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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Halcyon Contour Sidemount System- A review

I was recently sent a Halcyon Contour Sidemount System to trial here in Cyprus and although I didn't really know what to expect from it (there is a lot of info on the Internet but all seems to be the PR pitch from Halcyon themselves), knowing the quality and expertise that goes into the development of other Halcyon Products, I was very excited.

The box arrived and, like a child at Christmas, I delved in to find my new toy!
sidemoutn instructor wears the halcyon contour system

50lbs of buoyancy

At first glance it looked very big and bulky. With 50lbs of buoyancy, it might be a bit big for warm water diving with aluminium cylinders but with drysuits, steel cylinders and stages, 50lbs might be needed...

As a shorter guy, the size did concern me somewhat but, once in the water the whole system seemed to mould to my body and I have to say, was one of the most comfortable sidemount system I have had the pleasure of diving with.

Easy to set up

The system is pretty much usable straight out of the box. We currently use the Razor System here at Scuba Tech Diving Centre and I have taught students that have brought their own systems including the X-Deep and the one thing that drives me crazy with them is the time it takes to adjust the system for the student. An extra half day is required just for the initial set up.

Halcyon's Contour System is different. Aside from the usual harness and crotch straps that need adjustment, the system is pretty much ready to go and you can be in the water in about 40 minutes. This is a real bonus for teaching and if you change regularly from wetsuits to drysuits etc.

Equally, as opposed to the complex weight distribution systems of other sidemount systems, the Contour has simple weight pockets that can be mounted to the top or bottom of the contour depending on your preference. Not sure what weight you will need? No problem, do a weight check at the site and have a buddy pop the correct weights into the pockets for you!!!

Comfort and Stability

rear view of contour in the water
This was the most comfortable Sidemount System I have used. The padded backplate and straps sit well  and the wing design lowers your centre of gravity to counteract the lower Sidemount Cylinders, which makes the whole thing very stable and trims you out remarkably well.

I particularly like the OPV on the shoulder. I know many avid Sidemounters may be shocked at this but I like to be able to quick release gas from top or bottom of the system depending on my orientation. Inside a wreck or other confined space, I might not be able to get my bum up high enough to release the air from the bladder, so an extra option is a bonus.

Extras

I have been diving with the contour for about a week now and so far, there is nothing I haven't been able to do with it. 

There are D-Rings on the waist for diving aluminium cylinders, extra D-Rings on the back for mounting light canisters etc and I think the rails will definitely come into their own when I move back to cold water Sidemount Diving and using steel cylinders.

Conclusion

So, and this is just my opinion, I think this Sidemount System is definitely one to watch out for. I like my diving to be easy and comfortable and this certainly fits the bill while being fully functional too.

What more can a diver ask.... except, CAN I KEEP IT?

diving the halcyon contour system