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. For the touring scuba diver, your BCD must be easy to carry around and should not take a lot of space. The best travel BCDs are very lightweight, compact, and easy to use.
Best Travel BCDs
To save you some shopping time, we have compiled a list of our top five travel BCDs that boast of superb functionality from which we are sure you’ll find the right dive companion for your next scuba vacation.
Due to the presence of the Integrated Weight Lock Aid System 2.0, there is an automatic intuitive insertion and extraction process. This BCD is equipped with a Cressi inflator that can be maintained easily and is resistant to particles that can block the valve. It has a D-ring at the pocket openings and this helps to reduce the stress on the fabric.
- It weighs only 6 lbs. (2.7 kg).
- Its pockets can each store up to 10 lbs. (4.5 kg) of load.
- The jacket is close fitting when worn properly.
The Mares vest ranks among the best travel BCDs because of many features like its comfortable fit, and stability. Also, it has a buoyancy with a maximum lift of about 40 lbs. (18 kg) and it features Smart Trim Weight Positioning. It has an adjustable waist strap and an extra pouch with a zip.
- It has a roll down cargo pocket.
- The structure is compatible with single and double tanks.
- It weighs 8.7 lbs. (3.9 kg).
It has a single air cell and the largest size variation provides a maximum buoyancy of 42.7 lbs. (19.4 kg). Also, it has a pair of bands to hold your tank in place, and the largest compatible tank volume is 18 liters. Apart from its large zippered cargo pockets, it has six D-rings that serve as extra clip-on points.
- Five different sizes range from XS to XL.
- It comes with an inflator for the air cell.
- The buildup drains and dries quickly.
With a lightweight design weighing just 5.5 lbs. (2.5 kg), the Oceanic Biolite stands out as one of the best travel BCDs. It has two front pockets that each have a weight capacity of 7 lbs. (3.2 kg). The air bladder of the BCD is made from BioFlex material that folds and stretches around the body for a comfortable fit.
- Its pockets have a Quick Drop release system for cargo.
- The jacket is foldable.
- The presence of 1000 Denier Cordura material ensures durability.
The Aqua Lung Zuma is undeniably the lightest high-grade BCD available for purchase with a weight of only 4.4 lbs. (1.9 kg). Its weight integration system features the Aqua Lung SureLock II lock and release system. Also, it has four D-rings that make an extra provision for storing stuff.
- It has an adjustable chest strap.
- It is easy to use.
- It can be folded and transported in a suitcase.
Travel BCDs Buying Guide
The BCD is one of the most important investments you will make as a scuba diver and when you need to travel to your favorite diving spot, a travel scuba BCD is a must-have in your luggage. With a travel 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 travel 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 travel 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 travel scuba BCD before you make a purchase.
Travel BCDs are valued for their portability, so it makes sense that this is the first consideration you make. The unit should be as light and compact as possible. It should be foldable to fit into a backpack or traveling bag comfortably.
The dry weight should be as low as possible. Since you would be moving around with the jacket strapped over your shoulders, it is important for a BCD to weigh very little. Some of the best travel scuba BCDs weigh as little as 5.8 lbs. (3 kg) and this makes carrying them to be very convenient.
The primary purpose of travel scuba BCDs is to control buoyancy while in the water and vary lift. It is therefore intuitive, that the travel 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 travel BCD.
When it comes to choosing lift ratings for travel scuba BCDs, the higher the better. With a high lift, you can ascend quickly and stay afloat without needing to do much leg work. Some of the best travel BCDs have a lift capacity of up to 40 lbs. (18 kg).
The number of pockets that a travel BCD has, determines how much cargo it can hold. Apart from the number of pockets, it is good to know the amount of weight that each pocket can hold without any damage to the material.
Provided as extra support to the pockets, some travel BCDs have D-rings to which other diving gear can be attached.
Comfort and Fit
Of all your scuba gear, your travel 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 travel scuba BCD should not move freely, and after inflation, it should also not be too tight.
For the ideal fit, any travel 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 local stores in your state and try out different travel scuba BCDs physically until you find the right size.