Home » The 11 Best BCDs For Scuba Diving For Perfect Trim At Depth

The 11 Best BCDs For Scuba Diving For Perfect Trim At Depth

by Max
49 views 37 minutes read
The 11 Best BCDs For Scuba Diving For Perfect Trim At Depth

Are you on the hunt for the best BCDs for scuba diving? Every diver knows that each piece of equipment they use during a dive significantly impacts their experience. Therefore, having the best BCD for scuba diving will ensure that you obtain neutral buoyancy. And it’ll make returning to the surface effortless.

The best BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) worth investing in is the Scubapro Hydros Pro. It’s the ideal high-end wing and backplate BCD, offering a comfortable dive and featuring an innovative 3D injection molded gel harness. Moreover, the Scubapro Litehawk and Cressi Travelight are excellent choices for travel. When looking for a suitable BCD, consider the type, lifting capability, materials, and number of pockets. 

So, what are the best BCDs for scuba diving? Read on to discover our top picks that ensure perfect trim at depth.

Table of Contents

The Top BCDs – Our Best 5 Picks

  1. Best High-End Modular BCDScubapro Hydros Pro
  2. Best BCD for Technical Diving Oceanic Excursion
  3. Best for Versatility Zeagle Stiletto
  4. Best Entry-Level Modular BCDHollis HTS 2
  5. Best Scuba BCD for BeginnersCressi Patrol

Disclaimer: We are entirely reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. This does not affect our opinion of the products linked, which is 100% impartial and unbiased.

Types of Scuba BCDs

While searching for the best BCDs for scuba diving, you’ll come across the following primary types:

  • Jacket: Also known as vests, this is the most common type of BCD for recreational diving. And these are the best scuba BCDs for beginners. Think of it like an inflatable waistcoat with air bladders behind and on the sides.
  • Back-inflate: The buoyancy of these BCDs is primarily at the back. They have a gap in the middle for a tank with air bladders flanking the space at the back of the diver. This streamlined design offers less drag than traditional jacket BCDs.
  • Wing and backplate: This BCD is designed with a wing bladder mounted on a solid metal backplate. It’s highly customizable, meaning you can switch up the wings and backplate. As a result, many divers consider this type the best BCD for technical diving.

11 Best BCDS for Scuba Diving

1. Scubapro Hydros Pro

Our Expert Opinion: Best High-End Modular BCD

As far as BCDs go, the Hydros Pro is revolutionary in dive comfort and convenience. It has a patented 3D Monprene Gel Harness and a modular design for quick component replacement without stitching. While it’s pricier than other BCDs, its feature-rich, innovative design gives you the bang for your buck.

What You Need to Know

Scubapro’s Hydros Pro BCD offers an unparalleled diving experience. It comes in a women’s and men’s fit, checking three boxes: comfort, customization, and performance. As a result, it’s a diver’s ultimate companion.

Boasting the Fluid-Form 3D Gel System, the Hydros Pro conforms to your body, ensuring an ergonomic fit with even load distribution. Plus, there aren’t any pressure points, specifically on the shoulders.

The Hydros Pro is also considered one of the best BCDs for scuba diving because it’s UV and chemical-resistant. Therefore, it will last longer than most BCDs.

Specifications

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Material: Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE); Injection Molded Monprene Gel
  • Dry weight: 11 lbs (5 kg) [Average of all sizes]
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2
  • Dump valves: 2; Right Shoulder/Lower Right Rear Overpressure Relief/Pull Dump Valves

What We Like

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Made of durable and high-quality materials, including Monprene
  • Instant drying material
  • Two pockets for carrying extra gear
  • Multiple D-rings for attaching accessories

What We Don’t Like

  • May not have enough lift capacity for some instances of cold water diving
  • Over $1,000; more costly than most of the best BCDs for scuba diving

2. Oceanic Excursion

Our Expert Opinion: Best BCD for Technical Diving

The Excursion is one of the best BCDs for scuba diving because of its wing-style design. It guarantees a comfortable dive. And you can carry several accessories thanks to the generous zippered utility pockets. Although the Excursion is slightly heavier than some BCDs, the extra lift capacity and steel attachment D-rings justify the weight.

What You Need to Know

The Oceanic Excursion BCD features a versatile design that caters to recreational and technical divers alike. Expect impressive features, ample storage, excellent lift capacity, and exceptional comfort.

