The Best Scuba BCD is the one that is lightweight, durable, comfortable and offers superior functionality. Our Guide will make the choice simpler
A BCD is a Buoyancy Compensator (Control) Device and helps divers maintain their depth underwater by providing a neutral buoyancy. Divers are incredibly buoyant, as is their wetsuit and other equipment, and this is why most BCs also have integrated weight systems.
Choosing the right BC can be tough when there are so many options to choose from. Our list is divided into 3 categories to make your choice easier: Best for Travel, Best for Beginners and Best for Women.
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We reviewed over 9 of the best scuba BCD's sit-on top kayaks for this article. Below are the best options.
The Oceanic Biolite is a unisex BC that was made for traveling with its easy-to-fold, low profile design.
Made with Oceanic’s Patented Biolex Material, the low profile bladder stretches and conforms to your body while still remaining airtight.
This is a definite plus as less air means less bulk and drag underwater, while simultaneously allowing for a high volume of lift as needed.
The shoulder straps are torso adjustable and a safety whistle is attached to the self-adjusting sternum straps.
Features an Integrated Weight System that is streamlined and accommodates up to 14 lbs (6.4 kg) in dual, and 7 lbs (3.2 kg) in front weight pockets.
The Quick Drop weight release system is easy to load and use, while the Power Inflator features a cable activated Pull Dump as well an extra lower rear Pull Dump/Overpressure Relief Valve system.
For added stability in water, the BC features dual 5 lbs (6.4 kg) tank band Non-Drop weight pockets, and provides a lift capacity of 32 lbs - 38 lbs (14.5 kg -17.3 kg).
All crucial areas are made of 1000 denier Cordura fabric. D-rings are available for all your accessories.
This BC offers the Best Value for money, ensuring you get everything you need at a reasonable price.
Scuba Pro Go is a super comfortable, lightweight travel BC that is suitable for warm waters.
It is very well padded, and contains the same features that a general-purpose BCD does. Created with 210 denier nylon and covered with polyurethane it is durable as well as lightweight. This is the Best Overall BCD on our list.
The coated mesh cummerbund dries quickly and the double-band system ensures that the tank is locked at depth for maximum stability.
Shoulder straps are equipped with a rotating quick-release to allow for optimization and a near perfect fit. The water-draining Airnet backpack is padded for extra comfort and folds easily for traveling.
Integrated weight pouches have a quick-release which allows you to easily ditch and secure with the low profile squeeze buckles.
The trim weight pocket carries 2.2 lbs (1 kg) each, which attaches easily to the back of the BC. For added cargo-carrying, there are 2 large zippered pockets featuring stainless steel knife attachment grommets.
There are 6 aluminium D-rings and 2 large, pre-bent provide ample clip-on points for your accessories.
The Hollis L.T.S (or Light Travel System) is perfect for traveling to those warm tropical waters.
The back inflation design is weight integrated and this BC is suitable for a single AL80 or a steel 85 scuba tank, which are the most commonly used tanks for recreational diving.
The overall design is simple and non-modular which allows it to fold and be stowed away easily, which is great for traveling, especially to destinations where weight restrictions are limited.
This compact and lightweight BC incorporates key features from the Hollis HD200, ensuring that it is reliable and durable, and won’t let you down while you’re on your next adventure.
There are 6 chest and hip D-rings for all your accessories or even a sling bottle.
The material is rugged with 1000 denier nylon outer cover and a 420D internal bladder, and has a lift capacity of 30 lbs (13.6 kg).
The Zeagle Scout is one the best BC’s for beginners, and comes complete with an inflator, hose and RE valve.
The single bladder is low profile and constructed of 1000 denier with an elastic retractor and an elastic waist closure.
There are 2 zippered utility pockets for convenience and 4 stainless steel D-rings (2 on the vest and 2 on the shoulders) to allow you to bring your accessories along while diving.
The sternum strap is adjustable for an easier fit and the lightweight construction means that you can take it along on your travels.
The integrated weight system consists of 2 rear pockets with a maximum total weight capacity of 16 lbs (7.3 kg). The pockets have a touch fastener release for convenience.
The Zeagle Scout has a lift capacity of 24 lbs (10.9 kg) and weighs about 6.7 lbs (3.04 kg).
This BC is the Best Budget buy on our list. This ensures that beginner divers get everything they need in a BC at a low cost.
The Zeagle Covert XT is a heavily-featured BC that is rugged, versatile and comfortable. It has a new MOLLE system with a redesigned front vest and accessory attachment points.
The redesigned vest is constructed of 1000 denier nylon and a durable, elastic material at the bladder. This prevents the bladder from being excessively bulky.
Shoulders and lumbar are padded with Open Cell foam and the large weight pockets are redesigned with a new weight release system that is lightweight and easily packable.
