A LONG TIME AGO, before many of you had taken up diving, I reviewed in these pages a little compact wing from Seaquest called the 3D.
It was stylish and minimalist. It was like wearing a little rucksack. The one-piece continuous harness meant that one size fitted all. Compared to other BCs available at the time, it was revolutionary. When it came to packing for a flight, it weighed in at less than 2kg.
This was in the days when men were men, women made sandwiches, the BSAC ruled diving and every diver had a dual-bag BC, with an independent emergency inflation cylinder, designed for military divers and built to withstand the effects of dropping into the sea from a helicopter.
My review of the rather feminine little SeaQuest 3D was suitably enthusiastic. It was one of the first bits of kit I reviewed that genuinely impressed me.
I was so impressed that I actually bought one, and have it to this day. Its also ideal for single-tank drysuit diving. Alas, nobody else then seemed to agree with my findings, and few bought one. It was soon discontinued.
Time has passed, and Seaquest BCs are now marketed under the name of the parent company, Aqua-lung. Far more people now see scuba diving as intrinsically linked with travelto tropical destinations, and girls go diving too!
Fuel prices have risen in the interim as well, and suddenly lightweight BCs are at last finding their place.
The Aqua-lung Zuma is that little Seaquest 3D, resurrected, rethought and adapted to include some modern innovations. Without a hard backpack, you can actually roll it up.
Someone asked me how it compared with the Buddy Tekwing. The short answer is that it doesnt. The Tekwing is designed for multi-tank diving, is built to be tough and therefore weighs a tonne. The Zuma is for the travelling single-tank diver.

Most tanks you will encounter in warmwater destinations will be long 12-litre or 80cu ft aluminium types. These have the slightly annoying effect of being almost buoyant when depleted of gas.
Its common towards the end of dives to see the bottom of a tank appearing to float upwards, where the divers camband is fastened near the top of the tank.
The designers of the Zuma have given this some consideration, and the camband is positioned so that its nearer the bottom of the tank.
I can see this confusing those dive guides who like to set up the gear for their client divers. So to stabilise the tank, theres a small adjustable strap that attaches the top of the BC to the neck of the tank.

Despite its one-size-fits-all appearance, Aqua-lung provides this BC in a range of four sizes.
The lower parts of the shoulder harness look a little flimsy at only 2.5cm wide but do the job, and the upper parts are well-contoured and nicely cushioned, so that they would be comfortable if this wing was used in conjunction with no suit at all.
Theres a sternum-strap to stop these shoulder-straps spreading apart, and I found this useful for tucking the corrugated hose out of the way.
This sternum-strap can be readily adjusted for height by sliding its mounting points up or down this part of the harness. There are four technopolymer D-rings, but these are not too conveniently positioned. The Zuma could really do with at least one at the upper shoulder.
Getting into the harness was easy. Getting out of the kit at the surface was slightly complicated by the absence of any harness breaks, but I found it easy enough to flip a buckle to loosen the straps.
You do need to choose a size that leaves sufficient slack to allow this.

Integrated Weights
The example of the Zuma I used had no trim-weight pockets. Im told that these are an optional extra, and guess they fit onto the low-down camband. I took a separate camband away with me to use to thread a weight on if I needed it, but I didnt.
The main integrated-weight pockets are held securely in place by Aqua-lungs patented Surelock system. I found that I could stow 8kg safely. The right side carries a drop-down pocket thats big enough for a small torch.

In the Water
In the water, the Zuma reminded me of the freedom afforded to us in the old days, when we simply dived with a tank and harness and no BC of any kind. Of course, the difference
was that I could now compensate for the compression of my suit as I went deeper by adding gas to the buoyancy cell, and yet the tank felt as secure as when using a BC with a hard backpack, at all times.

Control of Ascent
A flat-profile dump-valve placed level with the kidneys at the back not only allows for a quick departure from the surface and a head-down descent, but can also be used by divers who like to stay horizontal during an ascent to maintain neutral buoyancy.
This is because the buoyancy cell has a cleverly designed gusset that puts this dump valve at exactly the right spot.
For those of us who like to look where were going, a similarly flat-profile top shoulder-dump is operated by a toggle and pull-cord at the right shoulder-strap facing, and this proved to be 100% efficient.

Surface Support
The buoyancy cell gives a maximum amount of lift of around 16kg, which is more than enough for someone wearing a lightweight wetsuit. Again, the designers have considered the long tank.
When we reviewed the Zuma in a recent comparison test of lightweight BCs, we had the sort of steel tank commonly used in Britain, and that was a lot shorter. The buoyancy cell is tall, so it is nearly the same height as a12-litre aluminium tank.
Gussets allow it to expand outwards at the lower end. This has the effect of keeping a lot of the buoyancy low down in the water when the BC is fully inflated at the surface, which makes the most of the maximum lift available.
I used it successfully in conjunction with a giant 15-litre aluminium tank, yet I found myself with my mouth well clear of the water as I waited at the surface to be picked up.

Comparable BCs to consider:
Cressi Light Jac, £291
Oceanic Islander, £379
Cressi Travel Light, £333

PRICE £272
COLOURS Palm green/grey, ocean blue/grey
CONTACT www.aqualung.com
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%