Travel BCD Reviews 2019

Choosing the Best Travel BCD is a finicky business. After all, scuba diving bcd’s come in an immense range of brands, price ranges and styles; each with their own unique features, advantages and disadvantages.

A travel bcd is like a normal diving bcd except more lightweight and easy to pack. Sometimes though, by being made more portable, these lightweight travel bcds can be less durable or lack in quality in some other way.

That’s why we’ve scoured the seven seas to bring you the very best travel bcd’s currently on the market. Models which make no compromise. 

Use our travel bcd reviews section below to get a full breakdown of why the models we picked were better than anything else available right now.

Travel BCD perched on dive deck of boat in the gulf of thailand.

QUICK ANSWER: Best Travel BCDs

Check Latest PriceModel  Distinguishing FeaturesPriceOur Rating
Click HereScubapro LiteHawk BC w/BPIBest all-round travel bcd$9.7/ 10
Click HereOceanic Jetpack Travel bcd2 in 1: bcd & daybag$$$9.5/ 10
Click HereCressi Travelight Scuba BCDAvailable in women’s cut$7.7/ 10
Click HereAqua Lung Zuma Travel BCDLightest travel bcd available$$6.3/ 10
Click HereOceanic biolite bcdMade from bioflex material $$8.1/ 10
Click HereDive-rite travel packMaximum comfort and buoyancy$$$9.2/ 10

Best Travel BCD Reviews

A quick note: Throughout the following reviews you may stumble upon technical scuba jargon, specifically referring to our favourite travel bcds components, features or styles. It’s possible you won’t understand some of these.

Fear not. You can use the index found at the bottom of this article for a full breakdown of all the terms we describe. Alongside it, we’ve also written a short guide with specs to consider when choosing the best travel bcd for you.  Let’s dive in:

Scubapro Litehawk BC w/BPI

9.7/10

$

SPECS:

  • LIFT CAPACITY: 13.2 kg / 29.2 lbs.
  • STYLE: Back Inflate BC
  • DRY WEIGHT: 2.36 kg / 5.2 lbs.

FEATURES:Source

  • 2 basic accessory pockets
  • Optional weight pockets available
  • Comes equipped with  balanced power inflator or Air2
  • 4 aluminium D-rings
  • Rotating quick release shoulder buckles
  • 2 rear trim pouches for effortless balance
  • Multiple strap system keeps tank secure even at increased depth

SUMMARY:

For us at Diving Squad, the scubapro litehawk comes first place as the very best travel bcd. Why? Because against the odds it seamlessly combines affordability, durability, portability and ease of movement. 

It’s made from 420 denier nylon which is tough yet exceptionally lightweight – combined with the soft backplate, this makes it extremely light and easy to pack.

Unlike with most bcds, it’s air pockets are positioned mostly at the back; in conjunction with the 3 dump deflation system, ergnomic clutter free harness  and low profile rear shaped air cell, this allows considerably greater ease of movement of the torso and arm and reduces drag.

All this allows divers to get into a range of normally difficult positions – which is great for photographers as well as cave and wreck diving. 

The most mind blowing fact of all: it’s one of the cheapest travel bcd’s we’re reviewing. Honestly we don’t know how scubapro do it, because the litehawk is far better and more enjoyable to use than a lot of more pricy bcd’s on the market right now.

However, it’s still a recent model and with stocks selling out at the rate they are, we wouldn’t’ be surprised to see prices rise.

PROS

  • Highly durable 

  • Cheap for such high quality

  • Very lightweight

  • Ergonomic design and features for freedom of movement underwater

CONS

  • Only available as unisex model

  • Comes in blue and grey only

Oceanic Jetpack Travel BCD

9.5/10

$$$

SPECS:

  • LIFT CAPACITY: 13.64 kg / 30 lbs
  • STYLE: Back Inflated
  • DRY WEIGHT: 2.84 kg / 6.25 lbs

FEATURES:

  • Adjustable position weight pockets
  • Adjustable harness, cummerland and lumbar support
  • Converts into travel bag that can carry scuba gear & other amenities
  • Water resistant zippers, hide away backpack straps
  • Daisy chain loops on right shoulder strap for accessory attachment
  • Includes 3/8″ threaded low pressure quick disconnect hose a

SUMMARY: The oceanic Jetpack Travel BCD is unlike any other bcd we’ve ever reviewed. That’s because it’s two things – a BCD and a semi-dry day bag that clip together. 

