BCBeuchat Masterlift Comfort
THIS CONVENTIONAL BC from the well-known French manufacturer looks as comfortable as its name would imply. It has a soft lining to its cummerbund, shoulder area and backpack, and even the collar is softened so that it wont rub on your neck.
     I found it a little bulky, which meant the addition of a couple of kilos of lead over slimmer rival offerings to achieve neutral buoyancy. However, this was a small price to pay for a BC with big accessible zipped pockets and two well-positioned upper dump-valves that let the air out during an ascent without having to give it a second thought.
     One dump-valve is operated by pulling on the corrugated hose of the direct-feed inflator. The other is worked by pulling on a toggle that is neatly threaded through to exactly where you would expect to find it at the front shoulder facing.
     For head-down descents, there is also a lower dump operated by an equally easy-to-find cord and toggle.
     If air gets trapped in corners of the buoyancy-bag of a BC when I need to dump it, I find that to be inconvenient, if not downright dangerous. But the Beuchat Masterlift Comfort passes the test, even if at first I had slight difficulty locating the inflator button during a descent, because it is so well integrated with the contours of the direct-feed control.
     The cummerbund is easily adjusted for girth. There are sufficient additional stainless-steel D-rings - that is, four.
     The camband includes a nice little idea. It is attached to a buckle with a flattened D-ring that grabs a matching hook at its opposite end.
     This makes it exceptionally easy to remove from a tank, with no awkward sliding up over the cylinder. However, I still found it best to attach the hook first and slide it like any other camband over a fresh tank.
     Now we come to the bit where those French lawyers start huffing. Beuchat BCs used to employ a unique system for retaining the ditchable weight-pouches of its integrated-weight system, and it worked. For some reason, the designer of this BC has abandoned that system for something that, quite frankly, does not work properly.
     The weight-pouches might take 8kg of lead each, but I began to feel insecure with more than a couple of kilos in each side. All too often, the retaining clip that held the quick-release toggle (left) came undone.
     This fact would be discovered just as a fully loaded pouch was about to drop away into 2000m of water. I was wall-diving, and this did tend to take the edge off my pleasure.
     I needed a total of 12kg of lead to be neutrally buoyant in the thick suit I was wearing, but resorted to spreading it around in various places.
     I put 2kg in each of the two capacious trim-weight pockets, which are closed with pinch-clips and located more towards the front of the BC than is normal. I divided the other 4kg between the two zipped pockets.
     It was not ideal, but it reassured me that I would not find myself rocketing towards the surface as my weight-pockets plunged in the other direction. What a pity, because it spoiled an otherwise excellent BC.
The Beuchat MasterLift Comfort comes in sizes XS-XL and costs £299.
  • Typhoon International 01642 486104,

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Extremely comfortable conventional BC

    - Poorly designed integrated-weight system