14 Best Scuba Diving BCDs in 2023 | Tested by Divers

BCD stands for buoyancy compensation device. These handy and essential bits of equipment allow a diver to offset their negative buoyancy by adding air from the tank to the scuba BCD while underwater. They’re also essential on the surface for maintaining positive buoyancy.

BCDs have come a long way since the old-school Fenzy collars which featured only an oral inflate function and a single air bladder that was worn around the neck. Today’s models are incredibly comfortable, user-friendly, and come in a variety of styles.

Here, we’re going to go over some of the best BCDs. But first, let’s cover what you should look for when making a new BCD purchase.

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Great Mid-range

Are you a newer diver looking for a solid BCD that will stand the test of time? Or perhaps you’re a seasoned sea dog with plenty of dives under your weight belt looking for a workhorse. In either case, the OceanPro BCD by Oceanic could be just the ticket.

Oceanic’s entry-level BCD is tough enough to withstand a few knocks and has just the right amount of features for recreational scuba. It’s a dive center rental favorite for these reasons and it’s been spotted in many a pro’s dive bag too.

Already know the OceanPro is for you? Click the link below to check prices or make an order. Otherwise, read on for our full review of this Oceanic BCD.

Buy This BCD If:

You’re after a solid jacket-style BCD, in which case this is really a no-brainer. It’ll get the job done for years to come and it’s comfortable enough for long dives or hours spent in confined (if you’re a professional). For dive centers, The OceanPro offers the perfect balance of cost, quality, and ease of use. Highly recommended.

Specs & Features

  • Style: Jacket
  • Integrated weights?: Yes
  • Unisex
  • Sizes: XS to XL
  • Trim weight pockets

Our Overall Review

4.8

Things we like:

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    Highly durable and can take a beating
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    The padding around the shoulders is comfortable
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    Adjustable cummerbund so the BCD should still fit you should you lose of gain a little weight
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    LPI feels comfortable in the hand and the inflate and deflate buttons perform well underwater
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    LPI dump valve operates by pulling the LPI down (perfect for lazy dive instructors!)

Things we don't like:

  • check-markPlastic D-rings
  • check-markBasic BCD
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Oceanic OceanPro BCD

The Zeagle Fury offers experienced divers a BCD that will work well no matter the thickness of the wetsuit. For diving in cold water with a drysuit or a rash guard, the Fury easily adjusts, offering one unisex BCD where some divers might have two.

It’s a mid-range product with a solid construction that we’ve put through the paces in myriad types of conditions and suits.

Beyond confirming the durability, the Fury’s features–including 2 types of integrated weight systems–is a solid option worth considering for recreational use as well as for some technical diving.

Let’s dive deeper into the features of the Zeagle Fury to see if it is time to take some of your multiple BCDs to the next gear swap.

Specs & Features

  • High Performance BCD Fury
  • Adjustable: Yes (XS-Large) ; Yes (Large-2XL)
  • Adjustable Chest strap: Yes
  • Adjustment Points: Shoulder, Chest, & Waist
  • Integrated Weights: Ripcord or Quick Lock Release (QLR) Pockets

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Things we like:

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    Adjustability makes it comfortable for both rash guard and 8mm suit
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    Optional Weight Pocket Release Ripcord or Traditional Pocket
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    Single or Double Tank Use

Things we don't like:

  • check-markFeatures not needed for seldom, exclusively warm water diving
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Zeagle Fury BCD

Best for Beginners

The Cressi Start was initially intended to be used by dive schools and resorts. It has a basic design but is highly functional making it ideal for beginner divers too.

One nice feature is that the waist strap is independent of the air bladder, so if you tighten it while the jacket is deflated, it’s not going to squeeze your stomach too much when you inflate.

