Best Scuba BCD of 2020: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

best scuba bcd
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With the best scuba BCD, you can quickly sink and rise in the water when necessary, which makes it one of the essential pieces of gear to have.

Similar to most scuba gear, these are available in an assortment of styles. Some are designed to be worn as a jacket, while others have more of a backpack style.

To help you out, we'll go over which scuba BCD unit could be the best option for your skill level, comfort, and convenience.

Best Backplate BCD Reviews

1. Zeagle Backplate Combo Pack

The Zeagle Backplate Combo Pack is an excellent option for divers looking for deluxe features revolving around a backplate harness.

You'll find that it's a fantastic option for beginners and experienced divers, allowing you to have the mobility and freedom that you need while diving.

Product Highlights

The Zeagle Backplate Combo Pack features a 30-pound lift 15-mil urethane bladder on the interior with a specialized Cordura outer bag.

You'll find a connection for your airway at the top of the harness, which features a unique sleeve to prevent abrasions and damage.

Fortunately, this unit can be used with any single or twin tank bladder system that you can find from Zeagle. This helps it to fit into their ecosystem of diving gear.

On average, this backplate can be paired with bladders that can lift anywhere from 34 pounds to 85 pounds.

Also, you'll surely appreciate the built-in extended slot on the backplate, which allows you to align your dual cylinder system far quicker.

Alternatively, you can easily mount a single-cylinder if that’s enough for your needs.

You'll love the single tank backplate adaptor on this model, too, which already comes with the required bolts and nuts.

This piece is made entirely of stainless steel, helping it maintain its quality over years of use. Divers are also sure to love the single-webbing harness that is simple to customize.

Finally, you'll find an assortment of accessories compatible with this backplate so that you can create the perfect setup for your excursions.

Some accessories include crotch straps, scooter rings, torch canisters, and shoulder pads.

What to Like About It 

Zeagle is one of the most popular brands for diving BCDs due to the quality of its products.

Indeed, the Zeagle Backplate Combo Pack doesn't disappoint in terms of quality.

Its high-quality design with customizable features makes it a fantastic choice for beginner divers who want a basic BCD that works well.

Also, you'll find that it's more comfortable to wear than some of the more massive units on the market.

What Not to Like About It

The only disadvantage with the Zeagle Backplate Combo Pack is that it appears only to be compatible with Zeagle tanks.

This issue could be challenging if you already have existing tanks from another brand you might want to use.

PROS

  • High-quality design
  • Customizable features
  • Comfortable to wear

CONS

  • Solely compatible with Zeagle tanks

2. SEAC Modular BCD

The SEAC Modular BCD has a stylish appeal similar to most other BCD models, but the freedom it offers is unlike anything you've experienced before.

With a modular design, this rig is interchangeable, allowing you to customize the structure so that it has a more tailored fit.

There are a variety of great features you'll love to put to good use with this unit.

Product Highlights

As mentioned, this BCD is interchangeable. This means you can adjust the entire unit's structure to make sure you have the ideal buoyancy for any situation.

You'll also find that all of the connections are specifically designed to be standard so that you can work with different types of backpacks and bags.

With the addition of the standard size eyelets and fasteners, you can use an assortment of different types of gear with your new BCD.

For your comfort, there is padding added near the clamps on the back of the unit to help prevent chafing and skin irritation.

Also, you'll find that this unit is ideal for travel. Weighing just three kilograms, it will easily fit in luggage, so you won't have to worry about renting equipment abroad.

The soft backbone is another notable feature, especially as it is paired with the comfortably padded, removable harness straps.

With the help of the five-liter donut double bladder, sinking and rising will be substantially faster.

This BCD also comes with a removable steel core. A couple of other great accessories that come with the unit are a quick-release weight pocket, D-ring, and a belly buckle made from anodized aluminum.

This BCD offers up to 30 pounds of lift, and there are many high-quality materials in its design. These include Cordura fabric, ballistic nylon, and polyurethane.

What to Like About It

The SEAC Modular BCD is an excellent option for people who enjoy traveling and want to use their own equipment.

This modular rig can be packed down to take up less space in your luggage.

You'll also appreciate its modular design, which makes it highly customizable for the size and shape of your body.

What Not to Like About It

Even though this BCD is very adjustable, if you are more substantial, you may have to figure out the ideal configuration for your body type.

This issue is particularly prevalent with muscular divers, as you'll have to re-rig the entire unit.

