Tusa Passage BC • £298
Several years ago, I came to the conclusion that if you regularly dive in different conditions and climates, you need a set of specific kit for each environment. For instance, when deep-diving from a hardboat in the UK, I take my weighty 12-litre twin-set complete with side-slungs, harness and wing – it weighs a ton and I only use it when absolutely necessary. On intermediate dives, I prefer the much more manageable pair of sevens with a lightweight harness and smaller wing. But even this is too much for a shallow recreational bimble, when I prefer to use a single 12 with a conventional BC. However, for overseas travel, I opt to trim the BC even further and go for a super-lightweight weight-integrated jacket. So when Tusa’s latest travel BC arrived at the Test Centre, we were intrigued to find out if it could fulfil this latter category.
The Passage is a ‘wraparound’-style BC that Tusa says is lightweight, compact and ideal for warm-water divers or the constant traveller. It features an integrated stabilising harness, developed exclusively for the Passage, that is designed to significantly reduce its weight, and uses two separate rails on the backpack to increase the cylinder’s security and prevent it from rolling – a common problem with travel BCs. So I took it away for a week’s diving to find out if it lived up to Tusa’s claims.
Stuffing it into my bag was a breeze as it was easy to fold it right around on itself, and it weighs less than two and half kilograms. Setting it up on the cylinder was also straightforward and it felt extremely secure against my 12-litre aluminium tank.
I encountered a problem when I went to load the integrated weights. I filled the Weight Loading System with 4kg of lead in each pouch but just couldn’t get them into the pocket. I eventually worked out that you had to turn the weights in a longitudinal direction rather than the normal sideways manner and eventually slide them into the near-vertical pockets. The Velcro then secured the pouches well, but doubted whether I would be able to release them in a hurry, should the need arise. At the end of the checkout dive, my fears were confirmed and it took me a good minute to pull the pouches clear from the pockets. Back on land, I studied the mechanism with our dive guide. After a few practices, we managed to get the release down to a one-handed operation, but it still wasn’t easy.
Other than this, the jacket is spot on. The pockets are gigantic, even with the weights in situ, and easily big enough for a small reel and delayed SMB in one and a point-and-shoot camera in the other. The inflator was efficient, with dump valves exactly in the right place and easy to operate. There appeared to be a vast array of D-rings and fixing loops that would cater for just about any kit configuration.
What further impressed me was just how adjustable the Passage is. Once back in Blighty, I could quite easily get it over my drysuit simply by lengthening the cummerbund and loosening the harness, so although this is a travel BC, it could easily be used for UK diving too. In the buoyancy department, the L/XL size that I tested provides a credible 17kg of lift. At just under £300, it represents pretty good value – but if you specifically want a weight-integrated BC, this one struggles to compete against those offered by the likes of SeaQuest and Mares.
Good jacket, but practise releasing weights
CPS Partnership • 01424 442663 • www.cpspartnership.co.uk