The Buoyancy Compensator Device (BCD) is one of the most important scuba gear you should have if you want to go scuba diving. It provides the scuba diver a sense of neutral buoyancy control during technical diving.
However, finding a suitable fit can be overwhelming. With so many options out in the market, we’ve rounded only the best ones to help you find the best scuba BCD for you!
Our Top Picks
8 Best Scuba BCDs
- Best Overall-ScubaPro Hydros Pro BCD with Air2
- Best Scuba BCD for Comfort-Aqua Lung Axiom Scuba Diving BCD
- Best BCD for Rugged Travel and Local Diving-Zeagle Stiletto BCD
- Best Jacket Style BCD-Aqua Lung Pro HD BCD
- Best On-the-go BCD-SEAC USA Smart BCD
- Best Fit for a Buoyancy Control Device –ScubaPro Glide BCD
- Best Entry Level BCD (Lightweight BCD)-Zeagle Covert XT BCD
- Best Inflate BCD-Scubapro X-Black BCD Buoyancy Compensator Device with Air2
1. ScubaPro Hydros Pro BCD with Air2
- Ultra-durable with Patented Injection Molded Monprene Gel Harness (extremely resistant to UV)
- Fabric free harness
- BC-4-Life Modular Design: customization of weight systems
- Near-Zero inherent buoyancy
This 2016 Red Dot award-winning device for product design is a game-changer in dive convenience and comfort. It also showcases a 2-in-1 BCD design with Trav-Tek straps and a fully integrated weight pockets system.
With a simple clip change, you can easily convert it from an integrated-weight belt BCD to a lightweight harness travel BCD.
Zeagle Ranger comes second to ScubaPro. It obtains its recognition as the “high-quality BCD for serious divers.” The Ranger’s modular design allows it to adapt to rugged cold water diving in wet or dry suits.
2. Aqua Lung Axiom Scuba Diving BCD
Best Scuba BCD for Comfort
- Adjustable chest straps for personal comfort
- Knife attachment points are easily found on the left lobe
- Accessible location of right shoulder pull dump
- Additional rolled neck collar for comfortability
The Axiom offers a sturdy buoyancy control with full features. More so, it’s maximum fit and comfort because of Aqua Lung’s proprietary Wrapture harness system.
This jacket BCD creates a peculiar standard for all recreational divers with its innovative GripLock tank band and the SureLock integrated weight system.
3. Zeagle Stiletto BCD
Best BCD for Rugged Travel and Local Diving
- Customizable fit and comfort
- Durable and lightweight; great for travels
- Superb buoyancy control
- Reinforced 1000 denier nylon construction for the adjustable sternum strap
This dive gear is an excellent mid-to-high-end BCD for both warm and controlled diving. While it is built to be rugged, it is also lightweight and compact, making it ideal for travel and recreational divers.
If you’re looking for a BCD with more than enough lift and weight capacity, this is an excellent option for you.
Some compare Zeagle Stiletto to another worth mentioning travel BCD – the Oceanic Jetpack. This offers a customizable fit for the angler. While having adjustable trim weight pockets and a versatile power inflator. It lets you achieve optimum buoyancy control and trim when diving.
4. Aqua Lung Pro HD BCD
Best Jacket Style BCD
- Sure-Lock II Mechanical Weight Release System
- Accessible large two-way zippered cargo pockets
- Attachment points on the left shoulder area
- Scooped octo-pocket for easy octopus regulator storage
The Pro HD is a wraparound jacket with an integrated weight that would appeal to a wide range of divers. For its price, it represents excellent value.
It will withstand the rigors of salt and chlorine while retaining its good looks thanks to its advanced ResisteK material. It’s ready to go wherever you want to take it.
5. SEAC USA Smart BCD
Best On-the-go BCD
- Maximum resistance and functionality
- A good option for those on the go but wants optional ballast weights in their jacket BCD
- Safety release gravity weight pocket system for practicality, efficiency, and effectiveness
- Inclusion of a sphere valve system for increased readability
This type of BCD is a durable jacket-style BC with new integrated weights for technical divers. The Smart is a simple and easy-to-use BCD that is ideal for novice divers who enjoy traveling.
Weight pockets improve comfort and positioning in the water by transferring weights from your belt to your BCD.
Meanwhile, Cressi Travelight BCD is also a lightweight version of a traditional BCD jacket, fitting easily into a small travel bag. Cressi substituted a light alloy D-ring for the conventional stainless steel D-ring to help reduce extra travel weight.
6. ScubaPro Glide BCD
Best Fit for a Buoyancy Control Device
- 420 denier nylon (lightweight and long-lasting durability)
- Retention of the cradle-like shape wraparound air bladder
- New Y-Fit shoulders
- Comfort optimization with the use of soft neoprene neck and padded backpack
This front-adjustable BCD comes with unique design elements that maximize comfort, fit, and performance. It features a new Y-Fit shoulder design which has improved adaptation to the body for better arms control and range of motion.