Also, unfortunately, this device does not come with a crotch strap for added security.

PROS

  • Ideal for travel
  • Modular design
  • Highly adjustable

CONS

  • No crotch strap
  • May require a lot of adjustments

Best Jacket BCD Reviews

1. Atomic Aquatics BC1 BCD

Shedding water is one of the most exciting features of the Atomic Aquatics BC1 BCD, making it ideal for all types of diving.

With plenty of high-quality materials in its design, you can guarantee it will be one of your favorite jacket BCDs.

Product Highlights

Divers who are looking for heavy-duty equipment will love the polyurethane-coated fabric with corrosion-resistant materials in this BCD.

The unit is designed for the roughest water conditions, allowing you to wear an impermeable jacket that sheds away water, similar to a raincoat.

You'll also find that it withstands a lot of wear and tear when it comes to tears, punctures, and abrasions.

The self-cleaning material is also exciting, as is the fact that the entire unit is stain-resistant and UV-resistant. This makes this BCD ideal for day and night trips alike.

It's also resistant to mildew, rot, mold, and chemicals, so it is much safer to store during the off-season and won’t require a lot of maintenance.

Aside from the materials, the Atomic Aquatics BC1 BCD also has an EZ-LOK Weight Release System, which is incredibly simple to use.

Divers can load weights while they are in or out of the water, and they will also have two zippered pouches that can hold 10 pounds.

To release, all you have to do is pull on the built-in tug.

Another patented feature in this rig is the CAM-LOK Tank Band, which effortlessly secures your tanks into place without having to worry about buckles.

The CAM-LOK Tank Band features bindings with ratcheting security that allows you to center your tanks correctly. The custom polyurethane-coated webbing also helps to prevent water absorption.

When worn, you'll love the lumbar pad at the back, which is fully adjustable for your comfort and safety. There’s also the quilted back pad for even more protection.

The inflation choices are very high-performance, as are the sand-resistant pocket zippers and the non-skid tank pad.

What to Like About It 

Overall, the Atomic Aquatics BC1 BCD is incredibly impressive thanks to its high-quality materials and how durable its design is.

Divers will have plenty of mobility and space to feel secure yet comfortable, and all of the features are easily accessible when you're in or out of the water.

Also, this BCD will likely last several years of regular use without showing any signs of wear and tear.

What Not to Like About It

Because the materials used to make this rig are heavy-duty, the BCD will be more substantial than some of the less expensive models.

When it comes to travel, you can guarantee that this unit will take up a substantial amount of your weight allowance.

Also, when worn out of the water, it might feel more cumbersome and less comfortable than other lower-quality designs.

PROS

  • High-quality materials
  • Power inflator
  • Incredibly durable
  • Plenty of space
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • Difficult for travel
  • Feels relatively heavy

2. Zeagle Scout BCD

The Zeagle Scout BCD is a massive competitor when it comes to jacket BCDs, especially if you want one that’s designed with the everyday diver in mind.

It has many essential features that you would expect from any BCD. It is also an excellent alternative for experienced divers who want a less bulky rig to wear.

Product Highlights

The Zeagle Scout BCD is a lightweight system mostly recommended for entry-level divers searching for a low-cost rig that still performs very well.

You'll be sure to love its low-profile single bladder design that also features an elastic retractor and waist closure.

Compared to many of the other BCDs from Zeagle, the Scout is one of the most lightweight and compact options. This makes it ideal for use during overseas trips.

In the system, you'll find that there are two rear pockets with a touch release for easy access. There are also five stainless steel D-rings available for all of your most important gear.

Divers will appreciate its sleek and stylish appeal that won't feel cumbersome when in or out of the water. The dry weight of the gear is under seven pounds, while the lift capacity is up to 24 pounds.

In addition to the convenient onboard features, divers will have two utility pockets with zippers and an adjustable sternum strap for a more custom fit.

The low-profile bladder is constructed using 1000 denier fabric, helping to make it less likely to get damaged from punctures and abrasions.

You'll also appreciate the lumbar pad, which is sewn into the rear of the unit for extra comfort and reduced fatigue.

What to Like About It 

For how lightweight the Zeagle Scout BCD is, it surely makes a phenomenal travel partner because it won't take up too much luggage space.

You'll also find that it's far more comfortable to wear for extended periods, especially if you're out of the water.

While diving, you’d get to enjoy its effortless buoyancy. This makes it even easier for entry-level divers to use the gear to their advantage.

