BCDs: Types, Reviews & Buyers Guide

LAST UPDATED:

April 1, 2020

When choosing the best bcd for you, there are two considerations to make:

  1. What type of bcd will suit you best? We’ll be covering travel bcds, women’s bcds, beginners bcds, back-inflate bcds and cheap bcds.

  2. Whichever type of bcd you’re going for, what’s the very best model of it’s kind? We’ve tried out dozens of bcds so you don’t have to and summed them up in brutally honest reviews. 
best bcd for sale

What you’re reading now is the parent page to a series of 5 sub articles on the best bcds. Each sub article explains a different type of bcd and reviews the very best models of that type currently trending markets.

In this article, we present the very best bcd from each of the sub articles. Just before we get into that, below are brief descriptions of the 5 types of bcd we’ll be reviewing. Click on the green buttons to get more info and multiple reviews of that type of bcd or keep scrolling down for a summary of our all time favourite models.

Travel bcds

  • Lightweight and compact bcds that are easy to transport and sometimes have additional travel-friendly features.

Women's bcds

  • Specially moulded to a female physique, these bcds are the most comfortable option for women.

Beginners' bcds

  • The most simple bcds to use, these are jacket style bcds, which are easy to setup and do not interfere with a divers balance on the surface, unlike back-inflation models. 

Back Inflate BCDs

  • A little trickier to use, but offering improved trim and buoyancy control resulting in better aqua-dynamics. An ideal option for slightly more experienced divers.

Cheap BCDs

  • Bcds that are safe, reliable and durable but not much else; an ideal budget option.

Best BCDs - Quick Compare Chart:

Or Click Here for more detailed reviews. 

Check Latest PriceTypeModelDefining Feature:Other Specs:
Click HereTravel BCD (back-inflate)Oceanic JetpackTurns into day pack. – Light & Compact.
– Rapid drying
– Durable
Click HereWomen’s BCD (back-inflate)ScubaPro Hydros Pro for WomenMoulded to female physique– Modular Design
– Injection harness
– Extreme comfort
Click HereBeginner’s BCD (jacket bcd)Cressi Aquaride ProEasy to use and setup– Cressi = bomb proof
– Affordable
– Adjustable
Click HereBack Inflate BCDAqualung Dimension I3Integrated wrapture harness for comofort– 1 Touch inflation/deflation
– Great aqua-dynamics
– Adjustable
Click HereCheap BCD (jacket bcd)Cressi Sub StartCheapest bcd– Durable
– Adjustable
– Reliable

Best Travel BCD

Oceanic Jetpack

  • Converts into 42 litre travel bag

  • Insanely lightweight and compact

  • Exceptionally durable

  • Style: Back Inflate

  • Adjustable harness, cummerbund and lumbar support

The Oceanic Jetpack is both a bcd and a semi-dry day pack that clip together. Despite the fact that it has two functions in one, there is no sacrifice of quality:

The day bag section features ergonomic compartmentalisation including a laptop sleeve, a main compartment plus two external, easy access pockets as well as water resistant zippers and hideaway backpack straps.

The bcd itself is highly adjustable to allow a custom fit. It also features adjustable position weight pockets as well as a versatile power inflator that allows you to achieve optimum buoyancy control and trim when diving. Plus, it’s air cells feature elastic bungee straps that keep the back inflation low in profile to aid with rapid deflation. 

This is our absolute favourite travel bcd. It has many other cool features, which we cover along with reviews of other top lightweight bcds in our main article on the Best Travel BCDS

Best Women's BCD

Scubapro Hydros Pro for Women

  • Specially crafted to female physique

  • Injection moulded harness for extreme comfort

  • Modular design for heavy customisation

  • Large range of colours

  • Back inflate bcd

The ScubaPro Hydros Pro is the most comfortable option for women because it’s been designed by the scuba diving ladies for the scuba diving ladies; by being moulded specifically to female proportions.

But on top of that, it’s revolutionary 3D gel manufacturing process, generous padding and dual compound backplate add even further comfort. Seriously – if you’re a woman and your main priority for selecting a bcd is comfort – this is the absolute best choice. 

Made of tough material that’s resistant to UV, chemicals, abrasion and knocks this bcd will last you for life. Furthermore, it’s modular design means that virtually every component can be replaced and changed resulting in an insanely customisable bcd.

This is our favourite women’s bcd as it offers the best overall quality and it’s modular setup means it suits petite girls equally well as it will well as it does larger ones, unlike some of the other female bcds we’ve reviewed, which were designed specially for smaller or larger gals. 

