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April 2007 Vol. 33, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Lighten Up with Travel BCs

from the April, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Now that airlines are cracking down more on weight allowances, it is harder for divers to avoid paying penalty fees for their gear. One of the heaviest single items of equipment is the BC, but more lightweight travel BCs are hitting the market. Charles Hood, senior correspondent for the British magazine DIVE, recently reviewed them, weighing between four and eight pounds. Here are his reviews for the seven sold in the U.S.

BESEA W40 (scored 10 on a 10-point scale; 5.8 pounds; $585; Made from 600 denier ballistic nylon, it is extremely light and offers a generous 37-pound lift. It was the most comfortable BC of the bunch, fitting like a wraparound backpack, which any shore diver will appreciate. It packs away to a particularly small size when deflated. One unique feature is a carrying handle that allows the BC to be held vertically. There are no pockets and only a few D-rings, but a range of clips and fasteners is available.

Dive Rite Venture Wings (scored 10 out of 10; 6.6 pounds; $775 or $385 for just the wings; www.diverite. com) The Dive Rite wings and harness are pricey but offer all the expected features of a quality technical BC at a relatively light weight. Plenty of D-rings in the right places, and padded backplates and cummerbunds give a snug feel. Single tanks are held in place by two chunky stainless-steel cams, but Hood recommends replacing these with lighter versions to get the weight down more.

Seaquest Passport (scored 10 out of 10; 5.7 pounds; approx. $490; The Passport features a built-in storage bag for transport, which folds into the lower backpad to give lumbar support while diving. It carries up to 20 pounds in weights, but that load reduces the size of the two generous, zippered utility pockets. Four D-rings are enough attachment points for accessories, and two grommets on the left-hand pocket provide room to carry a knife. A “superb” BC for all warm-water destinations.

T-Sport (scored 9 out of 10; 6.1 pounds; approx $470; Scubapro gets the features-versusweight balance right, keeping good features over the superfluous, which makes for a good, all-around travel BC. It offers multiple D-rings, three dump valves, two good-size pockets and easy buckles. One good feature is a stainless-steel cam buckle, which adds weight but is virtually indestructible. The backpack has wide shoulder straps and just enough padding for an easy fit.

Tigullio Searider (scored 8 out of 10; 5.1 pounds; $370; One of the lightest BCs, it initially looks and feels basic but has all the needed features at a reasonable price. The left side has a zipped pocket, the right has a pouch for storing an octopus. It has enough D-rings, but a few need to be larger. It gives a huge amount of lift and security, but lacks padding on the backpack. A good BC for the diver concerned about both budget and weight.

Travelite (scored 8 out of 10; 6 pounds; $665; www. Relatively lightweight for a large wing, the Travelite has a massive 60 pounds of buoyancy. But technical divers will be disappointed that there aren’t more D-rings or attachment points for side-slung tanks, so it is better for shore diving with a twin-set. The nylon backpack is well padded, making shore walks more endurable.

Tusa Passage (scored 9 out of 10; 5.6 pounds; $485; Its 420-denier nylon material is strong but incredibly light. Weight is also reduced by a small but effective power inflator and dump mechanism. Two huge pockets on either side have various D-rings and webbing loops. The lightly padded backpack gives a comfortable fit even for light wetsuits. Hood liked the integrated stabilizing harness that makes the tank comfortable and secure.

A version of this article recently appeared in the British magazine DIVE.

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