There’s no need to stuff your BCD into a bag, when you can carry it on your back whilst also using it to carry your other scuba gear and several days worth of other travel amenities at the same time. 

When the bcd and empty day bag are attached they weight just 3.75 kg (8.25 lbs) and yet there’s 42 litres worth of packing space in the dry bag. It features  travel friendly compartmentalisation including a laptop sleeve, main compartment plus two external, easy access pockets.

The bcd is constructed from 1000-Denier cordura, 420-Denier nylon urethane laminated bladder material and quick dry i00-Denier double coated nylon, making it highly durable, lightweight and quick to dry.

It’s air cell has elastic bungee straps which keep the back inflation bladder low in profile to aid in rapid deflation. Buoyancy control and trim whilst diving area are easy, thanks to the Oceanic’s versatile power inflator. This comes equipped with an internal pull dump cable attached to an overpressure/dump valve.

Full disclosure, the only reason the Oceanic Jetpack isn’t our favourite travel bcd is because it’s mid price range and we usually like to present our audience with a more budget friendly top pick. 

PROS

  • Serves as bcd and ergonomic day bag for scuba gear + several days worth of travel amenities.

  • Can be carried like backpack

  • Durable and rapid drying

  • Rapid deflation

  • Ergonomic design and features aid buoyancy and trim

CONS

  • Does not have aluminium D-rings

  • When fully packed with dive gear (regulators, fins, snorkel mask, dive computer); highly unlikely to fit in overhead carriage on flights. 

  • A little heavier than some other travel bcds

Cressi Travelight Scuba BCD

7.7/10

$

SPECS:

  • LIFT CAPACITY: 6kg / 13.5 lbs (smallest size) – 16.3kg / 36lbs (largest size).
  • STYLE: Jacket
  • DRY WEIGHT: 2.7kg / 6 lbs


FEATURES:

  • Integrated Weights
  • 8 alloy D-rings
  • 2 zippered accessory pockets
  • Available in womens cut: “Travelight lady”
  • Fully flexible backplate with extra padding
  • 3 dump valves (Including inflator hose)

SUMMARY:

Although Cressi produce several other lightweight travel bcds like their back inflate “air travel” and “ultra light” models, all customer feedback shows that the “travelight” is by far their most popular version. And honestly, we agree.

It has a FAST folding system which means the entire thing can be folded up within just a few seconds and then fastened with a special retractable strap before being stored in it’s own carrying bag which features a shoulder strap. 

We love that in addition to the air cell which inflates away from the body to avoid constricting the diver, the Cressi Lighweight also has a noticeably anatomical shape; this makes it both tight fitting and streamlined when underwater.

Also, the inflation system has been recently recalibrated making inflation speed 50% faster than it used to be. The inflation system also has an anti-sand sand design to prevent it getting blocked up by free floating sand particles.

Lightweight and very affordable, this is a great budget friendly lightweight bcd for travelling with. It’s stylish design; which comes in two colours, is comfortable and efficient to dive in. 

PROS

  • Budget friendly

  • FAST folding system = rapidly folds down.

  • Anti-sand filtering system

  • Rapid inflation and deflation speeds 

CONS

  • Some overall quality sacrificed to make up for light weight.

  • Cressi product tag can pop out

Aqua Lung Zuma Travel BCD

6.3/10

$$

SPECS:

  • LIFT CAPACITY: 10kg /22 lbs in sizes XXS – MD & 15.42kg / 34 lbs in sizes LG – X LG
  • STYLE: Back Inflate
  • DRY WEIGHT: 1.9kg /4.4 lbs


FEATURES:

  • Weight integration with patented system
  • 4 D-rings & grommets
  • Lined pockets
  • E valves for less bulky feel

SUMMARY: At just 1.9 kg (4.4 lbs) the Aqua Lung Zuma is the absolute lightest travel bcd on the market. Thanks to this and a small, minimalist cut; it’s also exceptionally easy to compact down and pack in a fairly small suitcase.

This is an especially comfortable bcd thanks to the adjustable chest strap, the specially designed E valves for reducing bulk and the extra padded back and lumbar support. 

Although this is the most lightweight bcd out there, it does have one very frustrating flaw, which we found pretty short sighted on Zuma’s behalf: The D-rings. They’re plastic and a little on the small side.

