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Top 10 Best Scuba BCDs reviews 2017 – What Matters

Top 10 Best Scuba BCDs reviews 2017 – What Matters
Photo Credits: Aqua Lung

Another important piece of gear that you do not want to overlook is the  buoyancy control device (BCD). It is also known as buoyancy compensator. Getting the best scuba BCDs that fits you will help to ensure a better diving experience and getting comfortable underwater.

The other important scuba equipments are dive computers, dive masks and dive regulators.

In this comprehensive buyer's guide, you will be able to familarize with the basic parts of a scuba BCD and how to choose the best scuba BCDs that matches your needs and everything else is secondary.


Editor’s Note

Thank you for visiting Aqua Junkies. We've done our best to provide you with the most in-depth consumer guide with honest and accurate information relating to the best scuba BCDs currently on the market. A significant amount of time has been invested in providing you with this information, so We do hope you find it useful.

Most Recommended (Travel Scuba BCD):  If you haven't got the time to read our entire buyer's guide then I would suggest that you check out our editors' choice, Zeagle Stiletto, a well designed full features travel scuba BCD which includes the weight integration system yet it is light weight and compactness for travel that helps to avoid excess baggage fees.

It has five generous D-rings and two utility zipped pockets for accessories

Most Recommended (Scuba BCD):  For the best Scuba BCD, I would suggest that you check out our editors' top choice, Zeagle Ranger Scuba BCD, a hot favourite scuba BCD among the divers because of its versatility for both tropical water or temperate water diving.

The ability to have single or twin cylinders during deep dive and plenty of stainless steel D-rings. There is two large utility zipped pockets for accessories such as DSMB or dive knife.

Now, Iet's dive straight down into the best scuba BCDs in the market right now.



November 2017 Scuba BCD Deals

Each month we update this section with the best recommendations within various price brackets and also include the best scuba BCDs deals currently on the market, check out below for this month's recommendations!

Please note: These discounts were sourced on the 1st November 2017 and may have changed.


Top Buying Guide To Find The Best Scuba BCDs For You in 2017

Here is the short list of the best BCDs that we have uncovered during our research through many nights of coffees.

SCUBA BCDBCD NAMEBCD BODYLIFT CAPACITYRATINGPRICE
Cressi Start Scuba BCDHARNESS29.2lbs to 45lbs$$4.6
ScubaPro Litehawk BCDWING56lb - 25.5kg$$$4.5
Zeagle Ranger BCDWING44lb - 20kg$$$$5
Tusa Liberator Sigma IIHARNESS31lb - 14kg$4.5
Cressi Aquaride BCDHARNESS29.2lb - 13.3kg$$5
Sherwood New Avid CQR 3HARNESS32lb - 14.5kg$$$5
Dive Rite Nomad LZTWING35lb - 15.8kg$$$4.4
Cressi Air Travel Scuba BCDWING36lb - 16.3kg$$$4.6
Aqualung HD Pro Scuba BCDHARNESS29.2lb - 13.3kg$$$5
Sherwood Ventura BCDWING37lb - 16.7kg$$4.3
ScubaPro Knighthawk BC w/ Air IIWING46lb - 20.8kg$$$$5
Cressi Travelight BCDWING20.2lb - 9.2kg$$5
Zeagle Stiletto Scuba BCDWING35lb - 15.8kg$$$$4.8

Basic Parts of A Scuba BCD

A) Dump Valves

Dump Valves let you expel air without using the deflator. The more dump valves a scuba BCD has the better. It is usually located on the rear right shoulder section and rear left hip section. Typically, most scuba BCDs have two.

It is not surprising for modern scuba BCD to have an additional dump valve built into the inflator/deflator system on the left shoulder.

B) Pockets & D-Rings

Depending on the type of diving that you are planning to do most, by having the right number of pockets and D-rings is important.

D-rings

There are two types of D-rings, the pre-bent outward D-rings which makes attaching clips much easier and the flat D-rings that lay flat against the BCD.

Pockets

Two pockets are usually sufficient for tropical dive or recreational dive for carrying your Fish ID slate. For cold water diving, you will probably need to have more pockets to carry more equipment such as delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB), reel or spare mask.

C) Inflator/Deflator Mechanism

This normal inflator/deflator system allows a diver to inflate or deflate the scuba BCD on a push of the button.

