| Positively buoyant |

Ahoy, fellow diver. Today we decided to take the mystery out of choosing the right  BCD for you. We hope you find this read as exciting as we did, piecing it together. Enjoy!

Neutralizing your buoyancy underwater and keeping you positively buoyant on the surface, a BCD (buoyancy control device) otherwise known as a BC for short, is one of the most important pieces of scuba diving equipment you will ever own. That’s why it’s important you invest in the best scuba BCD for sale that you can budget for while taking into account your dive experience and preferences.

After sifting through countless scuba BCD reviews, we’ve come up with 10 of the best BCDs of 2020 to help you make the most of your time in the water.

SUMMARY TABLE

Name

Image

Price

Rating

idiveblue black logo

CRESSI
Start
Beginner

scuba bcd

4.6  /5

CRESSI
Travelight
Beginner

travel jacket amazon

4.7  /5

ZEAGLE
Express Tech Deluxe
Intermediate

Zeagle Express Tech Deluxe BCD

4.6  /5

MARES
Hybrid Pro Tec
Intermediate
OUR TOP PICK

mare bcd

4.8  /5

MARES
Dragon
Intermediate

mare bcd

4.6  /5

SHERWOOD
Avid 700 Series
Intermediate

bcd for sale

4.7  /5

ZEAGLE
Stiletto
Intermediate

zeagle stiletto bcd

4.8  /5

SCUBAPRO
Knighthawk
Intermediate

scubapro knight hawk

4.7  /5

ZEAGLE
Ranger
Advanced

zeagle bc

4.6  /5

cressi r1 bcd review

Overall Rating – 4.6
Design – 4.4
Ease of use – 4.8
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General Impression

Simple, comfortable and built to last, the Cressi Start BCD is (like its name suggests) is a great buy for beginner divers or those looking for an entry-level Cressi scuba package. It’s extremely durable with rugged padded back supports while having an adjustable strap across the sternum to help achieve the perfect fit. There are integrated, gravity-type weight pockets with quick-release buckles so you can easily dump weight in emergencies, together with three overpressure relief valves equipped with simple pull strings for buoyancy control. Stash your torch and safety sausage in the two large cargo pockets or take advantage of the two plastic D-rings to safeguard additional accessories. While it might lack some of the features of other Cressi BCDs (such as the Cressi R1 BCD), it’s great value for money for divers wanting an entry-level, lightweight BCD that’s built with safety in mind.

Recommended Proficiency

Beginner

Standout Features

Great value for money
Durable construction
Integrated weight system
Lightweight

Specs

Weight: 8 lbs
Style: Jacket
Materials: 500 and 1000 Denier Cordura

scuba dive vest

Overall Rating – 4.7
Design – 4.6
Ease of use – 4.7
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General Impression

Ultra lightweight and compact, the Cressi Travelight BCD is an ideal companion for divers who are regularly traveling around the globe and one of the best travel BCDs on the market. This Cressi air travel BCD features a bladder made from a durable but lightweight 210 denier nylon while light alloy D-rings replace the bulkier stainless steel ones often found on BCD jackets. Despite the reduction in weight and bulk in this travel BCD, the Cressi Travelight can still support a fully integrated and quick-release weight system, with large, zippered pockets on either side of the BCD where you can stash accessories. There are easy-access pull-ups and quick-release buckles, as well as a padded back pad with twin cylinder bands.

Recommended Proficiency

Beginner / Intermediate

Standout Features

Ultra lightweight and compact design
Lots of storage
Padded back pad for extra protection
Integrated weight system for greater stability

Specs

Weight: 5.5 lbs
Style: Jacket
Materials: 210 Denier Nylon

Zeagle Express Tech Deluxe BCD

Overall Rating – 4.6
Design – 4.4
Ease of use – 4.7
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General Impression

Another Zeagle scuba device that makes our list is the Zeagle Express Tech Deluxe – an ultra lightweight and super compact travel BCD that’s packed with high-performance features. This backplate BCD is reinforced for extra support while the small bladder keeps the profile of this Zeagle Tech BCD minimal, making it an ideal travel companion whether you’re diving on tropical reefs, exploring deep walls or cave diving. It’s also equipped with Zeagle’s Bx Power Inflator that rinses the internal bladder after every dive, helping to remove salt and sand to increase its lifespan. The only drawback of this dive BCD is the lack of storage space, with a few extra D-rings and pockets a welcome addition.