If you are looking for a BCD that is reliable and almost bullet-proof, the Cressi Start is a great entry-level option.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Jacket
  • Capacity: 29.2 lbf / 13.25 kgf (XS) to 45 lbf / 20.4 kgf (XL)
  • Integrated Weights: No
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: Three

Our Overall Review

4.6

Things we like:

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    The waist strap is separate from the air bladder.
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    Inflator hose is easily disassembled for cleaning.
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    From a dive center perspective, the size is clearly displayed on the shoulder pad.
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    Great value for money.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNo metal D-rings.
  • check-markEdges of the shoulder straps are a little rough and can chafe against the neck.
  • check-markThe chest strap is quite high.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Cressi Start

Best High-End

The Zeagle Ranger is one of the preferred Buoyancy Control Devices (BCDs) for the technical or professional diver. The Ranger is listed in the Authorization for Navy Use (ANU) by NAVSEA.

Our considerable experience with the Ranger–not to be confused with the more feature-filled Ranger Ltd–has been good.

It is also an excellent BCD for the new diver who knows they want to expand their skills because the Ranger grows with you.

The Ranger is rugged and will stand up to all environments and daily use. It also has a slew of features, such as adjustable D-Rings and the ability to hold two tanks. In addition, it has a great lift capacity (44 lbs/19.95 kg). However, the Ranger’s big drawback is that it is heavy (8.4 lbs/3.8 kg) and doesn’t fold well for travel.

Dive-In further and explore the details of the Ranger to see if it is the right BCD for you.

Specs & Features

  • BCD: Ranger - $829.95
  • Chest Strap: Yes
  • Adjustment Points: Shoulder Straps & Cumberbunb
  • Integrated Weights: Rip Cord Release
  • Inflation: Rear Inflate

Our Overall Review

4.7

Things we like:

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    6 D-Rings – 2 Adjustable on the shoulder
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    Single or Double Tank Use
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    Durable - Nylon
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    Ripcord Weight Release System

Things we don't like:

  • check-markIt doesn't fold well for travel
  • check-markMultiple Features are not needed for the basic Open Water Diver
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Zeagle Ranger

The unique thing about the Cressi Travelight BCD is how well it packs down for travel. This is a BCD for beginner scuba divers-as well as more routine divers seeking travel-friendly options.

The Travelight packs down into its own travel bag. Even though it is small, when worn it still has plenty of storage and attachment points with its two side pockets and its 8 D-Rings. Adjustable shoulder straps and cumberbund allow for a comfortable fit and the ability to wear the chest strap loose–ideal for women. The nylon anti-roll panel and optional crotch strap help to create a comfortable underwater setup for both the new and experienced diver.

The Cressi Travelight has other unique features, so dive into our in-depth review to learn more about it.

Specs & Features

  • Chest Strap: Yes, not moveable/removable
  • Adjustment Points: 2 shoulder adjustable straps, cumberbund
  • Integrated Weights: Weight-Lock Aid System
  • Tank Attachment: 2 Tank Straps and a tank safety strap that is not a memory strap
  • Inflation: Back Inflate

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Things we like:

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    Designed for travel, Lightweight & Compact
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    Weight Pockets Slide for comfortable fit
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    Thoughtful placement of the 8 D-rings
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    Cinch Strap doubles as a Crotch Strap

Things we don't like:

  • check-markChest Strap is not adjustable or removable
  • check-markTank Safety Strap is not a Memory Strap
Read full review

Where to buy:

Cressi Travelight Bcd Product Image

Cressi Travelight BCD

Best for Women

Unisex BCDs that were better designed for men used to be the standard. That’s been changing as more women enter the diving world. Differences in body shapes and sizes require BCDs that better fit a female diver.

The Zeagle Zena adds a twist to the traditional BCD design by using a corset for the front panel. Most people are familiar with the typical jacket-style BCD. Some divers may also be familiar with the back inflate or hybrid-style BCDs that have become popular recently. With these, you have the typical three (3) adjustment points (two (2) shoulders and a cumberbund), which do not always offer the best fit to a woman’s torso.

