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The days of the Horse Collar, ABLJ (Adjustable Buoyancy Life Jacket) and Stab (?!) Jacket are long gone. James Bond no longer needs to fin double quick to stay off the bottom, thanks to the generous lift of today’s variety of BCDs!
A BCD (along with your regs) is probably going to be the biggest equipment investment you make. It is therefore worth spending some time doing some research and trying a few on before the final purchase. Here are some considerations when choosing one:
- How much lift will you need?
A BCD is not made with infinite buoyancy. In colder water you will need more weights if wearing a thick semi dry or drysuit. It goes without saying then that you will need more lift. As an example a low profile 25lb bladder will not benefit you as efficiently in cold water as a sturdy 41lb bladder.
- Do you want a weight-integrated design?
Among other reasons, integrated weights are great for divers who find it difficult climbing ladders while wearing weights, who dive frequently from RIBS or who have a bad back. It takes some getting used to “locking” them in but once you have mastered it, you will never look back. We like the reliable range from Mares.
Are you looking for a lightweight BCD for travelling?
There are numerous Travel BCDs available that are great for destinations with airlines that give limited luggage allowance. Many of these also come apart like the Scubapro Hydros range, Or Aqua Lung Rogue - genius for packing in your suitcase.
- Do you want standard wrap around buoyancy or a less conventional wing-style inflation?
Many of us learn in a standard Jacket Style BCD like the Scubapro T-One where the air is distributed around the body equally, but a more horizontal trim can be achieved with all the lift behind you. This is where a Wing or a Back Lift BCD like those made by Hollis come into play. Technical divers often prefer this style when they are recreational diving because they have a smaller volume than the wings they normally use with twin tanks.
Thinking about getting a ladies BCD but not sure what the benefits would be? Read our 'Why Choose a Women's BCD' article to find out how they differ from a standard BCD.