D) Air Bladders/POCKETS

The air bladders is where the pockets of air goes to or draw from when the BCD is inflated by the inflator or deflated by the deflator.

E) Adjustable Band

This is located at the rear of the scuba BCD that secure the scuba tank. Divers are able to change their tanks easily whenever needed.


How To Choose Your Best Scuba BCD Smartly

A buoyancy control device is used to adjust and calibrate a diver's buoyancy. The BCDs are designed to be one of the most important scuba gear for diving which can be easily inflated or deflated with a touch button. This allows the diver to hover, ascend and descend underwater.

Another purpose for BCD is to secure the scuba tank to the diver's body. 

Sizing

Sizing defers between men and ladies. The BCD design is slightly different as well between men and ladies. For Ladies' BCD, it is specially designed for shorter backs support and chest straps are omitted to prevent compressing to the chest.

The follow is the general size chart for selecting a BCD. For example, if you have a 43" chest and wear a dry suit of 2". You should get a BCD with 45" chest size.

BCD Chest (inches)

Size

36-38

38-40

40-41

42-43

43-46

46-48

48-50

Extra Small

Small

Medium

Medium Large

Large

Extra Large

Extra Extra Large

However, It is always best to refer to the manufacturers BCD size chart.

Integrated Weights

Some buoyancy compensator models come with weight integration where you may not need to get a weight belt. Currently, it could not be the sole weight system if drysuit or wetsuit are worn. 

Thus, it is still advisable to get a weight belt. Though, weight integrated BCDs can help lessen any bruised hips by the weight belt after diving for warm water divers or ladies divers.

Lift Requirements

Every BCDs has its own set of lift capacity (amount of negative weight the BCD can  float). Divers should not be lazy and used it as a way to replace proper weighting.

The very first lesson that you learn during diving is about managing your weight during your dive. You should ensure that you are correctly weighted and not overweighted.

Below is weight guide reference on what it should be like:

Type of Diving

Weight

Tropical Diving

Recreational Diving (with full wetsuit or drysuit)

Technical Diving (or diving under demanding conditions)

8 to 12 KG

10 to 20 KG

20 to 40+ KG

BCDs Style

Generally, there are two primary scuba BCDs styles that are dominant among the divers. namely the wing style or harness style.

Wing Style

A wing style has inflation bladders on the back. There will be a tendency to turn the diver face down. It is more suitable for experienced, technical divers who knows what they are doing.

However, most divers like the "pro" look of the wing style BCD and failed to consider the level of proficiency, safety and performance.

You should go for the wing style BCD because you want to keep your front area free from clutter, you are an experienced travelling diver due to the ease of packing down the travel wings or you need to use multiple cylinders.

Harness Style

The harness style has its inflation pockets at the front and back which is suitable for new divers in recreational diving.

Alternate Inflator Regulators

All scuba BCDS comes with a basic inflator/deflator mechanism that can be replaced with an alternate inflator regulator that allows you to perform the same inflation and deflation with an addition of a spare second stage regulator. 

Pros

  • Ideal for travelling divers
  • Easy control of buoyancy with the piece in your mouth
  • Reduce weight and bulk of equipment
  • Ideal

Cons

  • Slightly bigger than normal inflation units

If you have an existing regulator that you used, it will be advisable to check if it will be compatible with the BCD.

if you don't have one, we got you cover with our best scuba regulator buyer's guide. 


What Are The Advantages of a Good Scuba BCD?

By selecting the best scuba BCD that matches your needs, it will make your dive journey a much more pleasant experience.

With Aqua Junkies buyer's guide, you will make better decisions that you will not regret later. With the information that you have on hand right now, you are able to choose the right piece of scuba BCD for your dive.

For example, a harness style BCDs for new divers, recreational diving or tropical diving and other important pointers to take note during your buy as well. 


7 Quick Easy Steps To Take Care of Your Scuba BCD

After getting your best scuba BCD, it is time to educate yourself on how to take good care of your scuba BCD. You want it to last. Don't you? 

Follow the clean maintenance steps below. 

1. Wash off your BCD exterior and interior with fresh water thoroughly. You don't want to ruin your inflator and dump valves with salt water content in them.

2. Flush fresh water into the bladder of the BCD through the low-pressure inflator as much as possible. 

3. Press the deflate button as you flush the fresh water into your BCD until it has become quarter full.

4. Orally inflate it to let the fresh water circulate throughout the inside of the BCD. Shake it well to make sure the fresh water passes through every inch of the BCD and let the water drain through the dump valves.