With the Zena, Zeagle has created a more form-fitting and comfortable BCD. The corset has six (6) points of adjustment (1 on each shoulder and 2 on each side, and a front zipper replaces the typical cumberbund).

Zeagle also separated the front section of the BCD from the back, allowing for more sizing variations. Something their biggest competitors, the Aqua Lung Pearl and ScubaPro Lady Hawk, do not have. The result: a lightweight female-designed BCD that allows for individual fit and a bit of fun with color.

Dive into our in-depth review to find out more about the Zeagle Zena.

Specs & Features

  • Chest Strap: No - Adjustable Corset
  • Adjustment Points: 6 point adjustment +
  • Integrated Weights: Rip Cord Release
  • Inflation: Rear Inflate
  • Dry BCD Weight (Med): 6.2 lbs/2.81kgs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Things we like:

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    Multiple Sizes for Front Corset & Back Plate
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    6 Point Adjustment Corset System
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    Lightweight
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    Ripcord Weight Release System

Things we don't like:

  • check-markAll D-rings are on the front of the BCD
  • check-markPocket is not useful.
  • check-markNot a teaching/professional BCD
Read full review

Where to buy:

Zena Corset Product Image

Zeagle Zena BCD

Best for Travel

The Zeagle Scout is compact and weighs in at 3 kg / 6.6 lbs, making it an ideal lightweight choice for travelers. The rear-mounted weight system consists of two pockets which hold a maximum of 16 lbs (7.26 kg).

Zeagle’s power inflator system can be hooked up to a standard garden hose making it super easy to wash out the interior of the air bladder. If you have never dived with a back-inflate BCD or a wing before, the Zeagle Scout is a good way to get started.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Capacity: 24 lbf / 10.9 kgf (S to XL)
  • Integrated Weights? Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One

Our Overall Review

4.4

Things we like:

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    Being able to properly wash out the bladder using a hose.
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    Rear weight system.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markAll sizes have the same lift capacity because of the lightweight, travel-ready design.
  • check-markWeight pockets are hard to reach.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Zeagle Scout

Another dive school and rental shop favorite because of its rugged and adaptable design. The waist strap comes with a cummerbund for extra comfort. Both these and the shoulder strap are simple to adjust for a good fit. Sturdy and reliable, the Sherwood Silhouette BCD should provide years of dependable service.

Sturdy and reliable, the Sherwood Silhouette BCD should provide years of dependable service.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Jacket
  • Capacity: 17 lbf / 7.7 kgf (2XS) to 40 lbf / 18 kgf (XL)
  • Integrated Weights? No
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: Two

Our Overall Review

4.5

Things we like:

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    Simple to use.
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    3D designed air bladder.
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    Built-in carry handle.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markOnly two dump valves.
  • check-markAlthough large, there is only one pocket.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Sherwood Silhouette

Best Mid-Range

The Cressi Aquapro is a popular choice, suitable for the majority of recreational divers. A rigid but fully padded back support provides stability for the cylinder and prevents it from moving around. Gravity-release weight pockets are located on either side of the jacket. Give the securing buckle a squeeze, the pocket drops down, and the weights fall straight out.

The Cressi Aquapro is a simple design but has loads of great features.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Jacket
  • Capacity: 13 lbf / 6.1 kgf (XXS) to 36 lbf / 16.3 kgf (XL)
  • Integrated Weights? Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells:
  • Number of dump valves: Three

Our Overall Review

4.3

Things we like:

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    Location of weight pockets.
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    A good number of D-rings.
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    Sits high on the waist giving the option of wearing a weight belt.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markPockets are high so difficult to access the zipper to open them.
  • check-markA second tank band would be helpful.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Cressi Aquapro

This stylish BCD is tailored for women. With its wrap-around style, there is additional padding in the shoulder straps and at the back to provide extra comfort and support.