The Sherwood Avid BCD is another in this category. It caters to adjustable shoulder straps for a better fit. With a 3D air cell, it wraps around the body for unparalleled stability.
Plus, it has practical zippered side pockets. It also includes the additional 9 D-rings to accessorize the gear and the shoulder strap.
7. Zeagle Covert XT BCD
Best Entry Level BCD (Lightweight BCD)
- More oversized pockets and redesigned weight integration
- Back inflation BCD
- Security on the rubber row webbing
- Knife mounting points on both sides
Zeagle’s new BCD offers travel divers a more rugged and versatile system. Also, it features a new MOLLE system with additional attachment points. This is a designed front vest and a lightweight and packable integrated weight system.
This is comparable with another from the same brand – the Zeagle Express Tech Deluxe. It is a high-performance BCD that is reasonably priced.
It’s lightweight and compact, making it an excellent choice for travelers or those who need to move between dives. It has a back inflation system that feels stable.
8. Scubapro X-Black BCD Buoyancy Compensator Device with Air2
Best Inflate BCD
- Large lift capacity
- Large integrated weights (with the capacity hold of 6kg each)
- Padding layers gives a comfortable wear
- It can be used with a double tank system
This has two large integrated weights on the side that can each hold up to 6 kg or 13 lbs. They are securely fastened with clips on the side that are not quick-release like many other brands.
The harness, on the other hand, sculpts neatly to the body. A corset-like network of bungees also keeps the air cell in check, garnering the X-Black a good result for streamlining.
6 Things to Consider For When Buying the Best Scuba BCDs
Every recreational diver has a different sense of fashion. It should be aligned accordingly during their diving sessions. Besides, one may go for the most common and stable jacket style BCDs. But others may consider the slim wing style BCD better.
Some may also go for a portable hybrid BCD that combines the features of the supportive jacket and the more compact wing.
Any BCD should fit snugly like a glove while still giving the angler the comfort of wearing it. Make sure you try one on before buying to see if it wraps you up nicely!
There is a particular lift capacity that a BCD can only cater for. If you’re only diving under warm water, this is not something you need to worry about.
But if you’re getting yourself to dip in cold water, you should consider adding more weight to compensate for the dive.
The weight of your BCD is an essential factor to consider when diving. Generally, the traditional bulky jacket type is regarded as the most comfortable choice. It works for beginners and divers alike, taking on rough surfaces.
The majority of the modern-styled BCDs already have integrated weight systems. That could be quickly released should you need it any time. Likewise, the use of plastic trays, buckles, or zipper mechanisms like weight pockets and rings are ideal add-ons gears for your BCD.
Anglers and experienced divers alike go on traveling just to feed their love for scuba diving. It should be considered to pack something light and handy to transport it back and forth to destinations.
6 Parts of BCD
Apart from the criterion above for purchasing, the functionality of the parts also comes into play. As an angler, you need to be guided by how these parts work accordingly to help you maneuver your dive.
Inflators give you the control to pump more air inside the air bladder when deemed needed. You would typically see two kinds of inflators in a device – a power type and a manual type.
With a button press, the power inflator forces air from the pressurized air tank to get into the air bladder. Meanwhile, the manual inflator expects more work from the diver by blowing air into the bladder with the help of a mouthpiece. This provides a backup if ever the power cannot provide the needed air inside for sustenance.
Deflators play as the counterpart of inflators wherein you press on them whenever you want to go deeper underwater. This makes the experience closer and more alive!
3. Air Bladders
This is considered to be the most essential part of the whole BCD equipment. It holds the air in place for buoyancy, which works hand-in-hand with both the inflators and deflators.
4. Dump Valves
If the deflators seem unavailable, dump valves are suitable substitutes for them. It functions the same way, only with a string to release the air out.
5. Pocket & Rings
Pockets and rings are extra inclusions for other styles of BCD. Some may have it; others may not. Utility pockets and rings are kept inside a gear bag, removed from the vest to lift you up in an emergency.
Because BCDs are fashioned to be worn for underwater activities, a person wearing them must be secured with shoulder straps. It should snuggly and comfortably wrap the body to provide the diver a proper fit to allow adequate movement.
A crotch strap is a webbing running between your legs and connects the backplate of your BCD to a waistband or cummerbund. This keeps your BCD and tank roll firmly against your back, preventing them from riding up.
How to Manage and Take Care of Your BCD
Purchasing the best scuba gear is an investment you make to continue pursuing your love for underwater creatures. With this, it is essential that you also know how to use it for a long worthwhile time.
Post-dive, you should be able to properly rinse off the outside part of the BCD. After which, you may proceed to drain the saltwater that entered inside with running water from the inflator hose.
You may use the air bladder, deflators, and inflators to ensure all parts were washed with fresh water. Dry it in a cool place and avoid direct contact with the sunlight as it may crack off the material.
This thorough summary should help you make a wise and informed decision in purchasing your own BCD. The best scuba diving BCDs are the ones that are aligned to your liking and preference for comfort and experience.