The ISLA is Oceanic's entry into the women-friendly
dive market, cut to fit the female form. And while it's suitable
for both cold and warm water diving, it is undeniably simple, in
both appearance and function. Comments from other divers whenI first
wore it - to test it out - ranged from: 'What a beautiful BC' to
'It's very basic'.
I always thought my perfect BC would be one that covered every
eventuality: one that I could wear in any situation, anywhere, that
could do anything, that would have a D-ring for every accessory
I could possibly need and pockets capacious enough (and secure enough)
to hold every life-saving gadget. So why did I end up buying this,
when I only wanted to test it? I was reluctant, at first. But what
sold me was that when I put on the ISLA, I simply forgot about it
and got on with the business of diving. Unlike any other BC I have
ever worn - and I have hired and tried out several - it doesn't
ride up, roll around, squeeze, cut into my hips or give me shoulder-ache.
But let's start with the basics. The low-profile back pack has
a comfortable carrying handle, rounded so it doesn't force a groove
into your hand. It's beauty is in its simplicity. And now I know
the meaning of the word 'snug' when applied to a BC (and a good
example of a manufacturer using the word absolutely truthfully).
The air cell is contoured to the body and not only does it fit snugly
around the hips, it does the same around the shoulders, where it
is cut much closer in towards the neck, with extra padding on the
shoulder straps, with soft edges.
There's just one way to secure it across the body - underneath
the chest, with a wide (4in?) Velcro-ed cummerbund and APS buckle
adjustable positioning system (Oceanic has a patent pending on this).
You simply pull out the cummerbund ends and place them across your
lower chest to secure one on top of the other. Then you click the
buckle ends into each other on top of the cummerbund and pull the
plastic D-ring ends to adjust for the perfect fit. There are long,
velcro-closing pockets on the outside (not huge, but big enough
to take a large SMB or safety sausage) and underneath them, pockets
for Oceanic's optional integrated wieght system, each holding a
maximum of 4.5 kilos (10lbs). The shoulder straps are also adjustable
along the same lines, with plenty of 'extra' depending on how well
endowed you are! Although it is designed as a women's BC, the fact
that it does not have a more obvious breast-support design makes
it even more popular - and bought by men, according to Oceanic.
The slimline, corrugated inflator hose has a Velcro holder at the
top and there are retainers above the pockets to keep the octopus
and instrument console in position. And there are clips on either
side for attaching accessories. The ISLA comes in black, black/blue,
black/neon pink and black/purple in small, medium and large with
(freshwater) lift respectively 22, 24 and 30 lbs.
The beauty of the ISLA is its simplicity. It's extremely comfortable,
functional and once it's on, you forget about it. And surely the
whole point of diving equipment is that it is simply an aid to enabling
you to savour the diving. We dive for the sake of diving, not for
the sake of the equipment, I say. All Oceanic BCs come with a comprehensive
22 page 'Owner's Guide' and all Oceanic products in the Life-Support
range come with a full labour and parts warranty for two years from
the date of purchase.
The ISLA costs £281.24 from Oceanic, stockists details from
tel: 07000 OCEANIC or 01404 891819.