If you’re shopping for a BCD, you’ve probably been diving for a while. And the chances are good that you’ve made a few immersions with a buoyancy control device that didn’t fit well or work properly. Diving with gear that slides around on your back, rides up, or drags you from side to side is no fun at all. With so many outstanding models on the market, there’s no reason to keep diving with ill-fitting rental equipment or an old, worn out BCD. Keep reading to learn more about the best SCUBA BCDs available, what to consider while shopping, and which features to focus on when buying your next BCD.

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

 

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Quick Answer - The Best Scuba BCDs

  1. Cressi Start
  2. Zeagle Scout
  3. Aqua Lung Wave
  4. Zeagle Express Tech
  5. Oceanic Oceanpro
  6. Scubapro GO
  7. Hollis HD 200
  8. APEKS Black Ice
  9. Dive Rite TransPac Voyager XT
  10. Scubapro Hydros Pro

Comparison Table - Best Scuba BCDs

PictureNameStyleDry WeightLift CapacityPriceRating
Cressi StartJacket6.2 lbs29-44 lbs$4.7
Zeagle ScoutBack Inflate6.7 lbs24 lbs$4.5
Aqua Lung WaveJacket5 lbs26-49 lbs$5.0
Zeagle Express TechWing6.5 lbs24 lbs$4.2
Oceanic OceanproJacket7 lbs20-48 lbs$$4.8
Scubapro GOJacket6 lbs22 - 42 lbs$$4.8
Hollis HD 200Hybrid9.4 lbs35 - 45 lbs$$4.7
APEKS Black IceHybrid9.7 lbs52 lbs$$4.8
Dive Rite TransPac Voyager XTWing2.8 lbs35 lbs$$$4.8
Scubapro Hydros ProBack Inflate8 - 9 lbs36 - 40 lbs$$$4.5
PictureNameStyleDry WeightLift CapacityPriceRating

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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 - The Best BCDs for Scuba Diving

Cressi Start

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 29-44 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 6.2 lbs
Features
  • Internal Handle (for easy carrying)
  • Utility Pockets (for storing accessories inside your BCD)
  • Hose Pockets (for secondary air source and gauge)
  • Traditional Weight System (no integrated pockets)
  • Travel Weight (7 lbs and under)

BEST FOR: BUDGET

If you’re shopping on a budget or you’re new to diving, the Cressi Start is an excellent option. This model is a top pick for rental equipment because it’s straightforward and easy to use, and built to take a beating. Its padded hollow backplate and built-in handle make it easy to carry above water, so it’s ideal for shore diving. The Cressi Start also features a high lift capacity and traditional weight system, perfect for diving in cold water.

Zeagle Scout

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 24 lbs
  • Style: Back Inflate
  • Dry Weight: 6.7 lbs
Features
  • Mounting Grommets (for storing accessories outside your BCD)
  • Utility Pockets (for storing accessories inside your BCD)
  • Traditional Weight System (no integrated pockets)
  • Easy Wash Interior (bladder attaches directly to a garden hose for easy cleaning)
  • Travel Weight (7 lbs and under)

BEST FOR: COMFORT

The Zeagle Scout is lightweight enough for dive travel, yet comfortable enough for everyday use. This BCD features a back inflating system that wraps snugly around your shoulders and hips to reduce drag and unwanted motion underwater without digging into your sides. Its flexible backplate rolls and folds, which makes packing a breeze. And this buoyancy control device is lighter than most in its class thanks to its pared-down design and traditional weight system.

Aqua Lung Wave

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 26-49 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 5 lbs
Features
  • Internal Handle (for easy carrying)
  • Utility Pockets (for storing accessories inside your BCD)
  • Hose Pockets (for secondary air source and gauge)
  • Traditional Weight System (no integrated pockets)
  • Ultra Light (6 lbs and under)

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS

The Aqua Lung Wave is one of the best selling BCDs of all time. This model’s practical and easy-to-use design is geared toward beginners but works well for divers of all skill levels. The Wave is one of the most durable models on the market and features easily interchangeable parts and pieces for quick at-home repairs. And, while it’s hardly the most stylish option out there, this rugged and reliable piece of gear will last for years to come, even in the harshest of diving environments.

Zeagle Express Tech

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 24 lbs
  • Style: Wing
  • Dry Weight: 6.5 lbs
Features
  • Traditional Weight System (no integrated pockets)
  • Modular Design (interchangeable and replaceable pieces)
  • Doubles Compatible (can accommodate twin cylinders)
  • Interchangeable Bladder (bladder size can be customized for climate and diving conditions)
  • Easy Wash Interior (bladder attaches directly to a garden hose for easy cleaning)
  • Travel Weight (7 lbs and under)

BEST FOR: WARM WATER

The Zeagle Express Tech is a travel-friendly wing and harness setup that can be customized for a wide variety of diving environments. This BCD is renowned for being a top performer in warm climates right out of the box. The basic design of this high-quality buoyancy control device features everything you need and nothing you don’t and fits absolutely everyone thanks to its super adjustable webbing. The Express Tech is easy to clean and disassemble, compatible with tech diving and doubles (two back mounted tanks), and far lighter than similar models.

