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Aqualung Zuma Lightweight BCD


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#1 Poliwog

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:16 AM

I had a look at the Aqualung Zuma BCD at my local dive shop yesterday and thought there could be a place for it in my warm water Caribbean dive kit.

I want to reduce my travel baggage weight and am interested in opinions from owners of the BC on its' worthiness and the functionality of the new tank mounting system.
I currently dive a Diverite Transpac so issues with switching from jacket to rear wing style BCD's should not be a problem.

Opinions on any other similar lightweight BCD primarily used for warm water diving would be greatly appreciated also.

Thanks
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#2 Drew

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 09:06 AM

Of the BCDs that are under 2kg/4.4lbs (Size M), I've tried the Zuma and Cressi Flex. There's the Scubapro Geo as well which I haven't tried.
The Zuma is nice. The tank strap is low so even without a solid backplate, I didn't hit my head against the 1st stage. It did require me to use a slightly longer hose because it's sitting lower. I use a 26" miflex hose while 32-36" are standard. I also had to reconfigure to I set up the 1st stage. The only thing I dislike is the lack of a d-ring/slot for a crotch strap. Not a fan of the ditch pockets either so I use a weight harness or belt. I thought I lost my gear when my bags didn't arrive so I started checking new gear. Then it arrived 7 days later.

Cressi Flex is typical jacket style, which I don't like at the surface so I didn't consider it. Otherwise it was a bc and it worked as one. My pockets are usually sewn into the wetsuit so I didn't care much on storage on bc besides a space for SMB/flag and D ring for whistle and camera.

Of the 2kg - 3kg (4.4-6.6lbs) BC, I had the Seac Sub iCaro @ 2.7kg (stolen in Athina Airport) and my old favorite, OMS backplate, DiveRite QR harness with Halcyon travel wing @ 2.9kg which I've been using for years.

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#3 John Bantin

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 09:56 AM

Here's what I think:
http://www.divernet....alung_zuma.html

More:
http://www.divernet....ly_with_me.html

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#4 davephdv

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 12:29 PM

I have always used a back BC.

I got the Cressi flex for tropical travel. I found I really liked it. Very durable. I even use it on some local cold water trips and beach dives.
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#5 scorpio_fish

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 05:31 AM

I have one. I have taken it on a couple of trips. It's OK.

Preface: My travel BC prior to the Zuma was a Seaquest Balance. Not super light, but fairly simple. I won't use a jacket style and prefer weight integrated. I still own backplate and wings and even a harness system attached to a single wing. Prior BC's include the heavy overdone Zeagle Ranger, plus a few others.

Pros
1) It weighs 2kg
2) It packs very easily
3) It uses the Aqua Lung 3rd generation weight pouch system. One side of the weight pouch is hard plastic, which makes sliding them in much easier.

Cons
1) Not as stable as other hard pack or backplate options
2) It has a single band for the tank which is the same location as your waist band, which is quite low on the tank. A loop goes around the tank valve to steady the top of tank. Not quite ideal as there is a greater risk of damaging the little plastic clip on the loop and thereby making the tank completely unstable. Also, the tank band being so low doesn't always play well with some tank holders on boats.
3) The plastic d-rings are too small. It's quite difficult to attach and re-attach things without looking. I would prefer large plastic D-rings with one on my chest and have the rig weigh 2.02kgs.
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#6 Poliwog

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 05:56 AM

Thanks everyone for the replies on the Aqualung Zuma lightweight BC.

I will be buying this BC based on your replies and those of a few friends who are now diving them in Chuk and Palau.
I always considered myself to be an "equipment minimalist" type of diver, so I'm looking forward to actually trying this BC.

Thanks John, for the links to your two reviews on these lightweight BCs. They helped me to make up my mind about the purchase.

I am heading to Costa Rica (near Liberia and not Coccos, unfortunately) for a week of diving in mid-November so I'll be able to put it through its' paces then.

Liked your photo of the Cressi BC, balloons and aircraft, John. Nice inventive approach to the subject matter. How long did it take you to come up with the idea, find the right place, and get the right time for the photo? I assume the photo is not a composite, right?

The plastic d-rings are too small.

