If you are dreaming about being a scuba diver, you might be frenzied due to the ever-changing information on the internet. But there are facets of scuba diving that are inert, and this is the right time to know about them. In this article, you will learn about one of those facets. You will explore the significance and broadness in the varieties of BCDs.
BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) or only BC (Buoyancy Compensator) is an extremely crucial element of scuba diving. As the name suggests, BCD controls buoyancy of the diver, underwater and on the surface of the water. It also goes by local names like the stabilizer, the stab jacket, etc. but these are mere layman terms. BCD is essential equipment, and it is available extensively.
You might have also looked up a lot of BCDs before running into this article and might be dumbfounded because of the amount of information you had to process. A lot of variants are available in the market because of the different demands of scuba divers.
The first thing that you should do is, create a list of all the features you want in your BC; this will condense your search. You need to make sure your BCD fits you well in the chest, torso, back, and arms; otherwise, the dive will be very uncomfortable. And in the long run, the use of an improper BCD might cause physical issues for you. The material should be sturdy because BCDs require a hefty investment. If you’re a woman, know that different BCDs are specially designed for ladies.
Above mentioned were some basics you should consider while learning about BCDs. Now diving more in-depth, we will discuss some technical and vital features of BCDs that differentiate them.
There are four kinds of BCDs widely used by scuba divers. They are:
- Rear inflated
Out of these, two of the most popular styles are vest BCDs and rear-inflated BCDs.
As for beginners, vest or jacket BCDs are ideal as they are intuitive and easy to catch up with.
Rear-inflating BCDs are gaining recognition recently. Although they are comfortable, one has a hard time getting accustomed to them. They fit perfectly, and instead of puffing around arms and chest, they “inflate” in the back.
First of all, your BCD has to be lightweight and portable. Otherwise, it will hinder your movements, which is not a good sign if you are underwater.
Measured in pounds or kgs, a lift is simply the weight that increases the buoyancy of the diver when the BCD is fully inflated. You have to understand that the higher the weight you are carrying underwater, a more significant lift will be required. You need to look for a BCD according to its lift capacity. A BCD with 16-17 kgs lift is commonly used, but you have to make sure which is perfect for you.
Dump valves serve the function to instantly release air from the BCD without having to change position. Mainly, at least one lower dump valve is required. But there can be four of them present- one around the right shoulder, two around the right and left lower region of the BC, and one inflator pulls dump. In addition to this, there are Alternate Inflator Regulators (AIRs), which have the same function as a dump valve. Thus divers don’t prefer AIRs as BCDs work fine even without them.
Integrated weight pockets:
These pockets nullify the requirement of wearing a weight belt. For some divers, wearing a weight belt can become uncomfortable. These come in a variety of styles, among which a popular one is a slide and lock design. You can slide and lock the position of the weight on the BCD, wherever you are comfortable with. As a precautionary step, look for integrated weight pockets with easy clipping; in case an emergency arises, you can easily clip off the weights.
Trim weight pockets:
Trim weight pockets help divers to maintain their balance and position. These pockets are situated at different places on the BCD, which distribute the weight into smaller parts. However, these are not very much preferred by divers as trim weight pockets do not allow quick air release.
This is a D-shaped ring which is attached to the BC to hold accessories. Do not use BCDs with the D-ring attached to its straps because it may cause damage to marine life. But the D-ring should be easy to reach in case you need to reach for something quickly.
BCDs for ladies:
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are specially designed BCDs for women. These are usually smaller in size compared to men’s BCDs. Otherwise, the features are just the same.
Chest straps are found on almost all BCDs. They prevent the BCD from sliding over your shoulders.
These were the essential features you should consider while looking for a high-quality BCD. Although, you should remember that more the number of features your BCD has, more will be its price. But considering its purpose, they are expected to be expensive. Other pieces of equipment in scuba diving are nowhere near valuable. We will take a look at some of the most elegant BCDs models used by scuba divers all around the world.
Cressi Start Jacket Style BCD
This model is perfect for beginners as it is lightweight and sturdy, so you can practice as many times as you want. It is a less expensive model compared to others and also provides a lot of excellent features.
Oceanic Excursion Scuba Diving BCD
This is a back-inflated BCD, which is best for travel. Oceanic Excursion BCD comes with a lot of features and is best for pro scuba divers. Quite expensive, but you wouldn’t have to splurge on another BCD if you have this one.
Aqua Lung Pearl Women’s Jacket Style BCD
As the name suggests, this model is specifically designed to fit the lady divers. It provides all the general features, it is sturdy, and it is pretty cheap. This is a jacket style model so that it will work well for beginners.
These models are the highest rated products on the internet as their prices are worth the features they provide. However, you still need to know about the features which work for you and which don’t.