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Best Scuba BCD for Beginners

There are several types of buoyancy controllers with varying designs and features for a range of specialised diving activities.

The information, evaluations, and customer reviews listed below will help divers (especially beginners) choose the best buoyancy control device and why some are easier to travel with than others.

Which Type of BCD is Good for New Divers?

No matter whether you call it a BC, BCD, or buoyancy compensator, it represents the core unit in your scuba gear setup.

So, buying your own buoyancy control device (BCD) is something that you should not overlook.

Why is that?

Almost all divers are going to have some preferences for using a BCD with a particular style, design, or colour.

As I know from personal experience, having to change from a snug-fitting jacket to a cheap, less than perfect, rental version can test your scuba acumen and experience level when trying to attain neutral buoyancy underwater.

The team at Private Scuba in Thailand were eager to test and evaluate different makes and models of buoyancy devices with a range of prices (from cheap jacket style to expensive wings).

The list of best dive BCDs that we reviewed below is a helpful guide. We have not based it with any particular bias towards any specific models. Please send an email to our team of scuba professionals if you have any questions or comments.

Some of the Key Factors We Tested

Overseen by our PADI Master Instructor, the testers based their scuba BCD appraisals on the following features:

Tips for Buying a New BCD Online

It's not always easy to get a proper fitting BCD if you buy it online. In other words, you need to measure yourself using the proper method.

First, check the BCD sizing guidelines issued by the manufacturer (e.g. on the company website). You will need to know your height and weight.

In general, the size of a comfortable fitting tee-shirt will match the right size BCD. But, you should avoid buying an oversize buoyancy control device. If it's too loose, you will find it difficult to stay streamlined in water and it may cause the tank to roll around.

Note: Another help guide explains some of the key features you should be looking for when buying the best scuba mask, such as a good field of vision.

Atomic BC2 Back Inflate BCD Review

The Atomic Aquatics BC2 is a back inflation jacket-style BCD that incorporates tough, corrosion-resistant materials and double-laminated polyurethane-coated fabric.

Plus, the manufacturers claim that it's the toughest back inflation BC in the world. If so, this could be the best buoyancy compensator on the market.

The fabric used for the BC series is strong and durable, holding almost double the pressure of standard BC materials. For the most part, it is impenetrable, resists abrasion, tears, and punctures, self-cleaning, and UV and stain-resistant.

Key Features

  • Back Inflation Design
  • Atomic BC2 Back Inflate BCD Review 2024Laminated and Coated Waterproof Fabric
  • Ratcheting CAM-LOK Tank Band
  • Patented EZ-LOK Weight Release System
  • Stainless Steel D-Rings, Titanium PVD Coating
  • Sand Resistant Pocket Zippers
  • "Dry Glide" Exhaust Pull Dumps and Knobs
  • Non-skid Tank Pad
  • Sand-resistant Pocket Zippers
  • Low Profile Trim weight Pockets
  • Quilted Backpad and Adjustable Lumbar Pad

Size and Specifications

  • Size: Small (S) to Extra Large (XL)
  • Lift capacity (size ML): 16 kilograms (36 pounds)
  • Weight: 4.3 to 4.5 kg (9.5 to 10.5 pounds)
  • Clips/D-rings: Four stainless steel and four plastic
  • Adjustment points: Shoulders, waist, and chest
  • Tank attachment: One ratchet band
  • Weight capacity: Ten pounds each pocket ditchable (ML); 20 pounds total non-ditchable

Scuba BCD Reviews: Customer Comments

"The most comfortable scuba diving BC I’ve ever worn. Looks and feels like diving in a Ferrari! I matched my BC2 with a SS1 alternate air source and absolutely love it. Thanks for the top notch products Atomic Aquatics!"
"The fit is super comfortable, from the padded back plate (which is adjustable depending on your height, awesome for tall people like me)."

