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Divers can be very particular about their preferred style of BCD (buoyancy control device), and it’s safe to say that there isn’t one specific piece of kit that will suit everyone. There is a wide variety of choice on the market for divers of all tastes and budgets. Today I’m going to be reviewing my latest BCD, the Mares Blue Battle limited edition wing, which I’ve been diving for the last few months and which recently accompanied me on the Hidden Depths Maldives liveaboard trip.
Style – 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The first thing that you notice about the Blue Battle system is it’s striking good looks, which is no surprise from this stylish Italian manufacturer! Mares have really put a lot of effort into making this not only a perfectly functional piece of kit but one that really looks the part too. Every detail has been taken care of, from the blue camo backplate through to the blue D’rings and blue cam bands – everything looks consistent. That said if you aren’t a fan of the blue look the wing system is also available in a ‘Silver Knight’ version, with a more discreet silver and black styling.
Initial Set-Up – 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Having dived in a wing and harness system for a long time it was a simple process to adjust the one size fits all harness to me before diving. The single-piece Mares XR branded webbing is a good thickness – not too think that it’s very stiff and uncomfortable, but also not too soft so that it slides through the backplate when you want it to be fixed. There was plenty of webbing provided, allowing the harness to fit over a dry suit and thermals, but it can also be reduced in size quite quickly if you’re travelling to warm waters and diving a small wetsuit! If you’re not familiar with sizing a harness we’re always happy to help you size your new kit when diving with us.
Comfort in the Water – 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Once correctly adjusted, the Blue Battle wing is effortless to dive. Like other wing systems, I’ve used in the past the harness fits comfortably, and when underwater with a little air in the wing you’re left totally free to move without restrictions of a wrap-around BCD. With a little adjustment for weight positioning, the wing also trims out very well, leaving you in a comfortable and streamlined position underwater. When on the surface, the supplied crotch strap stops the wing from rising up on your body and holds everything securely in place.
Features – 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Blue Battle wing comes setup and ready to dive, with everything you need in a BCD. The twin-cam bands provide a secure mount for your cylinder, and the D-rings and harness retaining bands allow you to mount back up lights straight onto the harness. You also get two bolt screws which hold the backplate and wing together, which makes changing your cylinder a simple process.
Mares have designed the wing with two kidney dump positions – left and right. For those used to a traditional BCD, you will be familiar with the kidney dump being mounted on your right-hand side, however, those from a technical background will be more familiar with the left-hand kidney dump position. Instead of choosing one, Mares give you the choice, with one dump and one blanking plug so you can pick the side most familiar to you.
The only feature that could be seen as missing from this BCD is a set of integrated weight pockets. Depending how much weight you need, balancing this out between a weight belt and integrated weight pockets can be a good idea, however, to do that with this BCD you would need to add them as an extra. Mares certainly supply pockets that fit this wing, so it’s worth considering if these would be a good add-on for you when purchasing your own.
Travelling – 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Coming in at just over 3kg for the total system, this wing is perfectly suited for the travelling diver. The 3mm aluminium backplate keeps the weight down when compared to a steel backplate, and the single-piece harness allows adjustment to fit a wetsuit or drysuit. One consideration when travelling with this wing (or any other wing and harness for that matter) is your choice of pockets to keep accessories, such as your DSMB and backup mask. This topic is certainly something I plan to discuss in a future blog, so keep your eyes peeled for that one!
Overall Rating – 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve been really pleased with my new wing system, and it certainly got plenty of approving glances from other divers when they saw it on the dive boat. It looks the part as a stylish, modern wing system, and has the features and build quality to back it up. I feel this would suit the diver looking to move to their first wing system from a traditional BCD, or someone looking for a smart, lightweight travel system.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Mares Blue Battle wing system please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any specific questions, and you’re always welcome to come and take a look at mine if you’re interested in buying your own. I purchased my wing through Extreme Marine dive shop in Bristol, who can supply the full range of Mares products, so feel free to pop in and discuss your needs!
Written by Greg Parker, PADI Master Instructor & TDI Trimix Instructor
First published July 2019