Controlling buoyancy is one of the most important aspects of scuba diving. Your (buoyancy control device) BCD is the main piece of dive equipment that will keep you in control during your dive. That’s why it’s important to choose the best scuba BCD to suit our personal needs.

Buoyancy control allows us to safely ascend and descend, as well as stay in a streamlined position during our dive, without crashing suddenly to the bottom. BCDs are quite an investment. They come in various shapes and sizes with many different features.

How do you know which one is right for you? Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’ve done the hard work for you when it comes to deciding on what BCD fits you best. In this guide, we’ll show you what to look for as well as some of the best models of the year.

 

THE BEST SCUBA DIVING BCD – QUICK ANSWER

  1. Zeagle Express Tech Deluxe
  2. Zeagle Ranger
  3. Hollis HD 200
  4. Dive Rite Nomad
  5. Cressi Aquaride
  6. Cressi Start Pro
  7. Mares Dragon
  8. Cressi Travelight
  9. Zeagle Stiletto
  10. Oceanic Biolite

 

 

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THE BEST SCUBA BCDS – A COMPARISON

PICTURE
BCD
BEST USE
TYPE
LIFT CAPACITY*
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
BCD
BEST USE
TYPE
LIFT CAPACITY*
PRICE
RATING
Zeagle Express Tech Deluxe
Overall
Back Inflation
24 Lbs - 10.8 Kg
$$
4.7
Zeagle Ranger
Overall
Back Inflation
30 Lbs - 13.6 Kg
$$$
4.8
Hollis HD 200
Overall
Back Inflation
34 Lbs - 15.4 Kg
$$
4.9
Dive Rite Nomad
Overall
Back Inflation/Harness
35 Lbs - 15.8 Kg
$$$
4.5
Cressi Aquaride
Budget
Jacket
29.2 Lbs - 13.3 Kg
$$
4.7
Cressi Start Pro
Budget
Jacket
30 Lbs - 13.6 Kg
$
4.2
Mares Dragon
Budget
Jacket
38.2 Lbs - 17.4 Kg
$
4.3
Cressi Travelight
Travel
Jacket
20.2 Lbs - 9.2 Kg
$
4.8
Zeagle Stiletto
Travel
Back Inflation
35 Lbs - 15.8 Kg
$$$
5.0
Oceanic Biolite
Travel
Back Inflation
32 Lbs - 14.5 Kg
$$
4.6

* Lift capacity listed is for the medium size BCD

 

SCUBA BCDS 101

 

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST SCUBA BCDS

 

1. TYPE

Buoyancy control devices typically come in three different styles – jacket, back inflation or hybrid. The jacket style is the most common and widely recognized version of BCD. It inflates the entire BCD including the back, sides and front. The jacket BCDs are usually best for new divers as they are often easier to control at the surface and tend to help its users become more streamlined.

Back inflation BCDs, which are more lightweight, only inflate the section on your back. This style is often more comfortable and helps divers move more freely. This is also more ideal for frequent dive travelers as they take up less space. A hybrid version combines the jacket and back inflation BCD styles.

 

2. FIT

Many BCDs come in both men’s and women’s versions. Women’s BCDs fit a little differently due to the positioning of the chest straps, the shape of the shoulder straps and the length of the back, taking into account the typical features of a woman’s body.

For both men and women, BCDs should be snug when inflated and should not be too loose. A BCD which is too big will drag in the water and prevent you from gaining a streamlined position while underwater. Remember that you will need to be able to tighten and close straps and buckles when the BCD is fully inflated while at the surface, so make sure you have room to breathe. You can orally inflate your BCD to test the fit.

 

3. WEIGHT

If you are planning on doing a lot of dive travel, then the weight and size of your BCD will be important as you will want something more lightweight and compact. Back inflation BCDs take up less space in your luggage and are much lighter as they don’t have the extra straps and harness points of a jacket BCD. So, these advantages make them a good option for frequent travelers.

 

4.LIFT CAPACITY

Lift capacity is about how much the BCD will be able to hold when it is fully inflated at the surface. So, you should figure out how much lift capacity do you need.

The answer depends on a few factors such as whether or not you are diving in cold water and will be wearing a thicker wetsuit. The thicker suit will add buoyancy, so you will need a higher lift capacity in your BCD.

If you dive in tropical destinations, you won’t need as much lift capacity as you may only have a very thin wetsuit, if you are wearing one at all.

 

5. STRAPS AND POCKETS

Pockets, straps and other attachment points are important for storing your dive accessories. You should always have somewhere to attach your dive torch and dive knife as well as your whistles, lights or surface markers.

Look for BCDs with several D-rings. Pockets can help you stay streamlined by tucking your dive accessories inside. This way, you won’t have to worry about anything dragging you underwater or dragging and potentially damaging precious marine life and structure.

