Dive-Rite Venture Wing
If you are the sort of diver who habitually uses multiple tanks, a large-capacity wing-style BC is essential. But then you suddenly find yourself on holiday, doing not-proper-diving with a single tank - you know, the sort of diving most other divers do, the sort you might do while in the Maldives or the Red Sea.
     So what do you take with you: your regular wing, to battle with like a spinnaker in a gusting wind, or what
     Dive-Rite, the US technical-diving equipment supplier, makes one of the most voluminous wings.
     It even does a double version, the sort to which you could almost fit an outboard motor and use as a dinghy to get back to shore after the dive.
     But if you already have one like this, rigged for use either with a TransPac harness or a DIY stainless-steel backplate, you now have the option to equip yourself with a smaller wing for those dives on which it would be more appropriate. Its called the Dive-Rite Venture Wing.
     One of eight alternative air-cells offered by Dive-Rite, the Venture has a 15 litre air capacity, so is suitable only for use with a single tank. It is constructed from heavy-duty nylon material in a doughnut shape and has the typical 69cm-long Dive-Rite corrugated hose.
     This has a dump valve at its junction with the buoyancy bag, which is operated by simply pulling on the hose.
     There is no independent dump-valve, apart from the one at the lower back, which proved essential for dumping water that had made its way into the air-cell during ascents. So this jacket represents buoyancy control at the very basic level but its used in exactly the same way as Dive-Rites more technical wings.
     Dive-Rite also offers a smaller Travel Wing, which is kept crushed up inside an elasticated outer bag. I once wrote that I felt this was probably the best BC exclusively designed for single-tank use that I had used up to that time.
     Alas, I couldnt say the same for this slightly bigger and newer brother.
     Why Because the Venture Wing is designed in such a way that it leaves a cushion of air at a point above where the harness passes over the top of the shoulders. With an aluminium tank of the type commonly found at tropical locations, this means that this part of the buoyancy bag will be out of the water and contributing nothing to lift while at the surface with the wing fully inflated.
     Under water, with the small amount of air used for trimming to neutral buoyancy in place and naturally risen to the highest point, the wing effectively ends up behind the divers neck. It caused me discomfort. Combined with all the lead I need to wear with a light aluminium tank, I was being bent backwards and getting backache on and after each dive.
     I cured the problem by switching to a dumpy steel tank and borrowing some Dive-Rite integrated-weight pouches, which fixed on to the Transpac harness and put the reduced amount of weight I needed higher up my body. However, these dumpy steel cylinders are rarely available on dive-boats abroad.
     I also found that pulling on the corrugated hose to activate the dump valve at its top end tended to pull that corner of the buoyancy bag down, leaving the other corner with some air still in it.
     This meant using slightly more lead, contributing even more to the backache.
     The Dive-Rite Transpac harness is very comfortable. It has as many D-rings as anyone should need, a sternum strap and a waist-strap which is closed in the same manner as a typical weightbelt. Walking about the boat before diving, I was immensely comfortable.
     Its a pity that the wing is kept in place simply by the pressure of being sandwiched between tank and harness, and located by two very effective cambands passing through suitably positioned slots - changing to a new tank for a second dive, especially with integrated-weight pouches loaded, was less than easy.
     The Venture Wing is a useful, if slightly costly, purchase for anyone already using a bigger wing, but I have reservations about it as a one-off purchase, in contrast to my undoubted enthusiasm for the smaller Travel Wing.
The Venture Wing and Transpac harness together cost £394.
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  • Divernet
    + Modular system

    - Expensive
    - Gave me backache