A rubber row webbing strap keeps the tank secure with an increase in the width of the webbing. The webbing is reinforced with stitching to allow you to add extra accessories.
There are 4 plastic D-rings and accessory trim pockets for your accessories as well as knife mounting points on both sides of the BC.
This is by far the Best BC for Beginners with its extra padding for comfort and lightweight construction to make carting it around easy and effortless.
The new MOLLE system makes it perfect for those clumsy first few dives since it’s extra durable while maintaining the light weight that is preferable in all BC’s.
It has a lift capacity of 26 lbs (11.8 kg) - 35 lbs (15.9 kg) and a dry weight of only 5 lbs (2.3 kg)
The ScubaPro Classic has a polyurethane-coated 420 denier nylon construction which is puncture-resistant and RF welding for maximum durability.
For maximum tank stability at depth, the tank is locked into place with the Super Cinch tank buckle system.
The fit will always remain snug due to the adjustable cummerbund, and the fast-drying back plate adds to your comfort during the dive. All this makes this BC great for beginners and experts alike.
The integrated weight pouches ditch quickly with the quick-release and secures easily with squeeze buckles. The rear trim weight pouches help you achieve a well-balanced swimming position while diving.
This BC is available with a Balanced Power Inflator or AIR2 alteration air source. The waist belt is constructed of quality webbing and secured with a stainless steel cam buckle.
Knife grommets are attached to the 2 large Velcro pockets. There are an extra 2 additional zippered pockets available and 6 stainless D-rings (4 large and pre-bent and 2 small), ensuring a large cargo-carrying ability.
Light and flexible, the Cressi Travelight is perfect for comfort and travel. The BC has a design specifically for women, and is hydrodynamic which means there is little resistance underwater.
It is close-fitting, with a lean construction for added comfort. The bladder design is a combination of nylon 420 denier and 210 denier which allows for a natural weight balance.
There are 2 large zippered pockets with bottom and side gussets for and 8 light alloy D-rings for plenty of cargo-carrying capacity. The integrated weight Lock Aid System 2.0 allows for automatic insertion and extraction even while wearing the BC and in challenging conditions.
The pocket also has a 15mm spring-effect mechanism in case of accidental snags.
To allow for a perfect fit, the waist strap is independent of the bladder to prevent constriction when inflated.
Cressi Inflator has the traditional Cressi double air infiltration system, is easy to maintain and disassemble, with no tools needed.
The infiltration system is designed to keep sand and other particulars from clogging the valve.
The Cressi Travelight has a lift capacity of 13.5 lbs/6.1 kg (XS) - 36 lbs/16.3 kg (XL) and a dry weight of 5.29 lbs (2.4 kg) - 5.7 lbs (2.6 kg).
The Aqua Lung Patented i3 Control System was designed for women. This inflation/deflation system offers an easy, one-touch control and eliminates the traditional inflator.
Has a single lever that inflates when you lift it up and dumps air when you push it down.
The Patented Wrapture Harness System is designed to hug the female body for while simultaneously supporting the scuba tank. It has swivel buckles on the shoulders and an extra thin back plate for added comfort and stability.
The BC does not “ride up” on the surface and the cylinder is kept close to your center of gravity when out of water by transferring the weight to your hips.
The SureLock Mechanical Weight Release System (patented) offers a safe, single-pull release, ensuring the weights are secure.
Inserting the weights are as simple as sliding it in and “click”, and the weight will only release once you pull on the handle.
The flat e-valves are streamlined and one-way to ensure water stays out and the pull-down oral deflator is easy to deploy, use and then stow.
The bladder has a restriction system to pull in the sides during deflation and maintain the BC’s streamlined construction, reducing drag.
There is a small security pocket located on the flap of the larger drop-down pocket and knife attachments can be found on the left lobe. The BC also has an extra pull dump on the right shoulder.
This is definitely the Best BC for Women ensuring optimal comfort, stability, and functionally while looking stylish and streamlined.
The newly-styled Oceanic Hera was built for women with all the standard features of high-end BC’s, with a Patented Adjustable Positioning System Track and adjustable depth-compensating cummerbund for added comfort and stability.
The shoulders are also reinforced and contoured to add to the comfortable fit.
It has a tank positioning strap to ensure your scuba tank is secured and the backpack is padded for extra comfort during your dive. The pockets are zippered and there is a Spinner BC knife mount.
The QLR4 Integrated Weight System allows for 20 lbs (9.1 kg) plus a dual 5 lbs (2.3 kg) rear weights. There are 4 pre-bent, welded stainless steel D-rings which offers plenty of storage for your accessories.
This BCD is made with 1000 denier Cordura which is rugged, lightweight and comfortable. This offers all the best a BC has to offer but designed with women in mind.
