Scubapro Knighthawk BC Review

PIC_0075The Scubapro Knighthawk 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 Knighthawk 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 Knighthawk 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 Knighthawk 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 knighthawk-300x300an 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 Knighthawk 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 Knighthawk, 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.

The Knighthawk bcd is to be discontinued, scubapro is currently in the process of phasing out the nighthawk and plans to replace it with the Seahawk bcd.  The Seahawk has many similar features of the nighthawk but also has larger pockets for storage.


The Art of Kayak Diving

Kayak diving to many divers is an unknown term.  For most divers there are only two types of diving shore and boat, but there is a new type of diving that provides the benefits of both in one great package.  My introduction to kayak diving began with my employment at Adventure Sports Unlimited in Santa Cruz.  With the California coast being renowned for its amazing kelp diving there is a small issue of access.  A majority of the best diving is right off the shore which is accessible for divers willing to swim out but would require lengthy swims.  Of course boats can also access these IMG_0499locations but they require long motors to many of them that require calm conditions to make it around point pinos.  Kayaks solve both of these problems they are easily transported to the nearest beach, and allow for easy transport from the beach to the site.  Some might wonder what to do with all of the equipment and when do you put it on?  The kayaks used by Adventure Sports Unlimited are sit on top kayaks and are specially outfitted with extra straps to accommodate all the equipment.  All the diver has to wear is his or her wet/dry suit and booties, everything else is attached to the kayak in case of capsizing.  Currently Adventure Sports Unlimited is the only shop using kayaks as a vehicle on the central coast and as far as I am aware in California as well.  they provide a safe transport to dive sites where a person does not have to worry about the treacherous entry and exit, or the fatigue of swimming to sites that are farther from shore.  Being able to move so far offshore gives the convenience of a dive boat without the cost and hassle.  Like diving, using a kayak to dive has a steep learning curve, balance can be an issue at times as well as seasickness.  The hardest part of Kayak diving is the timing of the entries and exits, if poorly timed a kayak diver can fill equipment with sand, or lose equipment if not properly attached.  But like diving everything improves with time, IMG_0501within the last 3 years i have managed to do over 300 dives off of kayaks and I now refuse to do a shore dive without one.  I can get out to my site much faster and with less effort, and increase my dive time by starting my dive exactly where I want to instead of descending and waisting air getting to it when I am to tired of fighting with the kelp.  I hope one day that Kayak diving is more mainstream, it is fuel efficient and promotes exploring for new sites, but there are limitations that need to be addressed.  Here in Monterey and Carmel we tie our kayaks off to the kelp, many places worldwide do not have that option, so an anchor would be best suited, but what about damaging the seafloor with anchors, set up moorings.  As a final word on kayak diving they are a wonderful vehicle to access the Carmel and Monterey Bays, and I hope some time soon they will become a new standard for diving.