The Mares Magellan is a brand new BCD for 2019 designed specifically for the travelling diver with a focused effort on weight reduction and improved comfort.
The Magellan has a few nifty little tricks up its metaphorical sleeve that make it a serious contender for anyone looking for a lightweight travel BCD. Firstly there is no rigid backplate which allows the BCD to be rolled tightly for travelling and saves a considerable amount of space. Second is a new shoulder strap design that offers a great level of adjustability and provides a better fit for women. Thirdly, at just 2kg in weight, there has been a concerted effort to reduce weight without detrimentally affecting performance, function or comfort.
The Magellan is a backlift BCD with a rear wing style bladder that is kept in check by elasticated straps that drawn the bladder inwards as it deflates to stop it from flapping and creating drag when empty. The rear bladder obviously lends itself well to the travel ethos, reducing bulk and excess material usage but often in the hunt for weight savings lift capabilities are lost. Happily Mares seem to have realised this and delivered a travel BCD with 18.5kg of lift (S/M size) so it actually remains useful for buoyancy.
The harness is where a lot of the weight reduction has happened. There is no velcro cummerbund, no bulky clips, no unnecessary additional of a billion D-rings (its a travel BC after all, how much stuff are you going to need to attach to it!). What it has got in a new concave / contoured shoulder strap design that has been developed to increase the comfort over the chest and shoulders, especially for women that find unisex BCDs a little impeding. The shoulder straps have the standard adjustable quick release buckles at the bottom but they also have adjustment at the top, allowing the strap to be moved vertically to suit your own anatomy (ladies!). As is the current trend the shoulder straps anchor towards the back of the waist line for a more snug fit and the waist buckle adjustment has been simplified so that the diver just needs to put their thumbs through the D-rings and push away from the body to tighten rather than across the body.
As mentioned, the Magellan has a soft backpad so there is no structural plastic at all but there is a considerable amount of sculpted back and lumber padding built in to protect the spine from impacts. The BCD uses a low main cylinder strap combined with a high level retaining strap to keep the cylinder anchored and provide structure and cylinder stability whilst diving.
Feature wise the Magellan is fitted with an integrated weight system with quick release buckles, knife grommet holes on the left side and a roll down pocket on the right side.
The integrated weight system is simple but effective. The pouches slide into their slots and the red female section of the buckle clicks reassuringly over the male part. The pouches themselves use a velcro closure to keep your weights secure. Weight capacity does depend on the size though with the L/XL supporting up to 9kg and the XXS/XS and S/M both supporting 4kg. If you were wondering about trim pockets the Magellan doesn't actually come with any but they are available as an optional extra. If you want to fine tune your trim or just redistribute some of your weight then they are a no-brainer really.
The roll down pocket is a handy little extra. Having pockets incorporated into the weight pocket slots adds considerable bulk which is a no no for travel BCDs and, to be fair, how much can you normally get in them anyway. The roll down pocket is secured with a small tab when not in use, has a large toothed zip at the top for easy operation and can obviously conform to a much greater variety of shapes compared to a fixed dimension side pocket.
Overall the Magellan is a well thought out BCD. Its weight is impressive given that it looks sturdier than other minimalist travel BCDs, material choice and quality is good as you would expect from Mares and the extra adjustability makes it very comfortable. If you are after a travel BC then the Magellan really needs to be on your shortlist.