Best Travel BCD [2021] – lightweight |Compact | Travel Friendly

Lugging heavy dive gear around can be cumbersome and stressful!

A super lightweight and compact travel BCD can really help to alleviate that frustration and make your dive trips sooo much easier.

The best travel BCD for us is the Scubapro Hydros Pro. It’s a perfect all rounder that’s suitable for all dive environments therefore saving you the need to even have more than one BCD at all!

But, BCD’s are a very personal choice, and we’ve selected what we feel are the best ones for each category.

So whether you’re looking for a totally minimal and ultra light weight BCD, or one with a few extra features then we’ve got you covered.

Here’s our list of the best travel BCDs for luggage conscious divers on the go!

The Best Travel BCDs [2021]

The Best BCD’s For Travel Reviewed -[2021]

Scubapro Hydros ProBest Overall

scubapro hydros best travel bcd

Specs

Style: Back Inflate
Dry Weight: 8.6lbs (6.4lbs when coverted to travel BCD – size M)
Integrated Weights: Yes
D-Rings: 4, Stainless Steel
Lift Capacity: 36 lbs – 40.5 lbs (16.3 kg – 18.3 kg)

Features

  • Injected moulded gel harness
  • Customizable/Modular design
  • Detachable integrated weights system
  • Travel backpack included

The Scubapro Hydros Pro is a very versatile BCD.

Unlike other dedicated travel bcds the Hydros Pro is actually more of a regular BCD that happens to double up as an extremely good BCD for travel.

This is one of the main reasons the Hydros tops our list. Instead of having to have two BCD’s – One for travel, and one regular. The Hydros is everything you need for home and travel all in one BCD.

It’s weight when fully loaded is 8.6lbs, so it’s easily the heaviest on our list. But the additional straps included convert the Hydros Pro into a harness with an air bladder on the back, essentially turning it into a lightweight travel wing.

When converted to a more travel friendly BCD by removing the integrated weight system (so it can be packed separately, or left at home entirely) and switching out the harness it becomes a more reasonable and travel friendly 6.4lbs.

It folds down compactly and the travel backpack provided easily fits the Hydros Pro, mask, regulator, wetsuit – Basically your entire dive kit, and it has a clip to attach your fins to the outside.

Besides a backplate and wing setup, the Hydros Pro probably offers the most in terms of personal customization. It’s also easy to repair as virtually all components can be user replaced without the need for stitching them onto the BC.

Durability can be where some travel BCDs fall down as in their effort to make them lightweight they often have a shorter lifespan. But the ruggedness and ease of replacement parts for the Hydros is why Scubapro market it as a “BC 4 Life”.

One of the most notable things about the Hydros Pro is the material it’s made from. Most BCD’s tend to be made of Nylon, but the Hydros is made from a materical called Monprene. Monprene is very strong and it also retains very little water and so as a result is extremely quick drying so you aren’t having to lug a heavy and still water logged BCD around!

The only one real downside of this BCD is the price. It’s a very expensive BCD and it’s definitely way up there in terms of price in comparison to other BCD’s on the market.

It’s also really disappointing that the optional accessories for the Hydros are even more costly still – You would think for this price the least they could do was include them!

Pros

  • Highly customizable with lots of additional accessories
  • Parts are easily user replaced
  • Suitable for all dive environments & not just warm water
  • Lots of D-Rings & attachment points
  • Dries extremely quickly
  • Very comfortable to wear

cons

  • It’s very expensive
  • Heaviest of our recommendations

Aqua Lung ZumaLightweight/Popular Choice

aqualung zuma lightweight travel bcd

Specs

Style: Back Inflate
Dry Weight: 4.75lbs / 2.2kg (M/L)
Integrated Weights: Yes
D-Rings: 4, Plastic
Lift Capacity: 22 – 34lbs (10 – 15kg)

Features

  • One of the lightest available
  • Fits in carry on luggage
  • Dive knife attachment points

The Aqua Lung Zuma is one of the most lightweight travel bcds that you can buy, and a really popular choice amongst travelling divers.

