Zeagle Concept BCD
|I learned to dive using a Lloyd Bridges style yellow horse-harness BCD. If you didn't tighten your crotch strap tight enough (eeyaow) the bladder would float up around your head, obstructing movement as well as vision. Why, back in my time, you had to swim against a 20 knot current, both ways; and pump your own air from a... Uh, sorry. BCDs have, thankfully, evolved.
To me, diving is all about freedom. Freedom from stress, freedom from gravity, freedom from encumbrance, but most of all, freedom from crotch straps. Being one of the largest pieces of SCUBA equipment, the BCD style and design have one of the largest impacts on these freedoms.
Freedom from clutter
The Concept is ultimately adjustable. I have mine fitting like skin. It works equally well over anything from a dry suit to bare skin. Wing-style BCDs tend to be out of the way more than jackets, but also tend to push the diver face-down when on the surface. The Concept's bladder design allows a neutral, upright position at the surface and any position underwater.
This is not a gear-head's BCD. There's no place to attach spools and reels, lighting systems, redundant air, machetes, drill presses, dishwashers, etc. If you need this stuff, you should invest in a modular quick-change hard-plate wing rig with all the bells and whistles. I believe the other divers are there to see the ocean, critters, geography, wreck, etc., not my gear.
Freedom from weight belts
Many inexperienced divers, and even some experienced divers tend to overweight themselves. This is one of the main reasons non-weight integrated BCDs still exist. It's quite a task to haul yourself up with a tank on your back, let alone with your weights in tow. If you're overweighted, it's that much more difficult.
However, it's really about the dive, not the 30 seconds of wobbling over the side. With a weight belt, during the dive, as the pressure shrinks your body and gear, your weights tend drag down your hips and your BCD tends to pull up over your shoulders. No fun. Weight integration keeps you from imitating a buoy.
Freedom from accidentally ditching weights
Most of the time when I see someone accidentally drop their weights, they're wearing a weight belt. However, I have seen hook-and-loop fastened weights drop. Velcro gets worn out and fuzzy especially in well-used BCDs. The Concept's nylon zip-cord, while difficult to re-thread, provides quick, secure, maintenance-free operation. I've only had to thread mine once: when I bought it.
Freedom from giant clams grabbing your foot
If there's anything I would improve in the Concept, it would be interchangeable wings. Like most recreational divers, I normally dive warm water. The standard wings have about three times the lift I could ever use (enough to pull you, and the giant clam to the surface.) If I suddenly felt the need to collect shiny things, I'd use a lift bag.
Freedom from hassle
The Zeagle Concept has preformed flawlessly over the four years of intensive diving. It's been beat, bashed, shipped, scraped, dragged across rusting hulls, rocks, cave walls, etc. In all that time, it's never had a valve problem, a leak, a rip or anything go wrong. It's a clean, minimalist, but fully functional BCD.