Material testing : discover a very different BCD

Aqua Lung Rogue BCD, why don’t we test it ?

For this truth test for travel oriented BCD, the company Aqua Lung, world leader in diving equipment, takes up the challenge by offering me to test its Rogue BCD.

Immediately, this type of material with an ultra-light appearance seems surprising to me. Indeed, I am rather used to being engulfed in thick and heavy equipment composed of many elements. Since I usually dive in cold water, my landmarks are different.

So of course, this thin BCD sharpens my curiosity.

First surprise: the assembly of the Aqua Lung Rogue BCD

My Rogue BCD arrives by direct mail from the company Aqua Lung, which I visited in August 2018 and told you about. 

The first surprise is the weight of the package: really, is there a BCD in there?
Somewhat impatient to discover the Rogue BCD, I soon open the box. And then, surprise, I find myself in front of a BCD…. in pieces.

You have to earn the  Rogue BCD. I will have to go back to my skills as a Lego pro to be able to assemble it without too much trouble. But no worries, even if the instructions are not optimal, there is a way to quickly understand the logic of the assembly. Okay, I admit it, I made a mistake on the first try. 

Finally, the assembly and disassembly is done simply, especially with regard to the shoulder straps. This allows the vest to fit into a small carry-on baggage item. Convenient for those who do not want to travel "heavy". 
Le gilet Rogue rentre mis dans un bagage cabine avec un détendeur, un masque et un ordinateur
Si petit qu’il laisse encore de la place pour le reste dans un bagage cabine | © Different Dive

A resolutely modern design… 

I didn’t choose the color but you have to admit that my Aqua Lung Rogue BCD looks nice. I was dreaming for a long time to find colors in diving, immediately I felt in love with the look of this BCD. Even though I usually never wear pink.

Aqua Lung seems to take this into account by offering purple-pink, blue, white-pink, yellow and even orange. But for those who like black and other grey colors, it’s also available in these shades.

Le Gilet Rogue Aqua Lung prêt à être utilisé
Prêt pour plonger ? | © Different Dive

Initially planned for the Asian market (I really have to go there), the colors are finally invading the European market. Slowly, since at the time of the test (March 2019), the matching colored envelope was not yet available. 

… and minimalist

No D-rings all over, no useless pockets or other gadgets. The Rogue BCD gets to the point and replaces almost all metal rings. On the straps and side pockets, fabric Daisy chains (used in trekking for example) or soft type fasteners are used. 

To attach the equipment, the hooks must be replaced by rubber bands for ease of use.

No Velcro lap strap coming underneath the one with the fastener. But two foldable side pockets to put what you want in them (and if it was the waste you want to bring to the surface in a “cleaning” operation?).

The idea is clearly to be as light as possible to reach a weight of 2.2 kg.

I'm telling you... with the Rogue we go to the simplest expression of the diving BCD. 

Time to try the Aqua Lung Rogue BCD

Second surprise. As I put the BCD on my back I have a total feeling of freedom.

Incredible, I feel like I don’t have a BCD on my back. 

Of course, I hope that the feeling will be the same when diving.
In the meantime, I notice that, since the different elements are mounted on hinges (made of plastic), the Rogue BCD adapts perfectly to my morphology.

it will be necessary to check if these plastics will resist wear and tear.

Testing the Aqua Lung Rogue BCD with a semi-dry suit under the Egyptian sun 

It’s in the clear and not too cold waters of the Red Sea that I will test the Rogue BCD early March. As the water is at 22 degrees in this season, I will dive in a 7mm semi-dry suit. 

The look

Many divers stop to look at my Rogue BCD. With its white and pink color, it stands out among others. I can’t wait to see it later with it’s matching envelope. It must be great for the pictures.

Le Gilet Rogue Aqua Lung au milieu d'autres gilets de plongée
Un look qui se différencie vraiment | © Different Dive

The set up of my material

This is the first time I have used a BCD with a fastening system such as GripLock™.

Don’t laugh, but I have to do it several times to adjust the length of the strap for optimal fixation. I will end up putting the cylinder down for more ease… Under the amused gaze of the staff from whom I refuse help. This is a serious test!
However, despite my first setbacks, I will succeed with a certain pride.