This wing-style BCD prioritizes stability in the water through back inflation. It has a patented fadeless 1600D Nylon BioFlex rear inflation bladder. And it includes Oceanic’s Alliance Integrated Inflator, which offers precise airway exhaust and inflation control.

Furthermore, its comfortability is enhanced by its streamlined harness with contoured shoulders, adjustable sternum straps, and a padded backpack with lumbar support.

Specifications

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Material: Air Cell: Bioflex Material; Shoulder Panels And Pockets: 1600 Fadeless Nylon Fabric
  • Dry weight: 9.26 lbs (4.20 kg)
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2 Zippered Utility
  • Dump valves: 2 – Shoulder Pull Dump/Over Pressure Relief Valve; Right-Rear Pull Dump/Overpressure Relief Valve

What We Like

  • Two full-sized pockets with generous space for accessories
  • Large lift capacity of up to 58 lbs
  • Integrated weight pockets that allow for an uncluttered and streamlined design
  • Full wing-style design

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavy: may not be suitable for long-distance travel

3. Zeagle Stiletto

Our Expert Opinion: Best for Versatility 

The Zeagle Stiletto is the gold standard of buoyancy control devices. It boasts a lightweight and feature-rich design. Therefore, it’s one of the best BCDs for scuba diving and divers seeking a versatile system that excels in travel and local diving. It’s also durable because of its reinforced 1000-denier nylon fabric, internally laminated with urethane and RF-welded seams.

What You Need to Know

The Zeagle Stiletto BCD is lightweight yet robust, enabling warm and temperate diving without twin tank capability or high lift. It has five stainless steel D-rings, with three on the vest and two on the shoulders. As a result, you can attach various accessories. It also has two zippered utility pockets for extra storage.

The Stiletto also features the Bx Power Inflator System. This allows for easy rinsing of the inner bladder with a standard garden hose.

Plus, it offers a dual-position adjustable sternum strap, torso-adjustable shoulder straps, and a waist strap with an adjustable elastic cummerbund. These all have quick-release buckles for quick donning and doffing.

Specifications

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Material: Bladder: Cordura 1000 Denier w/Urethane Bladder Material; Seams: Radio Frequency (RF) Welded
  • Dry weight: 7.4 lbs (3.36kg)
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2-zippered Utility
  • Dump valves: 2; Lower Rear, Right Shoulder Overpressure Relief/Pull Dump Valves

What We Like

  • Lightweight, rugged, and feature-rich BCD
  • Streamlined back-inflate design
  • Multiple attachment points for accessories and gear
  • Suitable for both warm and temperate diving

What We Don’t Like

  • Smaller lift capacity of 35 lbs

4. Hollis HTS 2

Our Expert Opinion: Best Entry-Level Modular BCD

The Hollis HTS is flexible and customizable. You can easily switch from a dual tank backplate system to a single tank soft pack. Therefore, it can suit various individual diving preferences. Although it has some shortcomings in cold water diving, it’s suitable for divers requiring a customizable diving unit.

What You Need to Know

The Hollis Gear (HTS) Harness Technical System is where versatility and flexibility meet. It features a streamlined design. And it can seamlessly transition between a single tank soft pack and a dual tank backplate system.

Its strategically placed D-rings also make this unit one of the best BCDs for scuba diving. These are on the shoulders, waist, and crotch strap. Therefore, you can easily attach various diving accessories. Plus, the shoulder, crotch, and sternum straps are adjustable.

The Hollis HTS is also a top-notch BCD, including dual non-slip cam bands with plastic non-corrosive cam buckles for easy cylinder mounting. Plus, it has an added carry handle for enhanced portability.

Specifications

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Material: Nylon Webbing, 316-Marine-Grade Stainless Steel &, Plastic
  • Dry weight: 8 lbs (3.6 kg)
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2large cargo pockets
  • Dump valves: 2; lower left pull dump valve and an overpressure relief valve

What We Like

  • Modular design that allows for customization
  • Can easily switch from a single tank soft pack to a dual tank system
  • Several attachment points for accessories and gear
  • Comfortable and solid unit

What We Don’t Like

  • Plastic clips on the BCD may not be as durable as other materials
  • May not be as suitable for cold water diving due to its smaller lift capacity of 35 lbs

5. Cressi Patrol

Our Expert Opinion: Best Budget-friendly BCD

When it comes to the best BCDs for scuba diving, the Cressi Patrol stands out. It’s impressively lightweight, so you can take it along on international trips without worrying about added weight. Although it may not be suitable for cold water diving, it’s highly durable, budget-friendly, and comfortable.

