Swimming as if you are a fish, weightless and free, is now possible, thanks to buoyancy control devices or BCDs. Wearing a BCD is crucial when you go scuba diving as it allows you to control your body more effectively while under water. You can observe marine life and bask in its beauty without drifting away or struggling to stay in place.
When on the lookout for the best BCDs on the market, it’s important that you look for those that deliver the features you need. You can find a plethora of styles and features in the BCDs available now, so it can be difficult to narrow down your options.
Don’t worry because we did all the research for you. We checked out what is being offered right now in the market and we identified the best BCDs on the market based on the quality of construction, features, longevity and reliability.
In This Guide
Our Recommendations for the Best BCDs
Set your sights on these products:
Here are the things we found out about these BCDs:
Cressi Start Jacket Style BCD
This is a stylish and affordable jacket BCD. Scuba divers on a tight budget looking for a reliable BCD will find this product the best choice, price-wise. Although on the lower end of the market, it doesn’t skimp on features and quality. The manufacturer went out of their way to deliver a BCD that can match the features of more expensive models.
This BCD is made from fine Denier Nylon Cordura. It’s a material that is resistant to damages inflicted by friction. Compare to a standard nylon, it’s more durable. The outside panel, particularly, is made up of 1000 Denier Cordura, which increases its resistance to friction significantly. The inside layer is made from 500 Denier, allowing this to be inflated to its fullest without falling apart.
You will love that the waist strap is not attached to the air bladder. This feature is convenient because you can adjust the tightness of the waist strap even when the air bladder is not inflated. If the air bladder is inflated, you can adjust the waist strap without causing the air bladder to squish your stomach.
The air filtration system is reinforced with a double layer, giving this product more protection against outside debris. You won’t have a hard time cleaning it as well as you can easily wash the inflator and get rid of sand or other impurities that might have gotten stuck in there.
The backplate system feels light and compact, thanks to the thermoplastic material used. It’s easy to stash into your luggage and carry with you for your travels.
You can easily adjust the buoyancy to fit your preferences. It comes with 3 exhaust valves to make customization a cinch for users.
It’s also a great match to your scuba diving set-up because the large pockets will allow you to hold equipment like the octopus or the pressure gauge.
A lot of users can attest to the outer denier. Even when a user dragged a knife on the surface of the outer denier, there were no rips or scratches.
It’s also important to note that this BCD doesn’t come with an IW or Integrated Weight like some BCDs. Some users like this simplicity because in case of emergency and you want the BCD to release your weight, you don’t have to release a lot of pouches.
Some users had difficulty getting rid of all the air out.
It comes with a 2-year warranty but there were also issues about Cressi honoring the warranty. One customer shipped out his BCD back to the manufacturer but Cressi only reportedly gave the customer a discount on the next purchase.
The lack of IW might also put off some divers who prefer having this feature in their BCD.
Mares Hybrid Weight Integrated Folding Scuba BC
This product is not for those looking for a cheap BCD. It’s more expensive by a few hundred dollars compared to standard BCDs but it is one of the best ones in the hybrid BCD niche. It allows you to assume different positions, horizontal or vertical or try kneeling position in the water. If you want to experience the benefits of both a jacket style BCD and a back floating one, you would want to buy this.
This is one nice-looking BCD that has a good fit and trim. It also comes with exhaust valves that are low profile.
Aside from its good fit, it’s also comfortable to wear. You will like how the shoulder straps sit well and doesn’t chafe on your scuba diving suit. The wings also come with a special kind of padding material so it’s easy to wear while under water.
The harness is also detachable, so you can adjust it to easily fit your preferences.
Customers like how compact it is. It is foldable, so you can easily squeeze it in your travel bag.
It’s a bit expensive so if you are on a tight budget, this might not be the best choice for you.
SEAC Ego Scuba Diving BCD
It’s a good mid-range or entry-level BCD to buy. Durability-wise, it doesn’t disappoint. It is light in weight and comes with different pockets to keep your accessories.
This BCD has been crafted from polyurethane-coated 1000 Denier Cordura, which gives it extra durability. You can inflict a lot of damage to it without it suffering from tears. It also has a good abrasion resistance, which makes this an ideal choice for those hardcore scuba divers who will use their BCD all the time.
Customers found this BCD to have a good lift buoyancy. It can effortlessly lift even heavy cylinders or any other accessory you might need to lift.
It also boasts of SCS Corrugated Power Inflator. This is coupled by a Sphere Control System, which works in controlling the flow of loading.
