HOW WE TEST
ERGO TEST Testing was conducted at Blue Grotto Dive Resort in Williston, Florida, by a team of test divers equipped with underwater slates and waterproof test sheets. Divers recorded their observations about each BC’S performance and assigned scores from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor) in each of the following categories: ASSEMBLY Ease and security of tank and hose attachments LOADING WEIGHTS Ease of loading and security of integrated-weight system COMFORT In and out of the water ADJUSTABILITY Ease of adjusting and range of adjustment ATTITUDE AND STABILITY In swim and vertical (head-up and head-down) positions; overall sense of control of attitude STOWAGE Usefulness and accessibility of cargo pockets, D-rings, loops, etc., for storing accessories VALVE OPERATION Ability to control when inflating/deflating by power inflator and manually ASCENT CONTROL Ability to maintain proper ascent rate and attitude SURFACE FLOATING POSITION Comfort and stability while inflated at the surface DITCHING WEIGHT SYSTEM Ability to drop weights quickly; weights secure from accidental ditching
OBJECTIVE TEST We conducted three in-water tests (in fresh water) on each BC to measure criteria important to performance and safety. FLOW RATE TEST We tested the ability of each BC’S exhaust system to prevent uncontrolled ascent in the event of a stuck power inflator. At 10 feet of depth, each BC — while loaded with 20 percent of the manufacturer’s claimed buoyant lift — was held upright while the power inflator and left upper exhaust were simultaneously activated for 20 seconds. Industry standards require that at the conclusion a BC has not become positively buoyant. BUOYANT LIFT Each BC (we tested models in size medium unless otherwise noted in the test results) was fully inflated with the power inflator while mounted upright to a neutrally buoyant bucket. The bucket was then progressively weighted until the BC would not support another pound without sinking. INHERENT BUOYANCY To determine how a BC’S built-in buoyancy would affect weighting requirements, each BC (in size medium unless otherwise noted) was submerged, with care taken to remove all air from air cell, pockets, padding, etc. Weights were then added in half-pound increments until the BC would support no further weight without sinking.