Appeared in DIVER November 2006

BC Mares Kaila MRS Plus

WHILE VISITING LAS VEGAS a few years ago, for the annual DEMA diving trade show, I struck up a conversation with a young lady in the bar of my hotel. Quite unusual-looking,she had the obviously invented name of Roxy Royce. She gave me her card, and back home I showed it to my wife.
What does 44G-22-32 mean I asked. Is it her zip code
Those are her measurements, you idiot, my wife retorted.
From my extensive knowledge of diving equipment, I had instinctively known that Roxy was not at the DEMA show to find a new BC. I think she might have had trouble getting one that was sufficiently comfortable.
If you think I am making this up, you can take a look at her problem by going to her personal website,
Times change. Today we are seeing a plethora of BCs especially designed with uncluttered fronts for those whose fronts might already be cluttered from day-to-day.
Roxy, now retired from her old job, Im told, was not available to try the Mares Kaila MRS Plus BC, but Mrs B, not thrilled to be thought of as second choice, kindly used it and told me what she thought of it.

WHEN FULLY INFLATED, the Kaila wraps around the diver in a way reminiscent of the Mares Morphos BC. It also has dragon wings as an extension of the buoyancy cell. In this way it gives masses of lift (16.5kg in size S), much of it low down at the front.
Because the buoyancy-cell is separate from the harness, it expands outwards, away from the diver. This equates to armchair comfort while bobbing at the surface with a mouth-height well above the water.
Under water, buoyancy-compensating air goes just where you want it - high at the back and at either side of the tank. And when it comes to dumping air, the alternative top dumps, one operated by pulling on the corrugated hose of the direct-feed and the other by pulling on a cord threaded through the shoulder straps and terminated with a big toggle, are in exactly the right place.
My husband has harassed me so much about not raising the corrugated-hose to dump air on ascent, the way I was taught, that I have finally given up and now use the dump-valves provided, says Mrs B.
On the Kaila they work well, but that isnt true of every BC Ive used. With the Kaila I can tuck the hose away under the sternum strap and it stays out of the way, and my BC is no longer full of the water after a dive. Incidentally, I like the smooth design of the direct-feed control. If you need to manually inflate the Kaila, its like blowing a trumpet.
I also liked the way the direct-feed hose from the regulator clipped securely to the corrugated hose.
The Kaila BC has a dump valve at the bottom for dumping air during quick head-down descents. You can also use this to expel any water that might have found its way into the BC before you climb the ladder of the boat.
I like the stability the Kaila appears to give once youre swimming horizontally and neutrally buoyant. This is probably due to what I call the two little chicken wings that extend either side of the tank. Most of all, I like the fact that the shoulder straps are so rigged that they dont flatten me.
You can say that again!

The designers have also thought about those women lucky enough to be taken by husbands or boyfriends to places where warm enough to dive in nothing more than a bikini. The inner side of the harness is covered in a comfortably soft and forgiving material that doesnt cause pilling on the surface of your wetsuit if it rubs.
The cummerbund isnt the same but its adjustable and has a fastening strap with a buckle over it.
The shiny cushion that covers the hard backpack has a pleasant padded feel to it and theres a beaver-tail that can be used with a long tank. My husband is always complaining that we girls get bigger tanks than he does. He hasnt worked out that the tanks are all the same size but that we tend to be much smaller than he is, poor thing!
The shoulder straps are connected by large quick-release buckles or pinch-clips. I noticed that Mrs B was not too adept at unfastening these when getting out of her kit in the water before climbing onto the pick-up boat. Thats because they are positioned so far round to the sides. She preferred to duck down and pull the whole thing over her head.
The Kaila also has zipped side-pockets. These are very slim-cut and do not concertina out. They certainly cant contain a winder-reel. A current-hook and a safety sausage is about the limit or, in Mrs Bs case, a nail-file and comb.
There are four large metal D-rings and a single smaller one at the right-hand side. The small D-ring was ideal for attaching my current-hook by its karabiner. Its strongly fixed and strong enough to do the job. I dont like stuff dangling about me, so the other D-rings were surplus to requirements.
So to the integrated-weight system. The MRS suffix has nothing to do with Mrs - it stands for Mares Release System.
The MRS Plus equates to what has now become ordinary among BCs with integrated-weight systems. Two pouches are retained either side by pinch-clip buckles released by pulling on a big red toggle. The pouches are closed with zips and said to be good for 6kg of lead each, though I think you would struggle to get that much in.
Mrs B had quite a problem to pull them out before climbing into the pick-up boat, though she tried with both hands. In the end she let the boatman struggle with it. She had only 3kg of lead in each side, so I guess his consequent hernia could have been worse. I imagine that those releases would loosen up over time.
I found the trim-weight pockets eventually, she reported. They were a bit of a joke. I dont know how Mares expects a diver with manicured nails to slip any weights into these.
Theyre almost impossible to get at, hidden in the space between the backpack and air-cell.
I had to turn the BC upside-down before it was fitted to a tank to do it. I suppose youre meant to get a bloke to help you - but then my bloke couldnt even find them. Theres no way you could slip an extra bit of lead in there if you had to during a buoyancy-check dive. In the end, I didnt use them.
It also seems quite a heavy lump to pack. That said, I liked the Kaila very much. Its Hawaiian for style, and Mares says its intended for the elegant female diver who wants function and comfort allied with style and distinction. Thats me!
The Mares Kaila MRS Plus is available in sizes from XXS to L and costs £330.
  • Mares, 01539 724740,

  • Divernet Divernet
    + A BC designed for a curvaceous woman

    - Those trim-weight pockets