5. Repeat this process a few times.

6. Inflate your BCD partially before storing it to prevent the inside pieces from sticking together.

7. Keep it hanging in a dry, cool place


Scuba BCDs Reviews

Top 10 Best Scuba BCDs Qualifiers

ScubaPro Litehawk BCD

FEATURES

Lightweight, Streamline Air Cell Technology

BCD Style

Wing Style

Lift Capacity

56lb - 25.5kg

The ScubaPro Litehawk BCD is suitable for the travel diver who are looking for a light weighted BCD with weight integration.

It has all the features of a traditional wing BCD but can be easily packed. It will help to avoid extra baggages fees when flying around.

D-rings are plenty and amazingly it has 3 dump valves for a lightweighted travel BCD.

Things We Liked

  • ​Lightweight Travel BCD
  • Plenty of Rings
  • 3 Dump Valves
  • Weight Integrated with Drop Weight Pockets

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Need additional weight than normal due to its lightness.
Zeagle Ranger

FEATURES

Heavy Duty, Modular Design

BCD Style

Wing Style

Lift Capacity

44lb - 20kg

The Zeagle Ranger is the first high quality heavy duty BCD with weight integration and rear flotation.

Its' smart modular design enables it to allows the BCD to be used for both tropical travel diving or rugged cold water diving in wet or dry suits.

It allows single or twin cylinders and even technical divers will use it for the ability to include the bladder assemblies of up to 2 X 85-LB lift and easily mounted back-plates.

Things We Liked

  • ​High Quality
  • Heavy Duty BCD
  • Versatile Usage
  • Rear Flotation
  • 2 Dump Valves
  • Weight Integrated with Drop Weight Pockets

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Quite Bulky for Travel
Tusa Liberator Sigma II

FEATURES

IHS, USH, AWLS 

BCD Style

Harness Style

Lift Capacity

31lb - 14kg

The Tusa Liberator Sigma II is your best choice if you're looking for a comfortable BC at a great price.

The Liberator is designed to be happily comfortable with its Independent Harness System (IHS). IHS isolates the jacket's harness from the air cell and secures the tank firmly even with changes in inflation or deflation.

With Tusa's Ultimate Stabilizing Harness (USH), the chance of a tank roll is unlikely and there are various sizes for selection to get a good fit.

Tusa's Advanced Weight Loading System (AWLS) ensure that you can easily hover, ascend or descend with utmost stability and security.

Things We Liked

  • ​Heavy Duty BCD
  • ​2 Large Zipped Pockets
  • Plenty of D-Rings
  • 2 Dump Valves
  • IHS, UHS, AWLS Design and Technology

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Quite Bulky for Travel
Sherwood New Avid CQR 3

FEATURES

CQR 3 Weight System, 3-D Designed Air Cell 

BCD Style

Harness Style

Lift Capacity

32lb - 14.5kg

The Sherwood New Avid CQR 3 is the latest BCD from Sherwood with a redesigned CQR 3 weight system for easy installation and removing of weight pockets.

This redesigned styling of the traditional jacket-style AVID maintains its respected functionality, comfort and dependability. It has adjustable shoulder straps that provide better fit and comfortability.

You will find your body wrap around with Sherwood 3-D designed Air Cell that provides exceptional stability.  

In addition, you will be  looking at 6 D-rings to attach your gear and zippered utility side pockets for additional scuba accessories.

Things We Liked

  • Adjustable Shoulder Straps
  • 3-D Designed Air Cell Wrap Around Body
  • Zipped Side Pockets
  • Plenty of D-Rings
  • 2 Dump Valves
  • Weight Integrated with 2 Drop Weight Pockets
  • 2 Years Limited Warranty

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Pocket Pulls can be hard to reach and unzip during dive
Dive Rite Nomad LZT

FEATURES

Side Mount Rig with Complete Harness System, GCS

BCD Style

Wing Style

Lift Capacity

35lb - 15.8kg

The Dive Rite Nomad LZT is built with a dive explorer in mind. It is designed slightly different from the usual BCD with a side mount rig made of super-tough exterior and modular flexibility.

The Nomad LZT is engineered to last with its high resistance to punctures and abrasions while remaining very flexible. The modular harness system separates the harness, wing, butt plate and crotch strap that can easily adjust or remove to custom the BCD for the type of dive. A good news for the traveling divers.