And though lightweight and quite minimal, the Zuma has still been designed with comfort in mind, with padded/contoured shoulder straps, and the backplate is also also padded for added lumbar support and comfort.

The backplate of the Zuma isn’t rigid so is easily foldable and can be rolled up or packed flat depending on how you wish to pack it.

For even more added comfort the tank also is loaded more toward the hips, relieving any pressure on the shoulders, and the cross rail chest strap can also be moved up and down to help you achieve the right fit

The weight pockets can accommodate 20lbs/9kg of releasable weight in all four sizes, and has non-ditch weight pockets (that mount onto the tank band) that can be purchased separately and hold an additional 10lbs/4.5kg

The patended SureLock integrated weight system on the Zuma is really easy to use and simple to release in an emergency, (simply pull to release).

When deflating the Zuma, a bladder retraction system is used meaning that the the sides of the bladder will pull in as it’s being deflated to help you stay streamlined and reduce drag in the water

The Zuma only has one pocket for storage, but it does have knife attachments points that will accommodate must aqua lung dive knives, and plenty of D-rings (although they are made of plastic).

pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Padded shoulders and backplate are very comfortable
  • Can be folded very compact & easily fits in carry-on luggage
  • The Surelock weight system is simple & quick to use in an emergency

Cons

  • Only one storage pocket, and the D-rings are plastic

Zeagle CovertBest Budget Travel BCD

zeagle covert lightest bcd

Specs

Style: Back Inflate
Dry Weight: 3.9lbs/1.77kg
Integrated Weights: Yes
D-Rings: 2, plastic
Lift Capacity: 32lbs/14.5kg

BCD Features

  • Very minimal design
  • One of the absolute lightest on the market
  • Rolls up as small as a newspaper

The Zeagle Covert is a very basic, minimal travel bcd for divers who are really looking to save on as much weight as possible, (right down to the ounce!), but without sacrificing quality.

It’s so minimal that it packs down extremely small as well, right down to about the size of a newspaper!

Weight wise, at 3.9lbs the Covert is even lighter than the already ultralight Aqua Lung Zuma. It’s also a good hundred bucks cheaper too which is why it’s our choice for the best travel bcd on a budget.

The lack of pockets, and minimalist style of the Covert means it’s extremely lightweight and unrestrictive in the water – much more freeing in a sense then some BCD’s can be, and also has really great manoeuvrability.

Usually BCDs that are extremely lightweight tend to be less durable and resilient over time, but the Covert is still made from 1000 denier Cordura nylon which is really strong and durable.

If you have a lot of accessories or like to have a fair bit of storage space on your BCD then this might not be the one for you as options in that area are super limited.

pros

  • One of the lightest BCDs on the market
  • Folds very flat, or can be rolled up compactly
  • Totally unrestricted freedom of movement
  • One of the cheapest BCDs on the market
  • Very sturdy & rugged for such a lightweight BCD

cons

  • No storage pockets
  • The two D-rings are very small (and plastic)

Hollis LTS [Light Travel System]Best Back Inflate Travel BCD

hollis lts travel bcd

Specs

Style: Back Inflate
Dry Weight: 5lbs (2.27kg)
Integrated Weights: Yes
D-Rings: 4, Alloy & Plastic
Lift Capacity: 30lbs/13.6kg

BCD Features

  • Chest and Hip D-Rings for Accessories or Sling Bottle
  • Takes key features from the Hollis HD200
  • Plenty of adjustment to get the best fit

What’s noticeable about the Hollis LTS is how well built and rugged the build quality is (which is exactly what you’d expect from Hollis!).

The wing is made from 1000-denier nylon, and the internal bladder is 420 denier urethane laminated nylon and overall, this BC is made from really high quality materials and should easily withstand the test of time.

The padded shoulder straps are wide and very comfortable, as is the back pad. There’s also plenty of adjustment around the torso and waist which aids in really easy donning and doffing, but to allow you to be able to get the absolute best and most comfortable fit as well.

There are plenty of D-rings on the Hollis LTS but there are no storage pockets (Hollis do sell additional pocket storage that you could attach to the LTS if desired).