What You Need to Know

The Cressi Patrol is a lightweight rear inflation buoyancy compensator (BC) that delivers comfort and durability. It’s designed with maximum comfort for divers in mind while maintaining a lightweight construction.

Moreover, the Patrol features a unique air cell compression strap for quick deflation and volume control. And its ultralight, rigid back plate has an integrated carrying handle to provide optimal stability during dives.

Having a dry weight between 5.7 lbs (2.6kg) and 6.4 lbs (2.9kg), this BCD is one of the best Scuba BCDs for travel on the market.

Specifications

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Material: Internally Urethane Laminated 420-denier Nylon
  • Dry weight: 5.7 lbs (2.6 kg) [XS & SM], 6 lbs (2.75 kg) [MD], 6.4 lbs (2.9 kg) [LG &XL]
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 1-Roll Down Cargo
  • Dump valves: 3-Overpressure Relief/Dump Valves

What We Like

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Streamlined back-inflation air cell that provides reasonable buoyancy control and stability
  • Integrated weight pockets
  • Harness with soft plushy padding for added comfort

What We Don’t Like

  • May have limited lift capacity for cold water diving

6. Dive Rite Hydro Lite

Our Expert Opinion: Best Backplate BCD

Designed for single-tank divers who seek convenience and a minimalist set-up, the Dive Rite Hydro Lite Buoyancy System is everything you need. It’s ideal for warm water diving. And it’s suitable for travel thanks to its compact, easily packable design. Although its lift capacity may not be sufficient for some, its many features make it a top-tier choice amongst divers.

What You Need to Know

The Dive Rite Hydro Lite Buoyancy System is a lightweight and tech-inspired BCD. It’s made for single-tank divers, offering convenience and advanced features.

Combining a technical soft backplate and wing design, this BCD offers an all-in-one solution without compromising on the features advanced divers require.

Additionally, it features four 2″ (5cm) D-rings on the chest and waist belt. And it has quick-release straps and an integrated chest strap, making donning and doffing the harness a breeze.

As with Dive Rite’s premium line of products, the Hydro Lite BCD is made of the same durable materials and hardware. That ensures longevity throughout your diving adventures.

Specifications

  • Type: Wing and backplate
  • Material: Outer Bag: 600-Denier Polyester; Inner Bladder: 210-Denier Nylon Laminated; Seams: Radio Frequency (RF) Welded
  • Dry weight: 6.2 lbs (2.8kg)
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2
  • Dump valves: 1; Over-Pressure Valve w/Pull Dump: Lower Left of Wing

What We Like

  • Plenty of D-rings for accessories
  • Lightweight, so great for travel
  • The streamlined design provides reasonable buoyancy control and stability
  • Integrated low-profile weight system with quick-release pulls

What We Don’t Like

  • Streamlined air cell with thirty pounds of lift, which may not be a sufficient lift capacity
  • Limited storage capacity due to minimalist design

7. Scubapro Litehawk

Our Expert Opinion: Best for Warm Water Environments

If your diving adventures primarily occur in warm water environments, the Scubapro Litehawk is for you. This back-flotation travel BC ensures divers have freedom of movement in tropical waters. Like other BCDs, it’s not without its quirks. But it compensates with its wide range of features.

What You Need to Know

Scubapro’s Litehawk outmatches its competitors in several aspects. From its minimal inherent buoyancy to its two non-ditching pockets that make carrying accessories hassle-free, this BCD is a good bet.

Moreover, the Litehawk has an adjustable belt-style waist strap with a nylon buckle, ensuring a secure fit. And it’s designed with a two-position sternum strap that enables divers to customize the unit to their preference and provide a comfortable fit.

With its soft and flexible backpack that can be compactly packed, consider it the best scuba BCD for travel locally and internationally. Plus, it’s designed with a 420-Denier nylon construction for lightweight durability.