What Not to Like About It

There is some convenience in having the two utility pockets. Yet, they are far too small to put to use, especially if you need to store extra gear.

It is highly recommended that you wear it with its backplate, though. Otherwise, it could be a little too difficult to strap into.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Great for travel
  • Effortless buoyancy

CONS

  • Small pockets
  • Difficult to wear without backplate

3. Mares Journey 3.0 BCD 

The Mares Journey 3.0 BCD is an upgrade from the Journey Elite 2.0, which doesn’t have that one innovative feature that makes the BCD easier to use.

You'll love to have plenty of functional features onboard this rig, allowing you to make the most of your time in the water.

Product Highlights

The main feature that sets this unit apart from its predecessor is the patented Mares Slide Locking System. This lets you snap your weights into place securely and efficiently.

The indicator lock built on the outside of the pouch is added so that you can know when your weights are locked in. You'll find the mechanism turns green when it's securely fastened and red when it is not engaged.

Another unique feature for divers who travel with gear is the handy tool attachment, which is a dedicated spot for your most-used tool.

There are also five D-rings crafted from aluminum and a single roll-up pocket for other tools to be kept handy.

Fortunately, the Mares Journey 3.0 BCD also feels comfortable and sleek. It has added padding around the neck for a more comfortable fit.

If you need an adjustable BCD, you'll be glad to know this unit has two features to consider.

You'll find a height-adjustable quick-release chest strap and a hook-and-loop waist strap that is equally as adjustable.

The buoyancy control can be extended near the rear air bladder to help maintain a lower profile while in the water.

Also, you'll find that it has a carrying handle so that all of your gear is much easier to carry to your favorite dive spot.

Divers will appreciate the 35 pounds of lift, which is more than any other BCD we've discussed this far.

You can also opt to use the second tank strap if you want to ensure that your tank is correctly secured.

Beginners will appreciate how a whistle is attached to the rig for added safety. There are also two dump valves.

What to Like About It 

The highly adjustable design of the Mares Journey 3.0 BCD is one of its most significant selling points. It can quickly adapt to divers of different heights and weights.

You'll also find that, because it has a relatively streamlined appearance, it's easy to travel with, and the materials are lightweight.

What Not to Like About It

The trim weight pockets are functional, but some divers might find that they are challenging to get to and can be quite a hassle.

Also, the chest strap buckle doesn't appear to be of the highest quality and could be likely to break if you store your BCD improperly.

PROS

  • Comfortable materials
  • Good for travel
  • Highly adjustable

CONS

  • Hard to access trim weight spots
  • Low-quality chest strap buckle

4. Scubapro Hydros Pro 

The Scubapro Hydros Pro has a few great patented features that you will only find in this design. It combines many of the favorite features that other high-end BCDs bring to the table.

From chemical resistance to adjustable straps, there's plenty to take note of with this particular rig.

Product Highlights

The Scubapro Hydros Pro boasts three critical factors: comfort while diving, convenience, and innovative design.

It has a two-in-one aesthetic, so you can use its interchangeable straps. What’s more, it is straightforward to pack if you're heading out on a destination trip.

You'll find that using this gear is equally as comfortable in cold water as it is in warm tropical waters.

With the addition of the BCD to your gear, you'll be able to hold your tanks securely in place, as well as route your low- and high-pressure hoses with ease.

Divers will also find that the back of this rig will create a more custom fit for their body. This would allow them to experience correct load distribution without back pain and fatigue.

Also, you'll love how slim and stylish the unit is, allowing you to have a more streamlined physique while navigating through the water.

The AIR2 inflator reg is the best selling feature of the Scubapro Hydros Pro, as it combines a BCD and backup regulator.

With this, air can be delivered much smoother than with lower quality rigs, ensuring that you stay safe and comfortable.

Also, the power inflator is easily accessible and fits perfectly in most hands. It has available large buttons that are easy to tell apart by both touch and color.

Fortunately, there is also a large bite tab on the mouthpiece to maintain full control over your equipment, even in choppy situations.

With the help of the single tank band, you can quickly assemble the BCD and ensure your tanks are in a perfect position.

Also, this unit features body grip gel, which prevents it from sliding around on your body so that it feels like it's a part of you.

The articulated shoulder straps are also notable because they can be adjusted depending on your height for an even more snug fit.

This unit is constructed using Monprene, which is resistant to chemicals, UV light, and abrasion. Also, it is a fully modular BCD, so you can repair any issues within seconds.

