The BEST Scuba BCD for every budget [2021]

This is our review of the best scuba bcd’s in 2021

For many avid divers the time inevitably comes when you want to invest in your own gear.

Having a BCD that fits you, and meets your own individual specifications and requirements can make the WORLD of difference in terms of comfort, functionality and your overall enjoyment!

When it comes to BCDs it’s difficult to pick a ‘best overall‘ because BCDs have different designs and functions, and divers can have wildly different requirements from their BCD.

So with that in mind, we’ve chosen and reviewed the best scuba BCD for every category

Check them out!

The Best Scuba Diving BCD’s [2021]

The BEST BCD’s Reviewed

Aqua Lung Pro HDBest Jacket BCD

aqua lung pro hd bcd jacket
StyleJacket
Lift Capacity24lbs/10.9kg – 55lbs/25kg
Dry Weight10lbs / 4.5kg
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves2
No. D-Rings5 Stainless Steel

The Aqua Lung Pro HD ticks all the boxes – This BCD will make a fantastic investment for a beginner diver as it has all of the features that you will want a little later down the line, but is a very popular option with seasoned divers as well.

The Pro HD has a lot of features for this price point – It has an integrated weights system, and the quick release system is easy to use and can only be released upon pulling the handle, and has fixed non releasable weight pockets as well.

Knife attachment points can be found on the left lobe (these accommodate aqua lung dive knives very well), and the Pro HD also has plenty of D-Rings (5 stainless steel), to allow you to attach plenty of accessories.

The Pro HD adjusts very well to accommodate different body types, making it a very comfortable BCD – The waist strap can be adjusted for different waist sizes, and the tank strap can be adjusted for different heights.

Pros

  • Very feature heavy for this price point
  • Lots of D-Rings, which are stainless steel for durability
  • Very comfortable BCD which is easy to adjust for different heights/body types
  • Integrated weights system, and easy to dump in emergency
  • Large, easy to access zippered pockets

Cons

  • None – This is an extremely good BCD at an excellent price point

Zeagle RangerBest All Rounder

best scuba bcd
StyleBack Inflate
Lift Capacity44lb/20kg (option for more if needed)
Dry Weight8.4lbs / 3.8kg
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves3
No D-Rings6 Stainless Steel

The Zeagle Ranger BCD is extremely versatile – it could accompany you on your journey from recreational diver to technical diver & can be used in all water temperatures, with wetsuits and drysuits and can be used for single or twin tank setups.

It’s built to be rugged and durable and will last you for years throughout an incredible range of diving activities. It has a standard lift capacity of 44lb (20kg), but this can be upgraded with additional bladders if needed.

The Ranger is known for being a very comfortable BCD – This is due to how adjustable it is. It has adjustable sternum strap, shoulder straps and adjustable waist strap to help you get the perfect fit.

The Ranger has lots of D-Rings (6 stainless steel) and two zippered pockets providing a lot of options for storage and accessories on this BCD.

Pros

  • Extremely Versatile (suitable for tropical or cold water + single or twin tank setup)
  • This BCD can take you from recreational to technical diver
  • Lots of stainless steel D-Rings
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • A little bulky for travel but this is a very minor point indeed.

Hollis HD-200Best Back Inflate BCD

best back inflate bcd
StyleBack Inflate
Lift Capacity35 lbs/15.88 kg (S/D) 45 lbs/20.4 kg (L/XL)
Dry Weight9.4lb / 4.3kg
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves3
No. of D-Rings9 – Corrosion Resistant Stainless Steel

Packed full of tec/rec features, the Hollis BCD is another which will see you right from recreational diver through to tec diver, and last you for years and years – This is a very durable and well built BCD.

The HD 200 has TONS of D-Rings and mounting grommets making accessory attachment easy and convenient, and there are two zippered side pockets with knife grommets providing even more storage.

The custom fit design of the HD 200 is achieved with its adjustable waist strap, crotch strap, sternum strap (with 2 chest mounting locations), adjustable shoulder straps AND adjustable hook and loop cummerbund (which is removable).

The straps also come equipped with squeeze-style release buckles for ease of donning and doffing this BCD. Many owners of this BCD comment on it’s comfort, and its durability over years worth of dives.

Pros

  • Really durable and well built – This BCD will last for years
  • LOTS of D-Rings, which are also made from corrosion resistant stainless steel
  • Great to take you from recreational to beginning tec diving.
  • The HD 200 is very comfortable, and can be adjusted to fit any user (this BCD also has a crotch strap which not many do)

Cons

  • A little heavy for travel. (Check out the Hollis LTS for a more travel friendly option)

Cressi StartBest Budget BCD

best budget bcd
StyleJacket
Lift Capacity29.2lbs/13.3kg (XS) to 44.9lbs/20.4 kg (XL)
Dry Weight5.73lbs/2.6kg (Medium)
Integrated WeightsNo
No Dump Valves3
No of D-Rings2 Plastic

If you’re brand new to diving and looking to purchase your very first BCD and are on a budget then the Cressi Start BCD is one of the best bcds on a budget you will find.

