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Best Cheap BCD Reviews & Guide

(For info on other types of BCD, check out our main page: Best Scuba BCDs).

Here’s the thing: Cheap BCDs aren’t easy to come by. But there are budget friendly options out there – including cheap diving bcds.  However, with less expensive scuba gear, there’s always the risk that it’ll be low quality.

It’s not advisable to buy knock off brands or out of date models. At best, they will need replacing in minimal time and at worse they could be fatally unsafe.

So what the hell does one do? Easy! Just read this article where we’ve reviewed the 5 hands down cheapest BCD’s that still ensure top quality safety and durability.

At the end, we also explain a little more about cheap bcd’s and how we selected our favourite models.

Best Cheap BCD - Quick Look

Check Latest PriceModel  BCD StyleCoolest FeaturePrice RankingDiving Squad Rating:
Click HereCressi Sub Start BCDJacketInsanely cheap all-rounder1 (cheapest)9.2 / 10
Click HereTussa Crestline BCDJacketCam Strap2 (second cheapest)8 / 10
Click HereSherwood Silhouette BCDJacket3D Designed air cell3 (joint third cheapest)6.2 / 10
Click HereCressi Start 2.0JacketMore comfortable all-rounder3 (joint third cheapest)9.8 / 10
Click HereZeagle Scout BCDBack-InflateImproved aquadynamics 4 (least cheap – but still affordable)9.9/ 10

Cheap BCD Reviews:

Cressi Sub Start BCD

All time CHEAPEST BCD

9.2/10

Quick Look:

  • Cressi are the number one underwater sports brand

  • Highly durable

  • Adjustable

  • 2 large accessory pockets + 2 D-rings for storage

  • Jacket BCD

  • Simple setup = easy for beginners

Review: At just under $200, this is the all time cheapest scuba diving BCD you will find anywhere, anytime. Yet, it offers fantastic quality and reliability for a simple jacket-bcd.

That’s because it’s been manufactured by Cressi, the number one underwater sports brand, guaranteeing high quality and safety. Made from insanely tough 500 and 1000-Denier Cordura the Cressi Sub Start was created as a rental BC for resorts and dive centres; as a result durability, reliability and safety were the main criteria it was designed to fulfil. 

Being a Jacket BCD, the Cressi Sub Start is also easy and straightforward to use – plus, it does not push one’s face forward at the surface as happens with some other types of bcd such as back-inflate models. All this means it is an ideal option for beginners. 

One can adjust the sternum straps and torso in order to get the perfect fit. Furthermore, the waist straps are equipped with squeeze style release for quick and effortless donning and doffing. 

The waist strap/cummerbund is independently suspended from the air cell, allowing it to inflate away from the diver and thus preventing the squeeze effect found with some other jacket bcds when they inflate.

The Cressi Sub Start is also a fairly comfortable piece with full padding on the interior and a rigid back support. 

Tusa Crestline BCD

Second cheapest BCD

7.9/10

Quick Look:

  • Relatively lightweight

  • Ultimate stabilising harness 

  • Rite-tite buckle 2 cam strap

  • Durable and abrasion resistant

  • Jacket Style BCD

Review: Designed with travel in mind, the Tusa Crestline BC is fairly compact and lightweight which is extremely handy when it’s accompanying you on long journeys from one awesome scuba diving destination to the next, making it a great lightweight travel bcd. Another handy travel feature is that it’s Duo-Air Alternative Combo Inflator IR-3 compatible. 

It’s manufactured from 500/420-Denier Cordura material which is tough as well as abrasion resistant, meaning this harness will last you for many years to come. 

Most distinctive about this model, is Tusa’s unique Ultimate Stabilising Harness system which securely holds the air cylinder in place, whilst bringing it closer to the body – this boosts tank control, whilst reducing overall weight, thereby improving overall aqua-dynamics.

Torso adjustable shoulder straps, adjustable sternum strap and an adjustable waist strap with cummerbund ensure precise and comfortable fitting of this harness to any shape of diver. 

Additional features include 2 large zippered pockets, 4 resin D rings for accessory attachment, a safety whistle on the sternum strap and the rite-tite buckle doubling up as a 2 position cam strap. 

Sherwood Silhouette Jacket BCD

6.3/10

Quick Look:

  • Rugged and durable

  • Jacket style BCD

  • 3-D designed jacket air cell

  • Carrying handle

Review: A top choice for diving schools and rental shops around the world, the Sherwood Silhouette Jacket BCD is rugged, reliable and…drumroll…highly affordable! 

It has a rear air dump / over-pressure release valve to quickly adjust and maintain buoyancy throughout the course of a dive. 

Getting the perfect fit is easy thanks to the torso adjustable shoulder straps and waist strap with cummerbund – which both employ squeeze style release buckles for easy donning and doffing. 

The 3D designed jacket air cel wraps round the BC for exceptional stability. Plus, the built in carrying handle makes transport of this BC convenient and easy. 

It’s equipped with just one large hook and loop pocket for accessory storage, which may be a little off putting to accessory junkies who’d prefer multiple pockets. At least there are 2 plastic D-rings around the waist…

All things considered, this isn’t our favourite affordable BCD because despite being only the third cheapest, it has the fewest amount of features and boasting points. That said, it does offer reliable durability and safety, all for just $300.

