New To Market: The FinnSub ‘Fly Side’ Sidemount BCD
- Buoyancy: 35lb / 16kg
- Material: 500 PU Cordura Inner / 2000 Cordura Outer
- Weight: Varies depending on backplate option
- Manual: Not known
- Manufacturers Link: FinnSub
Initial Sidemount Community Reaction
Whilst the FinnSub Fly Side is still undergoing testing and review, it has caused a mixed reaction amongst the online sidemount diving community. The main question being asked is why FinnSub have seemingly reverted to using a solid/metal backplate as the intrinsic harness attachment. Overhead Environment (cave/wreck) divers have cited the dangers of solid-backplates as a significant entrapment risk when passing tight restrictions; the dreaded ‘key-hole’ wedging. There has also been criticism of the location of the top OPV, which overhead environment divers foresee will be subject to risk of extreme abrasion and other damage against ceilings/restrictions.
The ‘Fly Side’ seems to be a retrograde step in sidemount evolution. I’m not sure whether to count it as a ‘pure’ sidemount BCD or as just backplate/wing adapter. If considered an adapter, then it is, perhaps, the most elegant solution on the market currently (albeit not using an existing wing, just the backplate).
However, as a stand-alone sidemount BCD, FinnSub seem to have dispensed with two of sidemount’s most intrinsic benefits; flexibility and freedom, in order to unimaginatively address mundane weighting considerations. As a technical wreck and advanced overhead sidemount instructor, I’d be very wary of attempting extreme restrictions in any sidemount BCD that contained a solid backplate. For that reason, I really don’t see that this rig has much place in sophisticated cave or wreck scenarios.
Another significant benefit to sidemount bcds is their lightness and low-bulk for travel. The Fly Side also abandons that concept and requires divers to lug heavy backplates in their suitcases; along with corresponding excess baggage fees.
The top OPV/Pull-Dump is extremely exposed and, for me personally, would probably be catastrophically damaged on it’s first serious wreck penetration dive. I’ve always believed that OPVs on sidemount BCDs need to be protected by placing them on the underside, or at least, on the sides. I’ve destroyed plenty enough outside-located OPVs to be anything but skeptical about claims they can stand-up to the abuses of serious overhead environment restrictions passage.
In A Nutshell
A Hollis SMS50 on steroids, built around a heavy backplate system that defeats many of the ‘pros’ of sidemount.
“2004 called and wants it’s backplate back”