The Bouyancy Control Device (BCD) is and one of the most important and the most complex piece of scuba diving equipment you’ll own. So choose carefully based on the style of diving you’ll be doing most.
- What It Does – What doesn’t it do? It holds your gear in place, lets you carry a tank with minimal effort, floats you at the surface and allows you to achieve neutral buoyancy at any depth.
- What to Look For – Correct size and fit. Before you try on BCDs, slip into the exposure suit you’ll wear most often. Look for a BCD that fits snugly but doesn’t squeeze you when inflated. The acid test: inflate the BCD until the overflow valve vents. The BCD should not restrict your Breathing. While you’ve got the BCD on, test all valves for accessibility and ease of use, then make sure the adjustments, straps and pockets are easy to reach and use.
- Pay particular attention to the inflator hose. Is it easy to reach and extend over your head? Make sure there’s a clear distinction between the inflate and deflate buttons and that you can operate them easily with one hand. Consider having an air integrated inflator regulator such as an AirXs rather than a power inflator.
- My Advice – This is an important piece of equipment that you can expect to use for many years. Don’t skimp; go for quality. Personally I prefer a back inflation BCD and I dive the Oceanic Excursion BCD, for comfort and performance this takes a lot of beating. Having said that you should test as many different models as you can in real diving situations before buying. Rent them if you have to.