Recommended Proficiency

Beginner / Intermediate

Standout Features

Super compact when packed up
Ultra-lightweight design
Durable material

Specs

Weight: 6.75 lbs
Style: Back inflation
Materials: 1000 Denier Cordura

OUR TOP PICK

amazon travel pro

Overall Rating – 4.8
Design – 4.8
Ease of use – 4.7
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General Impression

Extremely lightweight, foldable for travel and a one-size-fits-all design – the Mares Hybrid BCD ticks all the right boxes. This scuba diving BCD is a great addition to your travel scuba gear kit or Mares scuba package, with a completely detachable harness and air cell so that it can be folded into a 17″ x 12″ x 12” unit for transport. Like the Mares Prime BCD, it features the MRS (Mechanical Release System) integrated weight pockets that can be released with a single outward pull and there are two additional 10-pound weight pockets attached to the tank strap. Seamless shoulder straps and padding result in a streamlined and comfortable fit, while ten lightweight aluminum D-rings (3 of which are customizable) allow you to attach a whole range of accessories.

Recommended Proficiency

Intermediate

Standout Features

Lightweight
Hybrid design
Folds up small for travel

Specs

Weight: 7 lbs
Style: Hybrid
Materials: 1000 Denier Cordura and Alutex

diving bcd

Overall Rating – 4.6
Design – 4.6
Ease of use – 4.7
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General Impression

Built to reduce drag with its streamlined design, the Mares Dragon BCD has made an impact on the Mares diving equipment range thanks to its unique style. This scuba diving jacket is extremely comfortable, with wide padded shoulder straps, a cushioned back pad, and neoprene collar. It has an embrace-like design that makes you feel secure both in and out of the water, as well as three quick dump/overpressure relief valves. It features Mares Slide and Lock System (SLS) for easy weight release, with zippered weight pockets that show a green confirmation that they are correctly positioned, so there’s no second guessing on pre-dive checks. You can take advantage of the five stainless steel D-rings and zippered pockets for attaching accessories, while there’s also a whistle integrated into the upper chest strap. Although it’s not exactly lightweight, the BCD does have a robust feel about it and a lift of 42.5 pounds.

Recommended Proficiency

Intermediate / Advanced

Standout Features

Easy weight release system
Ergonomic, streamlined design
Five D-rings for accessories

Specs

Weight: 9.9 lbs
Style: Jacket
Materials: Cordura 420 Nylon

bcd package

Overall Rating – 4.7
Design – 4.6
Ease of use – 4.6
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General Impression

A great choice for bigger divers, the Sherwood Avid BCD 700 Series is one of the most comfortable scuba dive jackets on the market and wraps completely around the body for easy flotation. It’s recently been redesigned with more comfortable shoulder and waist straps for a better fit, together with a neoprene padded neck roll that doesn’t chafe, even after multiple dives. The CQR-3 system on this weight integrated BCD offers stability and easy insertion of weights, with large handles that can be manipulated, even with thick gloves on. There are six stainless steel D-rings for attaching accessories and zippered utility side pockets, together with three strategically placed dump valves.

Recommended Proficiency

Intermediate / Advanced

Standout Features

Extremely comfortable
Functional pockets
Stylish design

Specs

Weight: 9.8 lbs
Style: Jacket
Materials: 500 and 1000 Denier Cordura

best bcd 2017

Overall Rating – 4.8
Design – 4.8
Ease of use – 4.9
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General Impression

Built for divers exploring both warm and temperate waters, the Zeagle Stiletto boasts many of the features mentioned in our Zeagle Ranger review, albeit without its twin tank capability. It’s highly durable and ruggedly designed to withstand abrasions on reefs or wrecks, with its warranty testament to the quality. There are two zippered pockets to stash accessories, together with five stainless steel D-rings and 35-pound lift capacity. It’s equipped with Zeagle’s Personal Fit System (PFS) sizing to ensure a snug fit, with padded lumbar support for added back comfort and soft shoulder straps. One of the best travel BCDs in 2020, it features a lightweight system that makes it an ideal travel companion.

Recommended Proficiency

Intermediate / Advanced

Standout Features

Highly durable material
Flexible sizing for a perfect fit
Lightweight design

Specs

Weight: 7.4 lbs
Style: Back inflation
Materials: 1000 Denier Cordura

scubapro dive gear

Overall Rating – 4.7
Design – 4.7
Ease of use – 4.8
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General Impression

Packed with performance features, the Scubapro Knighthawk is a back flotation BCD that makes our top 10 scuba BCD review for numerous reasons. It features a soft neoprene neck and padded back pad for extra comfort, together with Rotating Quick Release shoulder buckles that come with quick release buckles, ensuring the BCD is easy to put on and take off. It’s equipped with Scubapro’s Balanced Power Inflator Mechanism for high inflation speeds and perfect buoyancy control, as well as a three-dump deflation system that allows you to dump air from various underwater positions. All in all, it’s a sound addition to any Scubapro package, and one of the best back inflate BCDs currently available.

