Undaunted, I took it with me on a Red Sea wreck safari in the desperate hope that there would be some ladies on board who could be sworn in as deputy diver Testers to help me put it through its paces.

The Design
The Zeagle Zena is a lightweight wing-style BC that has an elasticated front panel complete with a full-length zip. The harness is fully padded and adjustable at the shoulders, with twin trident-clip break-points.
Dual straps at the waist and hip allow for adjustment for the female form.
The webbing straps have been left at full length, without a sewn-in keeper, giving the owner the option of cutting them to length to suit personal sizing.
Four medium-sized stainless-steel D-rings are located at the front for securing instruments and alternative air sources. The bladder is horseshoe-shaped, with elastic bungee straps to keep it compact when deflated.
There are two kidney dump-valves and a single shoulder-pull dump-valve that’s connected to the corrugated hose, which in turn is fitted with a new-style power inflator. This is easily removed to allow easy flushing of the bladder with a garden hose.
The front panels are soft-lined to ensure comfort when diving in warm water with either a rash vest or, for the brave, just a swimsuit.
The BC incorporates twin integrated-weight pockets, each capable of taking 6kg in zipped mesh pouches. The weights are secured using Zeagle’s Rip-cord system, requiring a single-handed pull to release both sides.

Two trim-weight pockets with a combined capacity of 8kg are located either side of a single-cylinder rear camband. The whole package weighs in at a lightweight 2.8kg, with a bladder lift-capacity of 14.5kg.
A single small dropdown net pocket is fitted at the waist. The front panels are available in a choice of five solid colours, or four with floral embroidery. Optional extras include a larger utility pocket coloured to match the front panel.

I was clearly not qualified to test the Zena BC, so my heartfelt thanks go to the latest recruits to the diver Tests team. Both women are experienced divers who enjoy overseas dive-trips with their husbands at least twice a year.
For me the Zena looked very feminine, bringing a bit of glamour to the dive deck, and seemed far removed from the clumsy fit of unisex BCs. From what I saw of the girls under water, it held them in a good position, didn’t ride up when inflated at the surface and seemed easy to don and doff. Win-win.

Deputy Assessments

Tess Crosbie: I found the Zena very comfortable, although maybe it was a bit of a large fit, as I’m a size 10 and the one Nigel asked me to test was a size M.
This was my first time in a wing-style BC, but it was very easy to get used to. I felt that I was in control of the BC rather than a slave to it.
I liked the orientation the wing held me in while I was under water. It pushed me a little forward on the surface, even with 4kg of trim-weights at the back; I also used 4kg in the front pockets.
I tend to use the right shoulder-dump on my own BC to initiate a quick descent, but quickly got used to the lack of one on the Zena. D-ring placement provided a great triangle for my instruments and octopus, and the BC was easy to put on and take off without assistance.
The lack of pockets was a problem for me, as I like to tuck everything away but still have easy access when I need, say, a torch or my DSMB and reel.
I’d consider buying one of these Zenas but in a smaller size, and the optional utility pocket would be a “must-have” item.

Anita Whitlock: I’m a size 14, and the Zena in medium was as near a perfect fit as I’ve found in a BC. I found the hip- and waist-straps extremely good and easy to adjust.
The straps, coupled with the elasticated front panel, made the Zena the most comfortable BC I’ve ever dived in. It felt a part of me – my own model seems cumbersome in comparison.
The missing right-hand dump wasn’t an issue. I had anticipated that it would be, as this is the release I predominantly use on my current BC, but with the extremely responsive pull-dump on the inflator hose my concerns were unjustified. I found that the kidney dumps were also easy to locate and use.
Trim under water wasn’t an issue, though the orientation was more upright than I’m used to.
I was very comfortable with using 6kg in the front pockets plus the two 1kg trim weights, with no pushing-forward tendency at the surface.
The lack of pockets was an annoyance but the D-ring placement was brilliant. The Zena provided plenty of lift on the surface, and felt soooo light. It looks as if it will also take some rough usage, and it was a joy to dive with.
My husband Eric marked his 50th birthday on this trip, and when we’ve finished celebrating I may ask him for a Zena for Christmas.

PRICE £399. Optional utility pocket £39.95
WEIGHT 2.8kg
MAXIMUM LIFT 14.5kg in all sizes
STANDARD PANEL colours Black, blue, grape, neon yellow, neon pink.
FLORAL PANEL COLOURS white, blue, pink, purple.
CONTACT www.zeagle.com (apologies for the wildly wrong website we gave last month!)
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