Cressi Air Travel Scuba BCD Review: The Best Travel BCD?
The Cressi Air Travel BCD is the latest variant model of the Travelite line of scuba BCDs from this popular scuba gear company. For those divers who wish to travel with their own gear and don’t want to have to worry about lugging around a heavy set of equipment. Cressi has pared down the traditional BCD to be able to fold up into an easily transportable carry bag. Not to mention this the Air Travel BCD weighs in at roughly 5.5 lbs. extremely light, but built with 450 weave Dernier nylon, this is similar to the material used on the rugged Cressi Start BCD. While it might be lightweight, by no means is it “cheaply” made. It also is one of the best looking BDC’s available at the moment – in our opinion 🙂
The overall jacket construction is a slimmed down version of the traditional BCD design, with nicely padded shoulder straps as well as the back pad. For such a lightweight jacket the tank rests comfortably with the weight evenly distributed. Upon first use we noticed the lack of a large velcro cumber-band, and were worried about the waist strap being uncomfortable. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, diving with a wet suit there was no noticeable discomfort. It seems Cressi did away with the cumber-band in order to allow for a more compact design with the Air Travel BCD. The shoulder straps are easy to tighten mid dive should you need to, and the releases worked perfectly on our test dives (10 dives in sunny Barbados!), allowing you to quickly get out of the gear either on the surface or in the boat. The slimmed down design means there is less chances of it catching on you while getting out of the gear, which was nice during some of our drift dives where we had to slip out of the gear in the water and hand it up to the boat.
Another great feature, especially given the reasonable price point on this BCD, is the integrated weight system. That was our one major gripe with the Cressi Start BCD and thankfully Cressi decided to include the releasable integrated weight system from their other higher end BCD in this model. The weight pockets are located on either side of the waist band and support up to 10 lbs each, for a total of 20lbs in releasable weight – more than enough for 99% of divers. Unfortunately there are no shoulder pockets for trim weights, which would have been nice, however this is a rear inflation BCD, and therefore naturally manages trim pretty well. A bit of a trade off for a more compact design. Speaking of the rear inflation design, the Cressi Air Travel offers up to 35 lbs of lift, pretty impressive for its compact size. There are 3 dump valves on this BC vest, one on each shoulder and one on the bottom that protect against over inflation and allow you to quickly dump excess air.
The other main drawbacks besides the lack of trim pockets would be the fact that all the D-Rings are made of plastic, unlike the the other Cressi Travelight designs which are made of metal. This is minor, as high density plastics tend to last a long time and should be able to carry any accessories you feel like clipping to them. Again this seems to be a trade of to keep the weight down in favor of a ultra light BCD. Finally, a full rigid carry handle would have been nice but that would also constrict the fold-able design. The tank saver at the top of the BCD is re-enforced however and doubles as a carry handle, allowing you to carry the fully assembled gear easily. The back features a wing air bladder design and 2 tank straps, with a rubber lining to help stop tanks for slipping, a little different than some rigid back-plate designs but still just as effective.
For the inflator, the Cressi Air Travel uses the new “Commando” inflator Cressi are adding to their newer BCDs and it works great, both as a low pressure inflator and manual inflator if the need arises. The design is simple and easy to use, with a common inflate and deflate button layout that operate smoothly.
The Cressi Air Travel scuba BCD is one of the lightest, most portable BCDs you can find on the market today. This is ideal for any travel addict divers who wish to bring their own gear with them, folding up small enough to act as a carry on with the included travel bag. Toss your mask and dive computer in there and all your most valuable scuba gear can be sitting with you in the plane. Despite it’s compact size and lightweight construction the Air Travel BCD is perfectly durable and provides all the features of a larger BCD. The integrated weight system is a nice touch for the low price point. Roger, one of our blog columnists swears by this BCD and uses it as his primary BCD both at home in British Colombia and extensively while traveling about the globe. The design trade offs make sense and it is extremely easy to recommend.
- Integrated weight system
- Extremely light design
- Packs up easily for travel
- 3 Dump valves for easy deflation
- Great looking color accents
- Great for travelling divers
- Comes with a carry bag
- Plastic D rings
- No shoulder pockets for trim weights
- Design trade-offs for weight and collapsible functions