However, recently Ive been doing a lot of single-tank diving for the purposes of wildlife photography, and have rediscovered the joy of a close-fitting waistcoat-style BC.
Off to dive near the Equator, it seemed appropriate to take the new Scubapro Equator with me. Its a typically conventional design.
Of course, it needs to fit perfectly, and we divers tend to be encouraged to choose BCs that are too big for us. Im always surprised to see myself in pictures with other people, looking like a giant by comparison. This is why Im always offered BCs in size L, when in fact Im usually very happy with M.
The Equator was no exception, and a medium-sized model fitted me just like a waistcoat! At the same time, I saw other divers wearing rented BCs in which they appeared to be swimming separately.
The Equator is a lightweight BC constructed in 420 denier nylon. I was glad it weighed only 3kg in my bag, but it still gave me all I needed.
At the time of writing it looks unnecessarily expensive, however, so watch this space for a price-drop when Scubapro has a rethink.

Like any properly fitting garment, this BC was exceptionally comfortable. It even has a soft edge to its collar for those lucky enough to dive in water warm enough not to require a wetsuit.
The cummerbund, its waist-strap fastened using a big pinch-clip, distributed the weight of my rig comfortably between shoulders and hips The backpack was nicely cushioned.
Once the BC was on, it was simple to pull down on the shoulder-straps to tighten everything. People commented on how snug-looking it was.

This Equator is a lean yet effective item. The two integrated-weight pockets can take up to 4kg in zipped pouches each side, which I found more than enough when diving in a single-layer wetsuit and with a 12-litre aluminium tank.
There are no trim-weight pockets. Its a pity the unique cinch-strap system almost disqualifies you from adding a trim-weight to the camband.
Under water, the buoyancy-controlling air always settled at the highest point in the buoyancy cell, usually behind my shoulders.
Two zipped pockets were easily located, and I stored the neoprene dome-port cover from my camera in one and carried a handy pocket-sized LED lamp in the other, clipping the lanyard onto the karabiner clip inside it.
I tucked the super-flexible braided hose of my octopus rig through the epaulet that was also used to keep the corrugated hose and direct-feed hose neat.
The only thing I didnt like was the system for holding the BC to a tank. This uses the improved Scubapro cinch-strap and a stabilising extra strap above it. These are fabulous if youre always switching tanks of the same size, but as I travelled between dive centres it proved irritating and time-consuming to adjust both straps to fit tanks of varying circumference.
Under water, the tank was held on my back in a completely stabilised way, despite the lightweight backpack.

Control of Ascent
I tucked the inflator hose through the sternum strap so that it was always where I expected it to be - despite the protests of one or two US-trained dive guides who thought differently. I dont like things flapping while Im under water. I want to be at least as streamlined as a sea-lion.
I could dump air on ascent by tugging on the corrugated hose to operate the valve at its top; on the large toggle fed via a cord to my right breast; or on the simple cord and toggle that operated the third dump valve at my lower back. Who needs a flapping corrugated hose

Surface Support
The Equator gives a maximum lift of only 13kg in size M. That said, with the major part of its buoyancy low down at the front, I found it gave plenty of surface support in the circumstances in which I was using it. I never found my head too close to the water. In fact, I never gave the matter a moments second thought.

Ease of Removal
Taking the weight pouches out in the water was less easy, as the Equator has no patented quick-release system. The pouches are simply held in place by webbing and oversized pinch-clip, for which you feel using two plastic loops.
Unclipping the sternum-, waist- and one shoulder-strap meant that I could swing the BC off my shoulder in a moment.

Mares Prestige MRS: £290
Beuchat Masterlift Voyager: £290
Oceanic Probe XL: £331

PRICE £399
STYLE conventional waistcoat
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%