Mares Magellan BCD

If you live in a location with little local diving, then you are the perfect candidate for a Travel BCD. Travel BCDs are great because they are lightweight and fold conveniently into a travel bag, allowing you to dive in your own gear when traveling to far-flung destinations.

The Mares Magellan is a lightweight Travel BCD with an ergonomic shoulder strap design and a collapsable pocket. It has four aluminum D-Rings, two on the shoulder and two under the weight pockets. In addition, it has grommets for a knife and a built-in whistle.

Dive into our in-depth review of the Mares Magellan BCD and determine if it is the right BCD for your next adventure.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Designed for travel, Lightweight & Compact
  • check-mark
    Foldable- no rigid backplate
  • check-mark
    Ergonomic Shoulder Strap Design

Things we don't like:

  • check-markWinged Back Inflate BCD tends to push face forward on the surface
  • check-markOnly Four D-Rings
  • check-markNo Color Options

Where to buy:


Mares Magellan BCD

Specs & Features

  • Chest Strap: Yes, not moveable; However the shoulder straps adjust up and down
  • Adjustment Points: 2 shoulder adjustable straps, adjustable cumberbund webbing
  • Integrated Weights: Weight-Click Lock System
  • Tank Attachment: 1 Tank Strap
  • Inflation: Back Inflate with Wings
  • Dry BCD Weight (Med): 5 lbs/2 kg
  • Weight Capacity: 9 lbs/4 kg XS/S Or 13 lbs/6 kg M/L
  • Lift Capacity (Med): 41 lbs/18.5 kg
  • Clips/D-Rings: Aluminum D-Rings - Two 1.6" (40 mm) D-rings below the weight pockets, and two 1" (25mm) D-rings on the shoulder straps
  • Colors: No
  • Easy to travel with: Yes
  • Trim Tabs: Not included; but can be added on for an additional price
See the complete list of the best BCD here!

Designed to Travel

The Magellan is one of the lightest Travel BCDs on the market. It is 0.5lbs lighter than the Cressi Travelight.

In addition, it does not have a rigid/hard backplate like the Zeagle Ranger (a non-Travel BCD), so you can roll it up to fit a carry-on with the rest of your gear.

It is a minimalist setup but still gives the extra for accessories, with four D-Rings, a roll-up side pocket, and grommets for a knife. Travel Tip: Don’t forget to remove your dive knife from the grommets if you put all your gear in a carry-on.


Ergonomic Fit

The Magellan has a concave ergonomic shoulder strap design (patent pending) that cuts down on the BCD weight and provides an improved shoulder range of motion while diving.


Related Reviews

Chest Strap

While the chest strap is not adjustable, the shoulder straps are. You can raise or lower the shoulder straps to control where the chest and shoulder strap cutouts sit.

The Magellan is a Unisex BCD. For many women, the fit through the chest is a deal breaker on Unisex BCDs. However, the adjustable shoulder straps, and the concave shoulder strap design, make it a good choice for some women—an important selling point for Mares.


BCDs explicitly tailored for a woman’s body, like the LadyHawk and Pearl, have adjustable chest straps but traditional shoulder straps. The Zeagle Zena tosses the whole chest trap out the window and uses a corset design instead. But these are not travel BCDs and won’t fold up as compactly for easy packing.

The takeaway, make sure you know the return policy where you are buying from and try on the BCD to ensure it’s the right fit for you. Everyone’s body is slightly different, and the last thing you want is a restricted range of motion through the shoulders or an uncomfortable fit across the chest.

Adjustable Cumberbund with Integrated Weights

The cumberbund is also adjustable, allowing you to increase or decrease the waistband size as necessary.

We are seeing this type of adjustment on more and more BCDs. Again, the benefit is a more comfortable fit, regardless of the size of the wetsuit you have on underneath.


Winged, BackInflate BCD

Buoyancy control is an essential aspect of diving. There are specialty courses taught to help you better control your buoyancy underwater. Why? Because better buoyancy means safer dives.

First, with better buoyancy, you are less likely to bump into the fragile underwater ecosystem. Second, with better buoyancy comes more control over your place in the water column, which is essential for safety stops and deep diving.

One criticism of back inflate BCDs, especially those with wings, is that on the surface, they tend to push you face-forward into the water. Jacket-style BCDs add air to both the back and sides of the BCD and tend to lessen this forward face-to-water experience.