Specifications

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Material: 420-Denier Nylon
  • Dry weight: 4.8 to 5 lbs (2.2 to 2.3kg) [Size Dependent]
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2
  • Dump valves: 2; Right Shoulder/Lower Right Rear Overpressure Relief/Pull Dump Valves

What We Like

  • Streamlined and ergonomic design
  • Made of highly durable material
  • Features an elastic bungee system that keeps the jacket tight when deflated
  • Extremely lightweight

What We Don’t Like

  • Has a low-drag, low-profile air cell with less buoyant lift
  • Minimalist design, so limited storage capacity

8. TUSA Conquest II

Our Expert Opinion: Best for Precise Buoyancy Control

The TUSA Conquest II is more than one of the best BCDs for scuba diving. It showcases the latest advancements in BC technology. That includes a Hybrid 3D Cubic Bladder design and TUSA’s Advanced Weight Loading System (AWLS II). As a result, it provides superior tank stability and precise buoyancy control.

What You Need to Know

The Conquest II is a reliable and feature-rich BCD. It’s an excellent choice for divers seeking advanced buoyancy control and comfort underwater. This is all thanks to the impressive tech built into the unit.

Featuring a new harness system, the Conquest II ensures tank stability and maximum comfort. It includes TUSA’s Active Purge Assist (APA.) System. And it offers a Custom Accessory Dock with a resin Quick Clip and D-ring accessory. Therefore, you can customize the various accessory attaching points.

Furthermore, it has a streamlined and comfortable hybrid design because of the 3D Hybrid Cubic Air Cell. That feature merges the best of both worlds of wrap-around and back-inflation BCs.

Specifications

  • Type: Jacket
  • Material: 840D and 420D Nylon
  • Dry weight: 9.5 lbs (4 kg)
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2, Zippered
  • Dump valves: 4-Dump/Overpressure Relief Valves, 1-Cable Activated Pull Dump

What We Like

  • Enhanced lumbar and back pad for maximum comfort during dives
  • Advanced weight loading system for easily loading and releasing weight
  • Multiple pockets for storing accessories

What We Don’t Like

  • Relatively heavier than other BCDs

9. Cressi Travelight

Our Expert Opinion: Best Scuba BCD for Travel

Divers who value comfort, hydrodynamics, and freedom will not get enough of the Cressi Travelight BCD. It ensures freedom during underwater adventures, especially on dive trips. Additionally, it’s an excellent travel companion, boasting a lightweight and streamlined design.

What You Need to Know

The Cressi Travelight BCD is a lightweight, traditional jacket-style BCD designed for excellent balance and trim underwater. It has been precisely designed with strong yet lightweight materials to reduce overall weight, so it’s ideal for travel.

Moreover, the BCD has a reliable integrated weight system with trim pockets. And it features large zippered pockets on either side for convenient accessory storage.

Specifications

  • Type: Jacket
  • Material: Internally Urethane Laminated 420/210-Denier Nylon
  • Dry weight: 5 to 6.2 lbs (2.3 to 2.8kg)
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2-Zippered Pockets
  • Dump valves: 3-dump/overpressure Relief Valves

What We Like

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Comfortable thanks to padded back and shoulder straps and adjustable chest strap
  • Made of durable materials, including 210-denier nylon
  • Features a fast-folding system, so it’s easy to pack

What We Don’t Like

  • Has a streamlined air cell with less buoyant lift
  • No shoulder pockets for trim weights

10. Atomic BC2

Our Expert Opinion: Best for Durability

Atomic Aquatics is notorious for designing the best scuba diving gear, from regulators to buoyancy control devices. In the case of the BC2, Atomic has done a superior job. The unit is constructed with advanced futuristic materials, impressive quality, and a radical design. Although it’s heavier than other BCDs, it’s worth the investment.

What You Need to Know

The Atomic Aquatics BC2 is a high-performance back inflation-style BCD. It’s highly adjustable with torso, sternum, and waist adjustable straps. And all straps are equipped with easy-to-use squeeze-style side-release buckles.

Additionally, the BC2 is engineered with high-quality plastics, polyurethane-coated textiles, and corrosion-resistant metals. As a result, it can withstand the harsh conditions of the ocean.

The BC2 is also able to shed water like a raincoat. This is all thanks to the polyurethane coating on both sides of the fabric. And it features a replaceable high-tenacity inner bladder.

