One of the most important pieces of gear to get for your diving kit is a scuba BCD. When you have your own equipment you’ll know how it works and it will fit you well which means you’ll be more comfortable underwater. We’ve already explained how to choose other pieces of scuba gear such as dive computers, dive masks and dive regulators, now let’s talk about finding the best scuba BCD on the market.
With all the models out there and technical specs to get caught up on, finding a good scuba diving bcd can be a daunting task. It’s best to keep it simple. Think about where and how you are going to use your BCD most then have a look at the models that fit those needs best. Keep in mind that it’s not about the most expensive gear or what all your dive buddies use. Focus on choosing the BCD that’s best for your needs.
So you want to know what the best scuba BCD out there is, right? That’s why we’ve put together this scuba BCD buyers guide to help you out with the process.
The Ultimate Guide To Find The Best Scuba BCD in 2016
NOTE: Lift capacity listed is for the medium size BCD
Things To Consider To Find The Best Dive BCD
Style: Jacket, Wing or Hybrid?
The first thing you need to consider when it comes to choosing a scuba diving BCD is the style. There are three to chose from: Jacket, back inflation, and hybrid.
A jacket style BCD when inflated will inflate the entire BCD (the back and front), giving you a bear hug feel. A back inflation BCD (also known as wings) only inflates the back portion, which can be more comfortable than a jacket because you don’t feel the BCD while diving. A hybrid style will inflate 3/4 of the back and 1/4 of the front.
For beginners we recommend a normal jacket style BCD because it offers a good all round buoyancy when inflated, making it easier to control yourself underwater. A common complaint about wing style BCD is it tends to turn the diver face down at the surface. This can be corrected by adding weight to trim pockets on the tank band.
Cold Water vs Warm Water
If you plan to dive in cold water you’ll need a BCD with a high lift capacity. Lift capacity is a measurement of how much weight the BCD can hold on the surface when the bladder is fully inflated. If you dive in cold water you’ll need to wear a thick wetsuit, which means you’ll then need to wear more weight to counteract the higher bouyancy. When the BCD doesn’t have enough lift capacity you might find yourself struggling to stay afloat at the surface.
Here’s a general guide to help you determine how much lift you’ll need.
- Tropical Diving (with little or no wetsuit protection) – 12 to 24 pounds
- Recreational Diving (with a full wetsuit or dry suit) – 20 to 40 pounds
- Technical Diving (or diving under other demanding conditions) – 40 to 80 pounds
Travel Plans – Going Light & Compact
There are many travel specific BCDs on the market which are lightweight and compact. These typically don’t have a backplate which allows them to store easily in your suitcase. If you plan to travel often with your dive kit, I would definitely recommend looking at one of these BCDS. In the 10 best scuba BCDs we talk about in this article, I’ve pointed out some great options for dive travelers.
BCDs come with D rings that allow you to clip on accessories like surface markers, whistles and lights. Some also have pockets which can be handy for storing other tools you might need while on your dive. Make sure you have enough attachment points for your needs.
Many models of BCDs come in a men’s and women’s version. The main difference is the women’s will have a shorter torso which makes carrying a heavy tank less strenuous. Other differences are the placement of the chest strap on the BCD and the width and shape of the shoulder straps.
How To Care For Your Scuba Diving BCD
Scuba BCD Reviews
The Top 10 Best Diving BCDs of 2016
“FULL FEATURE TRAVEL BCD”
The Cressi Travelight BCD is the jacket that Antonio and I use and love. It’s a great addition to your dive travel packing list. The Travelight has all the features of a traditional jacket BCD but folds down small. It’s also light which will help keep you avoid extra baggage fees while flying. It has plenty of D rings and pockets for bringing accessories along. It even has integrated weight pockets.
AQUALUNG HD PRO
Check out the latest price on: Amazon
“LONG LASTING & COMFORTABLE”
The Aqualung HD Pro is loaded with features and has a reasonable price, making it an excellent choice for beginners. Adjustability, stability and comfort are the highlights of this BCD. It’s made from durable ResisteK™ fabric which is designed to resist fading and wear from sun exposure, salt and chlorine. No one likes a brown BCD, right?
“RUGGED & VERSATILE TRAVEL BCD”
The Zeagle Stiletto is a rugged, full featured light weight BC designed for the diver who may do both warm and temperate water diving. A great feature is it has sufficient lift and weight capacity for most divers to use at their local dive sites, yet it packs easily making it a good choice for travel.
DIVE RITE NOMAD LZT
“SIDE MOUNT DIVERS CHOICE”
The Dive Rite Nomad LZT takes side mount diving to the next level. The extremely durable exterior Super-Fabric material is resistant to the elements of diving, whether diving on a quiet reef, pushing deep into a cave system, or scooting through a deck opening on a wreck dive.
“CLASSIC SCUBAPRO QUALITY & COMFORT”
The ScubaPro Knighthawk is a robust and comfortable top of the line BCD. Its back inflation wind provides exceptional freedom of movement around chest and shoulders. All these straps are equipped with “squeeze-style” quick release buckles for easy donning and doffing. The womens version of this bc is the Ladyhawk.
“MADE FOR TRAVEL & LOCAL DIVING”
The Cressi Aquaride is a dual purpose BCD that is great for travel and so incredibly versatile, it can be used for a wide assortment of diving. It’s light and can be compacted enough to be packed for your warm water trip to the tropics. It also has enough lift, weight capacity and room for maneuverability to be used with a dry suit in cold-water conditions. It’s an all around BC for any occasion.
SHERWOOD AVID CQR 3
“DESIGNED FOR FUNCTION & COMFORT”
The Sherwood New Avid CQR 3 features an updated weight release system providing more convenience and ease when installing and removing the pockets. The redesigned styling of the traditional jacket-style AVID maintains its respected functionality, comfort and dependability. There’s 6 D rings to attach your gear and zippered utility side pockets for additional scuba accessories.
TUSA LIBERATOR SIGMA II
“BEST BCD FOR YOUR BUCK”
The Tusa Liberator Sigma II is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a comfortable BC at a great price. The key to comfort with the Liberator is its Independent Harness System. The IHS isolates the jacket’s harness from the air cell, tightly supporting the tank even with changes in inflation or deflation. Tusa’s Ultimate Stabilizing Harness (USH) completely eliminates tank roll and delivers an amazing fit.
“FROM TECH TO TRAVEL”
The Zeagle Ranger was the first BC to combine high quality heavy duty construction, weight integration, and rear flotation. Zeagle’s modular construction allows the Ranger to transition between tropical travel diving, rugged cold water diving in wet or dry suits, single or twin cylinders, and even (with optional bladder assemblies having up to 2 X 85-LB lift and easily mounted back-plates) technical diving.
“COMPACT YET COMFORTABLE”
The new Sherwood Ventura BCD is only 4.7lbs (2.13kg) and is extremely compact. The Ventura secures your cylinder with the lightweight, nylon tank band and an exceptionally comfortable harness/back-inflation design. Sherwood also used a substantial amount of thermoplastic urethane (TPU) materials so it dries fast. The Sherwood Ventura is a great choice for traveling divers.
Our Other Diving Gear Buyers Guides
Which Model Do You Think Is The Best Scuba BCD? Share Your Opinion With Us!
The post Top 10 Best Scuba BCDs of 2016 – The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide appeared first on The Adventure Junkies.