BCSeacsub Pro Tech
I WAS SLIGHTLY DISAPPOINTED when I received the Seacsub Pro Tech BC for test. I remembered my good experiences with the Seacsub Pro 2000, a product which made it Diver readers Innovation of the Year 2001, but this BC seemed a little less highly finished, a little less unbustable.
I would go so far as to say that this is a BC for the wannabe tekkie rather than for anyone likely to jump into the water with more than two tanks.
It has the same sort of separate harness as the Pro 2000, but threaded through a conventional T-shaped buoyancy bag. Both are then sandwiched between two layers of hard backpack.
Four chunky D-rings are curved to make it easy to clip items on to them. Two similar-sized D-rings are very strongly affixed to the lower edge of the jacket at the front, and a smaller one lies above the right-hand pocket - I clipped my current hook to it whenever I needed to deploy it.
The harness and cummerbund are totally adjustable, so I was able to tailor the BC to fit me exactly before diving. When it was fully inflated at the surface, it raised me high out of the water without crushing me in its embrace.
The corrugated hose has a dump at the upper shoulder and there is another at the right shoulder, operated by a pull-cord that is routed to its toggle rather than threaded through the right shoulder-strap facing. When donning this BC in a small boat, I often found I got the exposed cord entangled with the buckle of the computer I wore on my right arm.
There is a lower dump at the back of the BC which would have been useful when descending head-first and quickly down to a reef or wreck in a strong current. The toggle for this was similarly routed but not threaded through to the front. I could rarely find it when I wanted it.
However, once I got hold of the toggles, the dump valves proved to be perfectly positioned for getting rid of every last vestige of air from the buoyancy bag, just as the angle of the zipped side-pockets was perfect for access. These were capacious enough to be useful, and the zips are heavy-duty grade.
Above and to the left of these pockets is an elasticated lanyard and clip which retracts nicely away when not in use. It proved ideal for use with a slate or a small torch.
Above this is a clip which looks as if should take either a high-pressure hose or an octopus hose, but proved too tight to fit either. In any case, the octopus is otherwise taken care of by means of a tube of elasticated webbing mounted high at the back of the right shoulder. You simply pull the doubled-up hose of your octopus rig through this, and it is neatly stowed yet instantly accessible.
This is probably the first device for this purpose I have come across that really works, with no danger of the second stage slipping out and getting dragged across wreck or reef. With my extra-long hose I often pulled it through quadrupled, too, and it made a neat job of it.
I only wished there had been a matching sleeve of elasticated webbing on the left side, because I prefer to rig my octopus there. It removes any confusion or complication for a buddy in an emergency, though it would be difficult for me to breathe off it.
On one side of the BC an additional pocket concertinas out to take a spare mask or DSMB. This is kept closed with a strap and pinch-clip.
The single-tank camband supplied can be threaded through a choice of slots in the backpack to suit your needs.
The big flaw, I felt, was the design of the integrated weights system, two pouches which slip into slots in the BC and are held there by flaps of overlapping velcro.
In the harsh environment of the Red Sea liveaboard, where a freshwater rinse for the BC is something that happens once a week rather than after every dive, this velcro tends to get curly and lose its total area of adhesion.
With 4kg of lead in each pouch, I felt ill at ease when jumping into the water from any height, especially when tilting to descend head-down. I know a lot of divers out there will be tempted to put in a lot more lead than I used. I suggest they stick to a weightbelt. It might save disappointment later.
In the event, I didnt lost a weight-pouch during 14 dives, but I believe this was more down to my own care in installing the weights and accessing the water than to any triumph of design.
The Seacsub Pro Tech BC costs £329.

Alpha Distribution 01709 515157,

A tube of elasticated webbing can be used to stow an octopus hose neatly
an additional pocket secured by a pinch clip can hold spare gear
the integrated weight system consists of pouches under the pockets either side of the BC - the release is visible
+ Good surface buoyancy
+ Useful detailing of accessories

- Pouches of integrated-weight system vulnerable to loss