Gear Check Buoyancy
Welcome to the Gear Locker. After you peruse earlier reviews click the highlighted text to:
Return to Gear Check        Contact Bob        Sterner Editorial Home        See Where's Bob
Fly with a Pterodactyl  May 2007
Exploration divers can streamline their kits with a Pterodactyl backplate system from Critical Aspect Inc. The marine-grade brushed
stainless steel backplate provides a solid foundation for mounting singles or doubles to recessed holes that keep mounting hardware from
digging into the diver’s back. Heavy duty straps adjust to fit the plate snuggly to the body and at angles that preclude the need for a chest
strap to prevent slippage. D-rings welded at an angle on the backplate complement adjustable rings on the straps that can lock into place to
hold side-mount bottles at exactly where a diver wants to position them with no chance of slippage. Additional rings can hold lights, reels
and other gear. A lifetime warranty covers stainless steel parts.
Click To Enlarge
BC for the goddess  April 2007
After saving the gods of Olympus from ruin doesn’t Hera deserve a buoyancy compensator designed for a woman when she goes diving?
Designers at Oceanic thought so when they came up with the HERA BC, which is contoured for the female form instead of being simply a
man’s vest scaled down. The company’s patented Custom Fit Harness allows the BC to be further tailored to an individual’s body. The
hybrid bladder wraps around the torso for a comfortable vest-style fit. Up to 20 pounds of weight can be carried in side pockets and can be
easily dumped if necessary with the Quick Lock & Release system. Additional rear weight pockets improve stability and trim underwater.
The HERA BC is available in four sizes from XS to LG and in colors that can coordinate with those of protection suits, fins and masks.
Learn more at
Weight a minute before dive  October 2006
Aqua Lung’s new XLT buoyancy compensator incorporates the weighting system of its Sea Quest line that allows divers to put on their
weights after gearing up and ditch them if necessary. Large BCs can hold 16 pounds and smaller ones 10 pounds in two front weight
pockets. Two back pockets of non-ditchable weight improve trim. Tough Armorshield Cordura bladders have lift capacities ranging from
26 pounds for extra-small BCs to 60 pounds for extra-large ones. The bladders can be dumped through a valve on the right shoulder as
well as with inflator-hose controls. A chest strap holds the vest firmly in place while diving and a carrying handle molded into backpack
eases carrying it to the dive site. The integrated tranction pad prevents tank slippage. Two zippered pockets hold accessories, and
grommets are in place for mounting a dive knife. BCs are available in red and black or black, gray and silver at shops that carry Aqua Lung
and Sea Quest lines. Learn more at
(S)He loves diving  January 2006
Mares is continuing to cater to divers by gender with three new buoyancy compensator vests. Men now have a choice of Dragon Airtrim
and Ergo vests while women can suit up with the new Kaila vest. The Dragon large size has 44 pounds of lift and the Kaila large has 41
pounds of lift. All are streamlined for fit and maximum comfort and incorporate Mares’s new MRS Plus weight release system. A patented
Back Protection System has a two-position lumbar pad that can increase lumbar support or extend downward for increased padding length.
Dual adjustable shoulder straps, neoprene padded collar and plush interior lining make the vests highly adjustable and increase comfort for
divers of all sizes. The vests will be available soon at your nearest Mares dealer. Learn more at
Versatile vest  December 2005
Seasoft has a buoyancy compensator vest that looks to be as comfortable as the protection suits, gloves, hoods and booties that it is known
for. The Seashorse BC is so adjustable that one size fits all, a handy feature for rental programs. It’s handy for traveling divers too,
weighing only 7 pounds but delivering 42 pounds of lift. The air cells put most of the lift near the bottom of the BC, easing keeping your
head well above water after the dive. A Triple-Point Mounting System holds the tank firmly with a valve safety strap and two stainless steel
holdfasts. Two integrated weight pockets hold up to 30 pounds of soft weights on either side of the tank, and can be emptied with a quick
tug on a ripcord above the right shoulder. A crotch strap can be used or removed, and adjustable chest straps minimize drag. Multiple
stainless steel D-rings are handy for clipping on accessories. Learn more at
Splash in a dash  December 2005
Zeagle is well-known to sport divers, from holiday travelers to serious explorers. It now is venturing into the rescue diving realm with its
new Rapid Diver scuba system. The all-inclusive system mates a front-mounted 20-cubic-foot tank with an Envoy regulator and a
high-pressure gauge into a one-size-fits-all load bearing harness and buoyancy vest that delivers 27 pounds of lift. The whole package
weighs just 15 pounds and stores in a compact pouch that can be stowed easily in a car or boat. It can go from duffel to diving in 15
seconds and is intended for use at moderate depths at accident scenes where time is crucial in dealing with emergencies.
