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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 Kaila AT Scuba BCD Review

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

The Kaila is a women’s BCD, and Mares bills it as a practical fashion accessory for female divers. The basic idea that defines all women’s BCDs is to tailor the design so it is more comfortable on the typical female frame, something that buying a normal BCD in a smaller size usually fails to accomplish, and Mares has a good reputation in hitting the mark in this department. In the case of the Kaila, that is achieved by designing the BCD so more of the weight goes to the hips rather than across the chest, and adding extra lumber padding around the lower back of the unit. The back pad has a pull-out tab to offer more padding farther down if necessary, but otherwise the tab can be left inside the back pad for more padding. The padded collar rounds out the comfortable design nicely.

The Kaila uses Mares’s MRS integrated weight system, which has met with negative reviews from many consumers. The most common complaint is that if you swim in a horizontal position and even brush up against the release handles of the weight pockets, they pop off. However, no magazine has reported this problem (Divernet even wrote that the Kaila’s version of the MRS system was hard to pull out), and some dive center owners say that Mares has improved on their original MRS design and fixed this problem. The opinion on the MRS weight system is therefore decidedly mixed, and in the opinion of Dive Gear Reviews, consumers should do a little homework on the matter to see what people are saying and make up their own minds. Either way, the weight system holds 10 lbs (4.5 kg) in the trim pockets and up to 20 lbs (8 kg) in the ditchable front pockets. That makes the front weight pockets a little undersized, and the Kaila isn’t a good choice for pairing with a drysuit.

The BCD uses the same air cell as the Mares Dragon, and provides 31 lbs (14 kg) of lift in its smaller versions. The air cell almost wraps around the tank, streamlining the BCD in the water. The Kaila is made from Cordura 400 nylon, so it’s built to withstand only a reasonably amount of wear and tear. For cargo carrying, the Kaila has knife grommets, a big pocket on the right-hand side with plenty of space (even after the weights are installed) and four D-rings.

The Kaila has also been fitted with Mares Air Trim (AT) inflator system (cheaper versions of this same BCD exist with a more conventional inflator). This system uses pneumatic controls to inflate and deflate the BCD, so the controller can be strapped down to the waist of the BCD, eliminating one more “danglie.” All you need to do is press a button to inflate or deflate the system. A manual inflation hose has been retained for inflating the BCD on the surface in the event of an empty air tank. This hose is stored in the left-side pocket and occupies most of the space there, almost eliminating its usefulness as a cargo carrier.

The non-At version of the Kaila has a few differences worth mentioned, other than the cheaper price tag. First, because the standard version uses a conventional inflator, the left-hand pocket is free for cargo. Also, because it has a normal inflator hose, the standard Kaila also has a hose clip for gauges.

Average Price: $650