Cressi came to the rescue. I had previously tried its very lightweight Flex, but this time I used the all-new Travel Light, a BC with all the features one might reasonably expect in a conventional BC, including an integrated-weight system and trim-weight pockets.
The latter are very important to have when using a floaty aluminium cylinder. I'm not the world's best diver, but during my active instructor days I was happy to demonstrate buoyancy control using an upturned plastic bag in place of a BC. The core function of a BC is very lo-tech, so I was confident that, however much of a compromise the Travel Light might be, I would manage.
I was agreeably surprised.
The Travel Light is made from a very lightweight nylon material, and has no hard backpack. You can actually roll it up tightly for packing, so it takes up no space, either. It even has an additional Velcro-covered strap to keep it tidy when rolled.
Trying to strap a BC with no backpack to a cylinder by its camband could be very unsatisfactory, but Cressi provides a second strap to stabilise the tank.
Made of only 400-denier cloth, the Travel Light needs to be looked after if it is to last. However, the cost of a BC like this might well be recovered in excess-baggage charge savings.

Comfort
Wearing it over a wetsuit, I found the Travel Light to be as comfortable as any other BC. Everything slotted into place nicely, and no straps or buckles dug into my shoulders.
The cummerbund is wide and held closed by a wide slab of Velcro with a waist strap with a big pinch-clip type buckle over it. This stopped all the weight being taken by my shoulders.
I was able to tuck the corrugated hose under the sternum strap, as is my wont, and plenty of hose-clips were provided, though I usually prefer to slip my high-pressure hose and octopus through my waist-band.

Efficacy
I stuck a 3kg weight into each of the trim-weight pockets. This is a bit more than the manufacturer recommends, but the weights seemed secure, and the pockets are held closed by pinch-clips.
I was using a thick wetsuit in the northern Red Sea in winter, and with a big aluminium tank I found I needed another 6kg. This stowed readily in the quick-release pouches, which slipped into their slots and were retained by a recently designed and positive-action buckle system. This was still very easy to do once I had donned the fully rigged tank and BC.
As with any BC, the air used to control neutral buoyancy rose to the highest point behind my back, and my orientation under water was perfect for a horizontally swimming diver.
There are a few lightweight alloy D-rings, and even a pair of useful zipped pockets. On one dive, my buddy slipped a small diving lamp into one of them. I was so comfortable that I noticed the lamp was still there only later, when I hung up the rinsed BC to dry.


Control of Ascent
The Travel Light has a full complement of dump valves. You can operate one by pulling on the corrugated hose, and mine was always to hand where I had stowed it under my sternum strap.
If I wanted to control my ascent while in a horizontal position I could use the dump valve operated by a toggle fed through an eye at the lower edge of the BC at the back. This was also useful when, head-down to take photographs, I needed to make myself a bit more negatively buoyant.
I also had the option of pulling the cord and a small toggle that operated a dump valve at my right shoulder, but this tended to get lost in the clutter of strap and buckle near which it hung, so I was less likely to use it. Perhaps it needs a much bulkier toggle.
That said, there was never any reason to raise the corrugated hose and let air out of the oral inflation valve, thereby allowing water to trickle back into the buoyancy cell.
A reader recently called to tell me that the pull-dumps on a BC offered no degree of control, and released all the air from a BC in one go, unlike the corrugated-hose method.
He had obviously never tried using dumps, or had never used a drysuit for buoyancy control. So much mis-information is available when you learn to dive!

Surface Support
Even with 12kg of ballast, I was still perfectly weighted, so on surfacing all the buoyancy available when I filled the BC to its maximum had an effect, despite what appears in the specs to be a poor maximum buoyancy figure.
A lot of this lift is low-down and at the front, so I bobbed as high in the water with my single tank as I had with a wing-style BC that had a whopping 22kg of lift on similar dives. I would have no hesitation in recommending this BC, even to a novice diver.

Ease of Removal
Shore-diving, undoing the sternum strap, the waistband and cummerbund and unclipping one shoulder enabled me to swing my set off my back in a moment, even with all the weights in place. The integrated-weight pouches pulled away precisely when I wanted them to, so
I would have had no problem passing them up to a boat driver - though he may not have enjoyed hauling my tank onboard with the trim-weights still in place.

Comparable BCs to consider:
Scubapro T-Sport Plus, £285
Oceanic Cruz, £319
Beuchat Masterlift Voyager, £289

SPECS
PRICE £268
STYLE Conventional
DRY WEIGHT 2.7kg
POCKETS Yes
INTEGRATED WEIGHTS Yes, with trim-weight pockets
D-RINGS 6
MAX LIFT IN SIZE M 9.2kg
SIZES XS, S, M, L, XL
CONTACT www.cressi.it
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%