This BCD is basic in function and doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of the other BCDs on our list but it is very easy to use and it is very solidly built – In fact this BCD was designed to be used by scuba schools and dive resorts as a rental BCD so is definitely built to be dependable even with years of use!

The Cressi Start does not come with weight integration so you will need to use a weight belt with this BCD. However if you are interested in weight integration then the Cressi Start Pro does include this (at a slightly higher cost).

For storage and accessory attachment the Cressi Start has 2 plastic D-Rings and also two large storage pockets, and for beginner recreational divers this should be plenty. The Cressi Start is also fairly lightweight so will also make a great travel BCD.

Pros

  • Best BCD on a budget
  • Lightweight and good for travel
  • Very well built – This BCD should last you for many years!
  • Comfortable and beginner friendly

Cons

  • Plastic D-Rings
  • No integrated weights

Cressi TravelightBest Travel BCD (Jacket)

best bcd
StyleJacket
Lift Capacity13.5 to 36 lbs (6.1 to 16.3 kg)
Dry Weight5 to 6.2 lbs. (2.3 to 2.8 kg
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves3
No. Of D-Rings4 Light Alloy

Divers looking for an ultra lightweight jacket BCD which is compact should check out the Cressi Travelight. The Travelight is made from strong yet light materials which allow it to be packed down into a small carry on bag if needed, and at just 5lbs this is definitely one of the best travel bcd’s.

Despite the fact that the Travelight is extremely lightweight it still provides the same comfort and performance of a BCD which hasn’t been specifically designed for travel – The back pad, which is padded provides comfort and support for back protection, and the Travelight is designed to provide excellent trim.

The Cressi Travelight still has what you hope to find in any traditional BCD like plenty of storage space (two large pockets), and plenty of D-Rings for accessories. It also has weight integration as well and is sold in a women’s version also

Pros

  • Ultra lightweight and folds up very small
  • Doesn’t skimp on features despite being designed for travel
  • Plenty of storage and D-Rings
  • The back pad is surprisingly comfortable despite this BCD being

Cons

  • Not as durable long term as a more traditional BCD.

Zeagle Covert XTBest Travel BCD (Back Inflate)

best travel bcd
StyleBack Inflate
Lift Capacity34 -42 lbs (15.4 -19 kg)
Dry Weight5 lbs (2.27 kg)
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves3
No. Of D-Rings4 Plastic

The Covert XTs aim is to provide functionality, convenience and comfort into a compact and travel friendly back inflate BCD. Excess bulk that might be common in traditional BCD’s has been done away with in this model as the MOLLE system provides plenty of accessory attachment points and an elastic material at the bladder which also helps to minimise excess bulk.

MOLLE is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment – This term is used to describe the current load-baring equipment and backpacks used by the British Army and some NATO forces. The material used in its construction is built to be lightweight but very durable.

The Zeagle Covert is also really simple to clean and maintain, and the bladder of this BCD can be rinsed out really easily with a garden hose. At only 5lbs dry weight, the Covert XT is one of the best among back inflate travel bcds for it’s portability, but also its long term durability.

Pros

  • MOLLE system provides strength and durability to this BCD
  • It’s really easy to clean and maintain
  • best back inflate travel bcd
  • Loaded full of features for the price

Cons

  • Plastic D-Rings

TUSA Liberator Sigma IIBest BCD For Beginners

tusa liberator bcd
StyleJacket
Lift Capacity18lbs to 46lbs (8.16kg – 20.9kg)
Dry Weight7.8lbs
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves2
No. Of D-Rings5 (4 Resin & 1 Stainless Steel)

If you’re looking for a great all round BCD that’s excellent for beginners but has more features than the Cressi Start then the Liberator Sigma is an excellent choice.

TUSA’s Liberator BCD uses their Advanced Weight Loading System (AWLS). This ensures security and stability and allows you to insert weights into the weight-cartridges and load them easily into the front of the BCD. They’re also easy to release in the event of an emergency and the safety lock ensures they don’t release accidentally.

In addition to having a great integrated weight system, the Liberator also has plenty of D-Rings (5 in total), and two large zippered pockets for plenty of storage. The sizing does seem to run a little large on this BCD so ensure you check the size guide – If your caught on the fence between two sizes you will probably want to go for the smaller.

This really is an excellent BCD, it’s packed full of features that will appeal to more advanced divers, but the Liberator is very budget friendly and easy to use making it one of the best BCDs for any beginner to get started with.

