The scuba BCD short for Buoyancy Control Device is the central hub of your scuba diving gear, and grants you buoyancy control wherever you are in the water. Whether you’re walking on the ocean floor, floating mid-ocean, or floating on the surface, the scuba BCD will grant just the right amount of buoyancy you need to maintain your position. Choosing the right scuba BCD is extremely important for a safe, enjoyable dive.
Best Scuba BCDs
As scuba BCDs are so important, choosing the right gadget can be a herculean task, thanks to the host of brands that all claim the top spot in terms of performance. To save you the hassle, we have compiled a list of our top five scuba BCDs on the market that boast of impressive features and customer feedback.
The Cressi Start BCD is a great buy for rental services and boasts of superior durability, over 40 lbs. of maximum lift, and erosion resistance. 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.
- Superior durability and erosion resistance.
- Great adjustable fit and easy maintenance.
- Great buoyancy control and comes with extra cargo pockets.
The Aqua Lung Pro HD BCD Set comes with state-of-the-art functionality and is the complete BCD kit for both newbie and professional scuba divers. It features a two-gauge computer console, four operating modes, and a mechanical weight release system. It comes with extra cargo pockets, a dive knife sheath, and combines good breathing performance with a lightweight, minimal design.
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear.
- Real-time readings with different operating modes.
- Excellent buoyancy control with extra cargo pockets.
The Zeagle Stiletto BCD boasts of impressive 35-lb lift capacity and comes with easily adjustable straps for the perfect fit. It comes with 1000 denier nylon bladders for high-pressure performance, a padded interior for comfort, and utility pockets to carry extra cargo. It also comes with a 30-lb capacity ripcord weight system and a 20-lb rear tank mount system, is lightweight, and highly durable.
- Rear inflation design and impressive lift capacity.
- Heavy-duty ripcord and rear mount systems, with utility pockets.
- Highly durable and lightweight.
The Scubapro Hydros Pro BCD boasts of impressive durability and supports the easy addition and removal of weight systems. It is a great buy for the traveler as it dries very quickly, is lightweight, and is neutrally buoyant for the best performance when submerged. It features a single-tank assembly and a rear balanced inflator with the most comfort and stability.
- Highly durable and allows easy weight attachment.
- Travel-friendly and neutrally buoyant.
- Very comfortable and stable.
The Cressi R1 Weight BCD is built for the most comfort and a great fit with adjustable harnesses. It is highly versatile, comes with an easy-to-use power inflator for easy and quick buoyancy control, and is highly travel-friendly. It sports a high-grade fabric construction for durability and uses a weight integrated BCD system for easy operation.
- Very comfortable and highly versatile.
- Travel-friendly and durable.
- Weight-integrated BCD system with power inflation.
Scuba BCDs Buying Guide
The scuba BCD is one of the most important investments you will make as a scuba diver. With a scuba BCD, you are granted an extra degree of freedom to control your position in the water and can be wherever you want to be. Many scuba BCDs can also double as support and storage for other diving equipment and choosing the right product will have a direct effect on the quality of your dives.
Our buying guide reviews the best scuba BCDs 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 scuba BCD before you make a purchase.
Comfort and Fit
Of all your scuba gear, your scuba BCD 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 scuba BCD should not move freely, and after inflation, it should also not be too tight.
For the ideal fit, any scuba BCD 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 scuba BCDs physically until you find the right size.
The primary purpose of scuba BCDs is to control buoyancy while in the water and vary lift. It is therefore intuitive, that the scuba 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 scuba BCDs, the higher the better. With a high lift, you can ascend quickly and stay afloat without needing to do much leg work.
For the scuba diver who will be traveling to his/her favorite diving spot, your scuba BCD must be very portable. It should be lightweight and foldable so it fits into a backpack conveniently. However, note that these will often sacrifice bladder size and ultimately, lift capacity for portability.
Scuba BCDs come in different designs; jacket, wing, and hybrid designs. Jacket designs are the most common you’ll see in scuba BCDs and are feature a simultaneous front and back inflation, and are ideal for novice divers and tend to a vertical orientation. Wings, inflate on the rear and are ideal for veteran 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.