As a newbie scuba diver, one of the most important investments you’ll make is your first BCD. Short for Buoyancy Control Device, it is the central hub of your scuba diving gear, and grants you buoyancy control wherever you are in the water. Choosing the ideal BCD to kick-start your scuba diving adventures must be gotten right the first time as it directly affects your comfort and safety, and this buying guide will help you do just that.
Best BCDs for Beginners
With a ton of products on the market, finding the ideal BCD for beginners can be pretty tasking. To save you the hassle, we have compiled a list of our top five BCD for beginners to help streamline your choices and get you diving as soon as possible.
The Cressi Start is a jacket style BCD for beginners that comes with a blend of the best materials for superior durability and can support over 40 lbs. of maximum lift. It sports an adjustable waist strap for the perfect fit prior to inflation, is easy to clean, and is very lightweight. It is adaptable to one or two tanks, comes with 2 large cargo pockets, and features easy buoyancy control with 3 exhaust valves.
- Beginner-friendly and durable.
- Comfortable and easy to use and maintain.
- Superior buoyancy control with extra pocket space.
Second, on our list, the TUSA Liberator Sigma II comes with an innovative jacket design and combines the TUSA AWLS and USH technologies for superb buoyancy control. It boasts of an 18-46 lb. lift capacity is padded for the most comfort, and easily adjustable for the perfect fit. It is highly durable and comes with utility pockets for all the extra gear you’ll need.
- Efficient buoyancy control.
- High lift capacity and highly durable.
- Comfortable and easy to use.
Another product from Cressi, the Start Pro is built from high-grade nylon and is a great buy for the absolute scuba newbie. It is built for a snug fit, is easy to maintain, and is very lightweight. Its exhaust valves grant it top-notch buoyancy control, it supports up to two tanks, and it also comes with an integrated weight system for quick action in emergencies.
- Superior durability and comfort.
- Easy to operate and maintain.
- Supports extra gear and emphasizes quick emergency response.
The Mares Prestige 2 comes with features that emphasize quick emergency response and is designed for convenience. It sports an innovative jacket-style design, comes with dual adjustable straps for the best fit, and a padded interior for the most comfort. It boasts of superior control, comes with quick-release accessories, and features four stainless steel D-rings for the most durability.
- Emphasizes quick response and convenience.
- Ensures great fit and comfort.
- Superior control and durability.
The IST Hope combines a high-strength shell for durability with a padded interior for the most comfort. Its power inflator with dump valves allows for quick buoyancy control while its dual adjustable straps for a great fit. It also comes with extra utility pockets and D-rings to hold other equipment and is a great buy for the beginner scuba divers.
- Durable and highly comfortable.
- Easy buoyancy control with snug fit design.
- Comes with utility pockets and D-rings.
BCDs for Beginners Buying Guide
The BCD is one of the most essential equipment in your scuba gear and getting the right product is essential to making sure your first dive is enjoyable. You don’t want to learn the hard or unsafe way, how getting the right gear has a direct effect on the quality of your dives.
Whether you’re walking on the ocean floor, floating mid-ocean, or floating on the surface, the BCD for beginners will grant just the right amount of buoyancy you need to maintain your position.
Our buying guide reviews the best BCDs for beginners on the market based on their specified features and customer feedback to give you the best options to choose from. We then take it a step further and outline the key qualities you should be on the lookout for in any BCD for beginners before you make a purchase.
Comfort and Fit
Of all your scuba gear, your BCD for beginners will be on your body for the longest and so it becomes important that you choose one with a proper fit. It should be very comfortable to wear and should hug your body in a decent grip. Prior inflation, the BCD for beginners should not move freely, and after inflation, it should also not be too tight.
For the ideal fit, any BCD for beginners you are considering should come with adjustable straps to accommodate different body sizes and shapes. For newbie divers, it is recommended that you go to your local stores and try out different BCDs for beginners physically until you find the right size.
BCDs for beginners come in different designs; jacket, wing, and hybrid designs. Jacket designs are the most common you’ll see in BCDs for beginners and are feature a simultaneous front and back inflation. They are the most ideal choice for novice divers and keep the diver in a vertical orientation.
Wings, inflate on the rear and are ideal for more experienced divers. Their design makes them more comfortable and naturally orients the diver in a face-down position. Hybrids, you guessed it, are somewhere in between jackets and wings. They are easy to regulate and keep the diver in a mid-vertical mid-horizontal orientation.
The primary purpose of a BCD is to control buoyancy while in the water and vary lift. It is therefore intuitive, that the BCD you go for has a high lift rating. Too little, and you may have to expend more energy to stay afloat or ascend. Also, keep in mind that as you descend, the increasing pressure reduces the buoyancy of your BCD.
When it comes to choosing lift ratings for BCDs for beginners, the higher the better. With a high lift, you can ascend quickly and stay afloat without needing to do much leg work.