I have dived various Mares BCDs over the years, and the Mares Dragon SLS has to be one of the most comfortable. This is, in part, down to the wide padded shoulder straps and the richly cushioned backpad, which help support and distribute the weight of the cylinder.
The jacket-style BCD wraps around you so much, it almost gives you ‘a hug’, but this makes you feel very secure and stable in its embrace, and both on land and in the water, there is minimal tank movement.
The ‘Dragon’ winglets nestle alongside the cylinder, making the whole unit very streamlined, but also providing space for the high-lift aircell to expand.
The BCD is constructed from durable Cordura 420, which means it is not exactly lightweight – a Large weighs in at 4.5kg – but it feels very robust and able to cope with anything.
There are five stainless steel D-rings for attaching accessories, and two zippered pockets, which are not huge (the space for the integrated weight pockets intrudes somewhat), but big enough for a back-up torch or a small spool. There are also metal grommets for fastening a BCD knife, and a nifty whistle integrated into the upper chest strap clip.
The Mares Dragon integrated weight system is easy to use, and once installed properly, the pockets are very secure. The lock-in-place system is very efficient – once they are ‘home’, you get a green visual confirmation to show they are correctly in-situ. The big handles do stick out a bit from the front of the jacket, but on the flipside, are easy to grab hold of when you need to jettison the weight pockets. There are also two non-dumpable trim pockets cleverly hidden from sight under the Mares Dragon winglets.
The pull dump toggles are chunky and easy to locate and use even wearing thick gloves, and the dump valves are efficient, venting rapidly when necessary. A worthy addition to the Mares BCD range.
It is available in sizes XS, S, M, L and XL.
Check out our Mares Quad Air review.