I find the plastic D-rings to be a little too small too. I dive an Aquatica D2x with two Ikelite DS200 strobes, so I will have to find a bigger clip to hang off the waist strap to hold the camera. Need to find a way to attach a crotch strap also.
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#7 John Bantin

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:28 AM

Liked your photo of the Cressi BC, balloons and aircraft, John. Nice inventive approach to the subject matter. How long did it take you to come up with the idea, find the right place, and get the right time for the photo? I assume the photo is not a composite, right?



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Edited by John Bantin, 26 October 2010 - 06:30 AM.

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#8 antacid

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:37 AM

have you looked at the zeagle express tech? it's a real minimalist "backplate" and wing design with a harness, very similar to a regular backplate and wing BC. the shoulder straps of the harness are easily adjustable by pulling on the waist straps like the new halcyon cinch system.

it doesn't come with any d-rings, but you can easily add any number and type on your own.

i used it for a few dives and thought it worked pretty OK, just like any other BC. The only complains i have are the BC feels a little raw, with the hard nylon straps, plastic buckles on the tank bands, and lack of d-rings.

there's a long thread on this BC on scubaboard too with mostly positive comments.

oh, did i mention it's alot cheaper than the zuma and all the other ultralight BCDs?
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#9 meme.may.fire

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:15 AM

oh, did i mention it's alot cheaper than the zuma and all the other ultralight BCDs?


im a big fan of wing bc
i think i survey all brand of bc's this kind
it is so true that these wing bc cheaper than any other bc.
i managed to find the cheapest.
us$200 cheaper than the zuma

i also heard the same thing as @scorpio_fish
that the zuma is not really a stable bc compare to normal bc.
i heard some people advice that you should try it out first if it is your 1st time using wing bc.
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#10 John Bantin

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 03:08 AM

"Camband
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.
It's common towards the end of dives to see the bottom of a tank appearing to float upwards, where the diver's 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 it's 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, there's a small adjustable strap that attaches the top of the BC to the neck of the tank."

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#11 Poliwog

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 08:40 AM

I just returned from Costa Rica where I had been diving the Aqualung Zuma BC for ten dives. The diving was challenging. We usually entered the water close to rocky shores from boats in large wave swells and descended into water heavily laden with particulate.If I hadn't known better, I thought I might have been diving in a snowstorm. Thermoclines were frequently encountered, visibility was severely restricted on most dives with maximum visibility being about 40 feet. Having said all that, it was a pleasure to dive and listen to Whales underwater, interact with the White-Tipped Sharks and photograph the Manta Rays when they so graced us with their presence.

Here are my observations from the ten dives.

The BC is easy to pack and dries quickly.

I had to add two pounds of weight to my usual 16 pounds of weight to compensate for the difference in weight between my Diverite Transpac and the Aqualung Zuma.

The chest strap was easy to pull off but was also easy to snap back on. It's an issue that I think Aqualung could address in a later revision of the BC.

Very easy to maintain a horizontal attitude in the water even while carrying a large heavy DSLR set up.

I attached a crotch strap to the BC to keep the BC from riding up on my torso. This made it very comfortable in the wave swell at the surface. It also helped to maintain a generous distance between my chin and the surface of the water. I did not find any discomfort with the BC trying to push me forward in the water, and in fact, found it quite easy to lean further on my back and lie on the BC at the surface while waiting for the boat to pick us up.

The inflator dump valve can take a while to deflate the BC at the start of the dive. At times it was an effort to descend. I did not think the deflator was as effective as it could have been. It was far easier to deflate the BC by using the shoulder dump valve on the right hand side. There was no effort to descend when using the the shoulder dump valve, and in fact, it felt like I was taking the express elevator down.

As the tank strap mounts far lower on the tanks, you do have to keep an eye on its position when the boat guys are changing your tanks as they are not familiar with the new tank strap concept.

The small plastic d-rings on the shoulder adjustment straps could be better implemented. I was able to hang my alternate reg off one but found them hard to locate when kitting up and removing my BC in the water prior to boarding the boat.

Weight pockets are adequate but slide in and lock firmly. You may have to come up with a few creative work-arounds If you need to use more than 20 pounds as my dive buddy found out. It might be advisable to travel with a little bit of high strength cord for makeshift dive weight lanyards should the need arise.

Other than that, I think it is a excellent BC that I will continue to use for travel purposes.
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#12 RedSeaDiver

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 12:54 AM

I just took most of the metal D-rings off of my Transpac to reduce the weight but I haven't had a chance to weigh it again after that was done. It should be down around 2 - 2.5kg I think.
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