Pro Tip: The price for the Atomic BC2 BCD starts around $1,549 with a limited warranty of 24 months (inflator assembly sold separately). This product can expose you to Butadiene, which is known to the state of California to cause cancer.

Apeks WTX-D30 Wing BCD Review

There are several key features that you should be looking for from a wing BCD. It should offer easy control of your buoyancy and it needs to be strong and durable.

Hence, the Apeks WTX-D30 Wing BCD is ideal if you will be diving with traditional 12 litre steel cylinders - even if you will be wearing a drysuit.

The two (2) shells consist of an outer bag (made from a 1000 Denier Armorshield Cordura®) and the inner section (made from a 22mm urethane).

Having a brass buttoned inflator helps to control the precise addition of air into the buoyancy cell. You will also find a single dump valve fixed at the low left hand corner.

Apeks WTX-D30 Wing BCD ReviewSize, Specifications, and Unique Features

  • Two (2) bladder design
  • 1000D Armorshield Cordura abrasion resistant outer bag
  • 22 millimetre thick black urethane puncture resistant inner bladder
  • Flat, low profile dump valve for diving in tight spaces
  • Brass buttoned inflator with offset elbow
  • Scuba tank stabilising bars
  • Compatible with optional retractor kit
  • Two grommets and mesh panel for effective drainage
  • Weight: Three (3) kilograms

Note: The main section explains some of the key differences between wing vs jacket BCD and why certain characteristics are better for beginners.

J-1900 Delta BCD Review

The manufacturers (IST Sports Corp) say the superior adjustments on the J-1900 Delta BCD means 'one size fits most'.

As a result, the Delta buoyancy controller (BC) is a compact, single back-inflation system with forty (40) pounds of lift.

It has two easy loading, integrated weight pockets with zips at the top. You can ditch them with a simple pinch of the buckles.

J-1900 Delta BCD ReviewAnother handy feature is the sternum straps that you can slide vertically on adjusters to get the best scuba BCD fit.

Size, Specifications, and Unique Features

  • 33 lbf(147N) back inflated bladder with 40 lbs. of lift
  • 2 stainless-steel D-rings (2 on shoulder, 2 on waist harness)
  • K-style power inflator with pull dump
  • 16-inch military-grade corrugated rubber inflation hose
  • 2 quick-release weight pockets; max load 8.8 lbs. (4kg) each
  • Reshaped and upgraded bladder for better vertical position
  • Three colour options available (black, blue, pink)

Note: Another section explains how the Buoyancy Control Device (BCD Setup) functions with some safety tips for beginners.

J800-1000D Hope BCD Review

Despite being a heavy duty BC, the J800 series seems to be good value for money. In other words, if you're thinking of opening a dive shop you should consider this model as being an affordable and reliable product for traditional jacket style rentals.

The tough 1000D CORDURA shell provides a comfortable fit for most body types. Plus, new divers should find the power inflator and pull dump assembly very easy to use.

Having an adjustable sternum strap (to reduce chest squeeze after inflation) and a padded backpack are key features that make the J800 BCD a good choice for beginners.

J800-1000D Hope BCD ReviewSize, Specifications, and Unique Features

  • Scuba buoyancy control device (BCD) with durable 1000D Cordura shell
  • Cold water capable power inflator with pull dump
  • Two (2) additional rear quick dump valves
  • Adjustable sternum strap and cummerbund for a custom fit
  • Padded backpack for added support and comfort
  • Two (2) roomy cargo pockets with Velcro® closure, Delrin D-rings offer multiple points of attachment
  • Delrin D-rings offer multiple points of attachment
  • J800-1000D Hope BCD ideal for use as rental equipment

Note: Another section explains how the Buoyancy Control Device (BCD Setup) functions with some safety tips for beginners.

Related Information and Help Guides

Note: The short video presented by PADI® shows how to set up a BCD on a scuba cylinder and finish the gear assembly in preparation for a dive.

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