 

6. WEIGHT-INTEGRATED OR NOT

Some BCDs are weight-integrated, which means you can put your dive weights into little pockets or compartments of your jacket or vest. This means you don’t have to wear a separate dive belt strapped around your waist.

 

The Adventure Xperience

 

 

 

SCUBA BCD REVIEWS

 

1. BEST SCUBA BCDS OVERALL

ZEAGLE EXPRESS TECH DELUXE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

BEST FOR: Overall

TYPE: Back inflation

WEIGHT: 6.75 lb (3kg)

CAPACITY: 20 lbs (9 Kg)

PROS: Allows twin cylinders, lightweight, comfortable

CONS: You might want to buy more D-rings and pockets

 

 

 

ZEAGLE RANGER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: Zeagle Ranger Women’s

BEST FOR: Cold water, technical diving, deep diving

TYPE: Back inflation

WEIGHT: 9.5lbs (4.3kg)

CAPACITY: 30lbs (13.6kg)

PROS: Can accommodate single or twin tanks, durable, plenty of attachment points

CONS: Heavy, expensive, not ideal for recreational or beginner divers

 

 

 

HOLLIS HD200

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

BEST FOR: Advanced divers

TYPE: Back inflation

WEIGHT: 9.4 lbs (4.3Kg)

CAPACITY: Releasable: Two 10lb (4.5kg) pockets, two 5lb (2.27kg) Rear Non-Releasable Trim Pockets

PROS: Heavy duty construction, back pad and lumber support, good sized pockets

CONS: Heavy and bulky

 

 

 

DIVE RIGHT NOMAD

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

BEST FOR: Side mount diving

TYPE: Back/Harness

WEIGHT: 8.8 lb-9.1 lb (4kg)

CAPACITY: Not available

PROS: Durable side mount diving BCD, twin cylinder

CONS: Side mount only, extra straps required for back mount, heavy

 

 

 

 

2. BEST BUDGET SCUBA BCDS

CRESSI AQUARIDE BLUE PRO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

BEST FOR: New scuba divers, divers buying first BCD

TYPE: Jacket

WEIGHT: 7 lbs to 8.3 lbs (3.1kg – 3.7 kg)

CAPACITY: Releasable: 20 lbs (9 kg), Non-Releasable Trim Pockets: 8 lbs (3.6 kg)

PROS: Comfortable, large pockets and several D-rings, affordable

CONS: Small mouthpiece on oral inflator

 

 

 

CRESSI START PRO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

BEST FOR: New divers, student divers

TYPE: Jacket

WEIGHT: 5.55 lb – 7.55 lb (2.5 – 3.4kg)

CAPACITY: 20lbs (9Kg) Releasable

PROS: Extremely affordable, simple design, lightweight

CONS: A little bulky for travel, not suited to cold water diving

 

 

 

MARES DRAGON

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: Mares Hybrid She Dives

BEST FOR: Divers with lower back problems, comfort

TYPE: Jacket

WEIGHT: 8.4 lbs (2.8 Kg)

CAPACITY: 26 lbs (12 kg) Mrs, 10 lbs (4.5 kg) Trim

PROS: Comfortable design, affordable, women’s version helps take pressure off lower back

CONS: Not as durable as more expensive BCDs

 

 

 

 

3. BEST BUDGET SCUBA BCDS FOR TRAVEL

CRESSI TRAVELIGHT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: Cressi Travelight Women’s

BEST FOR: Recreational, warm water diving

TYPE: Jacket

WEIGHT: 5 To 6.2 lbs (2.3 To 2.8 kg)

CAPACITY: Releasable: 20 Lbs (9 kg), Non-Releasable: 10 Lbs (4.5 kg)

PROS: Lightweight, packs down well for a jacket style BCD, plenty of D-rings, padded back

CONS: Lightweight means it skimps a bit on durability and features

 

 

 

ZEAGLE STILETTO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

BEST FOR: Advanced divers

TYPE: Back inflation

WEIGHT: 7.4 lbs (3.36 kg)

CAPACITY: Releasable Weight: 24 lbs (10.9 kg), Non-Releasable: 16 lbs (7.26 kg)

PROS: Rugged design

CONS: Could have more padding, inflation hose a bit short

 

 

 

OCEANIC BIOLITE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

WOMEN’S VERSION: Oceanic Biolite Ladies

BEST FOR: Recreational diving, female divers

TYPE: Back inflation

WEIGHT: 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg)

CAPACITY: Releasable: 14 Lbs (6.4 kg), Trim Pockets: Dual 5 Lbs (2.3 kg)

PROS: Lightweight, takes up little space so ideal for travel, minimalist design

CONS: Not as stable, minimalist design

Top 10 Best Scuba BCDs of 2017 – Scuba Diving Gear and Equipment Posts – Dive Products and Accessories
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