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Light and Compact BCDs Developed For Travelers

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Light and Compact BCDs Developed For Travelers

The Aqualuang Zuma is a great lightweight travel BCD with some unique features.

Reproduced with permission of Aqualung

The buoyancy compensator (BCD) is the bulkiest, and sometimes the heaviest, piece of scuba diving equipment. As airlines lower luggage weight limits, divers are faced with skyrocketing baggage fees. Many dive equipment manufacturers have created lightweight and compact travel BCDs to make dive travel easier. This review profiles three great, travel-friendly BCDs: the Aqualung Zuma, the Cressi Travel Light, and the Seacsub Airone.

• Aqualung Zuma

•BCD Dry Weight (large size): 4.4 pounds
•Inflation Style: back inflation
•Integrated Weight System: yes
•Price: $395 (according to the Aqualung website)

What Makes This Travel BCD Easy to Pack?
The Aqualung Zuma roles up and fastens with a Velcro strap for easy packing. With specially designed low-profile deflation valves, this BCD also lays almost flat inside a suitcase.

Why Is This Travel BCD Good for Diving?
The Zuma is a back-inflation style BCD. This reduces compression on the chest, both on the surface and underwater. With an easy-to-use integrated weight system and highly adjustable padded straps, this BCD will adjust to comfortably fit almost any diver.

What Does This BCD Have That Other Travel BCDs Might Not Have?
The chest strap of the Aqualung Zuma moves up and down into any position. This is a great feature for drysuit divers who may want to move the chest strap away from the drysuit inflation valve, and for any diver who feels choked using standard BCD chest straps.

Anything I Might Find Annoying?
The Zuma has been streamlined to reduce weight and bulk. There are no d-rings on the shoulder straps of the BCD, and only four small d-rings above and on the side of the integrated weight pockets. This BCD has only one fold down accessory pocket. Divers who plan on bringing many accessories underwater, or who are accustomed to using shoulder harness d-rings, may feel the lack of storage potential on this BCD.

• Cressi Travel Light

•BCD Dry Weight (large size): 5.7 pounds
•Inflation Style: vest
•Integrated Weight System: yes
•Price: $444 (MSRP)

What Makes This Travel BCD Easy to Pack?
The Cress can be folded up and fastened with an integrated Velcro fastener so that it rolls up tightly.

Why Is This Travel BCD Good for Diving?
Easy to manage interated weight pockets click securely into the sides of the BCD. The Travel Light comes with trim weight pockets on the back of the vest, which allows divers to comfortably distribute weights for a better position in the water. Strategically placed metal alloy d-rings and storage pockets make it easy for divers to bring accessories along for the dive.

What Does This Travel BCD Have That Other BCDs Might Not Have?
The rear deflation valve on the Cressi Travel Light is interesting in that the pull string for the dump has been moved forward to hang in front of the diver's cummerbund. This eliminates the need for divers to reach behind them to use the rear deflation valve.

Anything I Might Find Annoying?
The Travel Light is a fairly standard vest-style BCD that has been streamlined to reduce weight and bulk. Most divers will find it intuitive to use. The non-standard position of the rear deflation valve may be a positive attribute or not, depending upon the diver.

• Seacsub Airone

•BCD Dry Weight (large size): 4.96 pounds
•Inflation Style: vest
•Integrated Weight System: no
•Price: $485 (msrp)

What Makes This Travel BCD Easy to Pack?
The Seacsub Airone can be folded up and stored in a customized zip-up carrying bag.

Why Is This Trvel BCD Good for Diving?
The Airone does not have an integrated weight system, and is designed for divers to use weight belts. Trim weight pockets are located on the back of the BCD, permitting divers to move a portion of their weight off the belt. Some divers find this helps their swimming positon. This is a relatively basic BCD, and all air release valves and pulls, straps, d-rings, and pockets are in more-or-less standard places. With little or no instruction, most certified divers will find this BCD easy to strap on and go.

What Does This Travel BCD Have That Other BCDs Might Not Have?
The chest strap on the Seacsub Airone adjusts to two different postions. This is useful for drysuit divers who may want to move the chest strap out of the way of the drysuit inflation valve. Many divers will enjoy the fact that they can position the chest strap to maximize comfort.

Anything I Might Find Annoying?
While the d-rings on the Airone are well-positioned, they are plastic, and may not last as long as some metal d-rings.

Travel BCDs at a Glance

PRICE LARGE BCD WEIGHT INFLATION STYLE INTEGRATED WEIGHTS? TRIM WEIGHT POCKETS?
AQUALAUNG ZUMA $395 4.4 lbs back/ rear yes no
CRESSI TRAVEL LIGHT $444 5.7 lbs vest yes yes
SEACSUB AIRONE $485 4.96lbs vest no yes
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