BC Mares Vector Chrome

BCs come and BCs go but some seem to stay forever. At least, some names do, even if the manufacturer does improve the product by stealth year by year, without making any fanfares or grand announcements. If an owner of an original Mares Vector Chrome were to pick up the 2004 version, I bet he would hardly recognise it as the same thing.
  For a start, the BC now has MRS, QAS and BPS!
  Yes, I know, but scuba-diving equipment manufacturers all love these indecipherable abbreviations. MRS stands for the mechanical release system of Mares patented integrated-weight pouches. QAS stands for the quick adjustment system of the waistband harness. BPS stands for the back protection system, or cushion, that goes between the hard backpack and the diver, and BC stands forÉ well, never mind.
  Despite poking fun at its name, I like the Mares integrated-weight system enormously. The weight pouches are slotted in on a track and each is retained by a spring-loaded clip that engages with a fixed stud.
  I would have said that theres no danger of dropping a loaded pouch unless you want to do so. However, overloading them with 5.5kg each, as I had to do while diving in a heavyweight semi-dry suit and floaty aluminium tank in a wintry Red Sea, I tended to pop them free from their retaining studs during bumpy Zodiac rides. On two occasions I started my dives with a hard-swimming descent to 20m to pick up a wayward weight-pouch.
  This MRS system is an optional extra, but despite these tribulations I would still heartily recommend it. The difference in comfort between using this and a weightbelt is amazing and there is none of that feeling of swimming with heavily loaded saddle-bags, because the weights are securely stowed and are kept tucked into the divers horizontal body.
  The QAS allows you to adjust the length of the cummerbund easily to suit your fit. Each side simply passes through a slot in the side of the backpack and doubles back on itself to be held in place by a large slab of Velcro. The BPS cushion does not drink water when submerged and it too is attached to that shaped backpack by small tabs of Velcro. The pockets are usefully roomy and have large-gauge zips. Five large stainless-steel D-rings and two smaller ones are strategically placed.
  There are three dump-valves, one at each shoulder and one at the lower back. The one on the right shoulder is operated by a pull-cord that is threaded down through the shoulder-facing to a toggle quite low down at the front. I found it very convenient to use this, and tucked the corrugated hose out of the way under the sternum strap. This valve, together with the one at the lower back, serves as an over-expansion valve too.
  The other shoulder-dump is operated by pulling on the corrugated hose, and this has the usual Mares Ergo direct-feed inflator at the free end. In either event, there is never any need to raise the hose to dump air and let water back in the other way, so the BC stayed uncannily dry inside during my 15 or so dives with it.
  The material used is a heavyweight-thread Cordura 1000 material on the outside and a softer 420 denier nylon on the inner surfaces. The BC is quite slim-fitting. It leaves you feeling sleek in the water, and there is nothing to flap, but this is at the expense of maximum lift.
  I estimate that there is only about 12.5kg in the medium-size version but, as a rule of thumb, for single-tank diving you should not need more lift than there is weight on your belt or in your integrated-weight system, so that will do for me. Remember, that part of a BC that is above the water while a diver is at the surface contributes nothing towards lift at that time.
I enjoyed using the Mares Vector Chrome. Under water, it became part of me. It is available in sizes S, M, L and XL and costs £289.

  • Blandford Sub-Aqua 01923 801573, www.blandfordsubaqua.co.uk

  • Divernet
    + Good solid performer

    - Dont overload the weight-pouches