Recommended Proficiency

Intermediate / Advanced

Standout Features

Easily dumps air from a variety of underwater positions
Fully adjustable straps
Neoprene neck roll and back padding for extra comfort

Specs

Weight: 9.24lbs
Style: Back inflation
Materials: 1000 Denier Cordura

side mount bcd

Overall Rating – 4.6
Design – 4.8
Ease of use – 4.7
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General Impression

Originally designed for cave divers and those accessing narrow spaces, this side-mount BCD from Hollis can be used by divers in open water and overhead environments. It’s suitable for side mounting either single or twin cylinders, which not only gives you full visibility over your system but also aids buoyancy control and creates a more streamlined profile for wreck diving. This Hollis BCD is ruggedly designed and offers 52 pounds of lift, while also featuring upper and lower cam band slots for mounting a rear tank. With side mounting gaining momentum in the dive industry, this is a great option for those wanting to invest in one of the most innovative scuba brands.

Recommended Proficiency

Intermediate / Advanced

Standout Features

Highly durable construction
Streamlined design for passing through confined spaces
Single or dual wing options available

Specs

Weight: 7.4 lbs
Style: Back inflation
Materials: 1000 Denier Cordura

scuba brand

Overall Rating – 4.6
Design – 4.8
Ease of use – 4.6
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General Impression

Combining a heavy duty construction with rear flotation and weight integration, the Zeagle Ranger BCD is a pioneer in its class. Its modular construction makes it highly adaptable to tropical diving and cold water conditions, with the ability to transition seamlessly between single or twin cylinders, as well as wet or dry suits. It can be paired with a whole variety of accessories, including hard backplates, bladders, and pockets, with enough D-rings for adding gear to your jacket. Geared towards advanced divers, this Zeagle BCD is also highly compatible for technical diving or for beginner divers wanting to invest in a BCD that’s built to last. While its weightiness means it might not be your first choice as a travel BCD, it’s ability to transform with your diving needs and experience makes it’s one of the most popular (and imitated) BCDs on the market.

Recommended Proficiency

Advanced

Standout Features

  • Highly adaptable
  • Durable construction
  • Integrated weight system

Specs

Weight: 10.8 lbs
Style: Back inflation
Materials: Nylon and urethane

BUYERS GUIDE AND TIPS
Best Scuba BCD

Whether you’re looking for brand new scuba BCD packages or searching for used scuba gear for sale online, it’s important that you take into consideration a number of factors relating to your diving experience and personal preferences.

Selecting your size

While some scuba BCDs are designed to be one-size-fits-all, others are available in various different sizes. Always check the manufacturer’s chart to find your suitable size when buying online, with women’s buoyancy compensator options usually available in most models.

Weight and lift

Some buoyancy control devices come with integrated weight pockets that can easily be dumped in emergencies. In some cases, you will still need to wear a weight belt and additional weights, so take this into consideration when browsing scuba diving vests.

On the other hand, lift refers to the amount of negative weight that the diving vest can float, with some people naturally more buoyant than others. The thickness of the wetsuit will also affect your buoyancy, as will the type and temperature of water you’re diving in, with cold water requiring more lift than tropical water diving.

Size

Size does matter, particularly if you’re often traveling to dive. A compact and lightweight scuba diving buoyancy control device is recommended to keep baggage weight down, although you should keep in mind that these probably won’t have the lift capacity of weightier models, so shouldn’t be used for cold water or technical diving.

BCD Styles

JACKET: The most popular choice for recreational divers, these BCDs have a bladder that inflates on the front, sides and behind the diver, with pockets for weight integration and storage of accessories.

BACK INFLATION: Designed for divers to easily maintain a horizontal position, back inflation BCDs inflate only on the back side. While many divers find them more comfortable to wear, they can make it trickier to be vertical in the water (such as when you’re kneeling on the bottom), which is why they’re favored by intermediate and advanced divers with good buoyancy control.

HYBRID BCD: A hybrid BCD combines features of jacket and back inflation styles, helping divers maintain buoyancy control in both horizontal and vertical positions.

Pippa Strickland

Pip is a product expert, a degreed environmental scientist, and an adventure-style traveler originally from Australia. Pip has been an SSI-certified Divemaster for over 5 years, during which time she’s worked with hundreds of certified divers. She’s dived widely throughout Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines and the Middle East, with a particular passion for night diving. When she’s not diving, her key interests include surfing, trekking and gardening in her ever-growing veggie patch.

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