Appeared in DIVER December 2006

BC Apeks WTX3
If youre using a drysuit with a single cylinder, I suppose you will only really use it for floating at the surface, and its certainly at your back.
If youre the sort of person who revels in building Ninja 4x4 remote-controlled model cars with independent suspension, youll love putting together the bits that make up your personal WTX combination.
The WTX3 is part of a modular system of technical divers wings offered by Apeks. Four sizes of buoyancy cell are available with a choice of one-piece harness, the WTX harness, integrated-weight pockets, and the option of a stainless-steel backplate.
I used a leisure-diving configuration, with the WTX harness strapped directly to a single tank via its twin cambands, and the smallest buoyancy cell. It can be also used with the steel backplate, or bolted directly to a single-tank adaptor.

ITS A PITY SO MANY WING DESIGNERS seem to follow bad examples. With this one, as is often the case, the cushion of air used during routine buoyancy control with a wetsuit sits up high in the wing, and is impossible to release on ascent without raising the corrugated hose.
Pulling on the hose to operate the upper dump, on those wings that have such a thing, simply distorts the bag. The air then lodges in the opposite side.
The Apeks designers have at least considered this, and dont try to seduce the buyer with features that dont work. So you either lift the hose to dump, or go bottom-up to release air from the lower dump valve.
Dont kid yourself either that air can be released by lying horizontally in the water. The lower dump is positioned on the bag facing forward, so that it is facing down when you are.
I cant foresee a new breed of DIR divers (Doing It Relaxed) lying face-up during an ascent!
I got used to doing a little bum-up manoeuvre (not recommended in a drysuit) and pulling the bottom dump to release air when I was horizontal.
Otherwise, I resigned myself to leaving the corrugated hose dangling free so that I could dump air through the oral inflation-valve on the way up. After the dive I would have to jettison the water that made its way back in.
What about the harness Well, its very adjustable for size and fit. I was grateful for the detachable cushion, which made the tank more comfortable than it might have been.
Apart from the eight small D-rings provided for lashing lighting canisters and such, there are seven large D-rings that are heavy enough to use as towing-eyes on a Range Rover.
Some of these can be positioned along their webbing.
This includes two on the 5cm-wide crotch-strap, which would be perfect for attaching a 100bhp DPV. The sternum-strap stops the shoulder straps from spreading and slipping off your shoulders.

THE WAIST-STRAP HAS THE SORT OF conventional heavy-duty buckle used on weightbelts. The shoulder-straps are broken with pinch-clips. It was a pity that there seemed to be no pocket option. Everything has to be dangled.
The optional integrated-weight pockets have pouches retained by the Aqua Lung patent-pending Sure Lock buckles, which retract on demand. They take only around 4.5kg of lead each, but a sudden 9kg increase in buoyancy is enough to see you on the way to the surface, as long as you are neutrally buoyant when a crisis occurs.
I found it relatively easy to don the rig before fitting the weight-pouches, which snapped securely into position in a satisfying manner. This proved very useful in a crowded RIB.
As on the land, under water the WTX3 proved very comfortable. The integrated weights clung to me without that saddle-bag effect so often encountered.
I tailored the harness to fit me exactly. Apart from once forgetting about the crotch-strap, I found it quick and easy to get out of in the water for passing up onto the boat.
The WTX3 is built to a high standard of durability and without too much in the way of frills. Many people would call it bomb-proof.
The Apeks WTX3 as tested costs 167 for the harness (available in three basic sizes), 129 for the buoyancy cell and 68 for the integrated-weight pockets. A one-piece webbing harness costs 41; a stainless-steel backplate 89 and larger buoyancy cells from 167.
  • Apeks Marine Equipment, 01254 692200,

  • Divernet Divernet Divernet Divernet Divernet
    + Tough
    + Plenty of options for customisers

    - No pocket option apparent
    - Inadequate means of dumping air from above shoulders