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Scuba Diving BCD Choosing the Right One

Updated on March 14, 2011

This marvelous piece of equipment called BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) or Stabilizing Jacket that helps us so in diving was only introduced to us just approximately thirty years ago.

A scuba BCD helps us a lot in buoyancy control as in comparison to our diving forefathers that where always bobbing up and down trying to regain buoyancy control.

Choosing the right scuba BCD all depends on you. I´ll give you some advice here as you read along, but you have to be honest with yourself as to what sort of diving you are more inclined in doing. If you are in the market for a scuba BCD just for that one holiday occasion a year on that paradise island is one thing.

If you know that you want to take scuba diving a bit further than just any scuba BCD that you end up choosing will not do.

  • Is it Comfortable?

You have to be comfortable with the scuba BDC you end up choosing. You do not want to be fiddling with it every time you’re diving, trying to adjust it here and a bit there…Oh darn, the tank is off to one side!

Try it on and make sure it’s not loose or too tight. Not only when it’s deflated but also inflated to its maximum. Move your arms around and neck and see if you have a free movement.

  • Lift Capacity
Usually normal scuba BCD´s have a good lifting capacity, however in cases like cave diving, wreck diving, technical or so, where the scuba diver is carrying additional gear and possibly more than one tank, lift capacity then for these cases has to greater.

  • Air Release Valves

Scuba BCD´s usually have three release valves plus another one next to the inflator valve. One is positioned on the lower back usually on the right hand side, the other on the top right hand side and the third on the top left hand side and this one you can pull with your inflator valve hose.

  • Weight Integration and pros / cons

These scuba BCD´s that come with integrated weights are a marvel but sometimes they can as well burden you.

If you opt to get one of these you will not need to worry about your weight belt. But then, in my opinion, if you have to walk a bit to the boat with a scuba BCD that has weight integration it could be a bit of a load. I would prefer to have the weights as a belt around my waist.

No doubt that in case of an emergency you can drop off your weights fast but then again if you need to submerge again for whatever reason, you can´t because your positively buoyant.

Getting your scuba BCD with integrated weights into a boat after surfacing can as well be a bit of a task. I´ve seen buddies of mine using this system and after a dive they remove the weights from the BCD before climbing into the boat and sometimes…Oops, there goes a weight!

  • Pockets

The size of the pockets of your scuba BCD should allow you to fit some extra gear in, like a slate or small light, safety sausage and so on.

  • Rings

Rings in the shape of a “D” are excellent to clip on extra gear. Make sure your BCD has at least two of them. You can always add more on if necessary.

Do it safely and enjoy diving!


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    • nelson soares profile image

      nelson soares 6 years ago from Sunny Algarve

      Thank you Ash Hicks, always nice to see your experienced point of view!

    • Ash Hicks profile image

      Ash Hicks 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      I always recommend going with a weight integrated BC. My scuba store won't sell anything but. The reason is because weight integrated BCs are safer and easier to use than weight belts. Yes, you can lose a pocket, but I have seen many more people lose their weight belts. The belts slide off, and many people do not know how to properly put them together, put them on, and take them off. Usually, weight integrated BCs are not as bulky as many people think, and I have never had issues getting in and out of the water with mine. Yes, many people do take the pockets out, but that is more simple than trying to manuever the weight belt underneath the BC. In addition, you do not need to put the weights in your BC when you are walking to the boat. Most people keep them in their dive bags anyways, whether it is a belt or an integrated BC. If you happen to drop your weights because of an emergency, (weight belt or integrated pockets), you will be positively buoyant. If you are wearing any kind of wetsuit, it will be difficult if not impossible to get back to your weights. It is usually a much safer option to have someone else bring up your weight. Sorry, I just really like integrated weights as both an instructor and a diver!