With accessories and customization, you'll love its two-in-one design that allows you to decide whether you need a fully integrated weighted BCD or a travel BCD.

Also, you can add and remove the different weight systems, D-rings, bungees, and more.

As an added benefit, you'll receive a backpack with your order. This backpack has less water retention and easily fits all of your equipment for a hassle-free trip.

What to Like About It 

The Scubapro Hydros Pro is easy for beginners and veterans to wear because it is fully customizable and has plenty of lift.

We also love how quickly it dries once we’re out of the water, allowing us to store it in the convenient carrying bag for travel.

What Not to Like About It

The main issue with this BCD is that its low-pressure hose isn't compatible with any other rig from competing brands.

You need to ensure that if you need to replace the LPH, it must be an AIR2 design, as others won't work with this rig.

PROS

  • Convenient carrying bag
  • Plenty of lift
  • Fully customizable
  • Dries quickly

CONS

  • Needs a special low-pressure hose

Best BCD for Beginners Reviews

1. Cressi Start Pro BCD 

For beginners, the Cressi Start Pro BCD is a fantastic option. It's easy to use and provides an ample amount of mobility so that you can feel free while diving.

You'll be sure to appreciate the high-quality materials and attention to detail put into the features of this BCD, making it ideal for entry-level divers.

Product Highlights

The inside layer of this BCD is made using 500 denier fabric, and the outside features 1000 denier Cordura. Together, this helps the BCD stand strong against abrasions and tears.

You'll find the combination of these two materials helps extend the lifetime of the welding, especially as it's far more reliable than nylon.

It could be a fantastic choice for dive centers, thanks to its high-quality design and the precise sizes that are visible on the shoulder straps.

Divers can easily adjust the waist strap, too, as it is entirely independent of the air bladder.

When it's deflated, you can tighten the strap without the worry of your stomach being squeezed once you decide to inflate.

In terms of inflation, this BCD features a double air filtration system located around the vale. Inflating the jacket is much simpler without the worry of dealing with debris and sand, thanks to the inflator's perfect placement.

Also, the backplate features thermoplastic, which is exceptionally durable and lightweight and makes this BCD an excellent choice for travel.

With the addition of the rubber damper, you'll find that your tank will be correctly held onto. Divers can also add a second strap for another container if they so desire.

Fortunately, you can adjust your buoyancy regardless of how you're in the water because of the three exhaust valves.

Beginners will love how easy it is to inflate and deflate, and they can also take advantage of the weight system.

You can easily customize the weight with the gravity pocket system, allowing divers to manage and release loads quickly, if necessary.

As for accessories, this BCD has two large pockets with high-quality YKK zippers as well as additional compartments for your pressure gauge.

Each vest is also equipped with four technopolymer D-rings to house all of your most crucial equipment.

What to Like About It 

The Cressi Start Pro BCD is an excellent option for beginners. It has a simple design but still feels rugged, which means it's bound to withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Also, there are plenty of available pockets that you can use for all of your essential equipment.

Another fantastic advantage is that this BCD fits perfectly with or without a wetsuit so that you can use it for a variety of diving excursions.

What Not to Like About It

The only issue to be had with this rig is that it might be a little too bulky for travel, although it is relatively lightweight.

The design of the pockets and added accessories can make you feel less streamlined. Hence, if you're a diver who enjoys traveling, a different model would be preferable.

PROS

  • Plenty of pockets
  • Feels rugged
  • Simple design
  • Fits with or without a wetsuit

CONS

  • Slightly bulky for travel

2. Sherwood Scuba Silhouette Starter BCD

The Sherwood Scuba Silhouette Starter BCD is an excellent choice for individuals and dive centers alike.

This BCD is one of the most popular options in rental departments because of its durable and straightforward options.

Product Highlights

One of the main highlights of this BCD is that it can withstand a lot of use over the years, especially if you tend to fully inflate your BCD often.

You can also easily see the size of the shoulder strap, which is a remarkable feature for dive center organization.

Fortunately, there aren't too many bells and whistles on this rig, which makes it ideal for beginners and rental services.

The backplate system is made from thermoplastic, so it’s lightweight, small, and compact but still offers optimal durability.

You'll also find that there is a rubber damper added to the tank storage so that your tanks won't shift around as you move.

Also, with the nylon locator strap's help, you can make sure your tanks are positioned perfectly every time you're in the water.

