As a sidemount instructor here at Team Blue Immersion and Dahab Divers Technical I have been lucky to try pretty much every sidemount unit on the market. Each of them has their own advantages but even more disadvantages…until now. Hollis has obviously done their research and without a doubt listened to the divers when designing the new SM50. The team has always been very happy with the SMS100, which – in our opinion – is the nicest and most versatile sidemount unit on the market. With the arrival of the SM50 Hollis has outdone itself again…
Sidemount is continuing to grow, evident by the constant courses (both recretional and trchncial) started almost daily here at Dahab Divers Technical. The idea of it interests people and once they see it almost certainly need to see what all the talk is about. Personally, the arrival of the new SM50 was much anticipated as a sidemount enthusiast and instructor here in Dahab. The sidemount commmunity has been talking about the SM50 for months now, eagerly awaiting its world wide release. I had to fight to be the first to dive the unit. Robert (review #1) put up a valiant fight, with little success. I had waited months to even see the new unit and was only hours away from being one of the first in the world to test the currently still unreleased model.
Most system on the market today were similar to each other, with only minor differences. The SM50 comes pre-assembled, with only minor changes required for personal preference. I replaced the standard bungee with a continuous thinner SM bungee which is better suited to attach the top of the aluminum tanks with opposite valves that we use here at Team Blue Immersion. Additional clips were added to account for the tanks’ buoyancy change and hence to ensure that the tanks sit streamlined throughout the dive. Only minor alterations need to be made to fit the size and shape of individual divers.
The SM50 has broken new ground regarding design, minimizing drag for a profile not offered by other units. When it’s on your back, you honestly can’t feel a thing. The configuration of the LPI is perfectly in conjunction with a 5th port first stage setup and the dump valve is positioned perfectly on the back of the unit, allowing for easy buoyancy control. The wing wraps tightly over the interior structure of the unit and remains ‘fitted’ to the diver, unlike other systems such as the Razor or Equis, which tend to be bulkier and ‘loose’ when inflated at depth. The weight pocket located on the top of the unit makes trim pretty automatic and balance underwater is unmatched by any other unit available. It looks just as good as it is to dive on, and for myself, there is not really a going back to any other sidemount-only unit on the market.
Robert was the student i mentioned in the intro to the new Hollis SM50 blog who actually delayed completing his course so he would be one of the very few to dive on the new unit. Robert is an experienced instructor from Germany and was a sidemount enthusiast before ever even trying it. I started the course with my initial lecture on the benefits of sidemount diving, different units, and equipment configuration. It started with “what do you know about sidemounts..?” He pretty much replied with an answer that comprised a substantial majority of my initial lecture regarding why sidemounts and varying units available. He had done his recreach. His reaction upon arrival to Dahab that in a couple days we would have the Hollis SM50 was entertaining. Our anticipation was equel. It took day after his arrival to convince him that he wasn’t going to be the first person to dive the unit. He was the second…
“As probably the first student in the world I was lucky enough to dive the Hollis SMS50 on my final
dive during my sidemount instructor course with Team Blue Immersion in Dahab/Eypt.
The SMS50 is an incredible unit to dive with. While wearing it on land before and after the dive you don’t feel pretty much nothing on your back. As soon as you are in the water and starting to gear up you will feel the
massive improvements in configuration. The big difference is felt when you dive on it. Right from the start you are pretty much in proper trim postion and balanced. Nothing is dangling around. I am a photographer and its asolutely a MUST-HAVE for any underwater photographer and/or videographer. Taking pictures/footages never has been so comfortable.
If you are in Germany or plan a dive trip just drop me an email and come for
a sidemount dive on the Hollis SMS50 in one of our nice lakes around Leipzig
(as soon it is available).
The long awaited arrival of the Hollis SM50 finally came to an end with some help from Hollis and AquaZone here in Egypt. Still currently unreleased with only a few test models existing in the world, Team Blue Immersion was honored to be one of the first teams chosen to test the new sleek unit. Scuba forums and sidemount clubs worldwide have been talking about the release for months now, as Hollis has seemingly taken over the sidemount market. The SMS 100 (the multipurpose unit and big brother to the SM50) has been a pleasure to teach and dive on, with its diversity for caves, technical sidemount, and recreational sidemount second to none.
The SM50 is the new, sleeker, and more streamlined ‘sidemount only’ unit released by Hollis. Unlike its predecessor, it is designed strictly for sidemount diving and not capable of supporting a twin set or extra tanks for technical sidemount diving. The new design and low profile of the wing and harness makes for an INCREDIBLY comfortable, streamlined, and easy to use unit underwater.
Its anticipation was seen immediately. Our team was at the shop at 7am (early for us) to get in the water early for the initial test dives. Sidemount enthusiast drove 1.5 hours to see the unit, students are ‘fighting’ over who gets to us it next, and one student even postponed his course a few days to ensure he was taught on the new SM50.
Over the next 3-4 weeks Team Blue Immersion FX is going to be making a SM50 promotional video for Hollis, showcasing the amazing new SM50. Thistlegorn wreck, Snake Cave, Canyons, and Bells as perfect locations to demonstrate the many benefits that the new SM unit provdes. Stay tuned for daily updates on courses and diver reviews of the UNREAL new Hollis SM50.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we are…
Team Blue Immersion