More alarmingly, the D-rings are quite poorly placed. In particular, the two above the  weight pouch pose a slight hazard in that an inexperienced diver or someone unfamiliar with the rig placement, might accidentally pull out a weight bag. 

However…if you rarely rely on D-rings or you’re willing to customise this bcd with your own add on’s; and lightness is your number one priority you simply won’t find any bcd out there that weighs less than this.

PROS

  • Lightest travel bcd on the market

  • Extra comfortable to wear, with minimalist design

  • Small and easy to fit in suitcase

CONS

  • D-rings are a little small and also plastic not aluminium

  • Harness straps have no buckle release – makes donning and egressing difficult for bigger divers.

  • D rings slide around, especially if there is something heavy attached

Oceanic Biolite BCD

8.1/10

$$

SPECS:

  • LIFT CAPACITY: 14.5 kg / 32 lb – 17.2 kg / 38 lb
  • STYLE: Back Inflate
  • DRY WEIGHT: 2.5kg / 5.5 lbs

FEATURES:

  • Made of bioflex material for extra comfort and good fit
  • Rear located bladders for improved buoyancy. 
  • Integrated weight system with instant quick release system
  • Right shoulder adjustable carabiner system. Low profile back pack = easy foldability for travel
  • Front weight pocket “quick drop” weight release system

SUMMARY:

The Oceanic Biolite is incredibly comfortable due to the stretchy bioflex material from which it’s made, as well as the shoulder and torso adjustment systems, which help this bcd conform to the shape of one’s body.

This same flexible technology is used with the air bladders, allowing smaller compartments to be used. These less-bulky bladders stretch when inflated, reducing drag and improving buoyancy.

Moreover, the bladders are located at the back of the BCD, making the Oceanic Biolite BCD a back-inflate style BCD and further improving your aquadynamics.

Keeping up with the latest technology, this BCD includes a 6.5 kg (14.3 lbs) integrated weight system. This comes with an instant quick release system, as well as a 2.3 kg trim weight pocket.

Ultimately, this travel BCD provides ultimate practicality, with almost no sacrifice. At just 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs), and including all the latest bells and whistles, the only sacrifice is an integrated weight system that can hold slightly less weight.

PROS

  • Made from  bioflex material which provides a snug & comfortable fit to any body type. 

  • High lift capacity & minimum drag

CONS

  • Integrated weight system can’t hold much weight (6.5 kg). 

  • Back plate has only 1 strap near top of the tank. This means the air tank can be prone to moving when attached to this bcd. 

Dive Rite Travel-Pac

9.2/10

$$$

SPECS:

  • LIFT CAPACITY: 11.3 kg / 25 lbs.
  • STYLE: Back Inflate
  • DRY WEIGHT: 2.3 kg / 5.5 lbs

FEATURES:

  • Stainless steel belt buckle
  • 4 D-rings
  • 36 inch cam strap with stainless steel belt buckle
  • Traditional weight system (no integrated pockets)
  • Adjustable height (waist and chest straps slide up and down to fit all heights)
  • Crotch strap
  • Easy clean bladder (easy access to rinse). 

SUMMARY:

Whereas most inflating systems fit like a jacket, the Dive-Rite travel bcd is a different design altogether. It features a metal backplate and wing along with a fully adjustable diving harness crafted from flexible webbing.

The straps adjust to your exact body size and are held in place by a crotch strap to stop it from riding up. Furthermore, the 360 degree donut wing provides even inflation and won’t tip divers whilst floating at the surface. 

The dive-rite is an extremely streamlined bcd that puts buoyancy where it’s most needed for horizontal trim throughout the torso, supporting the weight of the tank. All this comes together to make it a superb bcd for diving in caverns, wrecks and other overhead environments. 

In addition to being exceptionally lightweight (just 2.3kg when dry), the dive-rite is highly durable; with a 1680-denier ballistic nylon outer bag, plus a heavy duty 210 denier nylon urethane laminated bladder: it was made to stand the tests of travel. 

If you’re an experienced diver and you know exactly what you want…an if what that is, is a more alternative design that you can heavily adjust and is orientated around maximum stability, this is a great choice. 

PROS

  • Unique design for maximum comfort & buoyancy

  • Light and easy to pack

  • Includes camera strap, a great feature for photographers

CONS

  • On the pricier side

  • Only comes in black

Specs to consider when Choosing a Travel BCD

Perky women at a dive store, holding her chosen travel bcd.