Cressi Start Pro 2.0

9.7/10

Quick Look:

  • Extremely durable

  • Adjustable

  • Extra padding for exceptional comfort

  • 2 Gravity releasable weight pockets

  • Cressi’s Commander Power inflator

  • Jacket Style BCD

  • 2 pockets, 2 D-rings, 2 spring clip holders and grab handle

Review: If the Cressi Sub Starts formidable brand, durability and value for money have tempted you, but you can splash out an extra $100, the Cressi Start Pro 2.0 offers a seriously upgraded version.

Like it’s more basic cousin, the Cressi Start Pro 2.0 is constructed from tough as nails 1000 and 500-Denier Cordura material which is resistant to knocks, abrasion and weathering – this BCD will last you years and years.

Again, there is an adjustable sternum strap, adjustable waist strap and two torso adjustable shoulder straps allowing divers to achieve the perfect fit. 

And once more, the back support is rigid so that it offers impressive cylinder stability, yet is well padded for comfort comfort – in fact even more so than the Cressi Sub Start. This is the first noticeable difference: The Cressi Start Pro 2.0 has a good deal more padding, making it notably more comfortable to wear.

The Start 2.0 also has two unique “gravity” releasable weight pockets equipped with rugged squeeze style quick release buckles. 

Next, it’s equipped with Cressis’ streamline Command Power Inflator with cable activated pull dump valve and 3/8″ threaded quick-disconnect hose. Shoulder overpressure relief valve with pull cord is provided for trimming of buoyancy. All this means that the Start Pr 2.0 allows great freedom of movement and aqua-dynamics leading to improved buoyancy control.

There are two techno polymer D-rings and two additional spring clip holder rings for attachment accessories, two large cargo pockets with hook and loop closures are great for storage of small dive lights, gloves, etc and the backplate is also equipped with a grab handle for easy transport.  This is a superb yet affordable bcd for beginners. 

Zeagle Scout BCD

10/10

Quick Look:

  • Back-inflate BCD – Achieves greater aqua-dynamics and more optimal buoyancy 

  • Requires a little more diving experience to use

  • Zeagle’s most lightweight and compact BCD

  • Durable and adjustable

  • Most expensive of reviewed cheap BCD’ but still under $350

Review: Unlike the other cheap bcds we’ve so far reviewed, the Zeagle Scout is a Back Inflate BCD, which means that the air bladders are located on the back, rather than around the torso.

In short, this offers greater freedom of movement and aqua dynamics underwater, whilst requiring the wearer to have a little more experience – as at the surface Back Inflate BCDs can push one’s head forward (something that is easy to overcome). 

Thus, back-inflate bc’s allow divers to achieve greater buoyancy, movement and consequently improved air consumption and are viewed as a preferred choice for divers with a little more experience. 

You can read more about back-inflate bcd’s, with reviews of our favourite 6 models of all time here – however, the Zeagle Scout is considerably cheaper than any of the other models listed in that article.

Despite this, it’s exceptionally durable, being manufactured entirely from 1000 denier nylon. It also features adjustable torso, waist and sternum straps to ensure the perfect fit. 

This is also the most lightweight and compact of all the Zeagle range BCD’s making it ideal for travel. There are two zippered utility  pockets, 4 stainless steel D-rings and rear mounted weight pockets. 

To provide easy trimming of buoyancy, the Zeagle Scout has a lower left rear overpressure release/ dump valve.

If you’re not shy about taking on a back-inflate bcd (and provide you have a little diving experience, you’ve no need to be) and you can squeeze out the extra cash; this is a superb yet affordable option for anyone who wants to master their underwater diving technique. 

WAIT: If these Cheap BCDS are so great, WHY are they cheap?

Every cheap bcd that we’ve reviewed lives up to the mark of being durable, safe and reliable to use. They are the latest models from the most reputable diving brands and are widely used by top diving schools and divers alike. Yet, they are considerably cheaper than the vast majority of other bcds for sale. You may be wandering how this can be.

Well, it mostly comes down to two things:

  1. Additional features. Weather it’s mounting grommets, crotch straps or bioflex material, there are a whole bunch of additional features and specs adorning more expensive bcd’s out there. Generally, the cheap bcd’s we’ve looked at have the bare minimum number of extra specs, instead having been designed to be safe, tough and reliable – but not much else.

  2. BCD Style – BCD’s come in a range of styles, the most common being jacket bcds, back-inflate bcds, women’s bcds and travel bcd’s. And yes, it’s possible for a BCD to be more than one – for example you might get a women’s travel bcd. Each of these styles come with their own advantages, but the most simple kind are straight-up jacket bcds. Whilst jacket bcds are the most easy to use – making them beginner friendly; they don’t have the more sought after features of other bcd styles. You’ll notice that all, but the last (and consequently least cheap) of our affordable bcds are jacket bcds. You can find out all about the other styles of bcd, along with reviews of our favourite models HERE. 

Diving Squad Debriefing

Nice. Very nice. You just finished reading everything you need to know about the hands down best (yet reliable) cheap bcds’ currently cruising the market.

Take heart in the knowledge that we constantly review, improve and update our content so everything you’ve just found out reflects the latest info on budget friendly scuba diving bcds right now!

As has probably already been made apparent, by the fact we can’t shut up about it…we have a master article on scuba diving bcd’s which links out to sub articles on the various specific types of bcd, such as this one.

We really hope you’ve found this information useful and that we have helped you in some small or great way on your quest to decking yourself out with your dream scuba gear harness. Peace. 

Written by:

Alex

Alex

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