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When it comes to dive gear, if you are an odd size and want to make sure you are comfortable on a dive, then you are going to have to get your BCD.

Not all dive shops have every size, let alone BCDs made for women, so to make sure you have the perfect dive, just bring your own, that’s perfect for you!


Besides that, if you are diving with a new dive operator, you don’t know how good or bad the quality of the equipment is. I’ve done dives where the BCD didn’t fit well, the weight pockets fell out easily, dump valve cords were missing, inflators didn’t work, and much more. It can completely ruin your dives.

That’s what this guide is for. There are a lot of dive BCDs out there, and this guide is meant to make it easy to find your best possible match, based on budget, skill level, preference, and more.

If you are afraid of traveling with such a big, bulky load, well you don’t need to be. On this list, there are a few great options for travel BCDs, that are super lightweight and even foldable, that you will love.

If you can’t find something perfect for you here, I don’t know where else you will!

X-Deep NX ZEN Deluxe
  • Stable, comfortable and ergonomic back-plate wing
  • V shaped crotch strap for comfort
  • Inflator positioned in the centre of BC allows added gas to be distributed equally
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Scubapro Hydros Pro
  • Injection moulded Monprene gel harness
  • Customizable BC-4-life modular design
  • Auto adjust Torso Flex Zone
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Tusa Crestline BCD
  • Quick Inflate/Deflate System
  • Ultimate Stabilizing Harness
  • Heavy duty 500/420 denier nylon shell
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Mares Prime
  • Durable Cordura 420 Nylon with a Polyurethane Laminated Interior
  • Torso Adjustable Shoulder Straps, Adjustable Chest Strap, Waist Strap with Adjustable Cummerbund
  • 1-Aluminum and 2-Heavy-Duty Techno-Polymer D-Rings for Accessory Attachment
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Aqua Lung Lotus i3
  • Single touch control for both inflation and deflation
  • Flat e-valves are very streamlined and effective
  • Harness System not only hugs the contours of the female body providing superior comfort and stability, it also supports the scuba cylinder
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Hollis LTS Light Travel System BCD
  • Rugged 1000D nylon outer cover with 420D internal bladder
  • 30 lbs (13.6 kg) of lift capacity
  • Comfortable backpad
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Cressi Travel-Friendly Back Inflation BCD
  • The 100% dorsal air chamber has the best buoyancy of the entire Cressi range
  • Spring closure (15 mm long) in case of any accidental snags
  • The pockets fit perfectly into their places.
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Aqua Lung Axiom i3
  • F.A.S.T. Lock System Tank Band
  • Wrapture Harness System
  • SureLock II Mechanical Weight Release System
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Zeagle Ranger LTD
  • 44lb lift capacity Ballistic bladder
  • Single or twin tank capability (requires bladder attachment straps)
  • Pair of 18 lb capacity mesh weight pouches
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Best Budget BCDs

  • Style: Jacket
  • Weight System: Not included
  • Features: 2 D-rings, 2 pockets
  • Price: Low

Designed for recreational use and travel, this BC is Versatile and lightweight, perfect for beginner divers.

Made from the durable 500D Cordura material, which is tough and abrasion-resistant, and an easy to operate buoyancy system.

What we love

  • Budget friendly
  • Great for beginners
  • Quick inflate/deflate system
  • Rear dump valve


  • Weight system not included

With Worldwide Shipping

Free US Shipping Over $50

  • Style: Jacket
  • Weight System: Weight pockets
  • Features: 3 D-rings, 2 pockets
  • Price: Low

The Mares Prime is a Jacket Style BCD providing excellent Lift with 30.8 lbs to 52.9 lbs (14.2 to 24 kg) of Buoyancy.

