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BCMares Vector 1000
WHO BUYS A MARES VECTOR 1000 I guess its the sort of person who buys a BMW 3 series for domestic duties when a Ford Focus would do the job equally well. Its a very conventional BC but it exudes the look of something quite expensive, and looks arent always deceiving!
     I get confused with the names of Mares BCs. So many of them are called Vector-something. The men at Mares also love acronyms. This BC has QAS, BPS, SAHS, and I even opted for MRS.
     Now, Im not a lover of acronyms. Not since I was a youth and wondered what IRS stood for on the boot-lid of a Triumph car. I was amazed to find that it stood for Independent Rear Suspension! It begs the question, does the CL on the back of some Mercedes stand for Cigarette Lighter
     Acronyms are usually used to make something quite mundane sound technical and more interesting.
     So QAS refers to the system that allows you to adjust the BC camband and strap to fit you quickly. Assuming that you bought your BC so that you could have it all to yourself, Im not sure why it needs to be quick, but with GI diets replacing the Atkins diet as this years fad, I suppose peoples waistlines are going to be all over the place.
     If youre using your BC in conjunction with a thin wetsuit, you may find you need the cushion often supplied to go between you and the backpack. Mares doesnt supply a mere cushion. Its a BPS, or Back Protection System. This is an ergonomically designed set of cushions and they do make the feeling of a tank on your back more acceptable. They also give it the Carrera cockpit look, finished as they are in black and red.
     The Vector 1000 is the only BC in this years Mares catalogue with SAHS. I needed to make a phone call to find out what that meant - Self Adjusting Harness System, I was told!
     Its the self-positioning harness developed for improved contouring of the BC to a womans body. Well, no wonder I didnt know. It provides a couple of rings placed inside the shoulder straps and angled in such a way that the straps take on the most natural position on the divers chest ensuring an excellent fit (I cheated with that last bit and copied it from the Mares publicity material.)
     MRS has nothing to do with going into an NHS hospital for an operation on an in-growing toenail and coming out in a body-bag. Thats MRSA. The Mares Release System is used for the integrated-weight pockets, retained by a stud-and-clip arrangement.
     It was one of the first integrated-weight systems to provide a secure method for holding the weight-pockets in place - provided you installed them correctly. It is an optional extra and I heartily recommend paying up. It would be like buying that 3-series BMW without a sunroof, otherwise.

Coping with the weight
So off I went for a trip on mv Tiger Lily in the Red Sea to find out if there were any snags to using the Mares Vector 1000.
     I used it with a single 15 litre aluminium tank and there was more than adequate surface buoyancy to pop me comfortably upright with my mouth well above the water. For those who use twins, it can easily be mated to a Scubapro twin-tank adaptor.
     The significance of the tank was that, combined with the 7mm wetsuit, undersuit and 7mm over-jacket and hood I had to use to combat the effects of chilly January water temperatures, I had to use a great deal of lead. It amounted to a massive 12kg.
     However, the MRS integrated weight-system combined with the trim-weight pockets accommodated all of it securely and without fuss, and I never endured any back-breaking effects caused by the upper buoyancy of the BC pulling against the lower heaviness of the weights. I was always comfortable.
     Just to be sure, I then took the BC to the Caribbean to use it with a small steel cylinder and a skinny 3mm wetsuit. In that case I used less than 5kg of lead but, of course, I was in much closer contact with the BC. Again, I was perfectly comfortable. There was none of that saddlebag effect I have noticed with some other BCs that use integrated weights.
     In both cases, I was able to wear it and forget it. It operated perfectly, dumping air cleanly and without fuss during ascents and giving plenty of surface support. You can dump by pulling either on the corrugated hose or the toggle-equipped dump-valve at the other shoulder.
     During quick head-down descents, the third and lower dump-valve toggle easily came to hand for jettisoning the last remnants of air that might have been present within the buoyancy-cell.
     The zipped pockets were useful, too. Always keen to be a neat diver and not dangle anything over the reef, I stowed my high-pressure gauge away in one pocket, and, horrors on horrors, I stuffed the business-end of my octopus-rig in the other.
     The weight-pouches are quick and easy to re-install securely after pulling them out prior to climbing into a small pick-up boat. And the BC proved easy to unbuckle and slip out of in the water in order to pass it up to the boat driver.
     The Vector 1000 was an unmitigated success. It is the sort of thing you might resist paying the extra for at the time but never regret buying. As for cars, I sometimes wish my wife had a Ford Focus instead of the BMW. It would cost a lot less to repair each time she dragged it down the side of the garage wall.
The Mares Vector 1000 in sizes S, M, L or XL costs £365. MRS weight-pockets are £27.50 extra.
  • Blandford Sub-Aqua 01923 801572, www.blandfords.co.uk


  • Divernet
    The
    The MRS integrated-weight system is AOK
    The
    The lower dump valve used for head-down descents on the Mares Vector 1000 BC
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    + Excellent design
    + High-quality manufacture


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    - Do you need to spend so much on a conventional BC