It has a lift capacity of 91 lbs/41.3 kg (XS) - 180 lbs/81.6 kg (LG) and a dry weight of 11.02 lbs (5 kg).
Divers are buoyant and weight systems are needed to maintain a neutral buoyancy which allows divers to remain underwater at depth. Weight systems are also designed to release weight as needed to research the surface once your dive is over. The best BCD integrated weight systems allow you to store and then release weight easily and effortlessly.
Weight systems are essential for diving as it would be incredibly difficult to descend underwater when your buoyancy (and that of your wetsuit and other equipment) keeps you floating to the top.
Lift capacity is the maximum amount of positive buoyancy in the BCD. You need enough positive buoyancy to reach a neutral buoyancy which will help you maintain depth underwater.
A scuba diving Octopus is a secondary regulator that provides an alternative or backup air source for divers and is completely separate from the main (primary) air source. This comes in handy if you are at depth and your primary valve is running low on air.
This is the part of the BCD that gets inflated to keep you at depth or at the surface as needed. The bladder is inflated and deflated as needed, with the air being “dumped” to maintain neutral buoyancy or to resurface after your dive. It will also help you to float at the surface while waiting to reboard your boat, giving your tired muscles a much-needed break after a long dive.
Weights are an incredibly important aspect of diving. Experienced divers already know how much is needed for them to maintain a neutral buoyancy at depth, but this comes with experience and practice.
If you are new to diving, it may take a little while before you figure out the perfect weight you need to reach neutral buoyancy. If your BCD has too much integrated weight, you will need less air in the bladder, and if there is too little weight, your bladder will need to be inflated more.
Beginner divers are not expected to find the perfect weight/inflation balance on their first try. Your diving instructor will help with this until you are comfortable enough to do it on your own.
Most BCs are made of 1000 denier nylon as it is rugged, durable and yet lightweight. Of course, brands usually add their own patented designs to the material, such as extra padding, webbing for the tank strap or even reinforced stitching in certain spots.
Generally the material used is designed for comfort, durability and stability. Many brands prefer lightweight designs and materials as this makes the BCD easier to fold for travel purposes. Being travel-ready makes a BCD easier to market since divers prefer to take their own equipment on their adventures.
Before purchasing a Buoyancy Compensator Device, ensure you are aware of what you require for your diving purposes. The following features are important to take into account when deciding on a BCD.
This is the amount of positive buoyancy a BCD has. You require enough lift capacity to achieve a neutral buoyancy at depth. You also need to be able to dump as needed during your dive or to resurface.
This is the weight of the BCD before you get into the water, without the weights. Generally speaking, BCs are lightweight, averaging 5 lbs (2.3 kg). This makes them easy to fold and great for traveling. Some BCs are heavier and bulkier, but these usually have added features to make up for the extra weight.
Most BCs come with an integrated weight system in the form of rear weight pouches. Many brands have patented weight systems that offer superior weight security (ensuring you won’t drop your weights unless and until you choose to) and allow easy release when needed.
Weights are important to maintain your depth underwater. Your weights and the bladder need to be properly balanced to ensure neutral buoyancy during your dive. Too much weight means your bladder will require less inflation and vice versa.
The best BCDs have adjustable shoulder and sternum straps for extra comfort and reliability. If it cannot adjust, you might end up stuck with a BC that is too tight or too loose and either option would be uncomfortable.
The fit needs to be snug and airtight but also able to stretch to maintain comfort throughout your dive.
Choose the right BC for you (i.e. travel, women, ect.)
Many BCs that are designed for men will not work for women as women generally need a more streamlined fit that contours to the body. There are BCs that are designed specifically for women, although the unisex designs usually have smaller sizes for women as well.
If you travel often and prefer to take your own gear along then a travel-specific BC would be best. These are lighter, more compact and easier to fold and stow during travel.
There are also BCs specifically designed for warm/cold waters and even sport or technical diving. Be sure to choose the one best suited to your needs.
Another important feature is the type of material used for the BCD. Most use 1000 denier nylon as it is rugged, durable, reliable and lightweight. The best BCs have extra padding in the shoulders and lumber, reinforced stitching and extra webbing/supporting straps for the tank.
Some brands use patented material for superior durability and quality.
The best BCDs often have patented features that are superior to the standard features. Common patented features are: the integrated weight system, inflation/deflation system and patented material.
These patented features usually offer more for divers in terms of ease, convenience and reliability.
Hey, I'm Brad - the founder and editor of Watercraft Watch. My love for boating is what prompted me to start WatercraftWatch.com – helping people find the right equipment and supplies so they can enjoy their time on the water. I hope you find the articles on the site useful, and share in my love for boating.