Among manufacturers, Aqua Lung offers some of the widest variety of gear made specifically for women, which can be a huge advantage for female divers, as simply using smaller versions of men’s equipment usually results in a suboptimal fit and performance. The Soul i3 is Aqua Lung’s top-of-the-line women’s BCD.
- Type of BC: Hybrid air cell combining a jacket style with a back inflation unit
- Fabrics: Air cell – fade-resistant Armorshield Cordura, non-air cell – Armor Cordura, Armor X, ballistic nylon, backpack covered in microsuede
- Weight System: All sizes – two ditchable pockets each capable of holding 10 lbs./4.5 kg with SureLock II releases. Two rear non-ditch pockets each capable of holding 5 lbs/2.2kg
- Lift Capacity (lbs/N): XXS-22/100, XS/SM-28/120, MD-32/140, ML-42/180
- Colors: Black/Charcoal/Twilight, Black/Charcoal/Pink, Black/Charcoal –
As Aqua Lung’s luxury model, you’d expect the Soul i3 to include everything but the kitchen sink, and you wouldn’t be disappointed. From Aqua Lung’s unique, dedicated octopus pocket, to knife-attachment grommets for your dive knife and a total of seven D-rings for clipping on gear, this is a fully equipped BCD. The Aqua Lung SureLock II integrated weight system is also generally considered one of the best in the industry, both in terms of ease of use and security. The Soul i3 also features two air bladders, one placed inside the jacket and the other on the back, creating a hybrid between a traditional jacket BCD and a back-inflation BCD, ensuring a sleeker profile and better trim control in the water.
All the bells and whistles in the world won’t matter much if the fit is off, especially for a BCD such as this one, which is specifically meant to provide a better fit for women. The Wrapture harness, another Aqua Lung first, includes a specially designed back plate and shoulder buckles, ensuring that the BCD hugs the diver without restricting movements. Taking into consideration that women are all shaped differently, the vast majority of female divers I’ve spoken to, who have tried the Soul i3, have professed that it’s one of the best fits they’ve ever found in a BCD.
The i3 System
The “i3” in the name refers to the i3 inflation and deflation system, which is a proprietary Aqua Lung system and one of the first innovations on the standard low-pressure inflation system typically used to add or remove air from the BCD. There’s a small toggle near the left hip; lifting it up adds air, while pressing it down releases air. Also, the lack of a traditional corrugated hose means the BCD has a more streamlined profile and less risk of entanglement. The toggle engages a number of dump valves, meaning you’re able to release air regardless of your position in the water.
- The fit of this BCD is unlike no other
- Made by Women for Women
- i3 System
- Shoulders can be a bit loose on smaller framed bodies
The hybrid design and the wide variety of features make for a luxury BCD that will appeal to women divers who are looking for nothing but the best. And the fit will appeal to those who’ve struggled to find a well-fitting BCD. The suggested retail price of $695 places it in a fairly pricey range, but it is fully able to handle the competition from other BCDs in this market.