Specifications

  • Type: Back-inflate
  • Material: Double-Laminated Polyurethane Textile, 420-Denier Nylon
  • Dry weight: 9.5 lbs (4.3kg) [SM] to 10.5 lbs (4.76kg) [XL]
  • Integrated Weight? Yes
  • Number of pockets: 2 Zippered
  • Dump valves: 2 Overpressure/Relief Pull Dump Valves

What We Like

  • Made of incredibly tough, corrosion-resistant materials
  • Low friction 316 stainless steel pull dumps in two locations
  • Attractive matte-coated fabric that sheds water
  • High-performance inflation choices

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavier than the other best BCDs for scuba diving
  • Relatively costly compared to other BCDs

11. Oceanic Oceanpro

Our Expert Opinion: Best Scuba BCD for Beginners

The Oceanic Oceanpro BCD is an excellent option for divers looking for a robust, beginner-friendly, jacket-style BCD. Although it has fewer features than the other best BCDs for scuba diving, it doesn’t compromise quality.

What You Need to Know

The Oceanic OceanPro Jacket Style BCD is designed for divers who prefer units that prioritize simplicity without compromising quality and comfort. It’s built to withstand the rigors of diving, comprising an air cell constructed from fadeless 500 Denier Ballistic Nylon.

Moreover, it features an ergonomically designed Alliance Integrated Inflator, which offers exact control over airway exhaust and inflation. As a result, you can trim your dive attitude or make rapid buoyancy adjustments.

Specifications

  • Type: Jacket
  • Material: Air Cell: Fadeless 500 Denier Nylon; Shoulder & Pocket Panels: Fadeless 1600 Denier Nylon
  • Dry weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)
  • Integrated Weight? No
  • Number of pockets: 2 w/Hook & Loop Fastener Closures
  • Dump valves: 2-Overpressure/Pull Dump Valves

What We Like

  • No integrated weight system
  • Adequate lift capacity, ranging from 20 lbs to 48 lbs
  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Comfortable and convenient design

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavier than most BCDs

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right BCD

Type of Scuba BCD

Each type of scuba BCD has its merits and weaknesses. Therefore, when looking for the best BCD for scuba diving for your needs and preferences, consider the type most suitable for you.

A jacket-style BCD is ideal for inexperienced divers. This is because it gives you more vertical stability at the surface.

In contrast, technical divers favor the wing and backplate design as it allows for more flexible configurations. Plus, it gives you exceptional horizontal stability, and you’ll have more room under your arms to carry tanks or perform complex duties.

Divers opt for a back-inflate BCD as an excellent middle between wing and jacket-style BCDs. This hybrid design ensures you maintain horizontal trim while having pockets and integrated weight systems.

Integrated Weight System

A scuba BCD’s integrated weight system is also worth considering. An integrated weight system is crucial because it improves comfort and distribution of weight while diving. It also helps divers achieve better trim in the water.

Most scuba BCDs are designed with integrated weight pockets. These are typically medium to high-end BCDs. While basic, entry-level BCDs usually have no weight integration system.

Materials

The materials used in the construction of the BCD are another consideration to make. BCDs are made from various materials, but nylon is the most common and basic.

You might also come across manufacturers highlighting extra polyurethane (PU) or coatings tailored to resist abrasions. These are crucial considerations as you must ensure the BCD can endure harsh diving conditions.

‘Denier,’ which measures the density of woven fabric, is something you may also notice with some BCDs. The higher the Denier, the more durable and heavier, while the lower it is, the lighter but less dense.

Pockets and D-rings

Divers have varying opinions when it comes to pockets on BCDs. Some prefer large pockets to stash a spare scuba mask, a torch, and other essentials. At the same time, others prefer the front of their BCD to be uncluttered.

Therefore, it comes down to personal preference if you want a BCD with pockets or not. However, bear in mind that you may need pockets to carry extra accessories. For some, having items hanging off them is an issue, while for others, not at all.

D-rings are a necessary BCD feature if you often carry heavier equipment such as a digital camera. They’re also ideal for carrying small torches, SMBs, and alternative air sources. Therefore, consider how many accessories you’d need to take and the number of D-rings the BCD should have.

Size

Ensuring you buy a suitably sized BCD is vital. The size will influence your buoyancy and your comfortability while diving.

If you’re buying one online, take the time to measure your height and weight correctly. You can also estimate the right BCD size without measuring tools by looking at your t-shirt size. The manufacturer or retailer will typically have a guide that you can follow to make the right choice.

Takeaway

A buoyancy control device (BCD) is essential for scuba diving. Several BCD models in the market come in various styles, offering comfort and minimalist set-up.

Remember, the best BCD is one that fits your needs. However, you can use factors such as your budget, the type of BCD, the materials, and the integrated weight system to find a suitable unit.

You may also like