The Shoulder Straps, Adjustable Chest Strap, and Waist Strap have all been equipped with Quick-Release Buckles. That along with the Adjustable Cummerbund provide a Custom Fit making it super comfortable and easy to use

What we love

  • Highly customisable
  • Super comfortable
  • Great for beginners


  • Dump valves can be sensitive to body position

With Worldwide Shipping

Free US Shipping Over $50


Best Mid-Range BCDs

  • Style: Back-inflate
  • Weight System: Integrated weights
  • Features: 4 D-rings
  • Price: Mid-Range

The Aqua Lung Lotus i3 back-inflator style BCD was specifically designed for women, and we can’t say enough about it. It is probably the best woman’s BCD we have ever tried. It folds and is good for travel, light, and maybe the perfect BCD.

What we love

  • High quality build
  • Great weight system
  • Very durable


  • Inflate/deflate system can be a little difficult for beginners

Free US Shipping Over $50

  • Style: Back-inflate
  • Weight System: Integrated weights
  • Features: 6 D-rings
  • Price: Mid-Range

Hollis is one of our favorite brands for tec diving and advanced recreational gear. These guys focus on that and are king. The Hollis L.T.S (Lite Travel System) is a weight-integrated back inflation design that’s awesome for travel.

What we love

  • Perfect for travel
  • High level of comfort
  • Plenty of D-rings


  • Limited size weight pockets (around 10-12lbs total)

With Worldwide Shipping

Free US Shipping Over $50


Best High-End BCDs

  • Style: Back-Inflate Wing
  • Weight System: Integrated Weights
  • Features: 5 D-rings
  • Price: Mid to High

The NX ZEN Deluxe truly is a one-of-a-kind BCD. The stainless steel backplate wing is highly customizable and super comfortable.

The ergonomic design has been made to feature both style and practicality, as well as creating a highly robust, and durable BCD.

What we love

  • Comfortable crotch strap
  • Excellent back plate design
  • Practical D-Rings
  • Excellent weight distribution


  • No pockets

With Worldwide Shipping

  • Style: Back-Inflate Wing
  • Weight System: Integrated Weights
  • Features: 4 D-rings
  • Price: High

ScubaPro is an awesome company and makes many BCDs, but the Scubapro Hydros Pro one is one of my favorites of the year. It has tons of features and comforts and is good for all levels.  There is also a woman’s version.

A rugged but comfortable BCD that has lots of convenient features. The ScubaPro Hydros comes in 9 different colors meaning there’s a BCD for everyone!

The harness is made from injection-molded monoprene gel and along with swiveling shoulder clips allows it to conform to the shape of your body, resulting in supreme comfort.

The material of the harness and wing allows the entire setup to dry very quickly, so you don’t have to worry when packing.

You can select and even change the colors of the BCD, and you can also get smaller accessories for mounting items to it such as flashlights and cutting tools.

The weight integrated pouches allow the use of hard and soft weights.

Metal D rings on the shoulder will not break and are easy to use. It provides lift exactly where you need it to stay in trim and is an excellent all-around option.

A rugged but comfortable BCD with integrated weights, many components are replaceable without rebuying the whole BCD.

While style isn’t the most important thing when picking a BCD, its certainly a factor.

What’s great about this BCD in specific, is that almost every part, including the jacket’s buckles, can be replaced without messing around with stitching.

What we love

  • Instant dry material
  • Body grip gel
  • Auto adjust Torso Flex Zone
  • TPE Gel conforms to shape of body


  • Expensive

With Worldwide Shipping

Free US Shipping Over $50

  • Style: Back-inflate
  • Weight System: Integrated weights
  • Features: 6 D-rings
  • Price: High

The Cressi Patrol is probably the best BCD on offer from Cressi, and it’s a good one. This lightweight, rear inflation BC is built for comfort, and any diver would be happy with it as their daily diver.

What we love

  • Ultralight rigid backplate
  • Lightweight
  • High Lift


  • There aren’t really any!

With Worldwide Shipping

So what BCD should you choose?

Still not sure what one to go with, with all these great options? There are a few factors to consider when choosing the perfect BCD for you, so let’s go through those, and then I will just give my recommendations and all-time favorites, that you can’t go wrong with.

