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BCD Buyers Guide

by Corné Ligtermoet
Scuba Gear

Which BCD to buy,  you don’t know which one you want or what kind BCD you want? Take a look at our Buyers guide and decide if you want a wing or a normal BCD! For a BCD there are various names such as BCD (Buoyancy Compensator device) or BC (Buoyancy Compensator) or Stab (Stabilizing) jacket. The modern BCD makes it easy to regulate your buoyancy underwater. We regularly review a BCD you can find all our reviews here.

Does the BCD fit you?

The fit of a BCD is extremely important because the fit also determines if the BC dives nicely. When a BCD is to big your cylinder will move freely on your back. You cannot get a steady dive position and you will roll over every time.

When fitting the BCD you have to take in mind which suit you are going to use. Will you use a 2mm shorty or a drysuit? When you also want to use a drysuit then your buoyancy compensator device needs to be big enough. So take your time to think about where you want to use your BC.

Do I need a weight integrated BCD?

When you buy a weight integrated BCD you don’t need any weight belt anymore. When you started diving you can remember how annoying the weight belt can be. So when you are buying a new BC, buy one with integrated weight. Despite that, there are still a number of cases where the weight belt is still useful. Nowadays almost every scuba brand has BCDs with and without weight pockets. Are you using the BCD only for travel? Take in mind that almost every dive center is using big weight blocks. My experience is that i almost every time use a weight belt when i’m diving abroad.

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Most of the time a big weight block isn’t fitting in a weight pocket.

All weights that normally fit around the belt are now placed in special, easily removable pockets. These can easily be dropped or removed in case of emergency or during a boat dive. Normal weight blocks fit in these pockets but for the preservation of the pockets and the comfort of the diver, soft lead bags are often used. These bags are full of small balls of lead and form to the body.

A weight pockets needs to detach really easy. Every brand has is own method, so keep in mind that you can get used to it when you are buying a new BCD.

Weight pocket Scubapro X-Black

How can you detach the weight pocket?

A wing? You say what…

A wing? can i fly with that?? Nope, it is still a BCD but all the air is on your back. I love diving with a wing but a lot of people hate it. You are forced in a horizontal position, so when you love the freedom of movement maybe a wing is not a good idea.

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A proper horizontal diving position.

The positive side of a wing is that you’re more stable during your horizontal dive position. Normally all the air is around your belly and on your back. When the BCD is full you can feel little bit uncomfortable because it is pressing around your body. A wing doesn’t have this, all the air is on your back so you have more freedom around your body. A wing gives you the possibility to dive with double tanks so the wing can grow with your diving career. Many divers praise the diving quality of a wing and so do i!

A good example for a wing but also has the comfortable things of a normal BCD is the Scubapro Hydros Pro.

The most important feature of a BCD: Lifting capacity!

Lifting capacity is the most important feature of the BCD, despite the fact that BCDs sometimes have large amounts of lifting capacity, it is still very important to use the good amount of weights for you.

When you use the good amount of weights then all the BCDs have enough lifting capacity. The lifting capacity will play a role when you’re going diving with a double tank or just technical diving.

How many D-rings and pockets do i need?

Always make sure the BCD has enough pockets and d-rings for the dives you want to make.

It’s always wise to take a spare mask or a decompression buoy with you. So you will need pockets or enough d-rings. Always check if you can take all your accessoires with you. D-rings are often slightly bent this makes it easier to attach something to the d-ring during your dive.

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A good fitting BCD makes you HAPPY!

Dump all the air!

Nowadays almost every normal BCD have 3 dump valves. The first one is located on left shoulder and one on the back located near your right hip. The last one is located in your inflator. When the inflator is pulled it dumps air from the left shoulder.

A wing only have 1 dump valve and it is located on the back near your left hip.

It is wise to test all the dump valves before you going buy a BCD or Wing because eventually you will use it a lot!

Another kind of BCD?!

Yes, another one! These are really light weight BCDs and you can use them for traveling. It is called a Travel BCD and often these BCDs are designed to be easily folded into a small package. As a result, many travel BCDs have the absolute necessities and are made of lighter but therefore more vulnerable materials. For example, integrated lead bags are often missing on these types of models. This makes these BCDs the most suitable in tropical waters. When diving is only done on vacation’s then a travel BCDs is definitely recommended. Find our top 3 here!

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