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Scuba BCD Buyers Guide

If you love scuba diving, then having a BCD or buoyancy control device is essential. The BCD will help you navigate quickly through the water so you cannot take the risk of not wearing one before diving.

Nowadays, BCDs are available in a plethora of types, so buying the right one can be daunting if you are unaware of how each type works. But this scuba BCD buyer's guide is here to make things easier for you.

With the guide, you will know about the factors to look for while buying a scuba BC Now there will be no struggle in choosing the type of buoyancy compensator as this informative guide will tell you everything about every type of BCD available on the market.

What is a scuba BCD?

A scuba buoyancy compensator is useful to give you neutral buoyancy in the water that's essential while diving. The air bladder of the BCD fills the air inside it, making you heavy, so you don't have to struggle to move inside water due to buoyancy.

Every diver needs a scuba BCD due to multiple reasons, and if you are planning a dive, then it would be great to have a BCD that fits you comfortably so you can enjoy the dive.

How does a scuba BCD work?

Before we talk about the factors to check before buying a buoyancy compensator, it is essential to know how it works, so you know why you need it. The buoyancy control device or buoyancy compensator is a highly useful diving equipment that has an inflatable bladder installed in it.

Without a BCD, you will sink in water while diving, but adding air to the bladder will help you float inside water so you can swim horizontally rather than in different angles. A buoyancy compensator makes you equal to the weight of the water you are displacing while diving to retain your position without struggling with diving in a straight line.

Emptying the air from the bladder will make you weigh lighter, and it will help you go up with fewer efforts. Every professional diver understands the importance of wearing a scuba BCD while diving.

Benefits of using a good scuba BCD

There are multiple benefits of using a good scuba buoyancy compensator, and here we have explained some of them. Without an excellent buoyancy compensator, you won't enjoy diving as much as you can do with the best one.

Saves your energy

With a scuba BC, you can swim in a straight line without much effort, so wearing one while diving will save you a lot of energy. You don't have to struggle with maintaining your position under water.

Saves oxygen

Moving a lot underwater means more breathing, and you can exhaust the tank quickly. But when you are wearing a scuba BCD while diving, then you don't have to move a lot, and it will enhance the runtime of the gas tank.

In short, a buoyancy compensator will improve the diving time, so you don't have to ascend quickly to the boat due to low gas notification on your diving watch.

Suitable to wear with a wetsuit

When you dive with a website, you experience more floatation, so getting deeper into the abyss becomes a challenge. But this is not the case with a scuba BCD. You can wear it on your wetsuit, and it will help you while diving.

Factors to look for when buying a scuba BCD

Here is a list of factors you should check before buying a scuba buoyancy compensator. The factor includes everything like types, size, lift capacity, weight integration, and much more. SO without wasting any time, let's get started.

Types of scuba BCDs

Start with selecting the type of buoyancy compensator. While shopping, you will get to see different types, and each type has its own merits and demerits.

Back inflation scuba BCD

The back inflation BCD comes with an air bladder placed at the back, so you don't feel any clutter on the chest area, which is comfortable to wear. A lot of professional divers choose these BCDs because they keep you in an ideal position for diving.

If you strive to swim in a horizontal trim, then back inflation BCD should be your choice. Moreover, these buoyancy compensators reduce the resistance because of the streamlined design. Overall, you get good stability, so these are ideal for beginners and pros.

Jacket scuba BCD

Jacket scuba BCD is the most common type you will find in the market. These BCDs are there for around 30+ years, and divers love to use these because of the affordability and ease of use. The air bladder is present on both sides of the buoyancy compensator, keeping the diver stable in all positions.

If you are a novice diver, then jacket style BCDs can be a good choice. The buoyancy compensator will help you maintain a vertical position that makes it easy to reach the surface.

Hybrid scuba BCD

Hybrid buoyancy compensators have no clutter at the chest area so that you will feel comfortable while diving. These are the new type of BCDs, which are gaining a lot of popularity due to the relaxed fit. The BCD will help you maintain a vertical position while diving so you can reach the surface easily.

This BCD type is highly common among instructors, so if you are an instructor, go for a hybrid scuba buoyancy compensator.

Backplate and wing BCD

Most divers call it the most versatile scuba BCDs because of the limitless possible combinations of the wing size and back plate design. If you are a professional diver who is into technical diving, then these buoyancy compensators are suitable for you. Many mentors and scuba diving instructors also choose backplate and wing BCDs.

