DiverWire Product Review: Diving LITE with the Scubapro LiteHawk
(DiverWire) Since the first moment I went under the water with a regulator in my mouth, I knew I would be diving for the rest of my life. Ten years later, I can’t tell you what regulator I was using that day, but after spending a lot of time diving and being underwater, it’s obvious there are a lot of different choices for divers today. To try to find the right fit, the right style, just the right piece that works can be overwhelming, as equipment is always changing.
Take my BCD for instance. I love my jacket-style BCD. We’ve bonded. We’ve been to amazing places together. I know how much weight I need in any given environment, and I have fine-tuned my buoyancy. Simply put, we work well together. However, sometimes change is a good thing. I’ve been looking into back-floatation jackets lately and decided to give one a try.
Recently, SCUBAPRO released a new design I became interested in. The LiteHawk is a BCD developed for just what the name indicates — light weight travel. The total weight of this BCD is 6 lbs, which I found to be intriguing.
When I first put on the LiteHawk, it felt less cumbersome than the jacket style I had grown so accustomed to, which was very appealing. As I began to secure the Litehawk, the first thing I noticed was that the waist strap was secured by a plastic buckle on the webbing, not a velcro cummerbund and strap. The shoulder straps are both pulled with a simple strap for snugness and a chest strap across the front to secure it. The swivel-style buckle attaching the shoulder and chest straps is highly innovative.
One challenge was the inability to make adjustments that would accommodate my full figured chest. This BCD didn’t make accommodations for a woman’s upper body. The shoulder straps were uncomfortable, so I released the chest buckle and pulled down more on the sides to tighten the shoulder straps a bit more. When I did that, the straps dug in under my armpits. Comfort is always a consideration, and with the exception of the hard plastic shoulder straps, I felt comfortable wearing this jacket. It has a soft padded rigid backplate. The product is light and it is easy to move around while wearing it. With everything seeming to be in place, I continued onto weights.
The Litehawk is negatively buoyant, and as I tend to be positive, this is a good match. This BCD’s maximum weight capacity is 10 pounds. During the test dives, we first tested with no weight and the LiteHawk and I became one. Then six pounds was added to see how the LiteHawk performed, which it felt less stable for me. And finally as a test, 12 lbs total, which turned out to be the most that could be fit into the moveable trim pockets, were added just “to see”.
Being overweighted was more stable for me, however maintaining neutral was a small struggle. The weight system on this BCD is not integrated, therefore if more weight is needed, it would mean wearing a weight belt. Also, the trim pockets are on the backside and would be difficult to dump if necessary, so when planning a dive, this would need to be taken into consideration. SCUBAPRO officials told me that quick-release add-on weight pockets are available, but sold separately.
The back flotation BCD provided freedom of movement on the sides – THIS was very appealing. Having worn a jacket style for so long, I immediately noticed this difference. The air bladder on the back has a bungee cord compression design which keeps the entire cell very tight but with great lift. Adding the most air possible, it became about 70% full, but remained very compact. There are three ways to dump air from different positions, and can be utilized easily. I became a huge fan of the back flotation style instantly.
After trying the LiteHawk, I started to think of my “octopus” in a whole different light. The LiteHawk utilizes the integrated inflator technology, eliminating the need for that type of secondary air source. As this was new to me, I spent some time testing the power inflation system, which responded quickly and efficiently, as well as switching back and forth from my regulator to the one integrated on the inflation hose. I began to envision disconnecting the cumbersome secondary hose, and coupled with an air-integrated wrist computer, my entire dive could be a whole new experience. (Note: The Litehawk is available with either the AIR2 of BPI configuration).
Several other miscellaneous items I took into consideration were the limited number of D-rings or pockets to bring items one may want during a dive. While great for the minimalist, gear hounds like me will have some customizing to do. All the plastic parts are very light, which concerns me a bit, because they didn’t appear very sturdy for clipping, whether it be a D-ring or buckle. However, the tank strap had a metal clamp instead of plastic to keep it secure, but velcro kept the strap in place. The LiteHawk is designed for traveling, so that last thing I tried was to actually put it into a 22” carryon, roller-board styled bag. It took about one-third of the bag’s capacity, so with a regulator, wrist dive computer, my quart-sized plastic bag for liquids, a pair of shoes and couple of outfits, I certainly can make this one work.
The sizes are combined, ranging from XS-S, M-ML, L/XL and all sizes have the same lift capacity being 56 lbs. The LiteHawk will be great for warm water destinations, short trips, and avoiding that pesky baggage fee. Although it will be hard to give up all of my pockets, D-rings, and my trusted BDC that has spend many hours blowing bubbles with me, I think it’s time to move on.
The LiteHawk will give me much more freedom in streamlined movement to enjoy the place I love.
Special thanks to John Flanders of Academy of Scuba, Phoenix, AZ for his laughs and wisdom to assist me in my research