 With a longer Gusset Control System (GCS), the diver is able to control lift by controlling the profile of the wing. This is especially important for divers who wear aluminum tanks when side mounting or dive the Nomad XT with a single tank.

Things We Liked

  • Modular Designed BCD
  • Versatile
  • 2 Rings Bungees
  • Super Tough Exterior

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Quite Bulky For Travel 
Cressi Air Travel Scuba BCD

FEATURES

Compact for Travel, Lock-Aid Integrated Weight Pockets

BCD Style

Wing Style

Lift Capacity

36lb - 16.3kg

The Cressi Air Travel Scuba BCD is a light weighted travel BCD that can be easily folded into a compact tote to pack into a carry on luggage without the risk of incurring excess baggage fees.

It is designed to be as high performance as a traditional scuba BCD with weight pockets, padded backpack 2 pockets for holding scuba accessories and 3 dump valves for easier buoyancy adjustments 

Things We Liked

  • Light Weight Travel BCD (5.5lbs)
  • Durable 420 Denier Nylon
  • 2 Utility Cargo Pockets
  • 3 Dump Valves
  • Integrated Weight System (up to 20 LBS)

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Need additional weight than normal due to its lightness
Aqualung HD Pro

FEATURES

SureLock II Mechanical Weight Release System, Proprietary Backpack with Built In Carrying Handle

BCD Style

Harness Style

Lift Capacity

29.2lb - 13.3kg

The AquaLung HD Pro is suitable for a wide range of divers due to its appealing wrap-around jacket with weight integration.

It is the most value for money not just because of its rich features at a reasonable price but you be getting a quality scuba BCD that will hold up against the nasty salty contents and chlorine.

All this is possible due to the durable Resistek fabric which is designed to resist fading and wear from sun exposure.

Adjustability, stability and comfort are the highlights of this AquaLung HD Pro BCD. 

This BCD is an excellent choice for beginner divers.

Things We Liked

  • Great Value BCD
  • Durable and Features Rich
  • 5 Stainless Steel D-rings
  • 2 Large Utility Zipped Pockets for Scuba Accessories
  • Carrying Handle
  • SureLock II Mechanical Weight Release System

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Bulky For Travel although carrying handle is available.
ScubaPro Knighthawk BC w/ Air II

FEATURES

Back Flotation Technology, Streamline Air Cell Technology

BCD Style

Wing Style

Lift Capacity

46lb - 20.8kg

The ScubaPro Knighthawk BC w/ Air II is a robust and comfortable top of the line BCD.

With its back inflation, divers have better mobility flexibility for their chest and shoulders movement without much restriction.

This is important when movements of your arms are needed during your dive such as maneuvering your dive camera.  

The ergonomic designed harness has the elements of anatomically-shaped components to allow for even load distribution.

All these straps are equipped with quick release buckles for easy donning and doffing.

The women version of this scuba BCD is the LadyHawk.

Things We Liked

  • Durable BCD
  • 4 Stainless Steel D-rings
  • 3 Dump Valves
  • Ergonomic Designed Harness
  • Adjustable Straps
  • Quick Release Integrated Weight System

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Bulky for Travel
Cressi Travelight BCD

FEATURES

FAST System for folding and compacting the BC, 210 Denier Nylon Material

BCD Style

Wing Style

Lift Capacity

20.2lb - 9.2kg

The Cressi Travelight BCD is just like what its name stand for. Light weight for travel and can be folded up in just a few seconds and fastened with a special retractable strap so that it can be stowed easily in its own carrying bag, which has a shoulder strap.

It's a popular choice of travel BCD for divers.

Even with its light structure and anatomical shape, you can feel that it is very tight-fitting and streamlined jacket once underwater.

Expect very little resistance to hover movement.

Great for traveling divers who do not want to sacrifice quality or structure.

Things We Liked

  • Lightweight Travel BCD
  • Great Value and Durable
  • 2 Utility Zipped Pockets
  • Plenty of Rings
  • 3 Dump Valves
  • Weight Integrated with 2 Rear Weight Pockets

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Due to its lightness, additional weight may be needed during dive.
Zeagle Stiletto

FEATURES

Lightweight, 1000 Denier Nylon Bladder Material

BCD Style

Wing Style

Lift Capacity

35lb - 15.8kg

Another quality product from Zeagle, is the Zeagle Stiletto. One of the few rare finds as a rugged travel BCD yet with the full features of a traditional BCD.

