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If you’re a woman who dives, you’ve experienced ill-fitting equipment on at least one immersion. And, the chances are good that your BCD (buoyancy control device) was the culprit. Diving with a jacket that slides around on your shoulders, rides up, or drags you from side to side isn’t any fun, is it? The Adventure Junkies feel your pain, and we never want you to go through that again! Our team of female dive pros is here to help with a guide to the best BCDs for women, carefully chosen with you in mind. Keep reading for our top tips on what to consider while shopping, which features to look for when buying a BCD, and our favorite models on the market; selected and reviewed by women for women.

For more of our top scuba gear recommendations, check out the Best Scuba BCDs

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Quick Answer - The Best BCDs for Women

  1. Cressi Travelight
  2. Oceanic HERA
  3. Aqua Lung Pearl
  4. Zeagle Zena
  5. ScubaPro Ladyhawk
  6. TUSA Jasmine
  7. Scubapro Hydros Pro
  8. Aqua Lung Soul i3
  9. Scubapro Bella
  10. Dive Rite Transpac XT

 

Comparison Table - The Best Women's BCDs

PictureNameDry WeightLift CapacityStylePriceRating
Cressi Travelight5 - 6 lbs14 - 36 lbsJacket$4.2
Oceanic HERA8 - 9 lbs19 - 40 lbsJacket$$4.5
Aqua Lung Pearl8 lbs23 - 44 lbsJacket$4.7
Zeagle Zena6 lbs31 lbsBack Inflate$$4.8
ScubaPro Ladyhawk7 - 8 lbs34 lbsBack Inflate$$4.5
TUSA Jasmine6 lbs19 - 32 lbsJacket$4.8
Scubapro Hydros Pro8 - 9 lbs36 - 40 lbsBack Inflate$$$4.8
Aqua Lung Soul i36 - 8 lbs22 - 42 lbsJacket$$4.6
Scubapro Bella9 lbs22 - 42 lbsJacket$$4.6
Dive Rite Transpac XT5 lbs35 lbsBack Inflate$$$4.6
PictureNameDry WeightLift CapacityStylePriceRating

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Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best BCDs for Women

Cressi Travelight

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 14 - 36 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 5 - 6 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Flexible Backplate (for easy packing and storage)

BEST FOR: DIVE TRAVEL

The Cressi Travelight is a lightweight and flexible BCD designed for use in warm water. This jacket offers a cushioned, female-specific wraparound fit that is easily adjusted for a variety of body shapes and sizes. If you’ve been diving with equipment that rides up on the surface, this BCD’s adjustable height waist and chest straps will feel like a total game changer.

Compared to similar models, the Cressi Travelight is one of the most travel-friendly models on the market. Features like featherweight alloy D-rings and a folding backplate shave pounds off without compromising quality. Best of all, this jacket is so small that you can roll it up and stuff it in your carry-on bag!

Oceanic HERA

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 19 - 40 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 8 - 9 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Mounting Grommets (to store accessories)

BEST FOR: REGULAR WEAR

If you’re a working dive professional or spend multiple days a month in the water, you’ll want a BCD that is comfortable, functional, and can take a beating. The Oceanic Hera features a supportive and well-cushioned fit perfect for regular use, plenty of storage for tools and accessories, and a nearly bulletproof design.

The Oceanic Hera is also a top pick for divers in cold or challenging conditions, thanks to its sturdy construction and high lift capacity. While this BCD is less compact than similar models, its extra bulk won’t bother you a bit. And, it’s one of the most stylish options available in a jacket style.

Aqua Lung Pearl

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 23 - 44 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 8 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Mounting Grommets (to store accessories)
  • Flexible Backplate (for easy packing and storage)

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS

Are you new to diving? The Aqua Lung Pearl offers all the features that you’ll need to get started, and none that you won’t. Its sturdy and traditional design is easy to don and doff, and it won’t wear out after a little bit of newbie use and abuse. Two zippered pockets and grommets for mounting accessories make it easy to stow torches, knives, and signaling devices. And, this BCD’s flexible backplate makes storage and travel a breeze.