Pros

  • One of the best BCDs for beginners. It has lots of features but very budget friendly
  • Plenty of D-Rings and large pockets for storage
  • The AWLS system provides good trim and stability
  • The Independent Harness System (IHS) keeps the tank tightly supported & in place very well

Cons

  • Only 1 of the D-Rings is stainless steel. The other 4 D-Rings are also a little small

Scubapro Hydros ProBest BCD For Women

scubapro hydros womens bcd
StyleBack Inflate
Lift Capacity36lbs – 40.5lbs (16.3kg – 18.3kg)
Dry Weight8lbs
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves2
No. D-Rings4 metal plus many plastic attachment points as well

Women’s BCDs are designed to be specifically tailored to fit a woman’s body shape, and whilst all regular BCDs are unisex, some women much prefer a BCD contoured specifically for them. The contoured shoulder straps are great for a woman’s body shape and this BCD allows for a very comfortable and snug fit for womens body types.

Less lead is needed for use with this BCD due to it having a near zero inherent buoyancy, which allows better buoyancy control.

The Hydros Pro is very customisable. Some people own two BCD’s (one for local diving and one specifically for travel) but with the Hydros Pro you can easily transform it from being a harness travel BCD to a fully integrated weight BCD. It can also be used in warm, temperate or cold water making this a great all rounder.

The backpack that the BCD comes with can also comfortably fit the rest of your dive gear. The only real downside of the Hydros Pro is the price – It is one of the most expensive BCDs on the market.

This highly popular BCD is also available as a unisex version as well.

Pros

  • Specifically tailored for female divers
  • Very quick drying
  • Very durable. This BCD will last a very long time
  • Great for tropical and cold waters
  • Lightweight & great for travel

Cons

  • Expensive

Atomic Aquatics BC2Best High End BCD

atomic aquatics b2 bcd
StyleBack Inflate
Lift Capacity30 – 47lbs (13.6 – 21.3kg)
Dry Weight9.5 – 10.5lbs
Integrated WeightsYes
No. Dump Valves2
No. D-Rings11 Titanium coated stainless steel

The Atomic BC2 is marketed as the ‘toughest back inflation BCD in the world’ – The materials used to construct the BC2 are corrosion resistant and the polyurethane-coated fabric is also double laminated. With this they have tried to produce an extremely tough and durable BCD to last for years of diving. The material also also sheds water so upon exiting the water the BC2 is virtually dry again.

Atomics priority for this BCD was durability, but most owners comment that this is the most comfortable BCD that they’ve ever tried. It has a quilted back pad and an adjustable lumbar pad – The BCD is also easily adjusted for the most comfortable fit for every individual.

The weight release system on any weight integrated BCD must be simple and quick to release in an emergency, and the BC2 uses a patented EZ-Lok weight release system to do this. The weights glide easily in and out of their pockets and are released very easily by the pull of a handle.

This BCD is very expensive – The most expensive in our list actually. But if your budget affords then this BCD is sure to not disappoint in terms of durability, function and comfort.

Pros

  • Virtually dry upon exiting the water
  • Designed with extremely durable and corrosion resistant materials
  • The EZ-Lok weight release system is very easy to use
  • Commonly reported as one of the most comfortable BCDs many people have ever used

Cons

  • Very Expensive
  • Pockets a little smaller than some might like

How To Choose The Best Scuba BCD – Buyers Guide

best scuba bcd

What Is A BCD

A BCD which stands for Buoyancy Compensator, or Buoyancy Control Device is an essential and very important piece of scuba diving equipment.

Your BCD is used to control your buoyancy, and is connected via a low pressure hose from your regulator so that you can add air to it from your air tank. 

Whilst you are diving you will typically want to create a neutral buoyancy – That is you neither want to be sinking or rising to the surface, and it is by adjusting the air in your BCD that you can achieve this.

At the surface your BCD will help you to achieve and maintain a positive buoyancy so that you can float at the surface of the water.

Capacity/Lifting Capability

The amount of lift capability that your BCD needs could depend on a few factors, such as your own body weight, the number of tanks you’ll be using, the amount of gear you have, water conditions etc.

A cold water diver for example, who may have various extra bits of gear adding to their total weight will require more lift than a recreational diver.

In general though for recreational divers, the most important thing for you to note is that a properly sized BCD for you, is typically going to give you the correct amount of lift that you need.

And so with that being said, finding a BCD that fits you the best is one of your most important considerations to make when trying to select the best bcd that’s right for you.

Fit

As with all of your dive gear – Having the correct fit is something that is of paramount importance. The same goes for your BCD.

A BCD which fits you correctly is going to be comfortable and allow you to be the most streamlined and efficient in the water.

An ill-fitting BCD will not only be uncomfortable but it can also shift around and will make you less streamlined.

Finding the correct sized BCD for you shouldn’t be too difficult a task. Make sure you check the sizing chart of the BCD(s) that you are interested in buying, and then use a tape measure to determine which BCD size is the appropriate one for you.