Side mount scuba BCD

The side mount BCD fits on your side, leaving enough room for the tank. These buoyancy compensators are ideal if you want to dive through tight areas like cave diving and diving through shipwrecks. Side mount scuba BCDs are getting highly popular these days.

Travel scuba BCD

If you are a traveler, then you need a lightweight buoyancy compensator that's easy to pack in your luggage. These have low profile designs and are made to fit anywhere. Anyone irrespective of the skill set can use these BCD's. Overall, if you love traveling and don't want a cumbersome buoyancy compensator to go for travel scuba BCDs.


The fitting of the buoyancy compensator will influence its performance and there is no chance you can go wrong with the size. A bigger BCD will let the gas tank roam freely on your back, and you will feel rolling over during the dive.

If you buy an option that's too small, then you cannot wear a wetsuit with it. Always be careful when selecting the size of the BCD, since it has an important role.

Integrated weight pockets

With a scuba BCD with integrated weight pockets, you don't have to wear a weight belt. The pockets allow you to attach as much weight as you need, and you can release it quickly in emergencies. Now there is no need to wear heavy belts around your waist that can cause pain in your hip bone.

Attaching and releasing the weight is easy, and the only downside is getting out of the water as you have a lot of weight attached to the buoyancy compensator.

Trip pockets

You should never ignore trim pockets while looking for an excellent scuba BCD. The trip pockets are available on the top of the BCD, where you can attach the weight. The weights attached to these pockets aren't removable while diving, so don't ever think of overloading it.

The primary benefit of the trip pockets is that these maintain your center of gravity. You can adjust the position of the weight to align your body underwater. By adjusting the weight, you can achieve the right balance required for diving.

Lift capacity

Checking the lift capacity of the scuba buoyancy compensator is crucial to find out whether it can hold your weight or not. When you are wearing a wetsuit and have diving gear, the overall weight can increase to 30-40 pounds, so you should always check the lift capacity.

A BCD with good lift capacity will give you enough lift with the gear so you can float at the surface. The standard lift capacity of scuba buoyancy compensators is around 40 lbs, but you can purchase a BCD with better weight capacity if required.

D-rings and pockets

It's a good idea to go for scuba buoyancy compensators with multiple D-rings and pockets. You can take a spare decompression buoy or a mask by attaching them to the pockets or the D-rings. Furthermore, D-rings are flexible so you can attach various diving gear to the BCD, and that's a plus point.

Type of water

You might wonder why the type of water impacts the choice of BCD you should make! Well, here the explanation. If you are diving in cold water, then you will wear a wetsuit with the buoyancy compensator so that sizing can be an issue.

Moreover, the BCD should offer adequate warmth, so you don't find it hard to dive in cold water. On the other hand, you need more lift capacity as you are carrying more weight by wearing the wetsuit.

If you want to dive in warm water, then don't look for warmth as you don't need it. Also, lift capacity should be moderate since you won’t be using a wetsuit.


You should check the weight of the buoyancy compensator to ensure that you can travel with it. Some scuba BCDs are extremely bulky that carrying and packing them is a task. Check the weight beforehand purchasing the BCD so you can take it with you wherever you go diving.


How can we forget durability when it comes to buying a scuba buoyancy compensator! The entire mechanism should be durable as you cannot take any risk underwater. Check if the attachments are corrosion resistant, and the inflator is of good quality.

A reliable BCD should withstand normal wear and tear as it is common while jumping from the boat and getting back to it. Look for famous brands that manufacture high-quality BCs, so you get a super sturdy one that lasts longer, and you don't have to worry about any malfunctions while diving.

Dump valves

Dump valves are ideal for inflating/deflating the air quickly, thus helping you regain the buoyancy. The general air valves may take a lot of time to inflate and deflate, so having these instant dump valves can be a great help.

Check if the BCD you are planning to buy has at least one dump valve so that it becomes easier for you to get enough buoyancy required while diving.


If a BC isn't comfortable while wearing, you won't enjoy diving with it. Check the BCD size and buy the style that suits you, such as hybrid, and side mount. If you are a woman, look for women-specific BCDs as these are smaller and lightweight compared to the regular BCDs.