Best BCD for Beginners

Cressi Aquaride Pro

  • Jacket bcd = easy setup

  • Durable

  • Lots of padding for comfort

  • Adjustable shoulder straps

  • Affordable

The Cressi Aquaride Pro is issued to first time divers, by dive schools around the world. It’s made by Cressi, the most bulletproof brand in underwater sports gear today. 

This is a jacket bcd, which is without a doubt the most simple style of bcd to use. That’s because jacket bcds require minimal adjustment and also do not push divers faces forwards in the water at the surface, an issue experienced with back-inflation bcds.  

The Cressi Aquaride Pro is a highly durable bcd so will easily endure any nooby knocks and dings it sustains,. Furthermore, it is generously padded lending to formidable comfort, meaning you can pool all your attention towards diving, instead of fiddling around with adjustments. Theres also loads of space for easy reach accessory attachment. 

Without a doubt, our favourite beginners bcd and also relatively low in price meaning you don’t have to fork out an arm and a leg on what might be only your first bcd. 

Best Back-Inflate BCD

Aqua Lung Dimension i3

  • Integrated wrapture harness for awesome comfort

  • One touch i3 inflation/deflation system

  • Bladder retraction system to reduce drag

  • Durable, fade resistant materials

  • Swivel shoulder buckles for easy fit

The Aqua Lung Dimension I3 features several superb, patented features. Our favourite of these is the next level wrapture harness system which uses swivel shoulder buckles and an ultra thin backplate to achieve stellar comfort and stability. 

The design of the wrapture harness also limits how much this bcd pushes your face forward at the surface, an inconvenience caused by many back inflation bcds.

Out of the water, the wrapture keeps the air cylinder close to one’s centre of gravity transferring the weight to your hips – meaning it’s easy to stand upright. 

The i3 control system let’s you inflate and deflate the bc with just one touch. There’s also a bladder retraction system that’s used to pull in the sides of the bladder during deflation, keeping the unit streamlined and reducing drag considerably. 

Guess what? We’re still not done with the awesome patented features of this bcd! You can read more about it and other inflation bcds on our main inflate bcds article.

In short though, this is a superb option for divers with a little more experience who are looking to achieve optimum trim underwater in order to master their aqua-dynamics. 

Best Cheap BCD

Cressi Sub Start BCD

  • Cheapest safety approved and up to date bcd on the market

  • Durable

  • Adjustable

  • Padded for comfort

  • Jacket bcd 

At just under $200, this is the cheapest reliable bcd you’re going to find anywhere. Period. Despite this, the Cressi Sub Start BC offers great value for money being a safe, comfortable and durable piece of kit. 

It is made by Cressi, arguably the most respected underwater sporting gear brand of all time. This is a jacket style bcd meaning that it’s easy to setup and use: what this results in is a bcd that is extremely beginner friendly. 

You can adjust the sternum straps and torso to get the perfect fit plus the waist straps are equipped with squeeze style release for quick and easy donning and doffing. 

On top of that, the waist strap/cummerbund is independently suspended from the air cell which allows it to inflate away from the diver and thus prevent the squeezing effect sometimes found with other jacket bcd when they inflate. 

With full padding and a rigid back support it’s also surprisingly comfortable for something so dang affordable!

Buying a BCD - Guide

We want to stress a few final notes, before we wrap up:

  • In terms of bcd features like modular designs and folding backplates, these are described in more detail, where applicable, on the main sub articles for each type of bcd.

  • On this main page, we’ve presented what we consider to be the current hands down best diving bcd models of all time. But each of these has been selected from half a dozen other incredible bcd models, that we also highly rate. You can read about these on the sub articles. 

  • There are a few other types of bcd out there, such as hybrid bcds and tech bcds. However, these are truly specialist pieces which you’re highly unlikely to need unless you have a full time career as a specialist diver.

  • We constantly review, update and edit our content so you can rest assured that what you’ve read today, reflects the latest info on scuba diving bcds.

  • If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our Contact Page. 
Close up of bcd jackets on boat.
Diver with awesome bcd swimming through coral laden tunnel underwater.

And that concludes the main page to our bcd reviews! We truly hope you’ve found the information useful and are now well on your way to outfitting yourself with your dream scuba diving harness.

All the best. Diving Squad Out. 

Written by:

Alex

Alex

Scuba fanatic. Travel ecstatic. Erratic. The name's Alex.