Instead of having multiple small pockets, the Sherwood Scuba Silhouette Starter BCD features one large cargo pocket that can be fastened with Velcro.

This feature helps to make the vest more comfortable to manage while keeping your tools organized.

Divers will also appreciate the adjustable cummerbund and the sternum strap that you can choose to have on or off.

You'll find that this setup is already prepared for QuickClip systems and the AKONA BC Pro-Kit, as well.

What to Like About It 

When you wear the Sherwood Scuba Silhouette Starter BCD, you'll see how truly comfortable it is thanks to its added padding.

Its overall design is sleek and comfortable to wear, which could make it a better option for entry-level divers who travel a lot.

Also, it's quite lightweight, so it won't take up too much space in your luggage.

What Not to Like About It

We like that there is one large cargo pocket for all of your accessories and tools. However, some find that it would be more convenient if there were additional pockets that were easier to access.

Also, many of the buckles on this vest appear to be made of plastic. This means they will be likely to break over time.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Streamlined
  • Comfortable padding

CONS

  • Limited pockets
  • Low-quality buckles

Best Budget BCD Reviews

1. Cressi Start Jacket Style BCD

If you're on a budget, it can be great to find a BCD that has all of the features you could need but with a far more affordable price.

The Cressi Start Jacket Style BCD is a great option, as it has many useful features for beginners and experienced divers.

Product Highlights

Like most Cressi BCD rigs, the inside of this jacket-style rig is made from 500 denier fabric, and the outside features 1000 denier Cordura.

Similar to higher-end BCDs, Cordura is a phenomenal material as it is rip-resistant and helps preserve the gear's integrity over time.

You won't have to worry about the materials and weldings wearing away over time, which is one of the main reasons why this model is great for dive centers.

The integrated waist strap is specifically designed to be independent of the air bladder, which allows you to adjust the tightness easily.

Even if you need to adjust before inflating the jacket, you won't worry about it getting tighter.

Also, there is a built-in double air filtration system, which makes the jacket far simpler to inflate without worrying about stuck debris and sand.

With the added three exhaust valves, achieving your perfect buoyancy level and adjusting yourself while in the water has never been easier.

You're also bound to love the high-quality thermoplastic backplate system that is lightweight and small but still helps to keep your tanks secure.

Another fantastic feature is the rubber damper, which will hold onto your tank and ensure it is kept in the perfect position.

Divers will love having access to two large cargo pockets that can be closed with Velcro, as well as smaller compartments for your octopus and pressure gauge.

What to Like About It 

There's plenty to like with the Cressi Start Jacket Style BCD, starting with the ample room you'll have for your gear, including the pockets and D-rings.

You'll also find the 33.7 pounds of lift that it offers is ideal for cold and warm dives alike, and your tanks will be held securely.

Fortunately, the jacket is also comfortable to wear with its back padding, and you can access the purge valves with ease.

What Not to Like About It

The lack of adjustable features is the most significant disadvantage of this BCD. This point is especially true as you can't adjust the shoulder straps for taller or shorter divers.

Also, it doesn't have an integrated weight system, as some of the other higher-end BCDs have.

PROS

  • Lots of room for gear
  • Perfect lift for cold dives
  • Tanks are held securely
  • Comfortable back padding
  • Easily accessible purge valves

CONS

  • D-rings are small
  • Non-adjustable shoulder straps
  • No integrated weight system

2. TUSA Liberator Sigma II BCD Jacket 

The TUSA Liberator Sigma II BCD Jacket was a highly anticipated design. It has plenty of useful features but comes at a price that is agreeable across the board.

You'll find a combination of beginner-friendly and advanced features that make it a better option for budget-friendly BCDs.

Product Highlights

Stability and security are much easier to achieve with the Advanced Weight Loading System from TUSA, allowing you to easily stabilize using their innovative harness.

With the AWLS, you can insert weight cartridges and remove them quickly, allowing the weight to be correctly distributed along your torso.

You'll also find plenty of versatility with this jacket, as you have two large pockets with double zippers and mesh drainage.

In an emergency, it's easy to release the cartridges, although there is also a safety lock to make sure they don't free themselves.

Divers will be able to wear weight cartridges from eight to 10 pounds in each of the pockets, and two additional trim pockets can hold up to four pounds each.

Another considerable advantage of this rig is the Independent Harness System.

The IHS allows you to isolate the harness from the air cell, ensuring the tank is correctly supported throughout inflation and deflation.