TUSA’s Ultimate Stabilizing Harness (U.S.H.) holds the cylinder snug against the body and helps prevent tank roll. Made from heavy-duty Cordura Nylon, the tina BCD is made to last.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Jacket
  • Capacity: 18 lbf / 8.2 kgf (XS) to 38.2 lbf / 17.3 kgf (L)
  • Integrated Weights? Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: Two

Our Overall Review

4.7

Things we like:

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    Low-profile, wrap-around bladder.
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    Lightweight.
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    Not an overtly feminine design.
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    As the Tina is designed for females, the smaller sizes are ideal for teenagers as well

Things we don't like:

  • check-markA bit long inflator hose
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Tusa Tina

The Cressi Lightwing has to be one of the lightest BCD’s on the market at just 4.6 lb / 2 kg (M). It features a fast folding system for quick, easy, and compact storage. This does mean that there are not as many fancy features—it has all the essentials and does the job well.

Rear inflation means this BCD will not obstruct your movement when in the water. For any male or female diver who likes to travel, the Cressi Lightwing is a great choice.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Wing
  • Capacity: 20.2 lbf / 9.2 kgf (XS to M)
  • Integrated Weights: Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: One

Our Overall Review

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    It really is ultralight!
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    Easy to pack away with the fast folding system.
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    Soft backplate.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markBeing so lightweight, there are no metal D-rings.
  • check-markNo cummerbund. Need to make sure the straps tighten up enough to fit around the waist.
  • check-markBest for Travel diving
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Cressi Lightwing

Definitely, a BCD designed with women divers in mind. It features thick padding on the inside with a plush nylon finish. The jacket and air bladder are specially cut for a snug fit to female curves.

Sherwood uses a unique Halfpac backplate which offers the versatility of soft backplate with the stability of a hard backplate. This means it’s extra comfortable but will also hold your cylinder firmly in place.

One great feature of the Sherwood Luna is the padded neoprene neck. A small hint of color adds a nice feminine touch.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Jacket
  • Capacity: 18 lbf / 8.16 kgf (XS) to 25 lbf / 11.34 kgf (L)
  • Integrated Weights? Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: Two

Our Overall Review

4.2

Things we like:

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    Slimmer cut for women.
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    Extra padding at the back of the neck.
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    Stylish design.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markIf diving in cold water, there may not be enough releasable weight (16 lb / 7.25 kg).
  • check-markNo right shoulder exhaust valve.
  • check-markZippered weight pockets.
  • check-markWould be nice to be able to pick your color!
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Sherwood Luna

For those looking for a BCD which offers more advanced features, the Seac Sherpa is a great option. The padded backplate has extended lumbar support. This allows you to transfer the cylinder weight from the shoulders to the hips.

One of the stand-out features is the 3D air cell which has wings that wrap around the air cylinder. Weight distribution is improved and the tank is held securely in place. The Seac Sherpa provides a comfortable experience both on the surface and below it.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Hybrid
  • Capacity: 37 lbf / 16.7 kgf (S) to 52.9 lbf / 24 kgf (XXL)
  • Integrated Weights: Yes
  • Number of dump valves: Three
  • Number of D-rings: Six stainless steel

Our Overall Review

4.2

Things we like:

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    Wing design gives better weight distribution.
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    The simplistic design is clutter free.
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    Six D-rings.
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    Easy to locate dump valves.
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    Extended lumbar support. Takes all the stress off the shoulders.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe dry weight of the BCD is heavy. Size L is 9.25 lb / 4.2kg.
  • check-markSizes are on the large size and are more appropriate for men. Even an S will be unsuitable for the majority of women.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Seac Sherpa

Another BCD designed specifically for women divers. The custom fit harness has a multi-position cummerbund and shoulder straps which adjust easily for ladies of all shapes and sizes.

The Oceanic Hera brings together the benefits of a jacket and rear inflation styles making it easy to use whatever position you dive in. The patented and adjustable depth-compensating cummerbund ensures you are comfortable and snug however deep you are.

