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About 6 weeks ago I challenged Tobin George to lend me one of his rigs for a tryout. I was heading to Cozumel for an 18 dive, 8 day trip and would take the BP/W with me for a thorough tryout. If I liked it better than my Zeagle Stiletto I would buy it. If not, I would return it. Tobin took the challenge!
I want to say right up front that I decided not to keep the DSS. Yet I liked it a lot and would like to tell you about my experience with it and ultimately why I decided to stick with the Stiletto.
Tryout Report The BP/W was the DSS Single Rig w/stainless steel backplate, 30# bladder and deluxe harness. No chest strap.
I usually carry a knife, mirror and folding snorkel in a BC pocket but with the DSS there are no pockets. Thinking I might buy a small pocket I called Joe at ScubaToyís. Joe had 4 different pockets and said he would send all 4 to me. I pick one and send the others back. How do you beat a deal like that? In the end, I never used one of the pockets.
When packing for the trip I was surprised how compact the DSS is. It took up so little room in the suitcase I decided to pack the Stiletto just in case. However, once I started diving I stuck with the DSS for all 18 dives.
I canít say enough about the quality of the product. Every aspect of ďFit and FinishĒ was superb; far better than anticipated. The harness was thick, soft and pliable. Never rubbed or scratched anywhere. The metal pieces were just as impressive. No barbs or sharp edges and the harness slots have plastic inserts to reduce wear. The backplate, d-rings and poly-point rings feel good to the touch and look even better. The inner bladder is wrapped in a thick outer shell with a slight sheen to it which, to me, gave it a high quality look and feel. On the surface the corrugated hose seems a bit short but underwater itís the perfect length and being center mounted made dumping air pretty easy. It was interesting that after a dive there would be very little or no water in the bladder.
Iím 6í and 200 lbs. Tobin sent me a medium backplate and I took the rig to a quarry for a test dive. The fit was perfect. At first I thought I was going to need the optional chest strap but after a few dives in Cozumel it was obvious it wasnít needed at all. I thought I would miss the cummerbund. I couldnít imagine being able to tighten up the waist belt and get the same secure feeling you do by wrapping the cummerbund around you but the DSS felt just as secure.
On the surface the backplate distributes the tank weight across your back evenly and improves balance. It was easier to stand and walk than it is with the Stiletto. It was easier to climb the ladder too. Underwater the effects of the BP/W were less noticeable. The DSS felt stable on my back but probably no more stable than what Iíve been used to. Perhaps more differences would have been noticed and/or appreciated if I wasnít already used to wearing a relatively small soft-back back inflation BC. Based on my recollection of diving with a jacket style large BC the differences would be more significant.
Managing the crotch strap took some time to figure out and Iím not sure I got it right. If I put on the weight belt, then the DSS, then clipped the crotch strap to the waist belt the strap would be on the outside and over the top of the weight belt. BlueXTSea wants you to remove the BC in the water so they can pull it onboard. With the crotch strap over the weight belt I couldnít get the weight belt off without unclipping the crotch strap first. I could take off the DSS/tank first but then youíre wearing a weight belt without lift assist. I started routing the crotch strap, once underwater, under the weight belt and then re-clipping it to the waist belt. That way, in an emergency, I could easily ditch the weight belt.
I was anxious to see how much total weight I would be able to drop but in the end it was 2 lbs of lead.
What I liked about the DSS:
Uniqueness Ė it has a serious cool factor
Quality - the product radiates quality
No frills no fluff - never missed having a pocket or anything else for that matter
What I didnít like:
Dealing with a crotch strap
Dealing with a weight belt
Iím a Recreational Diver and a Warm-Water-Wuss through and through. I constantly work to improve skills such as air conservation, buoyancy control, navigation and etc. However, Iím just not interested in Tech diving and itís doubtful Iíll ever dive in a dry suit or with twin tanks. I want to feel stable and secure underwater and I like a few creature comforts as well; i.e. knowing thereís a snorkel, knife and mirror neatly tucked away in my pocket.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the DSS and sincerely appreciate the opportunity. Having this experience opened my eyes to the fact that a BP/W rig can easily serve a wider range of diving situations than just Tech. I think I have a better appreciation for why so many feel so strongly about BP/W rigs. Tobin George was fun to work with, knowledgeable and very supportive. Did I mention his being justifiably confident about his equipment. I would like to have a DSS but in the end I asked myself this one question; ďYouíre getting ready to fly somewhere for a long weekend of diving and hanging in your closet are both the DSS and the Stiletto, which one would you take with you?Ē To match my needs and desires and for the type of diving I do it would be the Stiletto.
Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I took a long look at this product but decided to go with Diverite as it was much cheaper to buy a package from NESS. Nonetheless, It does look like quality gear and I will look towards this product in the future. As for Tobin doing this and Scuba Toys sending four pockets on the honor system, well that is redefining what "Local Dive Shop" means in this internet age. Good work all!
I got a couple of tank strap weight pouches for some of the weight (I dive dry-so more weight than I want on my hips) and those halcyon thingies, which I mounted on the waist strap thing (hey, I'm a girl and those tech words don't flow from me well...*batting eyelashes*). I sooo love my DSS bp/w. It is so streamlined and very compact. I am able to get all my gear (which includes a backup of just about everything) into a pelican case, which also totally rocks.
The crotch strap keeps my tank and BP from movin' around on me. I have pockets on my drysuit, so that isn't too much of a deal. When I dive wet, I have a pocket that goes on the waist strap. I have the single webbing harness. Totally cool. Gotten real good at quick adjustments of it when switchng from drysuit to wet. No tank slips, or weight movement during the dive. I have even learned to get out of it on my own (after 30 dives).
Anyway, it may not be for everyone, but I like it a lot more than other bp/w's I tried. I am a cabb diver - cheap ***** beach bum - I dive a lot wet or dry. Comfort is important. I don't dive tech (although I dream of someday going there). The DSS soooo rocks. Wait, did I say that already? *Batting eyelashes*
Last edited by SoCalAngel; September 17th, 2005 at 02:03 AM.
Edit: Didn't mean this to sound at all harsh, just didn't understand why you didn't like some of the features that make a BP/W a BP/W...
So you didn't like it because it didn't have a pocket? The DIR way would be to have a pocket on the thigh of your wetsuit/drysuit, if that's not practical you could look at X-shorts or even rig a pocket to your harness something like this if you didn't have a canister light.
If you want to be able to ditch weight the weight belt goes over everything else. Why not just hand up the weight belt and climb the ladder with your gear on? Maybe I'm just too dense to understand...
Last edited by StSomewhere; September 17th, 2005 at 10:42 AM.
Tobin and his group certainly do a great job with their BP/W. The finish quality is better than anything else I've looked at. I still dive my X-Tek soft backpack and wing, which I like better than any BP/W I've used, but Scubapro stopped making them and there are only so many in my size I can buy off E-Bay! I'll have to switch at some point!
In my experience it can, for a single tank rig and a thick wetsuit. Not ideal, mind you.
I use the same pockets as scubaroo and I also like this set-up a great deal. I use a single tank rig and a thick (2 piece 6.5 mm) wetsuit. The weight is easily ditchable with a bit of practice and is more comfortable to me than a weight belt.
As for the Tobin plate, I haven't used it yet but if I get in the market for one (and I may be soon if I upgrade my wife's plate) it seems like a pretty good option. A bit more pricey (probably the main obstacle) than some of the others but it seems to have a lot of attention paid to the details.