It’s got two integrated weight pockets (albeit very small ones), which can hold around 5-6lbs max, each. With this being a warm water BCD designed to be used recreationally, that shouldn’t be an issue for most but it’s worth bearing in mind depending on how much weight you use, and whether you mind using a weight belt or not if needed.

pros

  • Very rugged/good build quality that will last
  • Plenty of well placed D-rings
  • Very comfortable, with lots of adjustment to get a good fit
  • Lightweight, flexible & easily packable

cons

  • The weight pockets are fairly small

Cressi TravelightBest Jacket Style Travel BCD

cressi travelight best jacket bcd for travel

Specs

Style: Jacket
Dry Weight: 5 – 6.2 lbs (2.3 to 2.8 kg)
Integrated Weights: Yes
D-Rings: 4, Alloy
Lift Capacity: 13.5 – 36 lbs (6.1 – 16.3 kg)

BCD Features

  • Lots of D-rings (2) and storage (x2 large pockets)
  • The folding strap can be used as a crotch strap
  • Releasable Weight: 20 lbs (9 kg), Trim Non-Releasable Weight: 10 lbs. (4.5 kg)

The Cressi Travelight is one of the best travel bcds you can buy in the traditional ‘jacket’ style so if this style of BCD is your thing, the Travelight is definitely worth checking out.

It squeezes down nice and compact and easily packs into carry on luggage (a huge plus for those who hate having to check their expensive gear!), and it comes with it’s own little carry bag too.

Integrated weight system fits a decent amount of releasable and non releasable weight and if storage is important to you then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s tons of storage space on the Travelight coming in the form of four alloy d-rings, and two large zippered pockets.

In terms of construction, materials and it’s durability the Cressi Travelight is made from a mixture of 420 denier nylon and 210 denier nylon. Which if you compare to the Hollis (1000D + 420D respectively), is quite a big difference.

Since jacket BCDs are inherently bigger and bulkier than back inflation style BCDs then compromises need to be made to be able to make the Travelight as light as it is, so it does sacrifice some durability in order to make it lightweight.

pros

  • Tons of storage space and D-rings for accessories
  • Easily fits into carry-on luggage
  • Has a decent amount of lift, and integrated weight capacity
  • Comes in both male & female versions

cons

  • Materials aren’t as durable/high quality as some other BCDs on our list

XDeep ZenBest Backplate & Wing For Travel

best backplate and wing bcd for travel use

Specs

Style: Backplate & Wing
Dry Weight: 6.6lb / 3kg
Integrated Weights: Optional modular weight pockets (max 16kg)
D-Rings: 4
Lift Capacity: 41lbs / 19kg

Features

  • Choice of multiple color wings (x11)
  • Modular design/easily configured
  • Perfect for single tank diving in all conditions

Backplate and wing setups are really a popular choice as they’re easily configured to your needs, and that includes being able to make them lightweight and compact for travel.

The XDeep Zen is perfect for single tank diving in all conditions, so as with the Hydros Pro you’re investing in one BCD that’s going to be able to accompany you on all of your adventures.

You can configure the BCD however suits you. The optional integrated weight pockets are available in three different sizes depending on what you need, and you also have the option of two (non releasable trim pockets), which are available in two different sizes also.

In terms of comfort, the backplate is designed so that it’s wider at the shoulders and the lower back, which is to provide better weight distribution, and the Zen also has a V-crotch strap (as opposed to one singular strap), which is much more comfortable.

When it comes to durability the X-Deep is super hardwearing and rugged. The cordura fabric it’s made from is highly abrasion and puncture resistant, and the inner shell of the wing has an antibactierial coating which is there to prevent the development of bacteria and fungi and what’s great is this special antibacterial coating will not wash off!

There are x11 different colored wings to choose from which will definitely set your apart from other divers, and you can also customise it with your name and logo which is pretty cool!

The XDeep Ghost is also another suitable option, (and slightly lighter too at 2.2kg), but it doesn’t have any configuration options and is only suitable for recreational warm water diving, whereas the Zen is perfect for single tank diving in all conditions and the wing can be upgraded for twin tanks.

pros

  • Parts are easy to replace, upgrade or swap out as desired
  • Lightweight yet extremely robust and durable
  • Available in lots of different colors
  • Perfect for any dive environment
  • Very comfortable

cons

  • None!

