You’ve been diving for a while and either own a buoyancy control device(BCD) or have exhausted all of your possible rental options and are ready for a new rig. Where do you start? Of course as you begin your search for the perfect BCD for you, confusion quickly mounts. With the many options of BCD’s on the market, they can be simplified into three main categories with each possessing their own attributes. So, with that in mind let’s talk about the three main categories and attributes of each.
First, let’s discuss the most widely seen BCD out there…the jacket style.
There’s a reason you see these type of BCD’s in rental fleets at just about any dive operation out there, and that reason is simplicity. Simple in the sense that you can strap on a single tank, hook up the inflator, tug on a few adjustment straps and dive! Jacket BCD’s can be inexpensive, although some models can be higher end. So with that in mind, they are often the logical choice for the new diver. However, the weaknesses of jacket style BCD’s lie in the fact that they cannot grow with your diving as they are only designed to accept a single tank and usually don’t possess any modular characteristics. If you’re looking for a solution that can be adjusted as your diving grows, read on.
The BCD that many divers see as a good “middle ground” is the back inflate BCD. While many are simple like a jacket style BCD with a bladder that inflates behind you, many are modular and can be adjusted and altered to grow with your diving. Some of these consist of units manufactured by Dive Rite and Hollis. These units feature the ability to change bladders to adjust lift for larger and multiple cylinder use, as well as bolt on accessories like butt plates to add the ability to carry accessories needed for technical and specialty diving. While back inflate BCD’s can be a great option, there are some who are looking for these features in a more streamlined package.
The final option Back Plate and Wing BCD, or BP/W for short.
These units were once thought to be only for the hardcore diver but many are finding them to be excellent options for the novice diver as well, mainly for their simplicity and infinite adjustment and modular characteristics. Like many back inflate BCD’s the BP/W can be adjusted for type and complexity of diving but accomplishes it in a simpler and more minimalistic fashion. The BP/W begins with a hard backplate, simple 2” webbing harness and an air cell and can be altered in a number of ways to adjust to your diving style.
So there you have it, if you simply place BCD’s into these three main categories and determine your needs, your search will be a little less daunting, and remember that the team at DRIS is here to help!