Whether you’re diving in warm or cool conditions, the Aqua Lung Pearl offers plenty of lift. So, you’ll feel safe and comfortable above and below water no matter how much weight you’re diving with. This jacket’s adjustable height straps and extra padding ensure that it won’t ride up or dig in, even while swimming on the surface or waiting for the boat.

Zeagle Zena

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 31 lbs
  • Style: Back Inflate
  • Dry Weight: 6 lbs
Features
  • Expandable Pockets
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Flexible Backplate (for easy packing and storage)
  • Modular Design (interchangeable and replaceable pieces)

BEST FOR: CURVY GIRLS

This back inflating system was designed specifically for women and features female friendly perks that no other buoyancy device offers. Its unique front-zipping closure will accommodate even the bustiest of divers without digging in under the arms. And, separate adjustable waist and hip straps guarantee a custom fit, regardless of body type.

A lightweight and pared down design also makes this BCD well suited to dive travel. Small details like undersized D-rings and ultralight expanding pockets will help reduce the weight of your gear bag. Plus, a folding backplate makes the Zeagle Zena easy to roll up and shove into even the most jam-packed of suitcases.

ScubaPro Ladyhawk

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 34 lbs
  • Style: Back Inflate
  • Dry Weight: 7 - 8 lbs
Features
  • Expandable Pockets
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Flexible Backplate (for easy packing and storage)

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

The ScubaPro Ladyhawk is one of the best-built BCD’s for women on the market. Its high lift capacity and oversized bladder will keep you safe and comfortable on the surface no matter how much weight you use, making it a top pick for divers in challenging conditions. Swiveling buckles and super adjustable straps fit all body types without digging in. And, it wins plenty of points for style.

Though hardly the most affordable option in its class, the ScubaPro Ladyhawk is worth every penny. High-quality details like stainless steel D-rings, metal zipper pulls, and welded seams are sure to outlast similar models. Its unique buckle-in weight system takes weight integration to a whole new level with no awkward plastic trays or snaps. Plus, roll out expandable pockets ensure that you’ll have plenty of space for all your underwater odds and ends.

TUSA Jasmine

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 19 - 32 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 6 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Mounting Grommets (to store accessories)

BEST FOR: BUDGET

Budget shoppers rejoice! The Tusa Jasmine has all the features you want in a BCD, but it’s still basic enough for beginners, and it won’t break the bank. This jacket is supportive and comfortable both above and below water thanks to its firm backplate with plenty of padding. And, its straightforward and stylish design doesn’t look like it came from the bargain bin.

This sturdy wraparound jacket offers plenty of lift and more storage than similar models, so it’s a top pick for divers in cool climates. And, while the Tusa Jasmine isn’t a super compact model, it is still lightweight enough for dive travel.

Scubapro Hydros Pro

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 36 - 40 lbs
  • Style: Back Inflate
  • Dry Weight: 8 - 9 lbs
Features
  • Expandable Pockets
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Flexible Backplate (for easy packing and storage)
  • Modular Design (interchangeable and replaceable pieces)

BEST FOR: DIVERS WHO ARE HARD ON THEIR GEAR

The ScubaPro Hydros doesn’t look like any other BCD on the market thanks to its innovative modular design. Nearly every piece of this back inflating system can be removed and replaced without ever visiting a service center. All those easy to change parts make this one of the most customizable buoyancy compensators available, and while it is one of the more expensive options, you’ll save a bundle on repairs in the future.

This is also one of the hardest wearing models available, thanks to its injection molded plastic parts and pieces. Its fabric-free Monoprene harness dries faster than any other design, and will never fray or tear. Though super lightweight, this system offers plenty of lift, too. And, the ability to add a crotch strap makes this setup one of the most secure feeling options around.