Things To Consider When Buying A BCD For Travel

best bcd for travel

Style

There are a few different styles of BCD that you can choose from. 

The type of travel BCD that’s best for you will mainly depend on your preference, but of course there are factors which come into play here like;

  • Your skill level
  • The environment(s) in which you intend to use it
  • Whether you have any limitations in terms of exactly how light & compact it needs to be.

Jacket BCD

The most common style of BCD among beginner and recreational divers is usually the jacket style BCD.

Jacket BCDs are commonly used as they are usually what divers tend to learn in and so they feel comfortable sticking to what they know with this style of BCD.

A jacket BCD is worn just like any regular jacket that you put your arms through and then fasten at the front. The air bladder on a jacket style BCD extends from the back and also around the sides of the diver.

Jackets BCDs however are not usually great as a dedicated travel BCD due to their inherent size, bulk and weight which make them not the friendliest travel companion.

Most the the BCD’s on our list are the below (Back Inflate BCDs), as they offer much greater benefits for traveling scuba divers.

Back Inflate BCD

Most travel BCDs tend to be back inflation style BCDs.

A back inflate BCDs air bladder is concentrated at the back of the diver and the air bladder simply goes around the scuba tank.

Because of this design they have way less material, are far less bulky and usually therefore much lighter than a jacket style BCD, making them the perfect style BCD to travel with.

Backplate & Wing

Backplate and Wing BCDs offer the benefits of a traditional back inflate BCD setup, but they are fully customizable, and can be used with single or multiple tank configurations.

This design is also perfect for travel as they can be extremely lightweight and compact, being that they are simply a harness, a backplate, and an air bladder.

Their modular design also makes them really easy to customize, maintain and upgrade as components of the BCD can very easily be switched out for alternatives.

Dry Weight

The dry weight of your travel BCD is obviously quite important, especially if you’re opting to take your scuba gear as carry on luggage.

Travel BCDs often have fewer accessories and features in order to make them lighter for travel.

A truly bare bones BCD like the Zeagle Covert is very minimal indeed and weighs less than 4lbs as a result.

A BCD with a few extra features on it, like the Hydros Pro, is heavier as a consequence of having more features and accessories.

All of the BCDs that make our list are lightweight and easily stowed in carry on luggage.

Lift Capacity

The amount of lift capability that your BCD needs depends on a few factors.

The number of tanks you’ll be using and the amount of gear you’re carrying, or different water conditions (fresh vs saltwater) are all variables affecting the amount of lift capacity needed in your BCD.

A cold water diver for example who is carrying heavy gear adding to their total weight will require more lift than a recreational diver.

Therefore the lift capacity of your travel bcd is very important to take into account of if you want to use it in a range of environments and not just tropical warm waters!

Most divers looking to invest in a lightweight travel BCD have the intention of using it recreationally in warmer waters.

As long as you’re not overweighting yourself then 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 travel bcd that’s right for you.

Storage Pockets & D-Rings

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

When it comes to BCDs designed for travel then storage space and heavy duty D-rings are often made much smaller or even sacrificed entirely to reduce the weight and bulk of the BCD.

If you want or need storage for accessories like a spare mask, light, camera, surface marker buoy etc then you’ll want a BCD with the appropriate storage pockets or D-Rings to be able to hold them.

Conversely, some prefer not having or having very limited storage pockets on their BCD and prefer a much less cluttered/minimalist design.

Some BCD’s, like the Scubapro Hydros Pro have storage pockets that are removable, so they can simply be added or removed to your BC as needed.

In the end, the amount of pockets/storage space on your BCD mainly comes down to personal preference so consider what additional accessories you like scuba diving with and ensure that your BCD has enough storage to options to hold them.

Final Verdict

For an all round great quality BCD that will not only be a lightweight travel bcd, but a great choice BCD for all dive environments, that will last you a really long time – we’d go for the Scubapro Hydros Pro!

Need other gear recommendations? Why not check out our other Scuba Gear reviews and Buying Guides!

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