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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 Dragon AT Scuba BCD Review

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

The Mares Dragon AT has two stand-out features. The first and signature feature of the Mares Dragon is its winged air cell design, with the cells inflating around the tank in a fashion designed to reduce drag. Those air cells provide up to 56 lbs of lift in the biggest versions of this BCD. The “AT” part (not all Mares Dragons come with the AT feature) stands for “Air Trim inflator.” In a traditional corrugated hose inflator, compressed air is directed to the inflator before it is sent to the air cell, and the hose must be raised above the head to deflate under most circumstances. While many divers don’t mind this, others hate this traditional inflator design with a passion. The latter group of divers think the hose always floats into an awkward position, making it harder to find when it is needed and always placing it in the way. The Air Trim system sends air directly to the air cell and uses pneumatic deflation (air can be ejected from any position at any time), so the inflator control can be locked off to the BCD, where it never becomes a problematic “dangling hose.” Both Scuba Diving and Dive were enthralled with the AT feature.

The Mares Dragon uses the MRS-Plus integrated weight system, which earned high marks from reviewers for both security and ease-of-ditching. However, consumers sometimes complain that the MRS system is unreliable and often results in lost weight pouches, so this almost standard feature of Mares BCDs should be viewed with a skeptical eye. The system can store up to 26 lbs (12 kg) in the forward weight pockets, plus 10 lbs (4.5 kg) in the rear trim pockets. Rounding out the picture are all the features one might expect from a high-end scuba BCD. The Mares Dragon comes with a hard back plate, plenty of back padding, a comfy collar and a molded carrying handle. Cargo-carrying on the Mares Dragon takes the form of five major D-rings and two zippered pockets. The BCD is almost neutrally buoyant with less than 1 lb of inherent buoyancy, although it weighs in at a hefty and decidedly travel-unfriendly 9 lbs, 9 oz. (4.3 kg).

Note that the Mares Dragon AT is an upgrade of the standard Mares Dragon, not a replacement. If you want the Mares Dragon but don’t care about the sins of a corrugated inflator hose, you can save some bucks by not buying a Dragon with the AT feature. In this respect, the AT feature is an extra just like an alternate air source BCD inflator.

Average Price: $700 with AT feature, $600 without.