I don’t often feel the need to blog about a new product and generally find that the only exceptions tend to be the more innovative ones. The Aeris Jetpack is one of those. It is such as ingenious but simple concept that I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it first. The Jetpack is neither a travel bag nor a BCD but a clever combination of the two that is designed to help travelling divers overcome the ever restrictive airline weight and size allowances. The complete system by itself weighs approximately 3.75kg and the BC weighs under 3kg. Travel BCDs serve their purpose by being light and easy to pack but they tend to be made of thin materials with a very minimal, functional design. The Jetpack BC is different. The whole concept of the Jetpack is to be able to take everything you need for a short dive holiday / trip on the plane as carry on luggage and stow it in an overhead locker.
As a good quality BCD tends to take up a large percentage of the weight Aeris decided that this should become the basis of a travel system and clip a semi dry day rucksack to it that is large enough to carry everything else including regulators, fins, wet suit, etc as well as clothes. In it’s packed form the BC is enclosed within it’s own separate section with the shoulder and chest harness becoming the rucksack straps for the entire system. The straps have plenty of adjustment and as it is a BC harness has loads of points to clip things to if you need to.
The day bag clips on to the BCD pack using five quick release buckles on adjustable straps that help to act as compression straps.
The 42 litre day bag has a small and larger external pocket which are accessed via semi dry zips on the front and a large main compartment for the rest of your dive kit. The bag is made using 800 denier double coated nylon which gives the a really good high quality finish. The main compartment also features a zipped area for laptop or tablet, a mesh pocket and a number of organiser pockets for certification / identification cards or documents.
The BC itself is unpacked and assembled in literally minutes. Once the day bag is unclipped the front cover unzips and rolls into the side where the inflator and corrugated hose is secured using velcro loops. The pack walls are folded in on themselves and secured with more velcro. The wing is allowed to unfold and things start to take shape. The cummerbund is actually the only component that needs to be fitted by threading the band through each side of the lower back plate and securing at the correct length for you. The velcro on the band is fitted in sections that makes it easy to identify the correct length without having to repeatedly test the fit. The dumpable weight pouches can be moved to the best position for you and fixed in place.
Once assembled the BC looks and feels like an incredibly well built and comfortable system. The Jetpack has no sizes and instead utilises a ‘one size fits all’ approach with a highly adjustable harness system. The shoulder straps have an incredible amount of additional length that can be extended at both the top and bottom. The chest strap can be slid up and down a rail for best positioning and the strap itself lengthened and tightened. The shoulder straps have plenty of webbing loops rather that d-rings for attaching accessories. Even the loop that secures the inflator can be moved if needed. The cummerbund and waist band both allow plenty of adjustment and the weight pockets can be moved along the cummerbund for the best position and balance. The new waist strap adjustment makes it much easier to tighten with a simple pull away from the body rather than struggle with awkward sideways movements.
The back lift wing provides 13.6kg of lift and uses an elasticated bungee to draw the wing back in when deflated to reduce drag. Inflation and deflation is handled by a standard BCD inflator with incorporated shoulder dump and also a rear right side kidney dump. A cylinder is kept in place using a standard cam strap near the top that will also accept optional trim weight pockets and a lower strap keeps the cylinder properly positioned and lined to ensure the weight is transferred to the hips rather than the back when upright. As the BC doesn’t need to roll or fold up like other travel BCDs the flexible back plate is surprisingly supportive and firm whilst remaining nice and light.
Material wise the Jetpack uses some materials that wouldn’t usually be associated with a travel BC. 1000 denier cordura is used in the shoulder straps, BC pack, weight pockets and cummerbund to ensure these key areas are really strong. The back pad and underside of the shoulder straps are made using the same 800 denier double coated nylon as the day bag for a tough but stylish and quick drying finish. The bladder is made from a strong 420 denier nylon.
Personally I think the Aeris Jetpack takes travel diving closer to what I think it represents, a hassle free and fun way to enjoy scuba diving without the complications of worrying about weight and luggage issues. Putting everything into one bag that you can keep with you throughout your entire journey just makes obvious sense to me. What do you think? Does the Jetpack float your boat or do you think it is a gimmick? Please leave us your comments and views.