Unedited Independent Customer reviews and comments

 

 

Cratos Wing BCD

 

Hi John. I've now had a few good dives with this BCD and am most pleased to provide the following review.

Many thanks
Jeroen Speak
 

I bought the Cratos Wing Style BCD recently. I bought it because, although I like some of the practical side of the conventional BCD I got fed up of all the weight and bulk one has to carry at the front of the body. Lets face it, when diving we tend to spend most of our time horizontal, looking down, so it makes sense to not have so much bulk out front, keeps the arms and hands free. As far as I can tell this is the only BCD on the market at present which offers the best of both worlds. You have the simplicity of the conventional BCD but with out the sense of feeling like your sitting in a bulky armchair. I tried this BCD out on a number of different dives recently in the Scilly Isles, so I got a good opportunity to see how it performs in reality.

here are the PROS and CONS:

PROS:

1) integrated weight pockets are fully adjustable and removable. So you vary the way you carry your weight.

2) Because of the lack of bulk at the front and side, the weight releases are easily accessible. I use a weight harness as opposed to a weight belt, which has its own release mechanism, this seemed to work fine because I could remove the integrated BCD pockets, which made things simpler.

3) The BCD offers a variety of strap adjustments. Initially I found it didnít fit very snuggly, but I found many ways of adjusting it to suit my body type and preferences.

4) includes plenty of D rings and shoulder straps for pipes and extra gear.

5) Price is exceptional value for what you get. And I would have been happy to pay a lot more for something that performed as well as this.

CONS:

The only con I personally found was that my BCD bladder took on a little water. That is, after 3 dives I drained about a half a pint of water. Not a great deal, but still a little more than I felt was normal.

On the whole, This is a great product, a reliable and fully featured BCD. For the price, it offers a lot more than I got for my first Buddy BCD. Top marks dudes !

 

Maximus wing system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Constructed to an extremely high standard, sensibly priced; much appreciated.

 

Mike Clark Unabridged Review

Red Hat wing review

There must be dozens of wings out there for use when technical diving. On Dive boats ive noted the usual brands and a few lesser known setups, which for me are always interesting to have a look at. Over the years I have used a few types and brands such as the original Northern Diver Sea Eagle with a Stainless Steel (SS) Back Plate, now I use a mares bc for shallow stuff and the new Buddy Tek Light wing for my independent twins. For my technical diving I was going to use manifolded twin 12l cylinders and needed a SS or Aluminium (ALI) back plate to bolt them onto with ss bands. (Buddy donít recommend using manifolded twins with the buddy band system).

I was trawling web sites looking for a wing when I came across Red Hat Diving, I liked the look of their wings, so I contacted John Hewitt, the   proprietor and he kindly sent me up a 90LB Maximus dive wing with ss back plate and a premium harness to review along with other optional pockets, harnesses, and a couple of weight harnesses. Over the course of the last 4 or 5 months I have been trying out this kit on my deeper technical dives.

The first thing that strikes you with this wing is that it is almost identical to the OMS wing. I had ample chance to compare the Red Hat Maximus with the OMS wing as my buddy Gordon Mackie of GM Diving uses one. There are two important differences between the wings though, firstly, the cost of the Maximus which is a fraction of the OMS set up. Secondly the materials used are lighter than the OMS. So where in these tight economic times I liked the price very much I wanted to ensure that the wing was up to the rigors of deep multi tank technical diving, here is how I got on.

WING

The Maximus wing is a truly modular system and you can customise it for your needs. The bladder of the wing can be supplied in 3 sizes- 90lb, 50lb and 30 lb. The outer of which comprises 1680 denier nylon with a PVC backing. Inside of this is a 210 denier thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) inner bag.

This makes a sturdy puncture and abrasion resistant package. I had initial fears re the inner bag as it felt so light and flexible compared to the old style clear plastic inner bags found on some bcís. I found out that it may be light but itís very strong and the new TPU inner lining performed very well with no leaks or tears. On further investigation I found out that the TPU inner is first choice for many technical divers. A semi-circular zipper around the inside of the wing allows for easy inspection of the interior bladder.

The wing also comprises a trap door drainage system which allows water to drain rapidly from the outer cover to minimize excess weight and improve diver comfort. It must work as I found no problems with trapped pockets of water. The bladder also contains 2 dump valves, one controlled by a pull toggle at the top of the bag and another to the rear of the wing. There is a corrugated inflation hose with a stainless steel inflation button. I really liked this as it added a wee bit of weight and kept the hose from moving around.

