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Welcome to Dive Gear Reviews, a comprehensive guide to scuba diving equipment. Scuba diving is an expensive pursuit, so looking up reviews for a particular article of equipment is a wise precaution before investing any hard-earned money in it. However, consumer reviews may or may not be written by an experienced diver, and magazine reviews could be suspect due to the advertising ties of the publication in question. Dive Gear Reviews provides cross-referenced reviews assembled by an expert, making it possible to see at a glance what multiple sources said about a particular piece of scuba equipment. If one magazine loved a scuba regulator or a dive computer, but the consumers hated it, that information will be found here.

Mares Icon Scuba BCD Review

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Mares Icon Scuba BCD Review Posted in: BCDs, Over $500

The Mares Icon is one of those instantly recognizable BCDs, both because it is so common and because of the identifiable bright red plastic grips on its integrated weight pockets. The BCD has plenty of padding and a small plastic back plate for the air tank, so despite being designed to fold up into a tidy bundle, the Icon remains quite comfortable. The two big weight pockets can carry 26 lbs (12 kg) of weights, and a further 10 lbs (4.5 kg) of non-ditchable weight can be secreted in a pouch on the tank strap of the BCD. However, it should be noted that the Mares’s MRS weight system has a reputation among owners for being insecure, resulting in lost weights. Published review sources are silent on this issue, but given the mixed statements regarding Mares’s integrated weight system, consumers should regard this aspect of the Icon with a skeptical eye.

The BCD offers 45 lbs (20.4 kg) of lift, which is lot of buoyancy for a travel BCD. While there are plenty of rings and grommets for attaching gear to this Mares BCD, the unit has only one roll-down mesh pocket. The whole unit weights in at just shy of 8 lbs.

Instead of a cummerbund, the Icon uses an elastic strap to secure the harness to the waist and hips, and some owners found this feature a plus rather than a minus. They reported simply fastening the elastic a little tighter, and then allowing it to loosen to a more comfortable-yet-secure degree of tightness as the depths compressed their neoprene wetsuit. This is one of those features which is strictly a matter of preferences however, since some divers (including this reviewer) love their big cummerbund and insist upon it, so whether this is a plus or minus is entirely up to the buyer. A more objective negative is the 3 lbs (1.3 kg) of inherent buoyancy in the BCD, which is very high for this type of gear and demands packing an extra full weight just to balance it out. Some owners also reported the Mares Icon tipped forward just a bit.

While the Mares Icon BCD does have its drawbacks, it remains a travel BCD with an integrated weight capacity and lifting power that many BCDs in this category lack. Since the rule of thumb with any travel BCD is to trade away some aspects of performance to become a lightweight, compact piece of dive gear that can fit into a suitcase or rollaway bag, a BCD like the Icon cannot have everything. Still, it has hefty capability for its size, and few if any owners complain about the BCD’s travel-readiness or its comfort.

Average Price: $550, but discounts to below $500 are common.