Learn more at
In-'vest' in comfort  September 2007
When Sea Quest put its designers to work making a buoyancy compensator more ergonomic, the team came up with the Pro QD i3 vest.
Although it has an oral inflator for emergencies, the i3 version features a lever to inflate or dump air near where the left hand hangs at the
bottom of the vest. Flat valves for dumping air make the vest more hydrodynamic, and they’re equipped with one-way valves to keep
water from flushing into the vest. The octopus tucks into a pocket, further enhancing the hydrodynamic design. Ditchable integrated
weights are held in twin pockets of 10 pounds apiece in sizes XS-XL and 16 pounds apiece in sizes L-XXL. Two non-ditchable weight
pockets can add overall weight and improve trim in the water. A three-dimensional expanding gusset around the backpack provides
increased lift capacity for the bladders, which provide 26 to 64 pounds of lift depending on the size. Armorshield Cordura protects the
bladders. Sculpted shoulders improve comfort and a handle is molded into the backplate to ease carrying the vest on land. A traction pad
lessens tank slippage. There are six D-rings to hold clip-on gadgets and grommets are in place to mount a knife. Vests are available in
black/red and black/silver designs.
Pegasus rises from Mares July 2008
Northern divers looking for a lightweight buoyancy compensator to keep packing weight down when they head for warm-water resorts
this winter might consider the Pegasus from Mares. Although it weighs only 7 pounds, 7 ounces, the BC has a 45-pound lift capacity in its
back-mounted bladder, which vents through two dump valves at the top and bottom of the vest's right side. Mares says its integrated MRS
Plus weight-release system holds up to 26 pounds of weight securely, but they can be ditched with quick tugs on  bright-red,
front-mounted handles. Pre-shaped shoulder straps and dual position chest straps can help to customize the fit to individual divers, and the
BCs are shipped with removable double crotch straps. Grommets are in place to attach a knife. Lights and other gear can be clipped to two
polymer D-rings. Hoses clips can help keep computer consoles from banging on the reef during dives. Zippered rollup pockets flanking the
vest outside of the integrated weight system may be accessible before and after a dive. Pegasus BCs are available in XS through XL sizes.
Give hose some thought May 2009
TUSA put some thought into redesigning the buoyancy compensator inflator / deflator hose to come up with its new Active Purge Assist
system. The APA couples a pneumatically assisted purge function with a newly designed over-pressure exhaust valve. The result is said to
be provide more immediate results when adding air to a BC or venting it. A can be dumped in three ways: via the APA system, a tug on the
hose or through the oral inflator fitting. The hose and fittings are hydro-dynamically designed to reduce drag in the water. It can be worn in
a traditional over-the-shoulder manner or slung under the left shoulder to further streamline a diver in the water. The hose is designed to be
low maintenance to reduce the chances of inflator malfunction. TUSA is offering the hose as an option on its BCs as well as individually to
replace existing hoses on standard BCs.
Zuma through airports September 2009
Travel divers facing ever tougher baggage requirements at airports have a lighter-weight option in Aqua Lung's new Zuma buoyancy
compensator. The BC weighs less than 5 pounds, and can be rolled up and put in a carryon bag. Yet has a SureLock II ditchable integrated
weight system capable of holding up to 20 pounds. Back-mounted air cells protected with durable 200 D nylon can provide from 90 to 150
pounds of lift, depending on the size. Three dump valves ease emptying air from the bladder from any position. Aqua Lung trimmed the
weight by eliminating the hard backpack common to many BCs. Instead, it has a support system that Aqua Lung says distributes the tank
weight evenly on the sculpted shoulder, spine and lumbar pads while keeping the tank close to the body. Grommets to accommodate a
knife sheath and four D-rings are provided to attach accessories. Vests are available in two colors: palm green / charcoal and ocean blue /
charcoal and in four sizes from XXS to XXL.
Aqua Lung Zuma
Dive a compact BC January 2010
Mini-B takes a new approach to streamlining dive gear with its all-in-one buoyancy vest and regulator kit. Unlike most vests, the Mini-B
mounts the scuba tank horizontally instead of vertically on the back, which it asserts is easier the back. Models are available in six sizes to
hold cylinders from 11 to 74 cubic feet of compressed air, enough for shallow excursions or short dives to deeper depths. Regulator and
gauge hoses tuck away in a back-mounted rucksack that also contains the bladder and power inflator for buoyancy compensation. The unit
is fitted with internal pockets for trim weights. Between uses all gear can stowed in the pack to ease storage and transportation. All
components are mounted to backboard with a one-size-fits-all harness system. The company is offering a course in “micro diving” to
acquaint consumers with its product.