Scuba BCD Buyers Guide – How to choose the right Scuba BCD

Scuba BCD Buyers Guide – How to choose the right Scuba BCD

Scuba Buoyancy Compensator devices come in a variety of different styles. The most popular style of buoyancy control devices used today by most recreational divers are the jacket style scuba BC, which is worn like an inflatable vest with buckles in the front. This style of scuba BCD, wraps around the front of your body, with the side panels containing the inflatable bladders. The scuba tanks strap onto the back harness and other scuba gear like the regulator hose, octopus and gauges are also secured through additional straps which maybe found on the BCD.

Just decide what features are important for you to fit your style of diving and you are very well on your way to getting that perfect Scuba BCD.
Whatever style of buoyancy compensator device you choose make sure the Scuba BC you are about to buy is a good one. Below are some major features to consider when looking to buy a BCD:

Fit and comfort – When buying your scuba BCD, the first important characteristics to look out for are fit and comfort. An uncomfortable BCD, and one that will not fit to your size, will distract you from your scuba experiences. You will probably have to frequently adjust it during your dive. It will definitely take some of the pleasure out of the dive.

I once had the unfortunate experience of renting a Scuba BC which was too small and it really constrained my movements underwater. At the end I was just glad to have ended the dive. Now that is not what scuba diving is about. So now imagine buying a Scuba BCD which does not seem right. You will probably get put off scuba diving just cause you may be of the opinion that the scuba gear makes you feel restricted and claustrophobic which is really not the case.

The Scuba BC should fit you snugly as streamlined as possible against your body, but not too tight.

On the other hand an over sized Scuba BC will uncontrollably rotate around your body therefore giving you an uncomfortable dive as you will undoubtedly focus on adjusting it throughout your dive.
Also check that the buoyancy compensator device has a configuration and harness that makes wearing the Scuba BCD comfortable and keeps it from riding up around your neck when inflated. Check that the quick release straps are well positioned so that you can easily reach them in case of an emergency.

Lift Capacity – It must hold enough air to give you and your equipment enough buoyancy to float you at the surface. You can find out a Scuba BCD’s lift capacity by floating an inflated BC and adding weight to it until it sinks. The average lift capacity for a Scuba BC is approximately 40 lbs.

Hoses and valves – It should have a low pressure inflation system to make it possible to slowly fill your Buoyancy Compensator Device with air directly from your tank. A large diameter inflation/deflation hose is also important so air can be easily released. Every Scuba BCD must have an over-pressure release valve to prevent it from rupturing in case it is overinflated. Check that the release valves are easily accessible.

Weight Integration – More expensive Scuba BCDs normally come with integrated weights for those divers that prefer to wear less scuba gear. This type of scuba BC has got weight plates which are normally found at the back side of the BCD. I really like this type of scuba BC configuration, the advantage of this system is that, it is more comfortable as you will not need a weight belt. When it comes to scuba weight distribution, the weight is evenly distributed along your back rather on your hips which can sometimes become uncomfortable during your dive. If you choose to buy this type of Scuba BCD, make sure that the weights can be easily released in case of emergencies.

Other desirable features to look for in your scuba BC are utility pockets, a whistle for surface communication, hose retainers and utility rings for attaching accessory equipment. Again check whether these are positioned within an easily accessible area on your Scuba BC.

If you’d like to learn more on Scuba BCD’s, check out our in depth guide at

Copyright (c) 2010 All rights reserved.

kris Mifsud– A keen enthusiast, with a lifelong passion for all types of water sports.

Editor and publisher of – a comprehensive Scuba and Snorkeling guide to techniques, equipment and reviews.