Your Budget

You should think about your budget, check the prices in the links above, and that will be a big factor. But, since there are a lot of options around the same prices, there will be more factors to think about.

How often will you dive

If you are diving frequently, are a Divemaster or instructor, you are going to want a good BCD that will last, as well as one that matches your skill level. If you are diving a few times a year, you don’t need the most top-of-the-line.

What is your certification level?

Most of you reading this will be recreational divers, and do not need something very technical. And just remember that if you get one with a side inflator, you need to do a couple of practice dives with it, as it is dangerous to not be familiar with where your inflator/deflator is located in an emergency. But once you get used to it, you’ll love it. But, if you are an instructor, you need a regular inflator hose, as you will be demonstrating it to students.

What Are Jacket BCDs?

Jacket BCDs are incredibly common with rental gear and are what most people began learning diving with.

They consist of an air cell that wraps from the back under the armpits and waist, with usually a few D rings or pocket weight integration.

For more info about getting your weight right, check out our weight buoyancy calculator.

The benefits of jacket BCDs are that many people feel comfortable diving in them, as this is what they learned in.

They do have some downsides:

  • They aren’t very customizable
  • They give lift in places that don’t benefit trim
  • It can be hard to replace parts on
  • They usually only come in a handful of sizes

Regardless of the downsides, they are very popular beginner BCDs.

What Are Back Inflated BCDs?

The next type of BCD we will discuss in this guide is a back-inflated BCD.

These look very similar to jacket BCDs but provide lift in better positions on the back instead of around the waist like jackets.

This makes it easier to be in trim, although it is entirely possible in jacket BCDs. Many people find them more comfortable than jackets because the air cell doesn’t squeeze as much when inflated.

Unfortunately, they suffer from many of the same issues as jacket BCDs:

  • They are hard to customize.
  • Hard to replace parts on them.
  • They usually only come in a handful of sizes.

Back Inflated BCDs are fairly common and popular among more experienced divers.

What’s The Best BCD For Travel?

A good rule of thumb for travel BCDs is: the smaller the better. Remember, you’re trying to bring this travel buoyancy control device on vacation with you. Do you really want to lug a bulky BCD around?

For more information on travel buoyancy control devices, check out our guide to the top travel BCDs.

What’s The Best Back Inflated BCD?

Depending on several factors, certain back-inflated BCDs are better than others. For more information on back-inflated buoyancy control devices, check out our guide on the best back-inflate BCDs.

What’s The Best BCD For Women?

Not all of these BCDs will fit or be comfortable for women. For more information on buoyancy control devices for women, check out our reviews of the best BCDs for women.

So what do we recommend?

I can not say enough good things about Aqua Lung BCDs (although I love all the companies above). From my very first ever dive, I started with a super simple and cheap Aqua Lung Wave. It’s a simple, no-weight integration, and every dive shop has loads of them as they are cheap. It’s all a new diver needs.

best scuba diving bcd

Once I got a few dives under my belt, I upgraded to an Axiom i3. I think that is almost the perfect BCD. The only complaint I have is that I travel a lot and it weighs over 9 pounds dry, and it is kind of expensive. But it is top of the line, comfortable and great, so I deal with the luggage weight.

Aqualung axiom 1

Soon I would like to try out the Dimension i3, as it might be a little lighter to travel with, but I don’t know if it’ll be much better underwater. But you can’t go wrong with either.

dimension i3 BCD left 1

As you can tell I love Aqua Lung, but I also think Scubapro and Hollis are awesome too, I just don’t have as much experience with those BCDs.

I hope this article helps in picking the right BCD gear for you. Always remember that one of the most significant factors in selecting gear is the price. Most BCDs have similar features, so it is advisable to stay in a price range that works for you while still using a good BCD that provides safety and quality.

What is your favorite BCD? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking for other styles of BCDs?

5 best BCDs for women

5 best back-inflate BCDs

Austin Tuwiner Administrator

Austin is the website owner, and began scuba diving at just 16 years old. After traveling and diving all over the world, he is dedicated to bringing the hobby to more people.

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