Indeed, when the strap is adjusted to the correct size, this system is very practical. As long as you don’t change the size of the cylinder….

Note: during the preparation of my equipment, I had not been attentive to the fact that my octopus had been mounted on the left and would therefore not be able to take advantage of the space reserved for its attachment to the Rogue BCD. I will then use the soft straps to hang it up.
Bande d'accroche de l'octopus
Sympa le système pour l’octopus, n’est-ce pas ? | © Different Dive

Where to put the weight on the Aqua Lung Rogue BCD

Weight is an important aspect of diving comfort and safety. The  Rogue BCD has two options for weight.

  • The 2 removable pockets (2 x 4.5 kg) that can be easily clipped to the side with the SureLock system II™.
  • 2 additional pockets (2 x 1.5kg) that are fixed in the back

I rarely dive in semi-dry suit and definitely not in “mild” and salty seas. I’m going to have to use weigh accordingly.
Although I thought that the 9kg  in the weight pockets of the BCD might be enough (which made the Divemaster smile), this will not be the case. My semi-dry suit and aluminum cylinder will require me to add weight in both side pockets since I did not have the additional back pockets.

Easy to attach, the weight pockets are also very easy to remove as they can be pulled down with a sharp movement. Be careful, however, when they are fully filled, when they come out, it is possible to scratch your fingers a little. 

Comfort when equipping

It’s time to put on the Rogue BCD and go into the sea. 

Another movement, another surprise… pleasant.

Since the straps are very wide, it is really easy to put on the BCD without any difficulty. Practical for those who have shoulder problems and/or who systematically hang their dive computer or Buddy Watcher at that time.

Envergure des bretelles du gilet Aqua Lung
Des bretelles aussi larges, ça existe vraiment ? | © Different Dive

As the removable weight pockets are located at the back, they do not compress the hips. As a woman, I appreciate it. Similarly, the SureLock II™ system, with its audible click, leaves no doubt that the weight pockets are securely attached.

Diving with my Aqua Lung Rogue BCD

Of course, this is the most important moment. Does the Rogue BCD keep its promises once it gets in the water?

The answer is YES, YES and still YES.

During the dive, the BCD is completely forgotten.
It’s as if you were diving without a BCD, as the feeling of freedom of movement is so total.

Hélène en plongée
C’est parfait, quoi d’autres ? | © Different Dive
While it remains perfectly stable, for the first time in my diving life I feel like I don't have a BCD on my back. 

It’s incredible (I couldn’t believe it myself). 

Moreover, when I empty the BCD, the envelope retracts inwards, almost completely disappearing. This gives the Rogue BCD a real hydrodynamics design.

Hélène savoure sa plongée en Mer Rouge
Une impression de liberté | © Different Dive
Note: Because of its back buoyancy the Rogue may not actually be a BCD for beginners who will eventually be more comfortable with a "wrap-around" BCD.

Additional tests

I had planned to test the Rogue BCD in warm waters and make it a travel BCD.
However, I appreciated its use so much that I wanted to test it in other conditions as well. 

With a dry suit in quarries in Belgium

Honestly, I had doubts about using the Aqua Lung Rogue BCD with a dry suit including all my usual equipment. 

Dry suit diving is very different in terms of size, thick underwear, wider suit, diving torch with large batteries (it is often dark in the Belgian quarries), heating vest and its external battery.

However, despite my doubts, the Rogue BCD has largely kept its promises. And I felt the same feeling of freedom of movement as in the mild sea. In addition, its wide straps make it easy to put on the BCD without the help of my buddy.
However, I did not find it practical and comfortable to attach the battery of my heating vest (which must be visible). So I had to make adjustments like in a blind test. It seems to me that this was a limitation of its design because of a drastic reduction of metal D-rings. Although I must admit that few divers use a heated vest during their dives. 

Another disadvantage that is more annoying with heavy equipment is the strap opening system.
Designed to be able to be removed quickly, this clip has the advantage of pivoting in all directions thanks to its round shape. This contributes to the overall feeling of freedom.
However, if the fastener is easy to close, it is very difficult to open. You have to push hard enough, which is complicated, especially if the BCD is still on your back.

