Appeared in DIVER January 2007

BC Zeagle Escape
Our recent review of entry-level BCs included the Zeagle Scout. Though entry-level by price, it is a wing-style BC.
We were also sent a Zeagle Escape, which is similar in the way it controls buoyancy, but has a few notable extras.
Like the Scout, it has two tank cambands with two trim-weight pockets that are easily filled with block weights using the zipped tops.
Like the main integrated weights, this lead can also be easily dumped in an emergency, by tugging on two red tags that pull open simple Velcro-covered bottom flaps.
Like the Scout, the Escape has a compact little wing-style buoyancy cell that is restrained from flapping when not inflated by an elastic cord threaded through loops attached to it. This means it offers as little resistance as possible while a diver is swimming with it under water.
Air is injected as usual by way of a typical direct-feed mechanism, but to dump air while anything but bum-up, one needs to pull on the very long corrugated hose that operates the top dump-valve.
Clever dudes in wetsuits will be able to raise their derrieres a little and jettison air from the sides of the U-shaped buoyancy cell via one or both of the two bottom dumps.
Or you could simply raise the corrugated hose to eye-level and let air out by way of the oral inflation valve (and water in).
The advantage of the very long corrugated hose is that you can tuck it away under the sternum strap and get rid of yet another bit of dangling kit. You can still operate its top dump by pulling on it. It gives a very sleek underwater profile.
I found the Zeagle Escape incredibly comfortable but, like the Scout, it can still push you onto your front when fully inflated at the surface. We think it is therefore for experienced divers only, and they need to keep their weights at the back, so the trim-weight pockets still need to be filled first, even when the wing is used with a steel tank.

DURING OUR RECENT ENTRY-LEVEL BC REVIEW, the steel tank we used was so heavy that all the weight was at the back and we used no extra lead weights at all. The BC still seemed to push forwards.
When using the Escape in the Red Sea, combined with a 15-litre steel tank and a very thick new wetsuit, I found I needed 12kg of lead. This stowed conveniently between the four weight pockets provided, and I never noticed a saddlebag effect. In fact the Escape was remarkably comfortable - before diving, under water and back at the surface.
Because it is a wing, with a separate harness, there is no torso squeeze when it is fully inflated. With a maximum buoyancy of only 12.5kg fully inflated, the ride-height proved adequate in calm seas, though it might scare an inexperienced diver if whitecaps were forming while waiting to be picked up.
If used with a drysuit in such circumstances, it might be an idea to put some extra air into that to raise yourself a bit more.
The cummerbund has a lot of permanent adjustment available. This is made by unscrewing two fixing bolts and nuts at either side and selecting the most appropriate pair of eyelets for each of them. An instantly adjustable waist strap with a big pinch-clip lies over the cummerbund.
There is also a narrow spine pad, so comfort when out of the water and walking about fully kitted was better than average.
This Zeagle has two quite useful pockets with zips that open in a convenient direction when groping under water.
Alas, they are not quite big enough to hold a man-sized torch. Next to these zips are those for the integrated weights at the front. Sensibly, these zips are red and run in the opposite direction.
The Zeagle integrated-weight system is unique in that it doesnt use separate weight-pouches. In an emergency, you can release all the weights by pulling a single red ripcord that opens the bottoms of the weight pockets. The weights simply tumble out.
This is no good when youre about to hand up your set and climb into a small boat. It probably wouldnt be very good for any divers below you either. I can see boatmen the world over sighing when these BCs turn up.
As the weights are not in pouches, I either had to hand them up to the boat one at a time, or the crew had to heroically haul my set up intact.
The Escape is undeniably lightweight to pack or carry. As airlines get more difficult about our luggage, spending money on a small BC for travel can regain its cost in saved excess-baggage charges.
I can see more and more divers foregoing their heavy rigs and buying lighter gear like this for trips abroad, especially to long-haul destinations.
The Zeagle Escape is available in five sizes XS to XL and costs 299.
  • OceanDive,

  • Divernet
    There are bottom dumps either side of the buoyancy cell on the Zeagle Escape
    all the integrated weights can be released in an emergency by pulling a single red ripcord.
    + Compact
    + Probably all you need
    + Very little swimming resistance

    - Some divers will need bigger pockets