Mid-range, Lightweight Comfort

Women make up approximately ½ of all new open water certifications. Women are embracing the sport of diving, and the industry is taking notice, and not just by adding a little color to existing gear. Zeagle launched a new BCD designed for women, the Zena.

The Zena is designed to address many issues new female divers experience with ill-fitting BCDs. For most new divers, if your gear doesn’t fit well after entry into the water, you begin to fuss with it to try to get more comfortable. For some divers, this increases anxiety. For others, it causes distractions, none of which is beneficial in diving, and all of that decreases the enjoyment of the sport. Constant underwater gear adjustment can also cause buoyancy issues, damaging fragile marine life or causing injury.

Zeagle understood these issues and worked to address them for women divers in the Zena. The Zena has 6 points of adjustment, not the usual three, and they eliminated the chest strap instead using a corset design. Now women can create a BCD that fits their body size and shape. The streamlined design makes the Zena lighter and easier to manage too. With various colors to choose from, you can build a BCD and diving setup that is uniquely yours.

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:

  • check-mark
    Multiple Sizes for Front Corset & Back Plate
  • check-mark
    6 Point Adjustment Corset System
  • check-mark
    Lightweight
  • check-mark
    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

Where to buy:

Zena Corset Product Image

Zeagle Zena BCD

See the complete list of the best BCD here!

Proper Fit

The Zena sets itself apart from other scuba diving BCDs by eliminating the need for a chest strap and creating more adjustment points in the BCD. The chest strap on a BCD is designed to help prevent tank roll and improve the fit. For women, this strap can often hit across the breasts in an uncomfortable position.

Zena Corset
Zena Corset

The Zena avoids this with a 6-way adjustment front panel and a corset instead of a chest strap. The corset allows shoulder adjustment along with two adjustment straps on each side. The front of the Zena zips up, so it fits snuggly under the chest. The result is a comfortable, nice-fitting scuba diving BCD.

Zeagle didn’t stop there with the Zena. Because the back plate is sized separately from the corset, you can create the perfect fit for you.

Back inflate BCDs and hybrids, like the Aqua Lung Pearl, are better fitting on women than most unisex BCDs, but you still must deal with the dreaded chest strap. Both the ScubaPro LadyHawk and the Pearl have chest straps. The chest straps on the Pearl and LadyHawk are adjustable and removable, which helps a bit.

The Zena is also a back inflate BCD, like the LadyHawk, which provides advantages in buoyancy control underwater. The Pearl is a hybrid between a back inflate BCD and a typical jacket style.

Weight

Women generally have less muscle mass than men, so a lighter BCD is easier to manage. The Zena weighs less than its main competitors in the female BCD market.

The Zena weighs only 6.2lbs, while the LadyHawk weighs 8lbs and the Pearl 10lbs. A lighter BCD makes shore diving and water-to-boat re-entry easier. A lighter BCD also makes travel easier to regions with strict bag weight limits.

If you are looking for ways to travel with your gear, check out our Bag Guide Here.

Weight Release System

If you need to dump your weight for an emergency assent, most BCDs have two pockets to pull, typically sitting on each hip. The Zena uses a ripcord, quick-release weight system to drop weights in an emergency assent.

The system is similar to a ripcord on a parachute. If you need to dump weight, pull one handle instead of two pockets, and away the weights go.

Read more here to understand the importance of weights in scuba diving.

Because this design differs from most other scuba diving BCDs, review the Zena system when diving with a new buddy as part of your pre-dive checklist. If you have to dump your weight or simply accidentally pull the cord, it is not impossible to rethread the ripcord system; a quick trip to the company’s YouTube Video will walk you through the steps.

Zena Weight Release System
Zena Weight Release System

Because the Zena functions differently than most BCDs on the market, it does not perform well in a professional capacity. You can pull the internal weights via the zipper in a demonstration situation, but it does not show the student how they will be removing their weight pockets when they practice.

Pocket and D-Rings

Nothing is perfect, and the Zena does have some drawbacks. The Zena is a streamlined diving BCD. With its minimalism, it only has one pocket for storing extra things.

While the pocket is attractive on the BCD, it is not functional underwater. When you open the pocket, it is too big, and it hangs or drags, which can damage sensitive coral or snag on the sharp edges of wrecks. (Check out our article here on improving your buoyancy.)

