All in accord?
We took the Sherwood Accord to the Red Sea to be put through its paces by our volunteer team of test divers. Here is their verdict on this BCD, which is ideal for travel but packs enough lift for most divers.

The Sherwood Accord is an ADV styled jacket, meaning that it has breakaway shoulder straps. It provides medium to high lift and has a soft backpack design. It is a single bag jacket, constructed from 420-denier nylon for abrasion and puncture resistance, backed by urethane to make it airproof.

Our Red Sea test team of four divers used the jackets extensively. With most divers making three or more dives per day, there was lots of time to assess the Accords. All of our Accord users wore 5-7mm wetsuits and dived to a maximum depth of around 40m. Throughout the week the Accords were left rigged on bottle racks on the open aft-deck. Most dives were made from the RIB, so divers wore their sets to the dive site and would then spend several minutes waiting to be picked up at the surface after the dive. The Accords would then be pulled into the inflatable, piled high and manhandled aboard the Coral Queen. This puts into perspective the real-world grilling the BCs got from our consumers. We tested each attribute of the Accord, and graded it Excellent, Good, Adequate or Poor accordingly.


Sherwood provide an A5 25-page instruction booklet with the Accord. As usual, there's a preamble of anti-litigation notices explaining that a BCD is not a lifejacket, and so on. Assembling the jacket for use is then covered. This is very straightforward as with most firmly recreational BCDs. The test team members marked the graded the instructions with one Adequate and two Goods. The fourth team member didn't read his instructions.


The Accord requires minimal preparation to dive. The direct feed is a standard 3/8th thread and screws straight into most regulator first stages without adapters. The jacket attaches to a single tank using two conventional bands. There's also a height-adjustment strap to help ensure that your the BCD sits at the correct level when you switch cylinders. Pre-dive preparation earned three Goods and one Excellent.


A BCD needs to be comfortable out of water as well as in. A poorly designed or badly-sized jacket can hurt shoulders and dig into spines if a diver has to wait around while fully kitted-up. The Accord is padded along the spine and underneath the shoulder panels to avoid this. Although the fact we were on a liveaboard meant we couldn't walk-test the BCDs to simulate shore diving, our team stood around in the Accords and wore them in the RIB on the way to the dive sites. The Accord received one Adequate, two Goods and an Excellent.

Interestingly the lowest score was provided by a highly experienced male diver who was suffering from a bad back and the highest by a female diver who is less experienced and normally uses rental equipment. This was a surprise, as the Accord is not specifically designed for women, so we expected our female testers to mark it down in this important category.


A BCD has three main uses: to provide a harness for the scuba set; to provide buoyancy at the surface; and to provide lift and proper trim while underwater to offset the weight of the diver's equipment and air. We devoted much of our testing to assessing these last two points. The Accord provides approximately 12lb of lift in the extra small size to 35lb in the extra large.

Surface Flotation

Rated lift is not the whole story on flotation. We think it is probably more important to determine how high above the water a diver's head will be will be when the jacket is inflated. Keeping the face clear of the water, especially in a chop, makes breathing easier if you are out of air and don't have a snorkel. Additionally, a diver who floats high in the water can see further and is more visible to others. All of our test team were properly weighted and were using correctly sized jackets when we measured the distance from the waterline to their lower lip with their Accords inflated as fully as was comfortable. Most BCDs squeeze a diver when fully blown up and can restrict breathing. The Accord minimises this by using an elasticated cummerbund and chest closure that lets the bag inflate away from the diver's body. Distances were 13cm (5 in) to 19cm (7in) across the group. Testing was conducted using a single alloy 2400l/80cft tank.

Our team, who typically spent a couple of minutes on the surface with their Accords inflated while awaiting pick-up, were also asked to assess stability. Ideally, a jacket will keep a diver upright without forcing him to expend energy fighting a tendency to pitch forwards or backwards. Our team's overall scores for surface flotation were one Poor, one Adequate and two Goods. It is important to realise that correctly positioning the scuba tank and weights has a huge influence on a diver's balance, affecting trim both underwater and at the surface. Scores may reflect whether all the team were aware of this.

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