BCApollo TAS Lift
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Were all kit junkies, whether were hooked on computers, consumer goods, cars or sound systems. Its not surprising that its the same with diving equipment.
     I often see people diving from Red Sea liveaboards equipped to do a technical dive on a Channel wreck, when in fact all theyre going to do is bimble round a 20m deep reef. But theyve bought the kit, so who can blame them for wanting to use it Im one of the worst, but enough kit is enough.
     Im often seen going in with independent twins with two regulators, and with four or five computers on my arm. Luckily, no one sees me changing masks during the dive. Then again, I have to do that to compare diving kit for these pages, and often a direct comparison is the only way to make a sensible judgment.
     How I long for those days when I dived with the minimum kit needed for the conditions - which is why I welcomed the arrival of the Apollo TAS Lift BC with relish. It promised to be a minimal wing-style BC.
     Last time I wrote about a BC like this, I said that less was more. Unfortunately the kit-buying public want more and more, not less, so that product found few takers and was soon discontinued, despite my enthusiasm for it. I hope the same thing doesnt happen again.
     The TAS Lift is a simple little doughnut wing with an
     adjustable webbing harness and an upper and lower dump. It is not as light as I expected, weighing in at around 2.5kg. However, a kilo of that is the weight of the heavy duty, stainless-steel, weightbelt-type buckle, and the unique but very heavy spring-loaded Apollo Bio tank-lock on the camband.
     This second promises 100kg of tightening torque, so you should never find your tank drop out during a dive (see test below). You could make the unit lighter for air travel by simply substituting a conventional plastic and webbing tank camband and an ordinary plastic weightbelt buckle.
     The TAS Lift may give only a maximum buoyancy of 6.5kg
     but you shouldnt need more buoyancy than you have weight on your belt, so this will suit those who dive in 3mm wetsuits. In fact, it encourages the diver to get the weight right in the first place.
     I used it at the surface in big Indian Ocean swells and found that it gave me adequate surface support with a 15 litre steel tank, but at the same time I realise that there are some who expect to find their shoulders out of the water when their BC is fully inflated at the surface. It certainly doesnt do that!
     The Apollo TAS Lift has a conventional corrugated hose and direct feed, and this is topped with an over-pressure relief valve. You dump air by either pulling on the short cord to the rear bottom dump (unusually on the left side) or the long cord that is threaded to the front of the harness through a flexible plastic conduit to an upper dump-valve at the right side.
     As the designer went to all that trouble, I was left wondering why the upper dump valve was not positioned in the centre of the buoyancy bag, where it would naturally be at the highest point during an ascent. That said, it worked without any problem whatsoever.
     The advantage of a small wing is that the air stays in one place, providing fantastic stability under water, which is perfect for photographers. I did some very fast negative-buoyancy entries in order not to miss the site, such were the currents in which I was diving. The BC proved ideal for this.
     The shoulder straps have thick rubber pads where they take the load during topside manoeuvres, and two large pinch-clips make slipping out of the harness once back at the boat very slick indeed.

Innovative surprises
There are two stainless-steel D-rings, and I found it very easy to thread a pocket, for example from my Buddy Trident, onto the webbing. I used this for my current-hook and my camera dome-port cap. The plastic backpack with its positively designed handle is the sort of thing that would make a Buddy BC-owner feel at home.
     Apollo kit is always full of innovative surprises, and the weightbelt buckle on the waist strap is a case in point. Do it up as tight as you can, and a built-in spring-loaded device takes up the slack as your wetsuit gets compressed on going deeper. It made me think that perhaps I would put up with all that weight after all.
     People observed that I was a true Alpinist when they saw me preparing to dive. Alpinists are those mountaineers who do not weigh themselves down with unnecessary kit.
     You certainly want to avoid being over-weighted, so that every ounce of lift is doing its job efficiently. Some drysuit divers might find the TAS Lift attractive too, especially those accustomed to using their suits for buoyancy control and diving with a backpack and harness, and with no additional buoyancy whatsoever.
The Apollo TAS Lift BC comes in a one-size-fits-all harness and costs£300.
  • CJ Evans International 01258 451269,

  • Pull
    Pull cord threaded through to the upper dump valve
    Why is the valve not in the centre of the bag
    This wing is attractively compact, though not light
    + For the true Alpinist diver

    - Weighs more than expected
    - Minimum surface support