Zena Weight Pocket Underwater
Zena Weight Pocket Underwater

If you like to carry a few things on your dive, like mask defog, camera attachments, gloves, etc., you’ll have to fish around in one pocket to find your things, or you can purchase an additional external pocket. Companies like Fourth Element make diving shorts with built-in pockets, ScubaPro makes a clip-on side pocket, etc.  So consider what gear you will carry before deciding on the right BCD for you. For example, the Pearl has built-in pockets.

zena-corset-pocket
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zena-corset-pocket-closed
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The Zena has four metal D-Rings, all located in the front of the BCD. As a result, you carry all of your gear on your chest. This would include flashlights, SMBs (surface marker buoys), tank bangers, etc. While this makes for easy access, it can get bulky.

Zena, with Gear, on Descent
Zena, with Gear, on Descent

Placement of the D-Rings on both the LadyHawk and the Pearl, is on the side of the BCD, making carrying your SMB much easier. Note: not all D-Rings are the same, the Pearl D-Rings are plastic, while the Zena and LadyHawk are metal. And if you like carrying a knife when you dive, the Pearl and LadyHawk have grommets for a knife attachment. The Zena does not, but a knife could be attached to the inflator hose with zip ties.

Placement of the D-Rings on both the LadyHawk and the Pearl, is on the side of the BCD, making carrying your SMB much easier. Note: not all D-Rings are the same, the Pearl D-Rings are plastic, while the Zena and LadyHawk are metal. And if you like carrying a knife when you dive, the Pearl and LadyHawk have grommets for a knife attachment. The Zena does not, but a knife could be attached to the inflator hose with zip ties.

Zena, with Knife, Attached
Zena, with Knife, Attached

Other Accessories

The back of a BCD is just as important as the front. Look for a BCD that has a memory strap. This strap allows you to “mark” your tank’s location relative to your BCD’s collar. Once you find the right place, you never have to just hope you have the right setup; it will be set. This is almost industry standard, and all three women-focused BCDs have this feature (Zena, LadyHawk, Pearl).

The LadyHawk and Pearl have one cam band; the Zena has two. This is about safety, redundancy, and to some extent, fit. The second cam band is an extra connection point making the BCD-to-tank relationship feel more connected. However, the second cam band can also be a pain when moving from one tank to another with a weighted BCD.

Tank Attachment
Tank Attachment
Tank Attachment, with 2nd Cam Band Modified
Tank Attachment, with 2nd Cam Band Modified

The upper cam band has a traditional band connection. It can be switched to a releasable buckle style, which is recommended. This will make moving to a new tank on a rolling boat significantly easier. It is all about working smarter, not harder, ladies.

Trim Tabs
Trim Tabs

All three BCDs have trim pockets, where weights can be added to the band on the tank.

Price & Quality

The Zeagle makes high-quality, durable BCDs, and the Zena is no different. It is comparable in cost to most female BCDs on the market. Of the most recognized brands, the Pearl is the least expensive but also the least durable (compared to the LadyHawk & Zena). One additional benefit of the Zena is the back, and front sections are separate pieces. This means they can be purchased and replaced separately, adding to the value of this BCD.

Summary

The Zena BCD is designed for those looking for a lightweight, adjustable BCD with a focus on what fits women well.

The Zena is not ideal for instructors because of its weight-dumping system. But it is a great BCD for women recreational divers who don’t like to carry too many extras with them on their dive.

With its lightweight and minimalist design, it is also perfect for women flying to dive destinations as its profile is easy to pack and won’t add too much weight to your luggage.

Even Dead Pirates like the Corset on the Zena BCD
Even Dead Pirates like the Corset on the Zena BCD

Related Reviews

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:

  • check-mark
    Multiple Sizes for Front Corset & Back Plate
  • check-mark
    6 Point Adjustment Corset System
  • check-mark
    Lightweight
  • check-mark
    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

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

How Much Should I Spend on a BCD?

Putting together your Scuba Diving Kit can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. BCDs have a range of features and costs. Start by listing the things you know you like or want to have, then check out our BCD Gear Guide.

How Do I Choose the Right BCD?

There are a lot of BCDs on the market. So how do you choose the right BCD for you? Check out our guide to learn more.

What Do I Need Besides a BCD to Dive?

Scuba divers need a BCD, tank, regulators, weights, fins, and mask to dive. But there is more to diving than just the equipment. Divers should be certified and not dive above their experience levels. Check out our article on The Top 10 Things Scuba Divers Need to Know.

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