The Atomic BC1 is their first foray into the BCD market and as you would expect it is a premium quality BC with all the trimmings. Stock isn't due to be available until the end of May / beginning of June but we are taking pre-orders now in addition to our ordered stock to ensure our customers can be the first to receive theirs.
Atomic Aquatics are well known for taking a product and thinking deeply about how every component and material works together to make the best possible version of that product. Their regulators for instance (especially the Atomic T3) all have exotic materials, clever designs and ultimate performance levels and the BC1 has certainly received the same treatment. Yes, it has a premium price tag but you can't expect to buy a brand new Rolls Royce at a Dacia price and if you want the best you have to pay for it.
Top to bottom the Atomic BC1 has been scrutinised, pondered upon and developed to produce a BCD that Atomic is happy to say is world class. Just look at it....it has a quilted back and shoulder pad! QUILTED! If that along doesn't qualify as luxury I don't know what does. Some will definitely say what is the point but then what is the point of a car that can go 200+ mph when you can only do 70 mph maximum in the UK. The answer is....because it looks good, it can and people want that. Simple as. Atomic make unrivalled luxury versions of regulators, masks, fins, snorkels, etc so they have made a luxury version of the BCD to go with them.
As you might imagine the BC1 has everything you can expect on a BCD and generally in the same places but Atomic pay exceptionally close attention to the details and that is where the BC1 shines. Think back to the recent past when M&S used to run their "this isn't any (insert product), this is an M&S (insert product)", well keep those ads in mind as we run through the features and specifications.
To start it isn't made from a nylon material, instead it is made from a double laminated polyurethane which may not sound very luxurious but it allows the BCD to act more like a waterproof coat, repelling the water rather than absorbing it. It also feels really good to the touch. This isn't any old fabric, this is Atomic fabric.
The tank band. No more is it a simple webbing strap with a cam that stretches when it gets wet but a set and forget system. A few manufacturers have developed a new buckling system that makes securing your BCD to the cylinder as safe and hassle free as possible. Most are just clever cams that lock and tighten the straps as they are levered over. Mares even had a pneumatic one quite a few years ago but Atomic have gone the furthest using ski and snowboard bindings as inspiration. Their band uses a heavy duty rubber band not only grips the cylinder like a vice but also doesn't stretch when it gets wet. The buckle can be ratcheted tight and suits a wide range of cylinder sizes. This isn't any old tank band, this is an Atomic tank band.
Integrated Weight System
Of course the BC1 has an integrated weight system. It's difficult to imagine how a locking pouch can be improved upon but the pouches glide in and out of slots smoothly, locking in place with a reassuring snap and release with a simple tug of the handle. Made from the same material and using the same zip found on the BCD, each pouch can accommodate 4.5kg in either block or bag form. Working alongside the dumpable weights are two trim weight pockets integrated in the back of the bladder, allowing up to 2kg of balancing weight to be added to each pocket for optimal orientation in the water.
It is difficult to get excited about pockets but the BC1 pockets are fitted with sand resistant zips that close so completely that they resist the ingress of sand and grit into the teeth of the zip, keeping them running clean and smooth. You'll no longer it struggling with the zip to get your accessories out during a dive with these. These aren't any old zips, these are Atomic self-sealing zips.
D-rings. Possibly one of the dullest and functional components of a BCD. D shaped bits of plastic or stainless steel (or maybe even aluminium if you are feeling wild on a travel BCD) but you can rest assured that Atomic have made them more interesting. These are custom made, pre-shaped 316 stainless steel D-rings that are then coated with a black titanium PVD finish. Not heard of PVD before? Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) is a thin coating that increases the corrosion and impact resistant of metals and is more typically seen coating a first stage or external components of a second stage. PVD coated D-rings is definitely an extravagance. These aren't just any old D-rings, these are Atomic Titanium PVD coated stainless steel D-rings.
Pull dumps are not exactly complicated bits of plastic. A piece of cord passes through an outer housing and is typically fixed to a spring loaded flat plate with a sealing material on the inside. Pulling the cord pulls the plate outwards, letting air escape and releasing has the opposite effect. Well, apparently Atomic weren't satisfied with that either. Their version of the pull dump uses low friction 316 stainless steel to make the opening and closing action smoother and the pull toggles are patented "anti-floating pull knobs" which stops them disappearing off at some odd angle if they get a bit or air trapped in them. They are found in the normal positions though with pull dumps found on the right shoulder, right rear kidney and one integrated into the inflator hose assemble. These aren't any old pull dumps, these are Atomic low friction 316 stainless steel pull dumps.
High Performance Inflator
The BC1 is actually shipped to us without an inflator of any kind attached and that is because Atomic want to let you decide whether you want one of their high performance Ai power inflators or you can rid yourself of the separate octopus and use an SS1 instead. Both options are available in stainless steel or titanium versions, giving you the choice of the slightly lighter, more corrosion resistant finishing touch if you prefer. Normally you would have buy a BCD with an inflator (therefore having paid for it) and then pay to upgrade to an integrated octopus option but with the BC1 that money isn't wasted on something that would be collecting dust in your spares box.
The BC1 undoubtedly sets the bar for premium BCDs that other manufacturers will have to look to now. It is a lot of money but then you get a lot for your money and it will certainly appeal to divers that only want the best that money can buy.