There are two generously sized utility pockets as well as numerous D-rings and mounting grommets for all of your accessories. And being made from Cordura nylon, the Oceanic Hera is exceptionally durable.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Hybrid
  • Capacity: 20.46 lbf / 9.3 kgf (XS) to 40.7 lbf / 18.5 kgf (L)
  • Integrated Weights: Yes
  • Number of dump valves: Two
  • Number of D-rings: Two pre-bent welded and four standard stainless steel

Our Overall Review

4

Things we like:

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    Lots of places to place and hang accessories.
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    Front placement of weight pockets.
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    Ergonomically designed.
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    Adjusts to fit women of all shapes and sizes.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markClips holding the weight pockets are stiff when first using the BCD.
  • check-markPockets can be hard to access when at depth.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Oceanic Hera

Probably the most advanced BCD we are featuring. ScubaPro has developed the first 3D injection, molded gel harness. What that means is that this BCD has loads of features to improve comfort, movement, stability and buoyancy control.

The gel conforms to your body giving you an ergonomic fit, adjusting to your torso length and shoulders. Less lead is needed as the ScubaPro Hydros has near-zero inherent buoyancy. This gives better buoyancy control which leads to a more enjoyable diving experience.

Because of the lack of fabric, the harness retains no water so it’s quick drying and will weigh less after your dive. The waist and shoulder straps pack into the wing making a compact package which is great for both traveling and storage.

Practically every component can be replaced without the need for stitching so is easy to repair. It may be an expensive purchase, but the ScubaPro Hydros Pro is definitely the future of BCDs.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Wing
  • Capacity: 35 lbf / 15.9 kgf (XS) to 40 lbf / 18.1 kgf (XL)
  • Integrated Weights? Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: Two

Our Overall Review

4

Things we like:

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    Ergonomic design. Has a harness that molds to your body for ultimate comfort.
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    Stylish and streamlined.
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    Quick drying.
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    Easy to pack away and compact.
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    Near-zero inherent buoyancy.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markAlthough the lift capacity is good, there is little difference between the sizes.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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ScubaPro Hydros Pro

The Aqua Lung Dimension has been around for a while but is it still a leading BCD on the market. There is a patented Wrapture harness system that attaches to swivel buckles at the shoulder and includes lumbar support. An adjustable strap across the chest can be moved up or down. This is a great idea when diving in a dry suit. The strap is prevented from sitting across the valve.

When out of the water, the Wrapture allows you to stand straight and the cylinder will sit perfectly vertical.

The most impressive feature of the Aqua Lung Dimension i3 has to be the inflation/deflation system. Instead of providing the dangling LPI hose, the patented i3 control system uses a simple lever on the side of the BCD. Lift the lever up to inflate and push down to deflate. Pushing down also opens all the dump valves at once so whatever position you are in, air will be dumped. It can take a bit of getting used to, but once you have, you will see how convenient and easy it is to control your buoyancy.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Wing
  • Capacity: 35 lbf / 15.88 kgf (S) to 50 lbf / 22.68 kgf (XL)
  • Integrated Weights? Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: Three

Our Overall Review

3.9

Things we like:

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    i3 control system.
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    Octopus holder for tidy storage.
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    Console sleeve.
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    Streamlined appearance.
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    High lift capacity.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markBecause the i3 control system takes up one side of the BCD, pocket storage is limited.
  • check-markTank strap is a little low.
  • check-markNo carry handle.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Aqua Lung Dimension i3

The ScubaPro Ladyhawk is designed to give women a sense of freedom in the water. A narrowed neck yoke, rotating shoulder buckles, swivel clips on the chest strap, and rear inflation give you a well-fitting BCD. This allows for plenty of movement around the chest and shoulder areas.

A flexible cummerbund compensates for changes at various depths to keep a good fit. The hard backplate is contoured for extra comfort. There are two rear trim pouches for additional weights to help with achieving the perfect, well-balanced position in the water.