A positive for the Magellan is underwater, as air is released from the BCD, the wings pull in (via internal elastic). The collapsing wings help to create a streamlined profile underwater. Not all back inflate BCDs have this feature, so the retractable wing is a plus on the Mares design.

Off the rack, the Magellan does not come with trim tabs. This means you carry all of your dive weight (click here to understand why we dive with weight) in the front pockets making a face-first into the water experience more likely.

The Magellan is a durable yet inexpensive BCD, so we suggest purchasing the optional trim tabs to better distribute your dive weight and help minimize the forward push of this back inflate BCD.

Unique Features: Whistle, Grommets, & D-Rings

The Magellan has a built-in whistle which is cool because it is an often overlooked but essential safety feature.


There is always a trade-off between functionality and weight on a Travel BCD. Here is how the Magellan balances.

The Magellan only has 4 D-Rings but does have grommets for a knife attachment.

Mares Magellan Bcd Knife Pocket

Four D-Rings is a drawback if you like to carry extra gear like flashlights, slates, and cameras. The upside to the limited number of D Rings is their placement.

Two of the D-Rings are under the weight pockets, which is a great place to store your surface marker buoys (SMB) and keep them out of your way till you need them.

Mares Magellan Bcd D Rings

The Magellan has one small zippered pocket which stows under the waist weight pocket. It is a bonus if you need to carry a few extra accessories.


Price & Quality

Mares uses 420 Cordura Nylon Fabric with Radio Frequency (RF) Welded Seams in this BCD, creating airtight and waterproof seams, and ensuring long-lasting quality.

The Magellan is inexpensive compared to a non-travel BCD (like the Ranger) but slightly more than the Cressi Travellight Travel BCD.

Remember to purchase trim tabs (about $18.00 a pair) if you want to distribute the weight.

Overall the Magellan BCD comes in at a fair price.

Do We recommend it?

If you are looking for a lightweight, minimalist travel setup with extra mobility through the chest and shoulders, then the Magellan is the BCD for you.

The Magellan is streamlined, so it is light on D-Rings and pockets but has plenty of space for a minimalist dive setup.

The Magellan Travel BCD has some cool features like ergonomic, adjustable shoulder straps, knife grommets, and a built-in whistle.

If you travel to dive and need a comfortable, durable, lightweight travel BCD, with a nice balance of weight and storage, check out the Magellan.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Designed for travel, Lightweight & Compact
  • check-mark
    Foldable- no rigid backplate
  • check-mark
    Ergonomic Shoulder Strap Design

Things we don't like:

  • check-markWinged Back Inflate BCD tends to push face forward on the surface
  • check-markOnly Four D-Rings
  • check-markNo Color Options

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Frequently asked questions

What is a travel BCD?

The biggest differences found in Travel BCDs are weight and foldability. To reduce the weight of a BCD, manufacturers can change the material or use less material.

The Mares Magellan (5 lbs/2 kg) is lightweight and has a soft backplate so it can be folded. Another excellent Travel BCD is the Cressi Travelight (5.5lbs/2.2kgs). The Travelight folds and comes with its own travel ready cinch bag.

Travel BCDs often come with fewer bells and whistles. For example, manufacturers may reduce the number of D-Rings, or additional straps to lighten the weight of the BCD.

Which BCD is the Most Comfortable through the Shoulders?

If you are looking for a more comfortable BCD through the chest and shoulders, check out the Mares Magellan Travel BCD. The Magellan has a concave shoulder strap design that makes the shoulder straps lighter and more ergonomic.

An adjustment point at the top of the strap allows you to perfectly place the chest and concave shoulder strap sections for a comfortable fit.

The benefit of this should strap design is an increased range of motion for most divers.

What to Pack on a Dive Trip?

Heading out for a diving holiday? Some divers travel with only their mask, snorkel, fins, and dive computer. When they reach their dive destination, they rent a BCD and regulator. Others travel with all their gear.

Which is best for you? That depends on your comfort, gear, and vacation. Check out our guide to packing for your next dive vacation for the tips and tricks you need to have a great travel dive experience. If you are searching for the perfect travel BCD, check out the Mares Magellan or the Cressie Travellight.

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