Oceanic Oceanpro

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 20-48 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 7 lbs
Features
  • Folding Backplate (for compact packing)
  • Utility Pockets (for storing accessories inside your BCD)
  • Mounting Grommets (for storing accessories outside your BCD)
  • Integrated Weight System (internal pockets for storing weights)
  • Travel Weight (7 lbs and under)

BEST FOR: DAILY USE

The Oceanic Oceanpro is a mid-range model loaded with features, and comfortable enough for everyday use. This BCD’s flexible backplate and padded interior offer a comfortable wraparound fit, with no plastic parts or pieces to dig in. The Oceanpro’s high lift capacity will keep you feeling relaxed on the surface, even in challenging conditions. And its high-quality closures (like zippers instead of Velcro for pockets and pouches) will outlast similar models. Plus, its integrated weight and trim system holds enough lead to be used in the coldest of conditions.

Scubapro GO

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 22 - 42 lbs
  • Style: Jacket
  • Dry Weight: 6 lbs
Features
  • Folding Backplate (for compact packing)
  • Integrated Weight System (internal pockets for storing weights)
  • Travel Bag Included
  • Ultra Light (6 lbs and under)

BEST FOR: TRAVEL

The ScubaPro Go is an entry-level BCD that is comfortable and stable in a variety of dive environments, and lightweight enough for travel. This model’s traditional design features wraparound sides and adjustable swiveling straps for a snug and secure fit. It comes standard with a buckle-in integrated weight system that doesn’t use any plastic trays or handles. Plus, it has plenty of space to store your accessories. Weighing in at just 6 lbs, this BCD is one of the lightest in its class, and folds neatly for packing in its provided travel bag, too.

Hollis HD 200

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 35 - 45 lbs
  • Style: Hybrid
  • Dry Weight: 9.4 lbs
Features
  • Integrated Weight System (internal pockets for storing weights)
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Metal D-Rings and Mounting Grommets (extra points for storing accessories)
  • Crotch Strap (an additional supportive strap that runs between your legs)

BEST FOR: ADVANCED SPORT DIVERS

The Hollis HD200 is an excellent upgrade, no matter what BCD you’re currently diving with. This hybrid model’s padded wraparound design will help you stay comfy on the surface. Meanwhile, its back inflating bladder provides near perfect trim during every dive. The HD200 is easy to don and doff, offers plenty of storage for accessories, and is one of the only models in its class that comes standard with a crotch strap (a piece of webbing to improve trim and keep your kit from riding up).

APEKS Black Ice

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 52 lbs
  • Style: Hybrid
  • Dry Weight: 9.7 lbs
Features
  • Folding Backplate (for compact packing)
  • Integrated Weight System (internal pockets for storing weights)
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Metal D-Rings and Mounting Grommets (extra points for storing accessories)

BEST FOR: COLD WATER DIVERS

The Apeks Black Ice is a back inflating hybrid system, designed with cold water immersions in mind. It’s easy to don and doff, even while wearing thick gloves, and offers plenty of storage for all your underwater accessories. This BCD isn’t super stylish, and it’s one of the bulkiest in its class. But, it provides plenty of lift for divers using thick wetsuits and drysuits, and plenty of padding to keep the back and sides from digging in.

Dive Rite TransPac Voyager XT

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 35 lbs
  • Style: Wing
  • Dry Weight: 2.8 lbs
Features
  • Traditional Weight System (no integrated pockets)
  • Modular Design (interchangeable and replaceable pieces)
  • Doubles Compatible (can accommodate twin cylinders)
  • Interchangeable Bladder (bladder size can be customized for climate and diving conditions)
  • Crotch Strap (an additional supportive strap that runs between your legs)
  • Ultra Light (6 lbs and under)

BEST FOR: CAVE, CAVERN, AND WRECK DIVERS

The Dive Rite Transpac XT is a harness (webbing cut to your exact size) and wing system, perfect for diving in overhead environments like wrecks, caverns, and caves. This type of BCD requires setup and assembly before use and isn’t for beginners. But, once you get used to it, there is no model more comfortable for technical applications. The Transpac’s streamlined wing lays flat against your back for the best trim possible underwater and can be configured for single and double tanks.

Scubapro Hydros Pro

Specs
  • Lift Capacity: 36 - 40 lbs
  • Style: Back Inflate
  • Dry Weight: 8 - 9 lbs
Features
  • Folding Backplate (for compact packing)
  • Integrated Weight System (internal pockets for storing weights)
  • Modular Design (interchangeable and replaceable pieces)
  • Adjustable Height (waist and chest straps that slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Crotch Strap (an additional supportive strap that runs between your legs)

BEST FOR: BEST OF THE BEST

The ScubaPro Hydros is the only BCD of its kind. This back inflating system features a modular design that is easy to customize, versatile, and affordable to repair. Almost every piece of the Hydros can be removed or replaced without visiting a service center, so you’ll save a ton of money on maintenance. Plus, this BCD will outlast even the most high-quality competition thanks to its fabric-free Monoprene harness. This material is quick drying and will never fray or tear like traditional materials.

 

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THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SCUBA BCD

FIT

When you’re shopping for dive gear, a proper fit is the most important consideration. A BCD that fits you well should wrap snugly around your body without pinching or squeezing when full. When empty, it should not twist or rotate on your shoulders or waist. If possible, you should try your BCD on before buying it. And, be sure that you choose a model with plenty of room for adjustment in its clips and straps, just in case your weight fluctuates between dive trips.

 

STYLE

BCDs come in a few styles. Jacket, wing, and hybrid designs are the most common.

Jacket style BCDs fit over the shoulders and secure at the chest, just like a jacket. These are the most common models available and considered to be the “traditional” design by most divers. This style is most commonly used for rental gear because it is stable, supportive, and easy to control. Jacket style BCDs are easy to don and doff because they slide over the shoulders like a winter coat.

Wing (a slim harness and bladder) and hybrid (a back inflating BCD that combines elements of the jacket and wing) BCDs are less popular, except when it comes to technical diving and travel. These styles are more compact and easy to pack, thanks to their easy-to-roll-up bladders and flexible or removable backplates. Wing and hybrid style BCDs are less restrictive than their bulky counterparts, making them more comfortable and “free” feeling because they secure around the body using a thin webbing. Both styles promote good trim and streamlining underwater, thanks to their form-fitting designs. That’s why they are popular with divers exploring in overhead environments like shipwrecks and caves.

If you’re planning to dive in rough conditions, keep in mind that a jacket style BCD will be more comfortable on the surface. This design pushes your head and shoulders up and out of the water, whereas wing and hybrid models rotate your body forward, pushing your face closer to the water’s surface.

 

LIFT

Lift describes how much weight a BCD can compensate for. If you are only diving in warm water destinations, lift may not be a major focus when it comes to buying your BCD. But, if you’re diving with a lot of lead or in cold water, you’ll need to offset the weight. A BCD with too little lift will let your face and shoulders drop close to the water when you’re on the surface, which can cause stress during long swims or while waiting for the boat. Too little lift can also cause issues underwater because you become less and less buoyant at depth. This is especially noticeable for divers who use a large amount of weight. When in doubt, choose a BCD with more lift than you need.

 

WEIGHT SYSTEM

Most modern BCD styles include an integrated weight system. Some utilize plastic trays with locking handles to hold your weights in place, while others use buckles or zippers with “quick release” mechanisms. No matter which system for weight integration you choose, the most important consideration is that you can easily release your weights at depth.

Some wing and hybrid style BCDs and very basic models don’t include weight integration. Consider a traditional system that uses a weight belt if you are learning to dive, taking on technical immersions, or trying to travel with as little weight as possible.

 

DRY WEIGHT

How much your BCD weighs is a major consideration for dive travel. But, your buoyancy compensation device’s weight can affect how much lead you need to dive with, too. Keep in mind that lighter is not always better, and you should never compromise on quality to save a few pounds in your gear bag. In general, heavy and stable jacket style BCDs are the most comfortable option for beginners and divers taking on rough surface conditions.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

FOLDING BACKPLATE

Your BCD takes up more room in a gear bag than any other piece of equipment. A rigid backplate makes your jacket harder to pack, which is why divers who travel frequently often prefer a folding backplate that can easily fold or roll. These flexible BCD styles are typically more lightweight too, making them perfect for frequent fliers.

Keep in mind that BCDs with folding backplates offer less support. They are best for divers in warm climates and those who use a small amount of weight.

MODULAR DESIGN

Modularly designed BCDs are wing and hybrid systems with interchangeable straps and panels. These models are easier to service and repair and longer lasting than traditionally designed jackets because each part of the BCD can be removed and replaced. All those individual parts and pieces make it simple to create a 100% custom fit, too.

DOUBLES COMPATIBLE

Some divers use more than one tank per immersion, typically for technical immersions. Sidemount is becoming more and more popular, but you may still want a BCD that is “doubles compatible.” These models can hold two tanks side by side on your back, secured by a tank band.

INTERCHANGEABLE BLADDER

A BCD with an interchangeable bladder allows you to install a larger sized wing, for extra floatation. This feature also comes in handy for dive travel and packing, because your disassembled wing and harness is much more compact than a jacket style.

EASY WASH INTERIOR

Your BCD is one of the hardest pieces of equipment to wash and maintain. If you dive in salt water, you might benefit from a model that features an easy clean interior. This feature allows you to attach your BCD’s bladder directly to a hose or faucet for an easy internal wash.

CROTCH STRAP

A crotch strap is a piece of webbing that runs between your legs, attaching the BCD’s backplate to a waistband or cummerbund. This keeps your BCD and tank firmly pressed against your back, preventing it from riding up. While this extra strap may feel awkward at first, most divers find that it corrects their trim underwater and keeps their gear snug and secure on the surface.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top scuba diving gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Scuba Regulators | Cold Water Regulators

Regulators for Travel | Dive Masks for Large Faces

Travel BCDs | Back Inflate BCDs

Warm Water Regulators

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