The price of the scuba BC depends on multiple factors, such as the brand and the type. Hybrid BCDs can cost more than travel BCs so that you can make a choice based on your budget. Before you start shopping for a BCD, make your budget to avoid overspending!

FAQs: Best Scuba BCD

Q: What is the lifespan of a scuba BCD?

A: The average life of a BC is around two years, or you can say 1,000 dives. If you follow the proper maintenance regime, then you can enhance the lifespan to around four years or more. Buy a branded BCD that's highly durable, so it doesn't fail after a few months.

Q: Is it important to have a BC with a dump valve?

A: Yes, having a dump valve in your BCD is essential because it will expel the bladder's air to help you swim in a horizontal orientation. You can adjust the dump valve to get the swimming position you need.

Q: Can I dive without a BCD?

A: Yes, you can dive without a BCD buy you really shouldn’t. A scuba BC provides good buoyancy while helping you to take diving accessories by attaching them to the D-rings. Also, you can add more weight to the BCD, so having one is important.

In a nutshell, you should get a BC for diving as it has fantastic perks, and that can make your diving experience even better.

Q: How much lift capacity do I need in a BCD?

A: It depends on how heavy your gear is. If you are wearing a wetsuit and taking heavy gear for diving, then look for BCDs with at least 30-40 pounds lift capacity. Similarly, you can look for less lift capacity if required.

Q: How do I enhance the longevity of my scuba BCD?

A: Here are some tips to follow if you want to enhance the longevity of the BCD.

  • Never let the BCD sit in direct sunlight for a long time as it can damage the fabric, so will get less life from it.
  • Protect it from chafing against sharp objects to protect the fabric. Take extra care when getting up on the boat from the water surface as it is a crucial phase where you can damage the BCD.
  • Keep the BCD away from chemicals, aerosols, gasoline, and oil.
  • To improve the life of the bladder, always rinse it with fresh water before packing it.

With these easy tips, you can enhance the longevity of the BCD, and it will last longer, giving you pleasurable dives in the abyss.

Q: How to clean a BCD?

A: Cleaning the BCD is a crucial task, and you should do it with extra care without damaging the air bladder. Here's the cleaning process you should follow.

  • Drain all the water after using the BCD before cleaning. It will help you in removing the deposits from the BC, so you should always do it before rinsing it.
  • While rinsing takes care of the bladder as it is a sensitive part of the BCD. After rinsing, let it dry and then deflate it.
  • If the BCD loses the air itself, then there is something wrong with the bladder, and you should consult a specialist.
Q: What is a BCD wing?

A: You will see a wing attached to the BCDs of professional divers. The inflatable wing helps the diver with added buoyancy without occupying much space. Professional and technical divers need twin tanks sometimes, and the wing fits in-between the tanks giving the divers the comfort they need while diving.

Q: How expensive are scuba BCDs?

A: The cost of the BCD depends on which brand and type you choose. These are available in a price range starting from $200, so you can buy an affordable BCD if you don't have a big budget. You will find a lot of options up to $1,500.

Q: Is it risky for beginners to use a BCD?

A: No, there is no risk associated with using a scuba BCD provided that you know how to use it. The best way to learn using a BCD is taking training from a professional. As you are a beginner, then you must be having some instructors with you while diving so you can learn the use of BCD from them.

In short, it is safe to use a scuba BCD.

Q: Where can I attach weight to the BCD?

A: You can attach weight to the weight integration pockets that can instantly ditch the weight in emergencies. The number of integrated pockets for weight depends on the BCD you are purchasing, so you should check it while buying.

Q: Can I take a separate diving mask with the BCD?

A: Yes, you can take a separate diving mask provided that the BCD has D-rings where you can attach it. Always look for pockets and D-rings so that you can take some additional gear with you while diving.


With this scuba BCD buyer's guide, you can select the best BCD that's suitable for you and keeps you in the right swimming orientation. Make a list of these factors and then compare different BCDs to shortlist the best one.

We even recommend you to check the FAQ section where you will find more details on how to clean a BCD and how to enhance its lifespan. Lastly, some BCDs can be pretty expensive, so make your budget before you start shopping for one.

BCDs start from $200 and you will find an excellent one for around $400-500. A BCD is essential diving equipment, so you should never compromise on quality when buying it. / - © Copyright 2020