The Scubapro Nighthawk has been my go to BCD many years, I purchased it before I started my IDC in 2011 and it has accompanied me for many dives. The Nighthawk was the first back in flat ion BCD that I have owned, and it was responsible for a complete change in my perception of BCD’s. The Nighthawk had many features that I think made it a very great BCD, but over time and with exposure to other brands I began to see some of its shortcomings.
The Good: One of the features that I really enjoyed about the Nighthawk was that all of the straps and fast tech buckles tightened from one side making it easy to synch down everything at the beginning of the dive. It also had a metal cam buckle for the tank strap that if you were consistently diving the same size tank made set up fast and easy. The bladder on this BCD was huge, I had a medium and the lift capacity was 44 lbs. It had a padded neck and plenty of D-rings for accessories. I enjoyed this BC a lot and I found it suitable for cold water diving and warm water diving.
The Bad: There were a few things that I began to realize over time with this BCD that I wish could be a little different. The quick release weight pockets felt overly secure and difficult to remove in an emergency, (obviously I wanted them to be secure, but in training new students on how to remove weights I always had to cheat a bit and actually unclip the buckles instead of just pulling the pockets out). Another issue I ran into was the deflator purge valve getting stuck open on giant stride entries, because it is a little switch that can be manipulated with the hand i could quickly fix it after i was aware of the situation, but not ideal. The auxiliary shoulder dump would often get stuck under the shoulder strap and was rather uncomfortable when it did happen. One of my last gripes with the Nighthawk was that the bladder while large was not well secured, it has elastic lashing around the edges to keep the air distribution even but it is a single piece of elastic for both sides so it also shifts and I found it prone to collecting air on one side. The pockets at the base of the weight pockets are also worthless, hard to fit a pocket mask or anything for that matter and very inconvenient to access during a dive especially in gloves.
Things I’m not sure about: The Scubapro lifetime warranty. When I bought this bcd in 2011 before I started my IDC program one of the selling points was that there was a lifetime warrantee. Over the years with an abundance of use teaching in the pool and ocean the BCD had begun to deteriorate, despite regular washing and rinsing. When one of the velcro pieces broke at the base of the base plate and the pad had begun to swing when I dove, I decided to take advantage of the lifetime warrantee. I jumped through the hoops of finding my receipt 3 years later and sent it in for repair. When the BCD had returned it came with a $25 dollar fee, not huge but shouldn’t the warrantee have covered that, or did I just miss understand the guidelines of a lifetime warrantee.
Overall this bcd served it purpose, but like any piece of equipment its hard to get every feature you want in one. Would I buy another Nighthawk, maybe in the future when the design changes a little, but I believe there are better BCD’s out there at the moment. That are a little less expensive and have more features.