The Design
This BC is constructed using two grades of Cordura, 420 denier for the bladder and 1000 denier for the outer body. This provides serious protection from the hard knocks and abrasion to which most divers subject their BCs.
The air-cell surrounds the diver at the back and sides, with the bonus of the extra capacity a conventional style brings providing a lot of lift when at the surface.
The harness features webbing straps with padded shoulders and a neat swivel buckle arrangement at the break-points. The backplate is padded and has an integrated carrying handle. The waist has a Velcro cummerbund with an adjustable webbing belt and large trident clips.
Other features include four stainless-steel and two technopolymer D-rings, integrated-weight pockets at the sides with quick-release pouches and trim-weight pockets either side of the tank-mount. There are also two zipped, three-dimensional self-draining pockets with knife-mount grommets.
The corrugated inflator hose has a pull-dump facility and is fitted with Mares’ own Ergo inflator. Two further low-profile dump-valves at the right shoulder and kidney complete the package of features.
The Prestige MRS Plus is finished in all-black with white cosmetic touches and an unobtrusive livery.

In Use
I took the Prestige on a trip to the Red Sea to put it through its paces. I like the comfort and fit of a conventional-style BC, especially at the surface, when I’m carrying my heavy camera rig, even though I generally prefer the horizontal and slightly heads-up trim a compact wing gives me under water.
I’ve found with some standard BCs that I’m constantly fighting to avoid being forced into a vertical position as the air migrates up the air-cell. With the Prestige, I’m happy to report that this wasn’t the case at all. I was able to remain horizontal with ease for prolonged periods.
The tank is held securely in place with a conventional camband and rigid-polymer backplate. This has a curved profile that stops the tank rolling and gives the BC a stiff feel.
The integrated weight-pouches are zipped to hold their contents securely in place, with a rigid panel on the outer side. I was using a combined total of 8kg of solid lead weights, and found that the blocks pressed into my hips, causing a bit of discomfort, which left me wondering why manufacturers put the hard face on the outside.
The weight-release system uses clips that lock until the release toggles are pulled. They felt really solid and secure, but were easy to dump and replace.
The inflator was easy to use, although I didn’t get the chance to try it with gloves, because Egyptian dive-guides look at these with disdain nowadays.
As far as comfort goes, the Prestige ticked all the boxes (except for the lead weight and hip thing). The padding is in the right places, and substantial enough to provide clear benefits.
The harness position was probably one of the best I’ve experienced, due almost entirely to a clever swivel at the break-point that enables the sternum-strap to hold the shoulder-straps in place while the lower webbing is free to move into its best position.
The dump-valves were perfectly positioned, and enabled me to shed air in whichever orientation I found myself.
The pockets at first glance seemed a little on the small size, as is normally the case with integrated-weight-system BCs, but there is a mesh section at the rear that allows the pockets to billow out.
This created a lot more space, enabling me to get my spare DSMB and a finger-spool in and out with ease.

Conclusion
This robust conventional-style BC was a pleasure to dive with; it fitted well, was padded in all the right places and held me in my preferred orientation under water.
The harness sat in a nice position, making moving about on the boat or beach as pleasant an experience as you’re going to get.
At the surface, the large bladder gave an enormous amount of lift and left me feeling as if I was in an armchair, with my head well above the water as I waited for my Zodiac pick-ups.
The only thing that let it down was the integrated weights pressing into my hips. I’m sure that lead-shot pouches would have made a huge difference, but unfortunately these weren’t available during the tests.
There is also a weight penalty associated with such a solidly built BC. The large size I had on test weighed in at just over 4.5kg, making it a burden at the airport check-in desk.
For me, the excellent performance of the Prestige MRS Plus will outweigh this (pun intended) and leave me willing to sacrifice a few non-essential items (such as underwear and toiletries) to facilitate staying within the limits and taking it for another underwater foray.


PRICE £310
SIZES XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
MATERIALS Cordura 1000 outer shell, Cordura 420 bladder
D-RINGS 4 stainless-steel, two technopolymer
WEIGHT 4.54kg size L (on digital scales)
LIFT CAPACITY 14kg (XS-S), 17kg (M), 19kg (L), 22kg (XL)
INTEGRATED WEIGHT CAPACITY 8kg (XXS-XS), 12kg (L-XL)
CONTACT www.mares.com
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