Fortunately, thanks to the wide shoulder strap openings, I didn’t have to use this fastener.

In (really) warm water, 3mm suit: dives in Jamaica

Surprisingly, it was with a 3mm wet suit in really warm Jamaican water that the BCD proved to be less effective by moving on my shoulders.

The reason was quite simple as I am rather tall but with a marked waist.  I often have to take a S size in hot water so that it is close enough to my body while elsewhere I dive with a M size BCD.

So I have only one BCD for waters of +/-26 degrees and under and a BCD for waters of 27 degrees and above.

Here, as the Rogue BCD allows a significant customization, I would just have to complete the BCD with a pair of smaller straps to be able to use it in all conditions with any diving suit.

Two BCD in no time. Smart, isn’t it?

Aqua Lung Rogue BCD, a travel oriented BCD?

Very clearly, its small size, light weight and simplicity make it the perfect diving BCD for travel.

But “not only”. 

While it is perfect for warm water diving with light equipment, the Rogue BCD is ideal for other types of dives. From the Mediterranean sea to Belgian quarries and many other environments. The BCD is certainly an excellent product that surprises, pleases by its small size and the unique impression of freedom.

Hélène avec son Gilet Rogue Aqua Lung à la carrière de la Croisette
Test du gilet Rogue en eau froide | © Different Dive

Aqua Lung Rogue BCD in a nutshell

Suggested retail price: 499€ (excluding options)
Available colors: purple-pink, blue, white-pink, yellow, orange and grey-black
Weight: less than 2.2kg
Buoyancy: back with a lift of 15l
Weight capacity: 2 removable pockets of 4.5 kg each
Additional weights: 2 additional fixed pockets of 1.5 kg each in the back
Use: all recreational diving conditions. Perhaps less suitable for beginners or technical divers evolving with a large equipment (bail out tanks for example)

I love

  • The unique feeling of freedom when diving
  • Ease of putting on the BCD
  • Hinges that allow the vest to adapt to the morphology… this is COMFORT !
  • A minimalist and colorful look if you wish
  • The possibility to replace if necessary just one part of the equipment.
  • Light weight
Le gilet Rogue Aqualung dans le bac de rinçage en Jamaïque
Mon gilet se prélasse dans un bain au soleil | © Different Dive

I like

  • Small footprint
  • The possibility of creating a “tailor-made” BCD
  • Weight pockets located at the back
  • The sound of the  SureLock II™  system when you click it in the BCD
  • A space provided for the octopus
  • Foldable side pockets for more space
  • Nice details like the cap protecting the inflator tip when the inflator is not connected to the vest
Le bouchon de la connexion du tuyau d'inflateur
Un petit bouchon bien pratique | © Different Dive

I have a mixed opinion

  • The GripLock™ system. It is easy to use if you do not change the dive cylinder size regularly. It is less simple if you do. Likewise, I have the feeling that I will get my fingers stuck in it… Even if stopping just before the final fixing prevents this inconvenience.
  • Fabric fasteners requiring the use of elastics bands.
  • Very soft material inside the straps that can fray due to friction.
  • With the round clip of the strap opening system it’s difficult to open the strap (between the straps and side pockets)
  • The fastening system between the straps and the back of the BCD. Although it is very practical during assembly and disassembly of the BCD, it has probably come off once due to the manipulation of the equipment on the zodiac. Is there a risk of this happening again?

I like less

  • The paper instructions (Aqua Lung could perhaps be inspired by a certain Swedish furniture store specializing in instructions)

To finish….

This truth test on the Aqua Lung Rogue BCD proved conclusive and I would not hesitate to recommend this BCD for dives because of the unique sensations of freedom. I have definitely adopted it.

Do you know the Rogue BCD ? What is your favorite BCD?

Feel free to share your experiences and preferences in a comment directly below on the blog. I would be happy to discuss with you.

And above all…. remember to be happy 🤗

Hélène

[Did you like this truth test? More test posts here]

Note: I do not have a particular partnership with Aqua Lung, but they have provided me with the necessary BCD for this truth test free of charge, taking the risk of a sincere and constructive criticism. I test the material offered to me honestly and impartially. Feel free to send me the products you would like me to test.

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