One thing I did change on the wing was initially the corrugated hose came over the shoulder of the wing. I swapped this with the location of the pull dump so that the corrugated hose hung straight down the front of the wing as with the OMS wing. All these valves have the same fitting so you can set the wing up exactly how you like it. The inflation unit supplied does not have a steel cable running through it allowing it to be used as a pull dump as in most sport Bcís. This I expected from a technical wing where I like to see the gas being vented from my wing.

Lastly the wing is surrounded by elastomeric bands (use is optional) these assist in deflation, but still allow the diver to orally inflate the BC. I liked the bands and found they did not hinder inflation. If anything I would have liked slightly thicker bands adding a little bit more tension, or I could just slightly tighten the existing bands. I personally like to have the wing as streamlined as possible, that said I am aware of the debate surrounding the advantage of using bands or not. With this set up the choice is completely yours.

 

 

 

BACKPLATES

There is a choice of 3 back plates ĖAluminium that can be supplied in a range of colours for the fashion conscious and two types of Stainless Steel back plates. The first one is an Economy back plate from Taiwan, I decided to go for the 316 marine grade SS back plate made in the UK. All come with mounting holes allowing for height adjustment. There are also mounting holes around the periphery of the back plate. There is therefore no lack of mounting options. This gave me the advantage of having 6lb of non removable weight comfortably spread across my back. After my 5 months of use there was no sign of corrosion and the backpack looked like new.

 

HARNESS

This is probably the most important part of any wing system. The Maximus offers 2 choices of harness. The Sports Harness is the more basic of the two harnesses on offer but I would say itís very high spec. Two adjustable shoulder clips, 4 D rings, Padded Shoulder pads, crotch strap, Chest strap, back plate pad and a stainless steel buckle. Itís fully adjustable and very versatile. If you want flexibility this is a good choice. I opted for the Premium harness which boasts all of the above. The waist bands and shoulder pads are stitched onto the harness and the fitting are plusher. The back pad with itís red hat logo is extremely comfy. There are a further 6 small D rings attached to the back of the harness for clipping on further items. For the extra few pounds I think the premium harness is extremely good value for money. I have seen a few inspiration users and OMS wing users using this harness. This didnít surprise me much as the premium is very similar harness to the OMS IQ pack. I found it extremely comfy and easy to use.

ACCESSORIES

The maximus wing comes with a large selection of pockets and accessories.

I found the large utility/ mask pouch which is mounted on the waist band at the stomach very useful for popping all my tables, mask, and line cutters in. The only thing I would have liked to see in it was a little D ring to secure these items too.

Weight pouches are also available to fit directly to the harness but I found these to be of limited use, especially with side mounts. Trim weight pouches are useful and there are pockets for sheers, a no sag pocket which looks good. There is also a vertical mounted weight pocket and a thigh pocket. There is plenty of variety, so you will be able to customise your kit exactly the way you want it.

Conclusion

Itís not as tough as the OMS but then very few things on earth are as the OMS is bombproof. The Maximus is certainly no cheep copy. I found it an extremely comfortable and easy to use wing. If you are into designer labels you will prefer to look at the fashionable brands. But if you donít mind not having a certain logo on your kit I would strongly recommend the Maximus wing system by Red Hat Diving. I liked it so much I decided to put my money where my mouth was and bought the product.

return to Maximus page

 

Weight harness

 

 

 

Good price, nice piece of kit, better than described. Thanks

Excellent Super Service GREAT PRODUCT

quality product fast delivery many thanks.

looks like a great piece of kit hope to try out soon

Starlight torches

I originally bought the 1W and 3W Starlight LED torches as small back-ups to stick in my pocket. After a couple of days diving I began leaving my primary torch (a IST 10W halogen, purchased from Red Hat Diving) behind and using the 3W LED instead. It gives a very bright focused spot which penetrates the gloom more than adequately without too much overspill.  The magnetic switch is solid giving a positive on/off, no more forgetting to twist on your back-up before diving, very little risk of flooding due to double o-rings, features which aren't on some other LED torches that are twice the cost. The 3W is compact enough to stick in your pocket even on dives where you donít think youíll need a torch and to top it all it only takes 4 AA batteries available anywhere.

 

Iíve been using the 1W and 3W Starlight LED torches for a few months now; Iím still on my first set of batteries. The quality is excellent and at the price youíd be daft not to buy two, I know I did!