I lost, and have been busting ever since to get in the water and give this BC a proper going over. A trip to Sanibel in south-west Florida provided the perfect opportunity to test and evaluate it, and those nice guys at Aqua-Lung obliged by sending me the standard version, with a traditional inflation system.
The trip involved mainly wreck-diving, in which near-perfect buoyancy and trim are crucial for a successful outcome.
I took time out to set the BC up, with trim-weights nestled either side of an aluminium cylinder and soft weights installed in the integrated weight-pouches.

In the Water
Under water, the BC held me in a perfect position. I was able to fine-tune my buoyancy
at will, dumping air in any orientation using
the pull-dump on the inflation hose, or the extremely low-profile shoulder- or kidney-dumps.
With the bladder deflated at depth, I found that there were no flapping parts to contend with. It collapsed into a small profile, making the whole package streamlined.
At the surface, the fully inflated Axiom provided plenty of lift, even allowing me to hold my heavy camera rig above my head to pass to the boat-crew without it forcing me back under water.
Fully inflated, there wasn’t the slightest hint of squeeze as it held me upright, in what was akin to a sitting position but without trying to force my face into the water.

Comfort
As I get older comfort becomes an essential component of a dive, and the Axiom is as comfy a compensator as any I’ve worn.
The well-designed and well-padded Wrapture harness system, with swivel buckles on the shoulder-straps and amazingly easy to adjust waist-belt, is fitted independently from the bladder. This enhances the fit, and there’s no Velcro cummerbund to destroy your wetsuit, either.
The hard backplate is short, finishing just above the kidneys, so with the cylinder retaining band attached low-down, the top half of the BC is flexible.
I found that I could stand up straight or bend with ease, something I’ve had trouble with when wearing other BCs.

Weights
The integrated weights are held by a push-and-click system without any Velcro or trident clips to hinder their removal.
They stay put until they’re pulled free, an operation that can be performed easily with one hand. I had only 2kg in either side, but the pouches can take 5 or perhaps even 6kg at a push.

Fastenings
The cylinder is held in place with Aqua-Lung’s beautifully designed synch clip. Once adjusted it can be put in place without the need to pass it over the top, and a neat stop on the buckle means that there’s very little chance of trapping your fingers during the final push. A rubberised non-slip grip pad on the inner surface makes sure that everything stays where it’s meant to be.
There’s also a small strap to secure the top of the jacket to the cylinder-valve base.
I forgot to secure this on one of the dives, and the whole thing became really floppy under water. It’s essential that this is in place whenever your scuba system is assembled or you’ll end up, like me, flapping around foolishly and wondering why.
There are six well-placed stainless steel D-rings, with the two on the chest-straps pre-bent for easy location, along with grommets on the left pocket for attaching a small knife, so securing accessories is a piece of cake.
Alternatively, the easily accessed, spacious pockets with zip closures can be used to stow anything from a good-sized DSMB to spare wet lenses for a compact camera.
Once the zips are closed, the contents aren’t going to vanish into oblivion.
The BC is finished in black and grey, with embroidered livery and reflective piping making the whole package ooze class.

Conclusion
This durable and extremely comfortable BC provided me with a fantastic balance between movement, freedom, fit and functionality. For me it’s another Aqua-Lung winner.
However, what may bring it across the line in no more than second place is the fact that there is not a version with a specific female fit.

SPECS
PRICE £385
COLOUR Black/grey
SIZES XS, S, M, ML, L, XL, XXL
LIFT CAPACITY 21kg
WEIGHT 4kg
D-RINGS Six
TRIM WEIGHTS Yes
KNIFE-MOUNT Yes
CONTACT www.aqualung.com/uk
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