The more time passes and the more I discover a certain conservatism. Habits taken over time are reassuring. I control this or that equipment, so why go and try to complicate life by changing it? I even begin to understand why some profound upheavals in our business, the arrival of the stabilizing vests, for example, have come up against so many shields. Arrived at a certain age, the human being is less inclined to evolve.
TRAVEL STABS ... THE ZUMA
From time to time I think that certain “evolutions” in diving equipment are more of a marketo-commercial argument than a reality on the ground ... New year, new collection ... must be done in the new. And between you and me, the gain in weight and bulk of these travel stabs that we have been touting for 2 years certainly seem interesting to me, but I have often said to myself that in practice, they should not be so effective and safe than a good “classic” stab. During a discussion, I opened up to Manuel Cabrère, Product Manager at Aqua Lung. His response was immediate: “I'm sending you one, keep it as long as you want in order to get an opinion”.
DELIVERY OF ZUMA
48 hours later, a box from Carros (Aqua Lung France headquarters) was delivered to me. They are like that at Aqua Lung. Even before opening it, I burst out laughing… the package is so light I can't help but think it's empty.
It is very bad to know the process of control, re-control, over-control, counter-control… and final control before shipment to the 1st manufacturer of diving equipment in the world.
The ZUMA stabilization vest is in the box ...
ZUMA: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The ZUMA is available in 4 sizes: XXS-XS, SM-MD, ML-LG, XL-XXL. The delivered model is an ML-LG which with the inflator and the ballast pockets and without hose weighs less than 2 kilos… the feeling of lightness is accentuated by the absence of back-pack. It is quite disconcertingly flexible. Once put on, you have the impression of having a garment more than a stab.
NO BACKPACK ON THE ZUMA
The back-pack has always been one of the central parts of the BC. Aqua Lung's R&D engineers, for obvious reasons of weight and size, made the bet not to use it. I can't help but think that deprived of this “backbone” the BC has to lose all support and constantly pivot around the diver's body.
In order to solve this problem, the engineers chose to implant the bottle strap at the level of the kidneys (in front of the ventral strap) whereas it is usually located in the middle of the back. They also added a tap strap keeping the bottle to the center of gravity. The load transfer can then take place from the shoulders to the hips… CQFD… remains to be tested.
SURELOCK II INTEGRATED LEST SYSTEM
Of course, the system patented by Aqua Lung "SURELOCK II" is integrated in this vest.
Thanks to a rail system, the pocket is self-centering. If just insert it and the male part of the mechanism is self-guided to find the female part. When you hear a CLICK, you're done. You do not have to contort anymore to see if your pocket is in its place and you will not lose it. Of course, all you have to do is pull on the handles with a quick twist to ensure a quick release. Each pocket can receive 4.5kg of ballast.
If this was not enough, you will find optional ballast pockets that attach to both sides of the bottle strap in which you can add 2 x 2.25 kilos.
OTHER REMARKABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF ZUMA
• Quilting at the spine and lumbar spine.
• Padded pre-shaped shoulder straps.
• High purge and low purge "E-valves"
• Easy-access expandable pocket.
• 4 half round rings for attaching accessories.
• Eyelets for fixing knife.
THE PECTORAL STRAP IS ADJUSTABLE
The chest strap is adjustable in height thanks to the 2 buckles which slide along a rail, they can go up or down.
ZUMA: WE TEAM
Ideally, remember to open the chest straps as much as possible so that you can easily put on the ZUMA. Once you are in, just clip on the waist strap, adjust the chest straps and finish with the chest strap. The vest is put on and is perfectly adjusted. The lack of back-pack is not felt, the BC is as “comfortable” as the others when you have to move out of the water.
ZUMA: TESTING IN WATER
Rarely have I been able to dive with such a tight fitting BC. And my fears about the lack of back-pack disappeared after 3 minutes of loops and twists of all kinds: the boulder is a model of stability. The loaner is an ML-LG, it is given to be able to lift 15 kilos and I must say that even at a depth of 50 meters, I always went back up safely.
THE ZUMA… IT'S FOR ME!
I have had the opportunity to do over 60 dives with this ZUMA, and I must say that all the fears I might have have completely evaporated. Aqua Lung's bet is totally won:
- In a suitcase, you forget the presence of this vest,
- In immersion, it fulfills its function perfectly and adjusts ideally.
Cherry on the cake, the quilting of the back consists of open cells which allows it to dry in record time!
For about 300 euros, this ZUMA is truly an answer provided by Aqua Lung to divers-globe trotters.
Text: Manuel Lewin