Specs & Features

  • Type: Wing
  • Capacity: 33.7 lbf / 15.4 kgf (XS to L)
  • Integrated Weights? Yes
  • Number of air bladders/cells: One
  • Number of dump valves: Three

Our Overall Review

3.8

Things we like:

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    Depth-compensating cummerbund.
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    Rear inflation.
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    Decent amount of storage.
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    Narrow neck yoke for small shouldered ladies.
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    Swivel clips on the chest strap.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markLimited on number and size of pockets for storage.
  • check-markQuite heavy for traveling.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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ScubaPro Ladyhawk

Related Reviews

Scuba BCD: What to Look for When Buying a New One

Whether you’re getting your very first scuba BCD purchase or upgrading to a newer model, the following considerations should be kept in mind.

Capacity / Lifting Capability

Each scuba BCD has a certain amount of lift which is directly related to the size and volume capacity of the air bladders. The amount of lift capability you’ll need depends on a number of factors including your own body weight, the amount of weight you need to dive with, the number of tanks you carry, and the type of exposure suit you wear.

If a diver wears a neoprene drysuit and goes diving in a very salty sea or ocean (such as the Red Sea) that diver will need significantly more weight than the same diver wearing a skin suit and diving in a freshwater lake. More weight equals a greater lift requirement.

Because of the above variables, there is no set rule concerning the amount of lift a scuba BCD should have.

As a general rule, sized BCDs offer the right amount of lift for all recreational diving. So even if you’re a larger individual who needs a lot of weights, an XL or 2XL BCD will have big enough bladders to give you all the lift you require.

The only time an inappropriate amount of lift would be an issue is if a diver who uses a lot of weights, and wears no exposure suit, manages to squeeze themselves into a scuba BCD many times too small and cannot maintain positive buoyancy on the surface. Or that same diver loads themselves up with steel twins and deco tanks and hits the depths.

We could come up with a few more situations like the above, but as you can tell, these are very unlikely scenarios so rest assured that for recreational diving purposes, a properly sized BCD will offer you the lift you need.

Types of Scuba BCD

There are three main types of Scuba BCD; jacket or vest, back-inflate, and wing. Let’s have a look at each type now.

Jacket BCDs

Jacket BCDs, also called vests, are the most common type in recreational diving. They’re kind of like an inflatable waistcoat. The air bladders sit behind and on the sides of the diver. For entry-level divers, a jacket BCD is a great option.

Back-Inflate Scuba BCDs

As the name suggests, back-inflate scuba BCDs have the bladders solely at the back of the diver, where they sit on either side of the tank. This style is relatively new but proponents champion the streamlined style and the fact that there is less drag than with a traditional jacket BCD.

One drawback to back-inflate BCDs is that new divers may struggle with them on the surface as all the buoyancy is at the rear, this effectively pushes a diver forward.

Wing and Backplate

As the name suggests, this type of buoyancy device involves a solid metal backplate that is mounted with a wing bladder. Tech divers and cave divers prefer this set-up because it is customizable—different wings can be used with different backplates.

What Is a Hybrid BCD?

You may have heard the term ‘hybrid BCD’. A hybrid aims to combine the best elements of wing systems and jacket-style BCDs. The distribution and shape of the bladders mean that maintaining a trim position while diving and being comfortable on the surface are both easily attained. This style of scuba BCD is growing in popularity.

Older hybrid models offered a lot of lift by combining a partial wing at the back with the jacket bladders at the front. These have largely fallen from favor because of their bulkiness and the, often unnecessary, amount of buoyancy they provide.

Weight System

Many scuba BCDs offer integrated weight pockets, others have no weight integration system. Very basic, entry-level BCDs are usually of the latter variety. There’s nothing wrong with that and a lot of divers actually prefer to use a weight belt.

Some BCDs offer trim weight pockets at the rear. These are usually small, situated near the tanks, and hold about a kilogram / 2.2 lbs of lead each.

What about the BCD Pockets

Everyone loves pockets, right? Well, when it comes to BCDs that’s not strictly true. Many divers prefer to keep the front of their BCD clear and don’t want big pockets.