BCD’s For Women

All BCD’s are considered to be unisex. Therefore all of the BCD’s in our list, and on the market today are perfectly fine for women to wear.

There are however BCD’s on the market which are designed specifically for women.

The difference in these BCD’s which are specifically created for women are that they typically have smaller air bladders, shorter inflator hoses, and curved shoulder straps which are more comfortable around the chest.

Types Of BCD

There are different styles of BCD on the market – jacket, back inflation and wing style BCD. 

As to which style of BCD is best for you will depend on your skill level, diving style and where you intend to use it.

Jacket

The most common style of BCD among beginner and recreational divers as a whole is a jacket style BCD.

This style of jacket is so commonly used as they are simple to use, and they are easy to put on and take off, and they are usually what divers tend to learn in and so they feel comfortable in this style of BCD.

A jacket BCD is worn just like a regular jacket which you put your arms through and then fasten at the chest.

The air bladders on a jacket style BCD extend from the back and around the sides of the diver which helps this BCD offer good stability at the surface.

Pros of Jacket Style BCD

  • East to don and doff
  • Simple to use, and typically what you will learn in so it will be familiar to you
  • Easy to maintain upright position when at the surface
  • Large pockets on this type of BCD come in very handy

cons Of Jacket Style BCD

  • Bulkier and heavier than a wing BCD
  • Offers more drag than a wing BCD
  • Can be more difficult to achieve a prone position underwater due to the distribution of the air.

Wing/Back Inflate BCD

A wing BCD, or Back Inflate BCD has it’s air bladder concentrated at the back of the dive. The air bladder goes around the scuba tank and looks sort of like a horse shoe around the tank.

This type of BCD is growing in popularity for several reasons.

Pros Of wing bCD

  • Lighter than a jacket BCD, making it great for travel
  • They have no ‘bulk’ at the front of them, so are less restrictive and very ‘free’ feeling
  • Less drag than a jacket BCD, and easier to achieve a fully prone position underwater
  • Very comfortable to wear

Cons of wing BCD

  • Takes a bit of getting used to, hence they are favored by more experiences divers
  • The inflation at the back leads to the diver being pushed forward at the surface of the water. Correct use of your trim weights will counteract this but it will take some trial and error
JACKET BCD VS WING BCD

Wing & Backplate

This style of BCD is favored a lot by tec, wreck and cave divers – It offers the benefits of a traditional wing setup but it is fully customizable, and can be used with single or multiple tank configurations.

Hybrid BCD

A Hybrid BCD is a hybrid between a jacket style BCD, and a wing style BCD in an attempt to provide the best of both designs.

These are also gaining in popularity for obvious reasons. They will give you benefits of a wing style BCD – like being lighter, having less restriction at the front and easier to dive with a prone position, but they are also easier to maintain vertical position at the surface of the water like a jacket BCD.

hybrid vs backplate and wing bcd

Weight System

Your BCD may or may not have an Integrated Weight system. 

Entry level and budget BCD’s tend to not have integrated weight systems so if this is a feature that you would like then you may have to spend a little more.

Some divers much prefer to wear a weight belt over using Integrated Weights anyway though, so this isn’t necessarily an issue.

If you’re diving in cold water where you will probably need extra weights then this is something you will need to consider.

Having all of the weight sit on your hips and lower back via a weight belt can get very uncomfortable so being able to integrate some of that weight in the BCD will help relieve some of this pressure.

If you’re diving in tropical waters and therefore only need minimal weight then not having integrated weights and using a small weight belt may be of no concern for you.

Some BCD’s will also feature trim pockets at the rear of the BCD near the tank.

Pockets

Do you like (or need) to take a lot of accessories with you whilst diving? 

If you want or need the space to store extra gear like a spare mask, light, camera, surface marker etc then you’ll probably want a BCD with the appropriate storage capacity to hold these things.

Some divers prefer not having or having very limited storage pockets on their BCD. How many pockets/storage your BCD has is going to come down to personal preference really.

Wing BCD’s whilst they don’t have the amount of storage pockets of a jacket style, still offer the capability of attaching pockets to them if you wish, or using their D-Rings to clip accessories to.

Number Of D-Rings

D Rings are used to attach additional gear and accessories to your BCD.

Your D-Rings may be made of metal or plastic – Metal D Rings are obviously the stronger and more durable of the two so if you’re intending to carry heavy gear then you should probably go for metal D Rings.

Our Verdict

Consider the conditions of where you’ll be diving, the functions within a BCD that are important to you and the budget you have to work with.

We’ve tried to cover the best BCD for every type of diver and their wants and needs. For most, our picks for the best jacket bcd (the Aqua Lung Pro HD) and the best back inflate bcd (Hollis HD-200) will be an excellent addition to your scuba gear!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *