As a woman, if you’ve ever been diving with rental gear, you may have found that borrowed gear usually fits men’s bodies.
Likely, you've also completed most of your underwater training in ill-fitting wetsuits and uncomfortable BCD’s that tend to ride up on the surface.
As you fall deeper in love with this spectacular underwater sport, you may be keen on investing in your equipment, such as the best drysuit and snorkel.
We did some research to determine the best BCD for women and highlighted our favorite three.
Best BCD for Women: A Review
1. Cressi Travelight Scuba Diving BCD: Best for Travel
Cressi is a family-run company that, over the past 60 years, has become a leading provider of watersports gear worldwide.
This BCD is ideal for women who enjoy traveling light and need a light and lean jacket for better hydrodynamics in warm water.
Here are some of the most notable features of the Cressi Travelight Scuba Diving BCD:
This particular women’s BCD jacket is the ideal traveling companion because of its foldable design, medium size, and low weight.
Specifically, it weighs just over 5.5 pounds and folds up to a modest 36 x 25 x 15cm or 14 x 10 x 6 inches.
The Cressi Travelight Scuba Diving BCD also comes complete with a carry case.
Thus, you can pack it away in your suitcase or backpack safely, quickly, and easily.
- Inflator System
The BCD features Cressi’s Direct System Inflator from 2011, which is easy to maintain and disassemble.
It has a watertight deflation button and is resistant to particle build-up since it has a double filter system.
It also has an “anti-sand” design thanks to a metallic air filter under the valve stem and a cylindrical filter around the valve.
Additionally, the durable inflator hose includes a hose guide. Lift-capacity-wise, it ranges from 14 to 36 pounds.
The jacket itself offers a lot of storage options and is very practical.
Each side of the jacket features a deep and spacious pocket with gussets for extra carrying room and zippers for safety.
It also features eight lightweight, alloy D-rings for easy access to all of your diving accessories and gadgets.
- Comfort Level
The waist-length jacket has larger wings, making it more hydrodynamic than many jacket-style BCD’s.
The air bladder also features a lateral distribution of air that offers a more natural weight balance.
Additionally, the jacket has a cushioned wraparound fit with adjustable height, waist, and chest straps.
The waist strap will also stay exactly where you want it since it has been cleverly fitted independently from the air bladder so that it can’t ride up.
You can also use the folding strap as an extra strap that fits underneath your crotch.
2. Zeagle Zena Women’s Scuba Diving BCD: Best Fit
Zeagle provides robust, tested, and trusted dive gear to military, commercial, and public safety divers worldwide.
This Zeagle’s Zena BCD offers the ultimate comfort and snug fit for women and is especially suitable for the curvier women among us.
The Zeagle Zena Women’s Scuba Diving BCD comes with a lot of good features, including:
- Size Adjustability
Women have designed this BCD, so it’s no surprise that it offers a more female-friendly fit than any other BCD we’ve seen on the market.
It features a patented sizing system that allows for the size of the waist, hips, chest, and torso length to be adjusted.
You can adjust the twin straps around the waist area of this BCD independently to fit your hip curves.
This dual-band also lets you carry your weight below waist-level for superior balance since women have a lower center of buoyancy than men.
The elasticated, front zipping closure will also accommodate more ample bosom sizes without digging in uncomfortably, underneath the arms.
- Inflation System
The Zeagle’s Zena BCD features a back inflation bladder that has a lift capacity of 31 pounds.
In training, you’ve most likely worn a jacket-style BCD, like the Cressi, but wearing your air bladder on the back makes keeping horizontal trim easier.
That said, this style isn’t ideal for people who can’t confidently manage themselves on the surface.
The air bladder will naturally want to push you face down, so you need to tilt your head back and raise your knees to counter this.
- Travel-Friendliness and Storage
This BCD has a flexible backplate, so it folds easily. It weighs just around six pounds, making it a great choice for traveling.
Storage-wise, it has four, hardy, stainless steel D-rings and expanding pockets, giving you plenty of room for your camera and other bits and bobs.
The Zeagle’s Zena BCD also comes in a range of colors and designs for you to coordinate the color with your favorite wetsuit!
3. Scubapro Hydros Pro Womens BCD: Best in Durability
Scubapro has been committed to manufacturing excellent diving gear for over 50 years and aims to do it as sustainably as possible to help protect the world’s oceans.
This Hydros Pro BCD features a unique modular design and is manufactured with the highest quality, durable materials, massively increasing the BCD’s lifespan.
The final BCD that made it to our list is the most expensive option but has great features, including:
The BCD's patented Injection Molded Monprene Gel Harness is resistant to abrasion, scratches, UV rays, and chemicals, making it ultra-durable.
It’s also free of Velcro, zippers, and fabric, meaning there’s less that can go wrong with it.
Their “BC-4-Life” modular design also simplifies repairs, extending its lifespan again.
Also, almost every component can be replaced separately without replacing the whole BCD or subjecting you to costly repairs.
The Scubapro Hydros Pro Womens BCD's modular design is practical since you can easily customize it to suit you.
Some of the things you can do are adding or removing weight systems, straps, and pockets.
With an approximate weight of nine pounds, this BCD is heavier than the previous two products we reviewed. That said, it’s still a manageable weight for traveling.
As with the other models, the backplate folds for it to fit into a suitcase or backpack.
It also has less water retention than other BCD’s, meaning it dries quickly.
So, not only will you never have to pack this BCD away while wet, but your post-dive weight will also be lower than you’d expect.
Another perk is that you also receive a customized backpack, designed to fit all of your dive gear in, that you can wear on your back.
The Hydro Pro offers great buoyancy control with a back-inflate, smart air design, and a high lift capacity of 36 to 40 pounds.
Its near-zero inherent buoyancy will also mean that you won’t need to wear as much lead on a dive.
- Convenience and Comfort
With a quick switch of clips, you can change this BCD from a harness travel BCD into an integrated weight BCD, for when you’re diving locally.
The Scubapro Hydros Pro Womens BCD is also really comfortable to wear since it’s fully adjustable and molds itself to your body shape.
The body grip gel used in manufacturing, not only conforms to your body shape but also doesn’t slip around once it’s on.
Frequently Asked Questions About BCD
1. What Is a Wing BCD?
Popular among technical divers, a wing BCD consists only of a bladder, backplate, and harness.
It differs from other BCD styles because it’s completely stripped down of all other features that are not deemed absolutely necessary to dive.
2. How Much Is a BCD?
Like most things in life, the price of BCD can vary significantly, depending on the brand and features offered.
Generally speaking, BCDs cost from around to $1,000.
Although expensive, having your equipment is well worth the investment, especially for women.
Most dive centers will provide “unisex” rental dive equipment, which is usually designed and manufactured for men’s bodies.
Overall, women tend to be smaller, have a shorter torso length, and have a lower center of buoyancy than men.
Therefore, a BCD that compensates for all of these differences is worth the investment.
3. How Long Does a BCD Last?
How long a BCD will last will depend on the quality of the material used and how well you take care of it.
If you take good care of it properly, it should last you around eight to ten years or roughly 4,000 dives.
If you have wing-style BCD, it will usually last longer than others because of its more rugged design.
4. How Should a BCD Fit?
Your BCD should fit snugly and comfortably, with enough space for your wetsuit or drysuit to go underneath.
When purchasing a BCD, start by picking a size similar to your T-shirt size.
Each manufacturer should also have their sizing charts based on your height and weight.
If your height and weight fall into two different categories, you should first try one based on your weight.
That said, almost all BCDs these days have adjustable waist and chest straps to help make them fit a larger number of people.
Some BCDs will also offer adjustable height straps, so if you struggle to find one that fits well, look for a brand that offers the most adjustability.
If you’re trying on a BCD over a shirt, always make sure that it fits snugly and that you have around one or two inches of excess left on the straps.
That will ensure a good fit once you have the rest of your dive gear on as wetsuits and wetsuit tops can take up a lot of room.
5. Can You Dive Without a BCD?
It is not advised to scuba dive for recreational purposes without a BCD since it’s not safe.
You may be surprised to learn that a buoyancy control device actually plays more than just one role in the water.
First, the most obvious role it plays is to help control your buoyancy in the water.
If you don’t have a BCD, you will need to expend a lot more energy and use a lot more oxygen to prevent yourself from sinking to the bottom.
Also, if you wear a wetsuit, as you descend, you will lose buoyancy as the wetsuit compresses; a BCD will help offset this.
Second, your BCD keeps your oxygen tank on your back.
Your BCD also helps you ascend to the surface effortlessly and float once you get there, which is often needed, especially after a particularly tiring dive.
Commercial divers may dive without a BCD because they are usually tethered, plus a support staff controls their ascent and descent.
Which BCD Should You Choose?
As a woman, buying your dive equipment can massively change the way the dive since it is more comfortable than rented gear.
Feeling comfortable and in control while in the water is important for you to appreciate each dive.
After careful consideration, we decided that the overall best BCD for women is the Zena BCD from Zeagle.
The Scubapro BCD came a close second, but we felt the price point would be a barrier for many people, and Zeagle’s BCD is so much more affordable.
The great price aside, it offers an excellent fit for women of all shapes and sizes since it is fully adjustable for differences in height, chest, and waist.
It also folds up for travel and is only a fraction heavier than the Cressi Travelight BCD.
This BCD also allows you to wear your weights lower down your body to align with your center of gravity, making horizontal trim easier.