Scuba BCD's (buoyancy control devices) are part of the scuba gear which gives the scuba diver control over buoyancy.
A simple BCD is merely an inflatable jacket or vest and is nothing more than a fancy life jacket and will commonly be used by swimming instructors or lifeguards.
However, a scuba BCD is much more.
The scuba BCD is integrated with a harness to strap the tank on your back, pockets and straps for your gauges and octopus, it is an inflatable vest and backpack in one and it is the wearable item to which all of the other gear is secured.
A Buoyancy Control Device or 'BCD' is the main part of a scuba unit that allows the diver to gain control over his buoyancy both underwater and more importantly, at the surface.
Using either manual or oral inflation, the diver is able to supply air to the internal bladder of the buoyancy jacket which enables him to float effortlessly at the surface.
The deflator mechanism is used to release this air when the diver is ready to descend.
The BCD is also used to secure the scuba cylinder via an integrated harness to the buoyancy vest and some Buoyancy Controllers will allow two tanks, or double cylinders to be attached to the back plate, which is normally used in Deep Diving and/or Technical Diving.
Buoyancy Control Devices usually have a selection of pockets, snap clips and Velcro straps for regulator hoses, instrument gauges and the divers’ alternate air source.
The second stage alternate air supply is usually referred to as an octopus because the long hoses resemble its tentacles.
Basically the Buoyancy Control Device, is a 'jacket' that slips over the upper body of the diver, and is firmly fastened by way of belts and straps.
It is then home to many bits of diving gear - outlined in this section, with its range of pockets and compartments.
Many modern BCD’s have an integrated weight system. This device tends to include large sturdy pockets that allow lead weights to be inserted and secured in varying positions of the Buoyancy Jacket.
Some of the advantages of this system are that it removes the need to wear a weight belt around the waist, which can be cumbersome and uncomfortable for larger than average divers and many divers appreciate the ease at which these weight pouches can be easily removed should it become necessary in the event of a diving emergency.
There are many Buoyancy Control Device reviews that offer advice and impartial information about the varying makes and styles of different BCD’s. There is nothing like going out to a good specialist and trying the various jackets on.
Some will appeal because of the design element, but get your body inside a few Buoyancy Control Devices to see which you feel comfortable with. Bear in mind that it will feel different in the water, but generally if it feels good out of the water, and you feel good about it, you can be sure of having made the right choice.
When you are searching for the best buoyancy control device for sale, we suggest that the following features should be considered.
You feel at home with the range of pockets and compartments for items such as weights. When you have purchased your new Buoyancy Control Device, there are a few other considerations that may need your attention.
The tank band strap of the BCD will be unused and it should be made wet immediately before it is used to secure the scuba tank during equipment assembly.
The main reason is that when it comes into contact with water, the strap expands which can lead to the cylinder becoming unsecured underwater.
Whatever style of scuba BCD you choose, some things to consider are proper fit, lift capacity, good construction, reachable pressure release valves, comfortable, quick-release straps and pockets with zip.
A final tip about your Buoyancy Controller is that it will take some practice and experience to become totally confident and comfortable with any new scuba gear and a BCD is the part that physically connects many items of the scuba unit to the diver.
There are a few PADI Scuba training courses that target this area and the two main courses that will benefit divers with new BCDs are the PADI Scuba Equipment Specialist and the Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course.
Note: The short video presented by PADI® shows how to set up a BCD on a dive cylinder and finish the gear assembly in preparation for scuba training or a dive.