It is already two years that I’m diving with the Mares Prestige MRS plus BCD and I just love it. In Holland it is one of the bestselling stab jackets in the market. When I started buying my own gear I didn’t have a lot of money. I just came back from a diving holiday in the Caribbean, but I was done with renting stuff. It was time to get my own gear!
I think most divers recognize the first time of being overwhelmed by information, diving equipment and gadgets. It’s a chaos out there. Just Mares alone has already around 9 different BCD’s. That’s not even thinking about all the other brands like: Aqualung, Cressi, Scubapro, and Tusa. As a grasshopper, how do you know which to buy?
Because of my holiday I was searching for an affordable but good quality BCD. I started with looking around Dutch forum sites for information, reading blog posts (if there were any), hours of visiting webshops and dive shops. I compared every bit of information. In the end it didn’t do me any good but to give me a headache and a total indecisiveness what to buy. As I said, way too many different BCD’s.
In the end it were three simple things that made up my mind and influenced my descission which stab jacket to buy:
1. My budget was of great influence of course. The Mares Prestige is currently € 249,-. A good ‘price versus quality’ ration in my opinion.
2. Each brand has its own strong points. Mares is known for making, among others, very good quality BCD’s as Suunto, for example, is known for making good quality dive computers.
3. The advice I got from a other diver also made up my mind. He said: “When starting with diving you don’t have that many bullshit (referring to gadgets and accessories) you need to carry around. So go for a simple basic vest. When you have made enough dives, you’ll know what your searching for in your next vest.” He was right. When the time comes to buy my 2nd BCD, I know exactly what I want.
A short review
In the end I have had no regret buying the Mares Prestige with integrated weights. I have dived with it in warm and cold waters and it performs splendidly. It has great lift capacity and because of the trim weights at the back you get great stability. Especially the long handle at the back is a plus, when handling your vest when attached to a pressure tank. The side pockets are large enough to take several accessories on a dive or you just clip them on the 4 stainless or 2 technopolymer rings. The integrated weight system works nice, I have never lost a weight pocket in two years. Most importantly it is comfortable to wear. The only setback in my eyes is the total weight of the vest. With its 4,4Kg it’s quite heavy and large to take with you on holiday. But then again I do most of my diving in Holland, so for me it’s not that big of a problem. If you are only a warm water diver, then this BCD is not for you. I would recommend buying a travel vest which us much lighter.
If you have any questions about my BCD or tips on what to look for in a BCD, I'm happy to help otherwise till the next story!