Buoyancy compensators have been well built for function. And they have been well built for safety. Comfort sometimes, however, seems to take a back seat. Of course function and safety must always be a priority, but when full comfort can also be added, then you have a excellent BC. Enter the Ocean Master Knight Pro BC.
Although the Knight Pro BC is Ocean Master’s first foray into the BC market, Ocean Master is not new to creating innovative dive gear. They started simple with the immensely popular Dry Snorkel back in 1990. Their masks with their unique and highly effective ‘Q’-strap have also now been a long time best seller. Those who have followed Ocean Master know that when they decided to step into the BC market it would be a carefully designed and crafted piece of dive gear with innovations, easy functionality and, yes, superior comfort.
Let’s take this from the bottom up. First thing I noticed was the downward angle of the cummerbund. Why? This is a weight-integrated BC, so there is no need for weight belt leaving the waist and hips free. The downward angle shifts more of the weight to the hips where it easier to carry. The cummerbund is fully integrated into the backpack so the weight transfer is complete. More importantly, the downward angle cummerbund prevents the BC from riding up, a common and annoying problem. The cummerbund is adjustable, and interchangeble for various sizes. It also has a web of elastic sewn in for depth compensation.
Working our way in and up we come is the back pad. An exclusive gel polymer is used for a contoured pad that fits comfortably in the small of your back. The same gel polymer is used also in the shoulder straps. Both the back pad and shoulders straps are housed in non-foam neoprene that grips against your body preventing the BC from shifting around during a dive.
The back pad is attached to the primary foundation of the entire BC—the vest. The vest features gel cushioned adjustable shoulder straps (mentioned above), right and left adjustable waist buckle, and torso strap adjustment, also right and left adjustable. The cut of the vest gives great fit against the body allowing for a greater freedom of movement at the same time holding the BC snugly in place. Also, the cut of this vest is such that if you tuck away the torso strap, the BC has an excellent fit for women.
The weight integration is attached to the vest and uses the “snug buckle” approach that is becoming a more popular design in weight integration. With this style, the weight pouches are held with a plastic buckle rather than velcro. Weight removal is accomplished with a sharp fast tug, much as with velcro, but the buckle offers a more consistent method of hold that is less prone to operator error. While Ocean Master is not unique with this approach, their system works remarkably well. In addition to being very safe, the pouches are contoured to the body and well placed for comfort. Each side pouch hold up to 10 pounds of weight. More weight can also be placed into in two non-ditching pouches in the back of the BC. The manual says you can put in up to five pounds into each of these but I found I could actually put in a bit more.
With my 7mm custom wetsuit I have to wear over 30 pounds of lead and this BC could accommodate it all. Furthermore, I was able to balance the buoyancy excellent so that I was head and shoulders out of the water on the surface with the BC fully inflated.
The airbag arrangement on this BC is backmount horseshoe shaped. An inner bag and outer shell are used. The outer shell is constructed from untra-tough 1680 Denier ballistic nylon. Air control is with a hose that tucks the inflator hose neatly away and a pull dump at the top. The inflator is unique in that it incorporates an underwater/surface signaling horn. A second pull dump valve is also located at the lower right of the air bag. As steel cable is used with this dump for durability and breakage prevention.
Additional features of this BC include an accessory pocket that can be rolled up out of the way or even removed and twin tank straps.
For more information on the Ocean Master Knight Pro BC, or any of Ocean Master’s products, visit www.oceanmaster.com on the web or call 800-841-7007 for a dealer near you.