Our packing philosophy is going to get tested severely on our next dive trip. You see, I bought a BCD and we are not 100% sure we can still get all my gear in one carry-on bag and a “purse”.
When we were in Utila, I had numerous challenges with rental gear. The first BCD was too large, even though is was a “small”. The second BCD was not in good shape and the buttons were sticky. The third BCD kept self inflating. After the third BCD, I went back to the second one. For a dive specific resort, I was surprised at the quality of the gear.
In Utila town one afternoon, P&V dragged me into a dive shop and had me try on a Cressi Aqua Pro 5R in an x-s. It fit like a glove and P said it was perfect for me. She also said I should just buy it right now so I could use it for the rest of the dive trip. It was so tempting, but I resisted the $405 US plus Honduran taxes of 11%. Instead I decided to wait until we got home to see if I could get it cheaper. There was a risk in doing this as the need for a working BCD would decrease rapidly once we got home, and I may not follow through.
Once we got home, we got right on the web and started searching. I found a couple of other BCDs that looked interesting and were made to be light for travel. The Ladyhawk and Litehawk by Scubapro http://www.scubapro.com/en-US/USA/bcs.aspx . The Litehawk looked interesting but some reviews said it did not last for more than 50 dives. One of my lesser criteria for buying a BCD was that it had to last for at least 10 dive trips (10 years), so this lack of longevity concerned me.
My most important criteria was fit. I knew the Cressi fit me and we would be buying these other ones without trying one on. There was too much uncertainty in this, so I decided to go ahead with the Cressi. It turns out the Cressi x-s weighs just as little as a Litehawk x-s/s. So as far as packing weight, I did not loose anything by buying the Cressi. Although I may have lost some packing volume with the Cressi over the Litehawk.
Murray, my intrepid great bargain finder, found one from Dan’s Dive Shop, in St Catherines, Ontario http://www.dansdiveshop.ca/index.html for $338, including shipping. He is such a great shopper. (I would have bought the one in Honduras!)
I now am the proud owner of a great little BCD that fits and actually works! I am looking forward to our next dive trip to test it out and to test our carry-on only packing philosophy.
PS I am also going to purchase my own octopus. Will let you know how that goes!