The zip pockets are big so it’s easy to access it even under water. There are 3 dump valves that you can also easily access and pull out.
It comes in various sizes so if you are looking for that one brand or model of BCD for your entire family, this is a good option. It has sizes from XXXS to XL, so you can have smaller kids outfitted with this BCD.
There is a customer who complained about the seams ripping out even after a few uses. Some might also find the placement of the CAM strap a bit more difficult to access.
Scubapro Litehawk BC
Here’s another mid-range BCD that delivers on quality, durability and performance. It is light in weight, making this a perfect companion for your travels. It comes complete with accessories like a duffle bag, shoulder straps and an inflator. It’s a perfect choice for divers who like their diving profile streamlined. It’s also recommended for people on the taller or heavier side.
If you like doing back flotation while diving, you will find this BCD a sterling choice. It’s lightweight so you can achieve back flotations with ease.
It comes with the Air 2 Alternate Air Source Inflator 5th Gen, which is a regulator that can save you in case of emergency. You can breathe through the Air 2 seamlessly, giving many second stage products out there a run for their money.
You can use this even when the water is cold. It has earned a CE Certification, so you can use it for waters with temperature as low as 10 degree Celsius.
You can clear debris and impurities out with its purge button that can be easily accessed by the user.
It’s also a cinch to inflate and deflate. You won’t have a problem with the hoses getting in the way.
If you have trouble finding a BCD that will fit your taller frame, you will want to go for this. It fits scuba divers that are over 6 feet tall. The abdomen strap is belt type, so you can adjust it with ease and you don’t have to worry about it squishing your abdomen.
There’s not a lot of negative reviews about it, particularly with its functionality and construction. Most customers are happy with how sturdy and durable it is. The only downside is that it can be too pricey for someone on a tight budget.
So, which of these BCDs should you go for?
If budget is a problem, you are better off with an economical BCD like the Cressi Start Jacket Style.
It doesn’t have a lot of fancy features but the durability more than makes up for it. Even when subjected to abuse, it held up well. If you like something simple but don’t want to compromise on quality, get this.
For those who want more features and accessories to go with their BCD, go for the Scubapro Litehawk BC.
Like Cressi, it’s also resistant to damages. The material used allows you to subject your BCD to some level of abuse without it fraying or falling apart. The additional accessories such as the Air 2 Alternate Air Source Inflator is also a good addition and more than makes up for its slightly heftier price tag.
The SEAC Ego Scuba Diving BCD is slightly more expensive than Cressi but delivers the same quality and durability. It’ a comfortable BCD that you won’t have issues wearing. If you are looking for that one BCD that you and the rest of your family can rely on, this is a good choice. It has various size options that can fit even the smaller members of your family.
When you need to find the best scuba BCD, we’d suggest you try the SEAC Ego Scuba Diving BCD. This is a versatile piece of kit for the whole family.
Hybrid BCD enthusiasts will prefer the Mares Hybrid Weight Integrated Folding Scuba BC. Since it combines jacket style and back inflating style, you can get the best of both worlds. If you like to switch from jacket to back inflating, this would be an ideal choice for you.
Most people use the same BCD for years so if you are buying one, buy with longevity in mind. You will be using it for a long time so make sure you choose one that you will be happy with. Here are some buying factors to keep in mind:
Your Personal Preference. Do you have a particular diving preference? Where are you going to use it more? Style is an important factor to consider. If you are into recreational diving, jacket style BCDs would suffice. This is also the best for women scuba divers as it is easier to use and wear. If you travel a lot for diving, you would want to look for those styles manufactured from lightweight materials. If you are more into technical diving, consider those styles that include wing bladders and has a set-up for harnesses.
Add-ons. Check for additional features to maximize your purchase. Some people won’t need an integrated weight system but if you want to have this included, make sure it is present in the BCD you are buying because not all BCDs will have this feature. Check for additional features like pockets that can be easily secured, clips and D-rings. More expensive BCDs may also include features like an extra inflator regulator.
Maintenance. Consider maintenance when buying. How easy is it to wash? Can you get all the air out effectively?
Price. Decide how much you want to allot for this gear. You don’t want to compromise on quality so make sure you set aside a reasonable budget for it.
Warranty. Find out if it comes with a warranty. How long is its coverage? Find out who will shoulder the shipping in case you need to send it back to the manufacturer.
We hope you found the information you are looking for in this guide. Be sure to click the links on the products to learn more about them and check out more information like features and pricing. See all the best scuba packages for beginners on our homepage!