Other divers prefer large pockets where they can stash a spare scuba mask, their SMB, a torch, and all those other essentials.

This one is really up to personal preference but keep in mind that without pockets you may have to clip all of your extras onto your BCD. Some people don’t like having too many bits and pieces hanging off them, for others, it’s no issue at all.

Find a Scuba BCD that fits you

Getting the right BCD fit, even when you’re buying online, isn’t hard so long as you take the time to measure yourself properly. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines on their website before making a purpose. For the most part, BCD sizing is down to height and weight.

A good rule of thumb is that your tee-shirt size is approximately the right size BCD you need.

Many divers make the mistake of buying a BCD that is too large. Try to avoid this as an oversized device will make it harder to stay streamlined while diving and will contribute to tank roll, even when it’s fully tightened.

Buying a Scuba BCD for Small Children?

If you’re buying for a child, look for a simple, jacket-style BCD without unnecessary straps, buckles, and pockets. Basically, you’re looking to avoid the potential hazard of hoses and straps getting tangled up.

Because children do not need a lot of weight to dive, a BCD with weight pockets is a good idea and saves them the hassle of a weight belt.

You don’t need to buy a purpose-made BCD, a good option is the basic, but hardwearing and reliable, Aqua Lung Wave. It comes in multiple sizes including XS, 2XS, and 3XS. Unfortunately, the new model 2XS and 3XS Wave BCDs don’t feature a gravity-release, weight-pocket system. For this reason, these BCDs are better suited to older kids.

Overall, our top recommendation for a young diver’s BCD is the Zeagle Ranger Jr . It has the same weight release as the adult bcd, and an overall great trim that will fit even the smallest bubble makers.

Number of D-rings

D-rings are in-built rings that a diver can use to attach additional gear to his or her BCD. Metal is the preferred material but plastic or resin D-rings are more than solid enough to attach a whistle, an SMB, or a slate.

If you intend to carry stage tanks or would like your BCD to do double duty as a sidemount device, look for a BCD with enough metal D-rings placed accordingly.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What is the best scuba BCD?

The best scuba BCD is the one that fits your needs best. There are a few that we highly recommend though, check out these BCDs.

To read our full reviews of each BCD and find out why we like them, just follow the links above.

How much is a BCD?

BCD prices vary depending on how many features the unit has. Base model, or entry-level, BCDs are cheaper than top of the range models. You can expect to spend anywhere between US$400 to $1000 or even more.

To learn more about the BCDs available in different price categories, check out our in-depth round-up here.

What does BCD mean in scuba diving?

A BCD is a wearable unit that can be inflated and deflated by a diver.

BCD stands for Buoyancy Compensation Device.

That’s because a BCD allows you to offset your negative buoyancy underwater by adding air to the unit. And on the surface, the BCD keeps you positively buoyant so you can float.

How do I choose a BCD?

First up, you need to decide if you want a jacket style, hybrid, or a back-inflate unit. Not sure yet? Check out the differences here.

Once you’ve decided, start narrowing your search based on your budget, and the features you need. For example, do you want to use a weight belt or would you like integrated weights? For more BCD info, take a look at our in-depth BCD buyers guide.

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Torben Lonne
Member
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

Hi Elliot,

This should not happen on a travel BCD. I’d recommend you to get a hold of Cressi, and hear what they have to say and if it’s an issue they now.

If you’re looking for new options. I’d recommend the Zeagle Scout.

Torben Lonne
Member
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

Hi Don,

Yes, you should be able to deflate it completely, and it shouldn’t take that long.

How long does it take to delate on the surface?

Do you have a dump vale on the shoulder or bottom-back? If so, try using that, if it’s faster you might have a block in the inflator hose.

don
don
Reply to 

Should my BCD deflator valve release all air in the BCD? I purchased a new one as nd zm having troble decending. I float a long time on top with a small air releasing . It takes for ever to decend.

