JohnJohn Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.



MADE IN SOUTH AFRICA, Frog is new to the British market, and this Cobalt BC was sent to me to try. At first glance its a very conventional design with only one surprise - the integrated-weight pockets are retained by both a slab of Velcro (which must be folded back on itself to mate with its opposite surface within a second slot) and two large pinch-clips.
Colin Mac Andrias found out the hard way when he used the Cobalt and installed the weight pouches incorrectly.
He reported that he spent most of his dive juggling weight-pouches that suddenly released themselves without warning, and he eventually resorted to putting them inside the main zipped cargo pockets. When all is said and done, it pays to read the manual.
A single camband holds the tank, and trim-weight pockets positioned either side of it will take a couple of kilos of lead each. Held closed by Velcro, they prove useful when diving with a floaty aluminium tank.
A minimal-thickness cushion conceals a small, hard backpack, and six large stainless-steel D-rings take care of dangled items.

Comfort
The 6kg of weights were not so much uncomfortable as obvious by their presence. It was what I fondly call the loaded saddle-bags effect, which can prevent a BC feeling part of you. I felt that I was swimming inside this one.
The broad cummerbund is threaded through the inner loops of the buoyancy cell and
a sternum-strap proved useful for tucking in the corrugated inflator hose.

Efficacy
The Cobalt has a conventionally shaped buoyancy cell, as used on most conventional jacket-style BCs, and air went in and came out easily. Its a well tried-and-tested design, the only drawback being that there is not much to say about it.
The big zipped pockets are well drained and easy to access, and the forward-positioned zips had locating toggles.
I was able to feed my own braided Miflex direct-feed hose through both an epaulet and a clip on the corrugated hose to keep everything neat, although my hose was a little too long for the BC.
I did feel that the inflator button was a little too puny to be easy to find first time, but there was no such problem with the oral-inflation valve.

Control of Ascent
With the usual three ways to dump, jettisoning air on an ascent was very straightforward.
There is a right-side shoulder dump operated by a toggle at the top of that sides shoulder strap, a dump operated by pulling on the corrugated hose, and a bottom dump that would suit those who like to ascend while horizontal, and for fast head-down descents.

Surface Support
Using this BC in tumultuous seas, I had no hesitation in fully inflating it at the surface, noticing no unbearable hug, and I felt quite comfortable there. Plenty of lift was available, even though I was using a 15-litre steel cylinder.

Ease of Removal
Unclipping the waist-strap, the sternum-strap and one shoulder-strap in the water was quick and easy. I had no reservations about swimming out of the fully inflated BC before it was passed up to the boat, although I have heard stories of divers doing this with some other BCs, only to get a last glimpse of their kit descending forever from sight!

OTHER BCS TO CONSIDER:
Mares Origin Sport AT MRS Plus, £240
Beuchat Masterlift Air Light, £315
Scubapro T-Sport, £239


Divernet
Integrated-weight
Integrated-weight release
D-rings
D-rings under the corrugated hose

SPECS
PRICE
£280
STYLE Conventional
DRY WEIGHT 3.85kg
POCKETS Capacious pockets with zips
INTEGRATED WEIGHTS Yes, and trim-weights
D-RINGS 6
MAX LIFT IN SIZE M 19kg
SIZES 5, XS - XL
CONTACT www.scubaltd.com
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%