SOME YEARS AGO, I attracted the ire of one element of the diving fraternity by reviewing an item of kit when I clearly hadn’t done a GUE Fundamentals course.
The product was a simple wing-style BC called the Halcyon Eclipse. I even had the temerity to compare it head-to-head with a non-compliant wing, made by Mares.
I should explain that, by “non-compliant”, I meant that the Mares product did not comply with the stringent equipment considerations meted out by that particular training agency. GUE was in fact acting as the marketing arm of a US diving equipment brand – a clever sales strategy.
So how come one of these unique and highly rated items of diving equipment fell into my soiled hands Well, the UK distributor had obviously felt that to make money it needed to expand beyond the hallowed few.
The manufacturer must have felt the same way, and by manufacturer, I mean the company that actually made the product.
Now I don’t know whether the company that makes the Halcyon Eclipse also makes the IST Dolphin Tech, but the two BCs look very similar to me, although there is obviously a price differential.

Specification
The Dolphin Tech has a simple doughnut-shaped buoyancy cell that comes with a strong corrugated hose and a solitary dump valve at the bottom end for dumping air while ascending in the horizontal position.
The dump valve is operated by a cord to which a substantial toggle has been fitted.
This may not be “compliant” but it is very convenient and I’m sure will not cause problems for divers.
If you wanted to “comply” you could always apply a knife to it. This wing had the 30lb (14kg) of lift buoyancy cell but 40 and 50lb versions are available.
Two cambands are fitted. These pass through a stainless-steel single tank adaptor that is bolted securely to an aluminium backplate, sandwiching the centre of the buoyancy cell between them. A carrying handle is fitted to the top of the backplate (there is also the option of a heavier stainless-steel backplate).
The continuous one-piece 5cm webbing harness passes through this backplate. Four stainless-steel D-rings, held in position by stainless-steel H-clips, are set to suit the user in the same way.
A heavy-duty stainless-steel buckle, akin to a weightbelt’s buckle, fastens the waist. A weight-pocket sits on this section of the harness at each side. Weights are easily added via the zips at their tops, and a big pinch-clip facilitates easy dumping in an emergency.
These weight-pockets look as though they would work the other way up, but the IST logo provides the clue to the correct orientation.
The whole thing adds up to a very tough but quite weighty bit of kit, but with a design aimed at Florida cave-divers. I noted that even in this lightest weight specification, it made nearly 4kg.
As Florida cave-divers tend to drive to their dive-sites in over-huge sports-utility vehicles suitable for invading a country, this weight is of no consequence to them, but I was forced to eschew this item when packing to travel to Indonesia. I had to wait until I was set to do some quarry-diving here in the UK.

Comfort and Fit
The continuous harness must be adjusted to fit the user and, once adjusted, it’s quite difficult to alter. A harness without any breaks might mean no possible failure points, but it does mean a lot of fiddling about to get it rigged precisely the way you want it, and stainless-steel H-clips keep it that way.
If you shift between drysuit and wetsuit, as I often do, it means more fiddling to get it right.
I would also have appreciated a shoulder-buckle to help me get out of it when ready, but I managed to pull the set over my head.
This said, once it was adjusted it fitted very snugly, with no possibility of the tank sliding about on my back.
Of course (dare I say it) there’s the option for a harness with buckles.

In the Water
Because its buoyancy cell is doughnut-shaped, when using the Dolphin Tech with a wetsuit air was free to move either way to the highest point. This was immediately behind my shoulders when horizontal, but head-up and looking where I was going.
With the smallest (14kg) buoyancy cell, there was no tendency to flap.
The direct-feed control at the business end of the corrugated hose appears to be robustly made, combining stainless-steel with plastic.
During an ascent I found that I needed to stay horizontal to grab that toggle on the bottom dump. Raising my bottom slightly, I was then able to jettison air as required.
Of course, with a single tank and a drysuit I used the Dolphin Tech only as surface support, because keeping the drysuit at constant volume also kept it at constant buoyancy.
If this wing-style BC meets your requirements it seems to be as good as any similar products, and is certainly as well made.
If you prefer a different harness, backplate or buoyancy cell, there’s a spec to suit you.

COMPARABLE BCS TO CONSIDER:
Halcyon Eclipse, £555
Scubapro X-Tek, £410

SPECS
PRICE £430
WEIGHT 3.85kg
INTEGRATED WEIGHTS Yes
MAX. LIFT 14kg (larger cells available)
BACKPLATE Aluminium (stainless-steel optional)
SINGLE-TANK ADAPTOR Stainless steel
CONTACT www.sea-sea.com
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