Scubapro's Lightweight Travel BCD on Test
I have always been a big fan of Scubapro products and in large parts of the world they are the mainstay of the recreational dive world’s rental equipment. Rugged, well-built equipment designed to withstand the rigours of training and associated underwater wobbles.
The first thing that came to mind once I unpacked the Go is the material from which it is constructed. Scubapro have utilized 210 denier nylon which is the lowest rated material from which BCDs are constructed, and to compensate they have coated the exterior in Polyurethane which does give it an extra layer of resistance against abrasion, but it feels a bit 'plasticky' and I’d be hesitant of using it in environments where there was a chance of accidentally bumping into sharp objects.
That being said, the BCD does not otherwise suggest that the overall build quality is anything less than up to the same level as Scubapro’s usual standards, and where it excels is in the reduction in packing space, along with the light weight. The soft backplate means that it is foldable to the same dimensions as a sturdy walking jacket and is easily fitted into a piece of cabin baggage, saving a little bit of extra space in the hold luggage for other gear.
As an added bonus for travelling, the mesh used for the backpack and cummerbund is advertised as ‘water draining’ for quick drying, and it most certainly is. Just a few hours after the dive it was ready to pack again – very useful for the island-hopping travelling diver.
The rear tank strap and clamp is situated towards the bottom of the jacket to place the weight of the tank more around the hips than on the shoulders and, one assumes, to prevent compression of the soft backplate. The extra Velcro strap further up the jacket is, therefore, a welcome (and necessary) addition, and although it is much narrower than a second cam band, it is solid and keeps the tank exactly where you want it.
Some jackets with fully-flexible backplates do require a little extra care once they are fully set up, but the extra padding does not make the Go feel as flimsy as some other travel BCDs, and hauling it on and off the boat presented no concerns that the material might tear. The padding makes the Go very comfortable to wear both at the surface and underwater.
The straps and cummerbund are well placed and create an excellent fit, although I would have liked the shoulder straps to have been a little wider, with a little more length to material underneath the swivelling shoulder clips. I am not certain they improved the overall fit in my personal case, however other divers on the boat with similar designs were quick to point out they preferred the swivelling clips.
The power inflator mechanism works just fine but I do not like the placement of the inflator button, which is located on the same side of the mechanism – and right next to – the deflator. This is a common theme with all of Scubapro’s BCDs, but I vastly prefer a system where the inflator button is on the side of the mechanism and the deflator button at the top end of the hose. and maintain that this is a much better design.
The dump valves – which I tend to use underwater a lot more than the deflator mechanism – were easy to locate and use for both dumping air and buoyancy control.
I have a small problem with the integrated weight pocket release mechanism which is, again, common to most of Scubapro’s BCDs. The pockets themselves are absolutely fine, very sturdy and zippered to prevent accidental weight loss, but the quick-release system does not have the ‘pull-and dump’ handles which are present on many other BCDs.
The pinch-clips are the same design that is used for belly-straps and while they are very easy to operate both as a diver and as a buddy, it does remove the obvious visual cue of prominent handles. There’s nothing that immediately stands out as ‘pull here to ditch weights’ so it’s a definite case of making sure the dive team is aware of what to do in an emergency which – as always – hopefully, we're all doing anyway.
On the plus side, the weight system is very secure so there’s little chance of accidental pocket loss, and given that the BCD – as advertised – has very little inherent buoyancy, it does remove the need for excess ballast.
The side pockets are easy to access and are large enough to hold essential pieces of gear and a few slates but are quite narrow – especially if you use the integrated weights – and were a tight fit for my 1.5m-long DSMB. Ordinarily, I would clip this to one of the 6 aluminium D-rings so there is plenty of storage space overall (the strap that keeps my SMB rolled up was broken) so it’s an indicator as to pocket size, rather than a complaint.
I have to say that this BCD grew on me, and as a compact, lightweight travel BCD it’s a very good product. I would hesitate to invest in one as a general all-purpose BCD for regular use in different environments, but for the diver who travels once or twice a year for easy, tropical, recreational diving, the Scubapro Go would be a very reasonable choice.
Material / denier: Polyurethane coated 210 denier nylon
Backplate: fully flexible
Integrated weights: yes
D-rings: 4 large, 2 small, aluminium
Max. lift: 10.2kg (XS) – 19.4kg (XL)
Dry weight: 2.4kg (XS) – 2.7kg (XL)