.
     Nearly every BC has a dump valve designed to let air out but precious little water back the other way. Most have more than one. Why not use them
     Do we use the hose because diving instructors were originally using simple horse-collar style Fenzy BCs and that was the only way to do it As with other diving dogma, was that technique cast in the stone of the training manual No wonder you have to drain a couple of kilos of water from your BC after a weeks diving.
     More on this later. Its a couple of years since I was first sent a BC by Suunto. It proved a well-made item, and apart from a bottom dump operated by a toggle threaded through to the front of the jacket, was a very standard BC.
     I have never seen one at a dive site since so had assumed that this foray into new areas of diving equipment by the Finnish computer manufacturer had not been a success. Then, out of the blue, I received the new improved model, the Suunto Equilite 1100W with integrated-weight system.
     The example sent in arrived just as I was leaving for a liveaboard trip, so having substituted it in my bag for another BC that was tried and tested, I took it away and did 21 dives without giving it much of a second thought.
     Like its sibling forerunner, it proved to be a very conventional BC that fitted me like a glove (I had been careful to request one in size M though the distributor felt I would need size L).
     The buoyancy always seemed to be just where I needed it, despite a bit of a tight hug when fully inflated at the surface - and it gave me the choice of four ways to dump air, either when leaving the surface or during an ascent.
     The corrugated hose attached to its direct-feed hose was the primary approach. You simply pull on it and the design lets air out but keeps the water from getting back in. There is also a quick dump operated by a cord and toggle at the opposite shoulder and another at the lower back. If you did get water in your BC you could always drain it by fully inflating the BC at the surface and then pulling open this lower dump.
     If you dont understand how that works, think about what goes on when you clear water from your mask. Funnily enough, the designer has now abandoned the idea of a front-mounted toggle for this dump.
     What was the fourth way Oh yes, lifting the oral inflation mouthpiece of the corrugated hose and letting water back into the jacket... and do you know what Nearly every diver on the boat did it that way!
     The Equilite 1100W has a single tank camband that works with a hard backpack which itself is concealed behind a soft cushion. There are two large self-draining pockets together with four large and two smaller stainless-steel D-rings that take care of any extra items you might feel it necessary to take down with you.
     The cummerbund was adjustable for girth at the backpack and closed by velcro with a wide strap and buckle over. I tucked my high-pressure hose and gauge under this. There was also an elasticated sternum strap under which I tucked the corrugated hose and direct-feed.
     With my octopus-rig retained under a bungee around the tank, I stayed neat and without any dangly bits. In this way I did no damage to my surroundings under water.
     I used the BC with a large, floaty aluminium tank and took advantage of the rear trim-weight pockets positioned at the back of the BC and closed with pinch-clips. The front, ditchable integrated-weight pockets easily took more than 4kg each side and were kept in place by three layers of overlapping velcro.
     If you need more than the 16kg of lead afforded by the maximum possible when the trim-weight pockets are added, integrated-weight BCs are probably not for you. But it certainly is a pleasure to dispense with a weightbelt.
     The Suunto Equilite 1100W did not offer me any exciting features, but it did work extremely efficiently. What more could I ask for
The Equilite 1100W costs £295.

  • Suunto UK 01420 587272, www.suunto.com

  • Divernet Divernet
    The rear trim-weight pocket is closed with a pinch-clip
    + Did exactly what it promised

    - Worthy but a little dull