It's harness can be easily adjusted to fit most body types.

It is designed to be light weight for travelling and can be used for both warm and temperate water diving.

It has sufficient lift and weight capacity for most divers to use at their local dive sites, yet it packs easily making it a good choice for travel.

Things We Liked

  • Lightweight Travel BCD
  • Durable and Great Value
  • Comfortable To Wear
  • Adjustable Straps
  • 5 Stainless Steel D-rings
  • 3 Dump Valves
  • Weight Integrated with Rear Weight Option.

Things We Didn't Liked

  • Utility Pockets can be Bigger 

Aqua Junkies Favourite Scuba BCD

Most of divers will usually have 2 set of scuba BCDs. One for travelling and one for a more comprehensive diving needs. Having an appropriate scuba BCDs to match the objectives of the dive is vital to have a good diving experience. 

Here is Aqua Junkies editors top favourite choice for each category.

Aqua Junkies Favourite Travel Scuba BCD

ScubaPro Litehawk BCD

  • WING STYLE
  • LIGHT WEIGHT
  • 3 DUMP VALVES
  • WEIGHT INTEGRATED
    WITH DROP WEIGHT POCKETS
  • ADJUSTABLE STRAPS
  • 2 PLASTIC D-RINGS
  • WEIGHS 5.2 LBS (2.36 KG)

Zeagle Stiletto Scuba BCD

  • WING STYLE
  • LIGHT WEIGHT
  • 3 DUMP VALVES
  • WEIGHT INTEGRATED
    WITH REAR WEIGHT OPTION
  • ADJUSTABLE STRAPS
  • 2 UTILITY ZIPPED POCKETS
  • 5 STAINLESS STEEL D-RINGS
  • WEIGHS 7.4LBS (3.36KG)

Cressi Air Travel Scuba BCD

  • WING STYLE
  • LIGHT WEIGHT
  • 3 DUMP VALVES
  • WEIGHT INTEGRATED
    WITH WEIGHT POCKETS
  • ADJUSTABLE STRAPS
  • 1 ROLL DOWN POCKET
  • 4 PLASTIC D-RINGS
  • WEIGHS 5.5 LBS (2.5KG)

Aqua Junkies Favourite Scuba BCD

Sherwood New Avid CQR 3

  • - FOR NEW/ADVANCED DIVERS -
  • HARNESS STYLE
  • 3 DUMP VALVES
  • WEIGHT INTEGRATED
    WITH WEIGHT POCKETS
  • ADJUSTABLE STRAPS
  • 2 ZIPPED POCKETS
    1 VELCRO POCKETS
  • 6 STAINLESS STEEL D-RINGS
  • WEIGHS ~9.35 LBS (4.24 KG)

Zeagle Ranger Scuba BCD

  • - FOR TECHNICAL DIVERS -
  • WING STYLE
  • 2 DUMP VALVES
  • WEIGHT INTEGRATED
    WITH REAR WEIGHT OPTION
  • ADJUSTABLE STRAPS
  • 2 UTILITY ZIPPED POCKETS
  • 6 STAINLESS STEEL D-RINGS
  • WEIGHS 8.4LBS (3.8KG)
  • HIGH QUALITY
    HEAVY DUTY BCD
  • SUITABLE FOR TROPICAL
    OR TEMPERATE WATER DIVING
  • ALLOWS SINGLE
    OR TWIN CYLINDERS

ScubaPro Knighthawk BC w/ Air II

  • -FOR NEW/ADVANCED DIVERS -
  • WING STYLE
  • 3 DUMP VALVES
  • WEIGHT INTEGRATED
    WITH WEIGHT POCKETS
  • ADJUSTABLE STRAPS
  • 2 ROLL-UP ZIPPED POCKETS
  • 4 STAINLESS STEEL D-RINGS
  • WEIGHS 8.4 to 9.24 LBS
    (3.81 - 4.19 KG)

Aqua Junkies Tip

Getting below the surface especially for your first time may seem more tricky and difficult.

The trick is to rock backward a little.

Many BCDs trap bubbles of air just behind your head. Rocking backward as if you are in a La-Z-Boy recliner moves the exhaust hose over the bubble and lets it escape.

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