BCD Variations Explained: Best Type of BCD for You

BCD Variations Explained: Best Type of BCD for You

BCD Variations Explained: Best Type of BDC for You

Are you confused about what type of BCD style will suit your needs? While we are blessed that there are many different types and styles of BCDs out there, it can become overwhelming on which one will work best for your diving needs and suit best to ensure maximum comfort. Within this blog, I’ll be explaining the different types of BCD options, their features and divers who would suit them best so you can make an informed decision on which type of BCD style will suit you. 

What is a BCD?

First off, let’s explain what a BCD is. A BCD is a Buoyancy Control Device and it is the centrepiece of your scuba diving gear setup. The BCD allows you to properly maintain your buoyancy and safely control your accents and descents using their inflatable bladder and their inflate and deflate valves. Most BCDs have features including pockets, exhaust valves, power inflator, integrated weight systems and an inflatable bladder.

What Types of BCD Styles Are There?

There are three main types of BCD styles in the market and that’s jacket style, backplate and wing and back-inflate BCD. There are other styles of BCDs that are designed for different types of divers, such as those that love to travel, but I’ll get more onto that later on in this blog. 

Jacket Style BCD - Mike's Dive Store

Jacket Style BCD

The first BCD that we’ll be featuring is the most popular and most common BCD for recreational scuba diving and beginner divers, and that’s the jacket style BCD. Beginner divers prefer this option as the bladder with the air is all around you. So when you inflate, it will inflate on the back and the sides. The air moves through the BCD, through your back and sides which makes it easier for divers to remain vertical. 

Jacket style BCDs also have large pockets located at the front so it's easy to carry and retrieve dive equipment, such as dive knives, drawing slates, ocean clean up bags, you get the picture!

Some divers also love that some designs have integrated weight systems for carrying weights in your BCD. Having integrated weight systems means that you don’t need to have a weight belt, instead, you can place your weights inside your BCD. For some divers, this is the most comfortable and convenient option. 

When it comes to setting up your dive kit, these are an easy setup, which is another reason why they’re so popular, as they’re easy to attach to the air tank. 

BCD Variations Explained: Best Type of BDC for You - Backplate and Wing

Backplate and Wing BCD

Next up is the Backplate and Wing, this option is favoured among advanced and technical divers. It includes a metal backplate with a belt and a mountable wing bladder that attaches to the back. Advanced divers might prefer a back-inflate or semi wing type because it allows for more freedom of movement. The weight of the air bladder is placed fully on the back so the Backplate and Wing style creates a natural push to remain horizontal underwater.


Tec divers might prefer the Backplate and Wing BCD because of its minimalistic setup. It has customisable options for multiple tanks, it’s the most streamlined and has the greatest potential for buoyancy control. 


The Backplate and Wing BCD shape is still like a vest with pockets around the waist. There is no air bladder in the front but there are two air bladder pockets on either side of the air tank.

BCD Variations Explained: Best Type of BDC for You - Back Inflate BCD

Back-Inflate BCD 

Lastly, we have the Back-Inflate or Back Lift BCD and it basically does what it says on the tin, it only inflates on your back. It leaves the diver’s chest area completely unencumbered and free. This is a highly popular option among divers as it drastically helps diver positioning with travelling more horizontally underwater. As there is nothing around the sides or chest area, this takes away the risk of feeling squeezed by the bladder and makes it easier to swim.  

Other BCD Options to Consider

If you like to participate in more specific diving, there might be some other types of BCDs that you may want to consider. For example, if you like to travel a lot, then you may want to consider a travel BCD. Travel BCDs are lighter and more portable than other BCDs, making it perfect for travelling and compacting into your suitcase. Or if you’re looking to do more cave diving, then you might pick an option that keeps you horizontal instead of vertical, meaning you should be looking at BCDs that inflate on your back. 

Choosing The Right BCD For You 

When Choosing your BCD, select the style based on where you’ll use it most, and of course, make sure it fits, it’s comfortable and you feel relaxed while wearing it. Here are a few more things to keep in mind when selecting your BCD. 

  1. With a style in mind, try on the BCD for size. Don’t forget that you’ll be wearing a wetsuit or drysuit underneath so allow room for that when you’re trying on the BCD. 
  2. Check the BCD’s inflator hose is compatible with your regulator setup.
  3. After trying on a few BCDs, narrow down your choice by fit and comfort. Then you can start to look into colours and optional features,
  4. While wearing the BCD, make sure to test the following: 
  • Tighten and loosen, clip and unclip every strap and release on the BCD.
  • Play with the inflator and deflator mechanisms.
  • Orally inflate the BCD completely and make sure it’s still comfortable, not restrictive

We’re Here to Help

A BCD is an investment that should last for several years, so don't sacrifice fit and comfort for price. If you’re having any difficulty in choosing the right BCD to suit your diving needs, please email us at support@mikesdivestore.com where we have a team of scuba diving professionals, here to assist you in making the right decision on BCD options. Or if you live locally or in the surrounding areas of London, pop in and come visit us in-store where you can try on a wide range of BCDs for yourself and get a feel of which style you like best. 

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