Torben Lonne
Member
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

Hi Irene,

It’s a great choice. No, not in terms of features, the only difference is the size and color.

Irene
Irene
Reply to 

I am looking at Cressi ultralight. Is there any difference between men and lady?

Torben Lonne
Member
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

This is often part of the technical specifications, but it’s not something we tested specifically when going through the BCD’s. How come you’re looking for extra lift? All the BCD’s in the guide will be more than capable of carrying a diver that fits the sizes of the BCD. If you’re looking for more lift, I’d recommend you look at a lift bag.

Nigel
Nigel
Reply to 

Which integrates BCD and Wing has the best lift

Richard smith
Richard smith
Reply to 

You shouldn’t be diving unless you can control your your air properly! If it’s an emergency, you should be able to use a buddy’s air, and if you are competent at diving on your own, bring a pony – but if you said you have ran out of air during a dive and are concerned about this being a regular occurrence I’d suggest not diving on your own!

Laurie
Laurie
Reply to 

What is the best BCD designed for women

Sergio
Sergio
Reply to 

In my opinion, Scubapro BCDs a re the most versatile in the market, good air capacity, multi tank position, and super comfortable.

ELLIOT SEGEL
ELLIOT SEGEL
Reply to 

My wife and I have had Cressi Travel lite BCD’s … did about 60 dives with them in 4 years. The inside bladder on both (we always rinsed the BCD’s after every dive) have ben disintegrating. A local dive shop said that this has been seen with the travel BCD’s, apparently due to the folding and packing of then when traveling. We like the travel lite options for the obvious travel benefits, but we’re hesitant to buy another due to this concern. Have you sen or heard of this? Are there any you would recommend? Thanks.

Bill Weast
Bill Weast
Reply to 

Learn the rule of thirds.

steven sheldon
steven sheldon
Reply to 

Get a pony bottle. Plenty of spare air to get toy you to the surface. There are several different size bottle to choose from. Steve S

Torben Lonne
Member
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

We didn’t include this in the guide. You might be able to find it elsewhere.

kevin
kevin
Reply to 

is there a list of bcds with two tank straps?

Ahmed Shdid
Ahmed Shdid
Reply to 

hi , what do you think of seac sub smart BCD !?
My usage is average not that big much .

Jason New
Jason New
Reply to 

I started with a ScubaPro Night Hawk rig. I love the design and features. It comes with ScubaPro’s Air2 inflator and secondary breathing regulator. It also has two pockets as well as removable weight pockets. 4 metal D rings and two trim weight pockets also help round this unit out. Mine has 10 hard years on it and is ready to retire, but ill be looking to get another one.

Kevin Whiting
Kevin Whiting
Reply to 

I believe “AP Diving” still offers a pocket on the back of their “Commando” BCD for an emergency bottle that actually connects to the lower right purge valve thereby sending air into the bladder for both buoyancy and breathing through the inflation hose.
Hope this helps.
Cheers….Kevin

Torben Lonne
Member
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

Hi Lenore,

When I started out diving, we use to have a small tank attached to the back of the BCD that could be used to inflate in case of an emergency. I haven’t seen BCD with the attachment valve on BCD’s for many years, so I’m quite sure it’s not made anymore.

My best advice to you would be to monitor your air better instead of looking for solutions once you’re this close to an emergency.

Lenore Grunsell
Lenore Grunsell
Reply to 

I need to find a BCD with its own integrated emergency inflation system. I have experienced running out of air, and found that when I reached the surface, I was exhausted and could not inflate my BCD manually. Luckily I had something nearby to cling to, otherwise I might have drowned. I note that yachtsmen’s floatation vests have integrated inflation, and I am seeking a BCD with its own separate air canister.

This would also be very helpful when helping a buddy who has run out of air i.e. instead of trying to inflate his vest manually, one could initiate the built-in inflation and his flotation would quickly be restored. Do you know of any such vest?

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