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Tips for Choosing the Right BCD

Start by asking yourself what kind of diving you'll be doing in your new BC.
By Roger Roy | Authored On April 17, 2020
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Tips for Choosing the Right BCD

The dizzying range of choices can make it challenging to shop for a BC, especially for newer divers. But thinking about how— and where—you’ll be diving can help pin down what you need and want in a BC. Here are some things to consider:

Tusa Tina BCD

Consider these four factors when choosing the right scuba BCD for you.

John Michael Bullock

BC style

It’s still true that back-inflation BCs tend to have less-restrictive harnesses and pack up a bit smaller than jacket BCs, and that jackets usually provide a more stable surface floating position and are more likely to have cargo pockets. But the lines are blurring. There are now back-inflation models with big cargo pockets, and compact jackets that are surprisingly easy to pack. There also are hybrids with harness and air cells that fall somewhere between jacket and back-inflation, as well as back plate/wing models that range from stripped-down tec or travel rigs to full-featured models with integrated weights and even cargo pockets.
Bottom line: It may be helpful to focus less on style categories and more on the specific qualities and capabilities that are important to you in a BC.

Buoyant lift

This is the amount of weight a BC will support when fully inflated. It may vary by BC size, and should be printed on the BC (ScubaLab also measures and publishes buoyant lift in BC reviews). The “right” amount of lift depends on a diver’s size and shape, dive conditions and exposure gear. But the important point is whether you’re in a drysuit with 30 pounds of lead or in the tropics with 4 pounds, your BC needs sufficient lift to support you. At the same time, if all your diving will be in warm water with little weight, a BC with 50 pounds of lift may be just extra drag.


Whether it’s integrated weights, cargo pockets or a cummerbund, having a clear idea of what features you want (or don’t) in your BC will quickly help you narrow down the field. If you dive in a wide variety of conditions, many models now make it easy to add or remove components like integrated weight pockets to make a BC more travel friendly.


If most of your diving involves flying, a travel BC could be the ticket. There’s a fast-growing selection of compact, lightweight travel models of all types with a full range of accessories from the works to minimalist, modular designs.