Also, you'll find that your tanks will be secured without any gaps between them and your back.

An added benefit of the IHS is its built-in carrying handle and adjustable dial, giving you neutral buoyancy when needed.

With the help of the RITETITE two-position cam strap, you can easily adjust the jacket for optimal control.

The sternum strap and shoulder harness system are all adjustable so that you can find the perfect fit for your specific height and weight.

Also, there is a built-in cummerbund that helps to make sure everything fits perfectly snug around your hips.

In terms of overall durability, this product is constructed using 500-Cordura nylon, and the air cell is laminated with urethane.

Along with the pockets, you'll also find four resin D-rings and one stainless steel D-ring.

What to Like About It 

If you're a diver who has always used weight belts, you'll love transitioning to this BCD and its integrated weight system that is far more comfortable.

You'll find that it works perfectly in cold water without the material stiffening or the gadgets malfunctioning.

Overall, the TUSA Liberator Sigma II BCD Jacket excels in quality and feels custom-tailored to the diver wearing it.

What Not to Like About It

When it comes to putting in your weights, you'll find the pockets might be too small, depending on how large your cartridges are.

Also, the mouthpiece is quite uncomfortable and requires an ample amount of blowing to purge correctly.

It would be ideal if there were more than one stainless steel D-ring to use to your advantage.

PROS

  • Better than weight belts
  • Performs well in cold water
  • Excellent quality
  • Comfortable cummerbund
  • Feels tailored

CONS

  • Useful for small weights
  • Uncomfortable mouthpiece
  • One stainless steel D-ring

Buyer's Guide

With the many different styles of BCDs, it can be challenging to find the right one for your needs, which is why you need to know what to look for.

There's plenty to consider when shopping for the perfect BCD, from the materials used during manufacturing to the added accessories on the rig.

Be sure to think about the following features that you'll find in some of the best designs on the market.

1. Material

By looking into the materials the BCD is made of, you can ensure it will withstand a lot of wear and tear while also being lightweight.

As you wear your system out of the water, you won't want to feel overburdened by extra gear. Also, the more lightweight the BCD is, the easier it will be to travel with.

The majority of high-end systems are designed using 1000 denier Cordura. This material is rip- and abrasion-resistant, allowing you to navigate through choppy water with ease.

With this, you won't see any signs of damage if you hit sharp objects in the water, helping to protect your investment.

You can also find BCDs that have added material treatments, such as stain and water resistance, to help it shed water quickly when you surface.

Another popular material is nylon; although it is not as strong as Cordura, it is known to be far more lightweight.

It's also important to note the material used on the inside, especially if you don't typically wear a wetsuit when you dive.

You'll want a soft and comfortable material that will help to prevent chafing and irritation after a few hours of wear.

2. Weight System

Many divers search for BCDs that have an integrated weight system, as it's one of the easiest ways to manage the heftiness of your gear.

Instead of wearing an uncomfortable weight belt, an integrated weight system allows you to insert weights into specific pockets on the unit.

Manufacturers will specially design their BCDs to have displaced pockets, so the weight is evenly distributed throughout your torso.

Ideally, the weight system should be easy to access and will quickly release in the event of an emergency.

However, it can also be a great idea to find a rig with a weight locking mechanism to make sure they don't release accidentally.

Also, ensure the weight pockets are large enough to fit the cartridges you need.

3. Lift Capacity

The lift capacity you need will purely depend on the type of diving you're doing.

You'll find that technical divers with multiple tanks will require the most lift, while entry-level divers will fare better with a moderate lift.

The general rule of thumb is that divers should have at least 10 more pounds of lift than the total weight they're wearing.

For example, if you have 30 pounds of gear on your back, you should have at least 40 pounds of lift to ensure that you can resurface safely.

The best way to determine the lift capacity that you need is to take your tanks and tools into account before calculating.

Also, beginners must be aware that lift does not replace weighting your BCD properly.

4. Adjustability

Every diver has personal BCD sizing that is most comfortable for them. Some prefer their gear to be very snug, while others might want more breathing room.

You must opt for a unit with plenty of adjustable features, as this can allow you to create a custom fit for your gear.

Most BCDs will have general adjustments, such as an adjustable crotch strap and cummerbund. To fine-tune your gear, you'll need more.

It's a great idea to find a rig with adjustable shoulder straps and an adjustable chest strap, allowing you to tighten your gear for security.