Style

Bcds come in a few styles: wing, jacket and hybrid are the most common. Back inflate bcds have air bladders solely at the back of the diver where they sit on either side of the tank.

You’ll notice that most travel bcds we’ve reviewed are of the “back inflate” style. That’s because back inflate bcds are significantly less bulky are subsequently lighter and easier to pack than other styles of bcd, making them ideal for travel.

Jacket style bcds fit over the shoulders and secure at the chest just like an actual jacket. The air bladders sit behind and on either side of the diver. They’re the most common models and considered to be the “traditional” bcd fit by divers.

There’s several advantages and disadvantages between jacket bcds and back inflate bcds. For example, back inflate bcds don’t constrict the chest too much, making them more comfortable and allowing for a better range of motion than jacket bcds. However, they may take longer to deflate.

Dry Weight

By the nature of any travel related item, you want it to be as light as possible; both for ease of carriage and, if you’re taking it as carry on luggage for a flight, to keep the overall weight down in order to comply with airline regulations. 

Of course, lighter isn’t always better – if a bcd is too light that might mean it’s made of flimsy, non-durable material. In the bcd reviews section above; we’ve taken this into account and presented you with the most lightweight bcds on the market which are still made to withstand the tests of time. 

Fit

This is a vital consideration when shopping for dive gear. A bcd that fits you well should fit snugly around your body; without pinching or squeezing when filled with air.

When empty, it should not twist or rotate on your shoulders or waist. You also want to choose a model with plenty of room for adjustment in its clips and straps; just in case your weight fluctuates between dive trips / whilst travelling. 

Lift Capacity

This describes how much weight a bcd can compensate for. If you’re diving in warm water destinations, lift may not be a major focus when it comes to choosing your bcd. However, if you are diving with a lot of lead or in cold water – you will need to offset the weight. 

That’s because a bcd with too little lift will let your face and shoulders drop close to the water when you’re on the surface, which is a little annoying during long swims or when waiting for the boat. 

Too little lift can cause issues under water because you become less buoyant at depth, something that’s particularly noticeable for divers using a large amount fo weight. If in doubt, chose a bcd with more lift than you need. 

Male or Female

Most bcds are unisex, meaning they work well for both men and women. However, a bcds comfort is largely determined by its fit.  Because a women’s cut is narrower at the shoulder and wider at the hips than a mans, some of you lady divers may prefer to opt for a women’s bcd. 

Pockets & Rings

Pockets and rings are vital in any travel orientated gear, in order to store and attach even more gear to it. Generally speaking, more equals merrier; but only a few is not necessarily a bad thing – it might just be a minimalist design!

Bcd features explained

Weight System

Most modern bcds include an integrated weight system. Some employ plastic trays with locking handles to hold your weights in place whilst others incorporate zippers or buckles with “quick release” mechanisms. 

Regardless of which weight system you choose, the most important thing to make sure of is that you can easily release your weights at depth. Some wing and hybrid bcds do not include weight integration. if that’s the case and you’re a beginner consider using a traditional diving belt.

Trim Pockets

These are pockets for trim weights, which are used to establish proper underwater positioning – this is known as trim. Ideally, a diver should always be horizontal in the water with knees slightly bent, so that they don’t kick up sand or disturb marine life on the sea bed. 

However, due to the buoyancy characteristics of that pesky human body this isn’t always easy, especially for noob divers. Trim weights help to compensate for gear or buoyancy related issues. 

D-rings

These are for attaching light scuba gear to such as a torch or signalling device. Aluminium is the best choice of material as it’s rust free and looks slick, whilst also not shining underwater. 

Power Inflator

This is the button attached to the air hose of the bcd, which you used to inflate and deflate your buoyancy controlled device. 

Diving Squad Debriefing

Travelling with scuba gear may at first sound crazy, but with improved technology and designs as well as the ever swelling travel scene, it’s becoming an increasingly stress free and easy reality. 

After having gone through literally dozens of travel bcds, we’ve presented you with the six very best models we consider to currently be on the market. 

We are constantly scouring the latest tech and updating our posts, so you can rest assured that this article reflects the most recent and cutting edge travel bcd technology currently available. We hope you find this page useful and that you love your new travel bcd, whichever one you go. for! Diving Squad out. 

Written by:

Alex

Alex

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

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