Aqua Lung Soul i3

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 22 - 42 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 6 - 8 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Mounting Grommets (to store accessories)
  • Flexible Backplate (for easy packing and storage)

BEST FOR: PETITE DIVERS

Designed with female divers in mind, the Aqua Lung Soul i3 offers a super custom fit. Swiveling shoulder straps, an inward tilted harness, and an extra short backplate make this jacket-style BCD perfect for all body types, including women with small frames. This model won’t ride up on the surface or slide around on your back underwater. Plus, its short torso helps keep your center of gravity low, making this one of the most comfortable options available for shore diving and long walks with equipment.

The  Aqua Lung Soul i3 uses a unique one-touch design for inflation and deflation, eliminating the need for a traditional inflator hose. The lever, found at hip height, is simple and intuitive to use, though it does look a bit different than conventional models. Simply lift up to inflate, and push down to dump air from all the jacket’s vents simultaneously, no matter what position your body is in.

Scubapro Bella

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 22 - 42 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 9 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Mounting Grommets (to store accessories)

BEST FOR: DIVING IN COLD CONDITIONS

When it comes to diving in cold climates, you need a BCD that’s up to the challenge. This stable and comfortable jacket comes standard with extra accessory storage, an all-metal cam lock (for securing your BCD to the tank), and enough lift for divers in the coolest of conditions. Plus, its highly expandable straps will comfortably accommodate even the thickest of wetsuits or a dry suit.   

The ScubaPro Bella has a firm backplate with a built-in carrying handle, perfect for long hauls on land. And, it offers plenty of padding so you won’t feel those plastic parts and pieces digging in during your dive. Best of all, this BCD was built to last with welded seams, metal zippers and rings, and ScubaPro’s unique buckle-in integrated weight system.

Dive Rite Transpac XT

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 35 lbs
  • Style: Back Inflate
  • Dry Weight: 5 lbs
Features
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Metal D-rings (more durable than plastic)
  • Modular Design (interchangeable and replaceable pieces)

BEST FOR: CAVE, CAVERN, AND WRECK DIVERS

Unlike traditional BCDs, the Dive Rite Transpac XT is a harness and wing setup that requires setup and assembly at home. This type of buoyancy compensator is not for beginners and definitely takes some getting used to. But, if you’re diving in overhead environments, it’s one of the best options available.  

If you are looking for a truly custom fit, the Dive Rite Transpac XT won’t disappoint. Because this BCD uses webbing instead of a premade harness, it’s cut to your exact size. And, its super-streamlined wing sits flat on your back, promising the best trim possible while underwater. Plus, this setup works for single and double tanks and can accommodate more weight than a traditional buoyancy compensator. So, it’s perfect for a variety of advanced applications including technical diving.

 

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THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A WOMEN’S BCD

The right buoyancy compensator should fit well and feel totally comfortable both above and below water. But, that is hard to accomplish with a unisex BCD. Standard models are made to fit men, so their designs don’t always work for women’s height, body shape, and weight distribution. That’s why it’s important to consider the design of the BCD you’re considering purchasing before making your final decision. Check out these considerations before buying your women’s-specific BCD to make sure you get the right one for you!

 

STYLE

BCD’s come in two main styles: jacket and back flotation (AKA back inflate).

Jacket style BCDs, named for their appearance, are the most common models on the market. Most divers are trained using this type of buoyancy device, and they are a popular pick for rental equipment, too. Jacket styles are easy to don and doff, as they slide over the shoulders just like a winter coat. And, they are the most stable and comfortable style on the surface because they push your head and shoulders well above water.

Back flotation BCDs aren’t quite as popular as jackets. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome. These styles tend to be quite compact and travel-friendly, as their bladders are easier to roll up. Many experienced divers find back flotation BCDs more comfortable and “free” feeling than their bulkier counterparts. This style offers excellent trim and streamlining underwater too, so it’s perfect for divers who are interested in exploring overhead environments like caves and shipwrecks.

 

FIT

When it comes to shopping for dive gear, fit is always the most important factor. BCDs designed for women fit differently thanks to their higher chest and waist straps, inward angled shoulder harness, shorter backplate, and extra padding.

