I seem to be writing about the saga of checking-in bags at airports with the regularity of a stuck record (I should explain to younger readers that these were like CDs, but black and a lot bigger). Only recently, I suggested to a rather awkward check-in man that he take my bags off the belt and I cancelled my trip, I was so hacked off by his attitude.
In fact, combined with security personnel who think that cable-ties might be an offensive weapon, the whole experience at airports has become a regular trial.
I now pack my bags in combination with a set of bathroom scales, always careful not to exceed the dreaded 23kg for a single bag.
Confident that my problems are not unique, I have been reviewing a lot of lightweight kit recently, and this BC is no exception.
At less than 3kg, the Cressi LightJac is like the Cressi BackJac wing-style BC, only lighter. A large back-flotation cell is restrained but not wrapped by an elastic cord. The cell is combined with a conventional harness closed by pinch-clips.
A hard rucksack-style backpack is concealed by a simple cushion, and the cummerbund carries the integrated-weight system.
Two large zipped weight pouches slip into slots at either side of the waistband and buckle, and can carry up to 4.5kg each. I needed a total of 10kg, as I was wearing a lot of neoprene in a wintery Red Sea. There was nowhere else provided, such as trim-weight pockets, for stowing weights, so I overloaded the pouches without incurring any problems. They are retained by unique-to-Cressi quick-release buckles.
A roll-down pocket at one side is adequate for carrying a small reel or SMB with a drop-weight, and three stainless-steel D-rings allow you to carry a single small sling-tank should you need to do so. A single camband gives a choice of two height positions to accommodate the trim differences between steel and aluminium tanks.

The whole rig was very comfortable both in and out of the water. However, with the weights attached to the cummerbund, the latter sometimes took a little effort to find - once located, I could quickly fasten the waistband with its webbing and buckle over.
I used a huge 15-litre tank and felt no discomfort with it, although the amount of lead
I needed meant that the weight pockets tended to hang away from me when I was horizontal under water. I sometimes grounded when I was near the bottom because of this, for the weights made me quite a few centimetres lower than I expected to be.

With the weights assuming the role of a keel, I was almost always encouraged to swim horizontally. Air in the buoyancy cell always rises to the highest point, and with me in a mainly horizontal swimming position, this meant that it was at the top of my back. The restraining elastic cord kept the cell from flapping if I rotated in the water, so no air ever got trapped in any folds of the material.

Control of Ascent
With the three standard ways to dump air - a pull on the corrugated hose to operate the left shoulder dump; a cord and toggle to operate the right; and a cord and toggle to operate a bottom dump at the right-hand side - controlling buoyancy and the ascent did not present too much of a problem.
The toggle on the right-hand side tended to get lost among the clutter of D-ring and sternum strap, and I noticed that a fellow-diver had replaced the small toggles on her BC with golfballs threaded on instead. What a good idea!
As usual, I tucked the long corrugated hose through the sternum strap, so that it was always where I expected it to be. Another diver queried this, because it meant that I could not use the oral inflation valve to dump air, but I was happy to watch him empty a few litres of water from his own BC at the end of the dive trip.

Surface Support
Although the wings buoyancy cell is quite capacious, a lot of it is out of the water, so you need to inflate it well to get plenty of surface support. The wing sensibly expands to be wider at the bottom.
I used it with a heavy 15-litre steel tank, but all the lead in the integrated-weight pouches at the front tended to force me forwards when trying to float vertically at the surface, even with the deep keel formed by my long legs.
Thats why a 45-minute wait at Jolanda Reef at Ras Mohammed during the time our boat-crew temporarily overlooked our failure to reappear back on board was less than totally comfortable.

Ease of Removal
When the time came, I was able to snap the weight pouches easily from where they were stowed and pass them up to the boat-driver.
It was a simple matter to unclip the sternum strap and the waist strap, followed by one shoulder-harness strap, and turn out of the whole rig, which was more than adequately supported in the water. The weight pouches were equally easy to reinstall later.

SeaQuest Balance SL, £369
Mares Pegasus, £249
Seacsub Icaro, £375

PRICE £230
D-RINGS 3 stainless-steel
CONTACT www.cressisub.it
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