You will also want to consider adjustable tank straps to ensure that you can secure your gear to your back without the fear of losing your air source.

5. Accessories

Most BCDs are designed to have pockets and D-rings as their two standard accessories. However, you'll want to make sure you have enough accessories.

It's recommended you take your gear into account and determine how you want to affix it to your BCD when you get in the water.

This step will help make sure you have the perfect amount of D-rings and pockets for all essentials.

Your pockets should be easy to access with minimal movement, and the D-rings should have high-quality materials, such as stainless steel.

You'll also want pockets secured by zippers or Velcro so that they can keep your items secure while still being accessible.

Another unique accessory to consider is a built-in emergency whistle, so you won't have to worry about buying one separately.

Best Scuba BCD FAQs

1. What is a BCD in scuba diving?

Known as a Buoyancy Compensator Device, BCDs are an essential part of diving that allows you to quickly submerge and resurface yourself while scuba diving.

You'll love having one at your disposal to hover weightlessly underwater, allowing you to take in the beautiful sights of fish and wildlife.

Divers also enjoy having them as it allows them to have optimal control so they can kneel on the bottom, float on the surface, or float mid-water.

Another important task of your BCD is to hold all of your equipment and your tanks.

2. How long does a scuba BCD last?

You can guarantee that at some point, you're going to need to have your BCD repaired, especially if you're someone who dives a lot.

On average, some of the higher-end models can last up to 10 years before needing repairs, though most will last up to eight.

You can expect to do at least 4,000 dives before you might need to replace the entire unit, as long as you properly maintain the device over time.

3. How much is a BCD?

BCDs can range in price depending on the quality of materials used, the available features, and the brand.

Often, you can find rigs between $100 and $300, which are some of the more affordable models. However, they might not last as long as more expensive models.

It's also easy to find BCDs that cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, and these are highly recommended for experienced divers rather than beginners.

4. How do I inflate my BCD?

Most BCDs are equipped with a power inflator, which will take air from your cylinder and will inflate the bladder of the BCD using the inflator hose.

If your BCD inflates using too much gas, there is also an overpressure relief valve that can help to moderate the inflation so that it's not too quick.

There is also a backup method of inflation in case your power inflator malfunctions in the water, which you can do orally.

Oral inflation is simple, whether you are at the surface or underwater. All you have to do is use the mouthpiece and blow into the rig, filling the bladder with air.

You will have to be sure to switch back and forth between the inflation mouthpiece and your regulator while underwater until it has been fully inflated.

5. Can you dive without a BCD?

Diving without a BCD is more than a convenience; it is a piece of equipment that helps ensure you can quickly surface.

Even the most experienced divers refuse to dive without a BCD, as it is an essential piece of gear that can also be used as a life-preserving device.

Especially if you are an entry-level diver, you will want to ensure that you use one of these devices to guarantee you can hold all of your gear and get back to the surface with ease.

It is possible to dive without a BCD, but it is incredibly important to remember you need to be safe while on the water.

6. How should a BCD fit?

First and foremost, if you're buying a BCD in-store, try to find one that has a try-before-you-buy policy.

This is mostly because testing the fit in the water is the best way to get a feel for the rig.

When you strap into your gear, you will want to make sure it fits snugly around your chest, stomach, and crotch while it is both inflated and deflated.

It is also vital that divers ensure the BCD isn't too short or too long, as this can significantly affect the stability of your tanks.

7. What is my BCD size?

The size of your BCD will depend on your measurements, including your height, weight, waist, and chest.

Every brand will have different sizing for their specific models, so you will want to pay close attention to individual sizing charts.

For example, a Mares Hybrid Pro-Tech size L will fit divers with the following measurements:

  • Weight: 154 to 198 lbs
  • Height: 5'7" to 6'1"
  • Waist: 39" to 47"
  • Chest: 41" to 47"

On the other hand, an Aqua Lung Dimension i3 size L is best for divers with these measurements:

  • Weight: 180 to 210 lbs
  • Height: 6'0" to 6'2"
  • Waist: 38" to 50"
  • Over Shoulder: 44" to 52"

Final Verdict

Our top choice for the best scuba BCD is the Scubapro Hydros Pro, as it has all of the features you would expect from a high-end BCD.

This rig is entirely customizable, allowing you to find the perfect fit. What’s more, it’s ideal for travel while still offering an ample lift.

Lastly, it also comes with a dedicated travel bag, which makes it perfect for long-distance dive trips.

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