But, buying a women’s BCD doesn’t guarantee a good fit. You should still try your gear on before buying it whenever possible. When full, your BCD should fit snugly without squeezing or pinching. And, when empty it shouldn’t slide around on your shoulders or waist. You’ll want plenty of room for adjustment in all your straps and buckles, especially if you plan on diving in cold water or using a dry suit.

 

DIVING CONDITIONS

Where in the world you’ll be diving is a major factor when shopping for a BCD. If you’re diving in cold water or rough surface conditions, you’ll want plenty of lift. Dive travel, especially in warm water climates calls for lighter weight gear. And, if you’re working in the water or diving daily, you’ll want plenty of room for storing accessories and tools.

Overhead environments and technical diving may require specialized equipment. If you plan to take on these challenging conditions, choose a BCD that is versatile enough for reef diving as well as more advanced experiences.

 

LIFT

Lift describes how much weight your BCD can offset. If you dive with a lot of lead or in cold climates, you’ll want to choose a style that is up to the challenge. A BCD that can’t lift enough won’t hold your head and shoulders high above water when you’re on the surface. And, it can create problems when controlling your buoyancy below water, especially if you are diving with a large amount of weight. If you aren’t sure how much lift you need, your best bet is to overestimate.

 

DRY WEIGHT

How much your BCD weighs dry is a major consideration when it comes to dive travel. Depending on what gear you own, this may be the heaviest object in your bag! For divers who travel frequently, models that are lightweight and have a flexible backplate are best.

Your BCD’s dry weight can also affect how much weight you need while diving. If you dive with very little weight to begin with, a heavy buoyancy compensator might cause you to feel overweighted, and reduce the amount of lead that you need to use in the water.

Don’t forget that extra features like thick cushioning, metal zippers, and steel D-rings add weight to your BCD. If you are looking to reduce your gear’s overall weight, select a minimalist design or a model rated for dive travel.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT

Some BCDs allow you to move their chest and waist straps up and down to accommodate a shorter torso. This is especially helpful for petite divers who often find their buoyancy compensator’s strap placement too high. Adjusting these straps can keep your gear from riding up on the surface and help you maintain a high center of gravity which is important for proper trim while underwater. A high center of gravity is also vital for shore divers or anyone who carries their gear over long distances on land. Carrying weight too low on your back can cause muscle strain or even injury.

EXPANDABLE POCKETS

Most divers like to carry a few accessories like a knife, torch, and SMB (surface marker buoy) in the pockets of their BCD. While most standard styles include at least one closing pocket, you’ll probably want a bit more storage. Expandable or rollout pockets stow away inside your BCD when you don’t need them and are easy to pull out and expand when you do.

METAL D-RINGS

When it comes to storing accessories, D-rings are some of the most useful attachment points on your BCD. Choosing a model with metal rings over plastic will keep you from losing important equipment underwater. This might add a bit of weight to your gear but is well worth it if you are carrying a dive compass, knife, torch, or other valuable items.

MOUNTING GROMMETS

Some BCDs include mounting grommets for attaching accessories to the outside of your equipment. These are especially handy for storing dive knives and cutting tools, or other small items that you don’t want rattling around in your pockets.

FLEXIBLE BACKPLATE

A flexible back plate instead of hard plastic backing inside your BCD is often associated with dive travel. But, many divers find this style far more comfortable for regular use, especially women. While a plastic backplate with a carrying handle might be convenient, it can also cause discomfort while diving. If you have a curvy figure or are prone to your buoyancy compensator’s plastic pieces digging into your back and sides, look for a folding backplate with plenty of padding.

MODULAR DESIGN

Some BCDs are made of modular pieces, making their parts much easier to change and replace. Most models featuring modular design are back inflating systems with interchangeable straps and panels. One major advantage of this feature is the ability to create a truly custom fit. Modular styles are also very long-lasting because they are so easy to service and repair.

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About The Author

Scuba Junkie

Jessica is a PADI dive instructor, travel blogger, and underwater photographer. She has been living on the road full-time since 2014 and has taught scuba diving in a variety of environments worldwide. These days, you can find her living and work on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Her goal is to share her passion for the ocean and inspire people to explore the undersea world.

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