BCD selection can be confusing, even for the most experienced divers. Words like integrated, rear inflator, non-integrated, modular, shoulder dump, quick release, harness and wing can sound sophisticated beyond comprehension. In this article we will shed some light on these options and how they affect your diving. Don’t forget for a full equipment run-down and understanding of dive gear check out our PADI Equipment Specialty; which is a jam packed course to answer all your questions.
There are many combinations of the BCD features available but most commonly we can highlight 4 common designs with the most significance and applicable features.
Non-Weight Integrated, Jacket BCD
The most established and traditional BCD style and still very popular. These offer simplicity and practicalities that many still enjoy today. With this option you use a weight belt for your dive weights which makes your BCD easy to handle out of the water. The Wing inflation, around your sides, helps to provide comfort and ease in maintaining your position in the water, both at the surface and during the dive. The air in the BCD providing “lift”, can move around the sides and rear of the jacket as you maneuver in almost any position under the water. Click here
Weight Integrated, Jacket BCD
Extremely poplar since being introduced. The Weight Integrated BCD offers an improved diving experience on the original Jacket BCD. Your dive weights are a component of the BCD with Quick Release pockets on each side at the front and Trim weights on the back near your tank. These offset the lift of your BCD so that buoyancy control is a single component. Your BCD provides both the weight allowing you to descend and the lift to control your buoyancy. Divers love this option, once in the water you hardly notice your wearing them, except for of course, the operation of your inflator and attachments. Click here
Rear Inflation, Weight Integrated BCD
This is a style destined for the serious Recreational Scuba diver. The BCD is designed to optimise equipment configuration for underwater use, irrespective of anything else. With some experience underwater, divers exploring for mere pleasure, spend their time horizontal. Your rear inflator makes this a breeze keeping all the air in your BCD that is providing lift is on your back to offset the dive weights. As you swim around it’s absolutely effortless to maintain a horizontal position which does a mixture of things; less fin movement required, nil effort required to hover and view the underwater world, conserve air to extend dive time. Click here
These are the go-to BCD for any diving style and are often the most heavy duty to allow for Technical Diving. A Modular BCD consists of a varying amount of components with the two significant pieces being your Harness and Wing. The harness is what keeps everything attached to the diver, they are open front with minimal components to interfere with tasks underwater. Your wing is much like a Rear Inflation BCD but in a variety of shapes and sizes to allow for the likes of Sidemount diving, Single tank or twin tanks. Being able to switch Wings enables you to utilise one Harness for almost all types of diving, even a CCR Rebreather can be mounted to the harness with a CCR Wing. Your Weights can and are often integrated using weight pockets which are available in different sizes and can be mounted for the best Trim. Click here
Click the links for more information or for help and advice on equipment selection, stop by our Dive Centre for a chat any day between 8am and 5pm. You can try on and purchase any of our quality scuba diving and technical diving BCD’s.